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From petroleum oily sludge through plants to a clean environment

From petroleum oily sludge through plants to a clean environment

(Skopje, 29.05.2018)
- The company OKTA and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food are working on an innovative eco-project for the treatment of petroleum oily sludge, deposited as a residue in the process of crude oil processing over the past 30 years. It is a procedure of mixing the petroleum sludge with soil in which the natural process of biodegradation and phytoremediation occurs, i.e. purification of the ecosystem with the help of plants in closed concrete basins.

"This is the first experimental project of its kind in the country and the region. We are employing a natural way of treating petroleum sludge, by using microorganisms and plants, as biological treatment, without the use of chemicals. We expect that the project's successful implementation will yield results that will be beneficial to other companies that are facing similar problems as well. Instead of petroleum sludge, we now have land on which crops are being grown. We believe that with the suggestions and exceptional expertise of our employees, as well as with the recommendations of the professors from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food, we have found an innovative approach of managing the sludge. We have also gone a step further by finding an effective environmental protection solution", said Ioannis Geroulanos, Chief Executive Officer of OKTA.

The project was implemented in several stages. The petroleum sludge and soil were mixed in two waterproof concrete basins with three-layer hydrophobic protection, in order to protect the soil and groundwater from any influence. Two experimental plots were set up, each with an area of 200 square meters, where last autumn, rye, barley and wheat were sown, while this spring, corn, oilseed rape and sorghum as well, crops recommended as the most suitable for phytoremediation. An analysis of samples from the petroleum sludge showed that there was no presence of metals, which was proof that the sludge was suitable for carrying out this experiment. In the forthcoming period, laboratory analyses will be carried out to determine the biological, morphological and production characteristics of the planted crops. After the results are interpreted, the procedure is to be applied to an area of another 600 square meters, that is, in two more basins on OKTA's grounds.

"We should be proud of such projects that are aimed at preserving the environment through innovative bio-treatment of industrial sludge. This OKTA project is an example of responsible and committed relationship of a company with the environment and it contains the formula for how to solve existing problems. The project provides prospects for the future and overcoming possible environmental problems", said Jani Makraduli, Deputy Minister of Environment and Physical Planning.

This project is being implemented by OKTA's own professional team, along with professors from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food: Prof. Dr. Tatjana Mitkova, Prof. Dr. Silvana Manasievska Simic, and Associate Professor Dr. Mile Markoski. In the project's preparatory stage, contact and meetings were held with several foreign refineries and institutions and experts working in this field.