The True, Avoidable Cost of Shutting Down a Tank

If you’ve ever had to shut down a tank for repairs outside of a turnaround, you know that it’s a costly process that requires significant resource investment.

Isolating, cleaning, and degassing the tank alone can easily cost you in the millions and also doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to get a hot work permit because of how difficult it can be to remove all traces of gas. 

Then you have lost production, which adds up very quickly and with the length of time tanks need to be shut down for, and is usually a multi-million dollar loss.

In this article, I will break down the potential true cost of shutting down a tank for hot work, and show you how you can eliminate all of these costs next time you need to make a tank repair.

The Tank

Taking a tank out of service is a costly process that requires as much as 100 or more workers, and usually 6-12 months before it can be restored to service.

Clients often do their best to keep the holes patched[LINK TO POST – Temporary Leak Stops] until their next turnaround to avoid an unscheduled shutdown, but even this will incur significant costs.

Between cleaning the tank(with sludge that you have to dispose of properly), degassing the tank(another costly process that doesn’t always work due to traces of gas that can get embedded in seams), you’re already spending a lot of time and resources just to take the tank offline.

This process alone can cost several million dollars, only increasing with the size of the tank. 

Plus, as mentioned, you’ll easily have 100 people on site performing work that you’re paying for, and this many people increases the risk of a safety incident.

And even though taking the tank itself offline is a huge cost, it often doesn’t compare to the cost of lost production, especially when you’re looking at those 6-12 month timeframes.

With a mid sized tank easily costing $25,000 per day in lost production, a little math of 25k x 180 days for your 6 months, and that’s about 4.5 million in costs, and this is on the conservative side.

Hot Work

On top of the steps involved in taking the tank out of service, you’ve also got quite a bit of overhead when it comes to getting a hot work permit.

The costs can surprise you, and there’s indirect costs associated with it that are often left out of budgeting plans.

You have extra fire safety personnel that need to be part of the process. You have many time consuming safety meetings. 

There is continuous gas testing and job hazard analysis.

You’re paying personnel to perform all these activities, or stand around during these meetings.

These are just a few considerations that are often overlooked, and can actually 5x or 10x your hot work cost. 

Plus, the potential repercussions that do come out of a hot work accident are certainly costly, in time, money, and reputation.

And as a side note – in one case in Louisiana, even after the client went through the hot work permit process, they still couldn’t weld because they kept picking up traces of benzene of their tank. So we went in after the fact to perform the work anyway.

Not Always The Solution

Taking a tank out of service is costly. Unless you have a small tank with a product that is easy to clean out, you’ll definitely achieve cost savings but avoiding hot work and implementing Forge Bonded™ repairs.

It’s not the solution for every situation.

But when you can take millions of dollars and several months, and condense that into a six figure cost with the work being done in a few weeks, it’s definitely an option clients will find valuable.

The repairs are equally as strong and can last just as long, if not longer due to a better resistance to corrosion and other anomalies.