Saudi Aramco plans to implement the new Glow technology for all tanks throughout the company

Saudi Aramco plans to implement the new Glow technology for all tanks throughout the company

New measurement technology

May 2018

Before a single barrel of crude oil is shipped to an awaiting ship at its terminal in Ras Tanura, operators must certify the purity of the crude oil in their tanks, Saudi Aramco said.

Towards this, the oil major has developed a new way to assess the make-up of crude oil, avoiding the dangers and time associated with traditional techniques.

The method is called ground level optical water cut (Glow) and allows operators to assess the water content of crude oil without exposing them to toxic gasses or hazardous conditions at the top of oil tanks.

“The main reason for this technology is safety for the operator,” said Shaker M Al Mahrous, manager of Saudi Aramco’s terminal operations. “The Glow device will disrupt the conventional way of performing water cut activity and will reset the industrial standards. This solution eliminates the main cause of incidents in the industry, which is falling from heights.”

“And yet, this solution still allows us to provide the verification that our customers need. Glow allows us to see what water is in the tank in an instant, without the risk to our personnel,” he added.

Glow uses an optical glass and a series of pipes in a closed looping system extended into the tank to examine the product. A series of seven pipes are installed in seven different elevations from the bottom of the tank. When the operator needs to know the water content, they open a valve to let the fluid from a certain pipe flow into the header where the contents can be viewed through an optical glass.

“I wanted to make the innovation as simple as possible because the cost is cheap,” said Fahad S Alnamasi, the Saudi Aramco engineer who developed the solution. “The sight glass is $1,000. If you include the pipes, the total cost is about $5,000. This compares with millions for higher technology solutions. A small investment with huge returns; enhancing safety, avoiding ships delays, improving quality, and saving costs,” he added.

The company said the system provides the same accuracy with much less risk of exposure to heights and toxic gases and hopes to reduce the total man-hours required to conduct purity tests by more than 80 per cent over the conventional method.

Traditional methods used by the industry for verifying the water content of crude oil have not changed much over the decades. In most oil terminals around the world, an operator is sent to the top of a crude oil tank to lower a depth gauge coated with chemicals that identify how much water rests. Strong winds or rain have been a constant challenge, preventing operators from the risk of climbing tanks for hours or even days – a costly delay for both the company and its customers.

‘The Glow innovation allows operators to verify the water content of a crude oil shipment in a safe and timely manner, without putting operators at risk,” reiterated the company.

More Stories