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Sand Cleaning – Methods from Removing Oil from Sand (B-FSM-136)


  • Land-farm or compost to allow aerobic degradation


  • Direct or indirect fired, or microwave, incineration/volatilization using heat


  • Hammer/rotary mill which grinds solids and generates heat to desorb oil

Chemical Solvent

  • Hydrocarbon solvent (aromatic, C5-C6) used to dissolve oil from sand surface

Bio/Chemical Surfactant

  • Biological/chemical additions to reduce surface tension and desorb oil

Mechanical Scrubbing

  • High shear action through abrasion/attrition to shear oil from sand particle

Various Combination of Above Actions

  • e. hot water, soap, and shearing action – washing machine

All of these have been used in the upstream oil & gas industry, and the most common approach in offshore operations is Mechanical Scrubbing.


  1. Rawlins, C.H. and Wang, I. 2001. “Design and Installation of a Sand-Separation and -Handling System for a Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Facility”. SPE Production and Facilities, August, pp. 134-140. https://doi.org/10.2118/72999-PA
  2. Rawlins, C.H. 2019. “Enhanced Production Through Surface Facilities Sand Management.” SPE Distinguished Lecturer presentation. Link here

Next week I will define oil & gas sand cleaning.

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