Removal of Petroleum Contact Water from Puma Energy’s Bayamón Terminal

2015 PumaSponsoring organization: Puma Energy

Team members: Brendan Johnson (Chemical Engineering ’17), Erin LaBounty (Biomedical Engineering ’17), Evan Pereira (Environmental Engineering ’17)

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Executive Summary: Puerto Rico relies heavily on the petroleum industry. Petroleum is used all over the island and provides fuel and energy to many of the major industries, especially tourism through cruise ships and airplanes. Also, petroleum dominates the power sector of the island by providing Puerto Rico with ⅘ of its energy and ⅔ of its electricity (U.S. Energy Information Association, 2015). Puma Energy is a major supplier of petroleum products and deals with storage and distribution across much of Puerto Rico. Being such a significant contributor to the island’s energy, Puma Energy has many large storage tanks for their products. These tanks require periodic cleanings, which generate considerable amounts of petroleum contact water (PCW). PCW is water that accumulates at the bottom of the storage tanks of Puma Energy’s products and contains many harmful contaminants that could have a negative effect on the community if left untreated. Puma Energy’s Bayamón terminal currently treats their PCW through physical and biological processes in a continuous flow system before discharging the treated water into San Juan Bay with a permit provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This continuous flow system is too large for the Bayamón terminal and is very expensive to operate. The goal of the project was to find a cost effective and environmentally friendly treatment method for the PCW at the Bayamón terminal. This PCW will be discharged into the sewer system of Puerto Rico after meeting the permit parameters from the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA).


To successfully meet our project goal we:

  • Recommended an effective treatment system
  • Presented cost estimates
  • Proposed a plan for discharge into the sewer system (PRASA)
  • Assessed the current status of PCW
  • Evaluated ethics and social aspects

From our initial research we investigated:

  • Contaminants in PCW
  • Effects of these contaminants
  • PRASA discharge information
  • Manufacturers

Research was the first major step that we took to complete the project. This began by exploring PCW and its contaminants. Each individual contaminant in PCW has a potential effect that could impact the population if not treated properly. We also needed to investigate batch systems and how they operate, which would aid us in identifying an efficient method. Researching PRASA was a necessary step to discover what limitations were required to discharge into the sewer system. Once we had this background knowledge, we conducted our investigation into potential manufacturers that produce batch systems capable of treating PCW.

We conducted interviews with:

  • WPI Professor
  • Puma Energy
  • Manufacturers

In our interview with the WPI professor, we inquired about batch systems and general information on contaminants in PCW. We asked a contact at Puma Energy’s Bayamón terminal about their current PCW treatment process and details on contaminant levels in their water. These levels were compared to PRASA’s limits for discharge. We then reached out to PRASA to get more information on the permitting process and associated fees. This knowledge narrowed our manufacturer search by giving us details into what Puma Energy would need in a new system. This information from PRASA was essential in our determination of the overall cost for Puma Energy to downsize. We reached out to ten vendors that manufacture batch treatment systems.

To rate manufacturers, we devised the following metrics:

  • Cost of System
  • Company Size
  • Location
  • Communication
  • Years in the Market

Our analytical scale of five metrics was used to rate the manufacturers to propose the best system to Puma Energy. These five metrics included cost of system, company size in terms of employees, location for importation, communication with our team, and years in the market. The final manufacturer options were ranked from 1 to 5 in all of these five metrics to receive a final score out of 25 possible points. The company that received the highest score was recommended to Puma Energy. The name of each vendor was omitted to maintain their confidentiality.


Through the completion of interviews and investigation, we proposed a batch treatment system that would fulfill all of Puma Energy’s wastewater needs at the Bayamón facility.

From the interviews, we were able to learn more about the workings of batch systems and how they would benefit Puma Energy in their search for a more cost effective method to treat their PCW. We received a detailed water quality report from Puma Energy’s Guaynabo terminal and obtained PRASA’s local limits and regulations that must be met in order to discharge into the sewer system.

To fully understand the cost of the PRASA permit and accompanying discharge fees, Puma Energy would have to fill out a questionnaire about wastewater pretreatment and an application for a connection. We developed an alternative cost estimate using publicly available data from other areas of the United States to produce an average and annual discharge cost.

After reaching out to ten vendors, we learned that six did not have the means to treat Puma Energy’s PCW sufficiently. Three vendors responded with cost estimates for a new treatment system. We rated these vendors using our five analytical metrics, to assign each company a score out of 25 possible points. We decided that the vendor with the highest score would be our primary recommendation to Puma Energy.

Vendor 1 scored a 19/25 on our metric scale and provided a system cost of $184,000 which included the cost of manufacturing and design, implementation, a new water test, and training for the new system. They proposed a system that would treat 2,000 gallons per day to match our local limits provided by PRASA. The system has an added pH meter and carbon filter to account for water contaminant changes in each batch.

Vendor 2 scored a 16/25 and provided a system cost estimate of $85,000. They proposed a system that would treat Puma Energy’s PCW with an oil skimmer and three ultra-filtration units. The vendor informed us that the waste from the filtration units would have to be disposed of through a third party organization.

Vendor 3 scored an 18/25 on our rating system. They provided a system cost estimate of $15,000. Their system encompassed a strictly physical treatment method, however it lacked a thorough process description. The vendor did not disclose how to clean the physical apparatus, but they did inform us that it would need to be cleaned after each use.

Recommendations and Conclusions

The following are the final recommendations we have outlined for Puma Energy:

  • Contact Vendor 1 to follow up on their batch system quote
  • Take water samples of PCW from the Bayamón terminal
  • Account for new metrics including importation, construction, and maintenance fees
  • Complete the PRASA application and questionnaire

After completing all of our research and interviews, we were able to outline these recommendations for Puma Energy. Because they had the highest score of the three manufacturers, we recommended Vendor 1’s treatment system. Also, instead of using a neighboring terminal’s water quality report, we recommended that Puma Energy perform a new water test at the Bayamón terminal. Due to time constraints of the project, we were unable to receive cost estimates on importation, construction, and maintenance fees for the proposed systems. We recommended that Puma Energy look into these additional expenses in order to evaluate all of their cost factors. Also, we recommended that Puma Energy complete the PRASA application and questionnaire to acquire cost estimates for a discharge permit.

By considering all of these factors, we believe that Puma Energy can benefit from a new batch treatment system that would sufficiently treat their PCW. We believe that this system would save Puma Energy money and promote a clean environment in Bayamón. With one of the island’s main petroleum providers running more efficiently, there is assurance that energy will continue to reach the people of Puerto Rico.