Heat Exchangers (unblocking U-Tube) for a gas liquefaction plant in Abu Dhabi

Removal of hard coke and oily/wax sludge raises efficiency

Taking less than one third of the time than traditional processes, Tube Tech eliminated excessive downtime, raised efficiency and saved a substantial amount of money at a BP Refinery during the overhaul of hairpin heat exchangers on the Crude Oil Distillation complex.

The Challenge

  • Tube Tech was initially called in to remove accumulations of hard coke and oily, wax like sludge that had built up in the two seven-metre-long hairpin heat exchangers, each containing approximately 1,000 tubes.
  • Conventional approaches using rigid lances achieve only a 70% cleaning standard as they never negotiate the hairpin bend itself.


  • Tube Tech first analysed the nature and composition of the deposit and its dimensions.
  • They then prepared a mock-up of the blocked tubes at their premises.
  • All collected data steered towards a new and highly innovative three stage process.


Over 99% of the contamination was removed including cleaning and polishing around the hairpin bends for the first time. As well as returning the hairpin heat exchangers very close to ‘as new’ condition, the treatment was completed in less than two days instead of the six usually required by standard pressure-jetting techniques.
BP’s Maintenance Area Planner. Fuels and Utilities, said: “Previous cleaning of the crude exchanger did not make as much difference to performance because bends were not cleaned. After Tube Tech’s involvement the throughput was greatly improved.”
He added: “Technically Tube Tech is one of the most professional companies in the field and the end product is exceptional. The Tube Tech approach initially costs more but it is a nothing compared against the substantial cost savings gained.”

Images and videos associated with this project are available via Tube Tech International
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