Crude Oil Heaters Cleaned Offshore

Two crude oil heaters cleaned on large North Sea platform

The operator of one of the largest offshore projects in the North Sea required an effective cleaning service on two of their crude oil heaters ready for inspection. A significant difference in the level of fouling on both heaters meant the cleaning contractor had to be prepared for two very different contracts. Having worked with Tube Tech in the past the operator felt Tube Tech were the ideal choice for this contract due to their innovative methodology, immediate response service, offshore trained technicians and state of the art communication systems.

The Challenge

  • Both crude oil heaters were fouled with a gooey consistency deposit believed to contain sand and a high organic content.
  • Crude Oil Heater ‘A’ was the least fouled, deposit was believed to be no more than 0.2mm and the heater was running with no problems before Tube Tech arrived.
  • Crude Oil Heater ‘B’ had shown a concerning rise in pressure drop across the unit, was deemed unserviceable and was offline. The fouling within this heater was expected to be significant.
  • Both crude oil heaters had been cleaned using traditional water jetting techniques a few years previous, but some scale had been left on the tubes.
  • The platform operator had tried a chemical flush to improve the pressure drop on heater ‘B’ but this was unsuccessful possibly due to severe blockages within the tubes.
  • Both units needed inspection and cleanliness would be required suitable for IRIS.


  • As with all offshore contracts effective preparation was paramount and with two different levels of fouling to deal with Tube Tech arrived on the platform with a selection of innovative cleaning technology plus technicians to work both day and night shifts.
  • Tube Tech lined the entire bund area, the location of the units, with plastic and a waste collection divert was also erected in the bund area.
  • Crude oil heater ‘A’ was cleaned first as it had the least fouling and needed to have an IRIS inspection immediately after cleaning. Super high pressure water jetting using a combination of turbojet & polishing jets was used to clean heater ‘A’ quickly, after cleaning the IRIS inspection was achieved successfully.
  • Crude oil heater ‘B’ was initially cleaned using the same system as ‘A’ unit, once all the blockages were removed (100% of the tubes) a thin hard scale was left even harder than originally thought, Tube Tech converted their bespoke pumps to facilitate considerably higher pressures, attached their rotating wysper seal lance and were then able to again achieve the desired standard suitable for IRIS inspection to prove that the tubes were still in a good physical order and suitable working condition.

Client Comment

“Very good safety culture and professional approach. Technicians always on time and very professional – a credit to Tube Tech.”

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