Ambientpetrol Cleaning Up Around the World
By Patrick Peterson
Cleaning up an oil spill often requires equally destructive operations to scrape up the oil residue; what is more, the remnants of the spill can remain in the environment for years. With these spills appearing more and more frequently, an Orlando company has developed an organic compound called BrosPlus™ that breaks down crude oil into water with little trace of petroleum or the cleanup compound.
“BrosPlus wasn’t born in the lab; it was born in the field,” Carmen Nieves, chairman and CEO of G&C Ambientpetrol V Inc., said.
Nieves and her brothers are the second generation of a Venezuelan family to work in the country’s rich oil fields. Nieves earned her science degree at East Carolina University and speaks five languages. Her brothers studied engineering and chemistry. Their father was a manager for a Venezuelan oil production company, so the family has deep roots in the petroleum industry.
“We know all aspects of the oil industry,” said Nieves, whose American husband is in the U.S. Army.
After a spill, crude oil can evaporate, form tar balls or disperse into the environment, where it will remain for years. Bacteria will eventually break down the oil, but contaminants could still remain long after. Ambientpetrol has developed a combination of bacteria, enzymes and nutrients that break down the oil quickly, usually in 15 to 45 days.
“The enzymes act as a tenderizer and the bacteria finish it up,” Nieves explained.
Unique & Effective
The product even works well in different climates. It’s been tested in Africa and the Middle East. The company is now selling its product to Nigeria, an oil rich country where political instability and the lack of infrastructure result in frequent oil spills. “They have a big problem. There are a lot of spills,” she said.
BrosPlus can be applied with a small backpack sprayer for small spills or it can be pumped through a larger delivery system like a fire hose. “The compound works best when the soil pH levels are near neutral. Therefore you till it up and keep it moist,” Nieves said.
The liquid costs $89 per gallon. While that is more expensive than most treatments, Nieves said the total cost is lower because less labor is required and secondary applications are unnecessary. The liquid is not toxic, which is a problem with many dispersants.
“Ours is costly at the beginning, but then you’re finished,” she said. “It completes the treatment.”
So far, their major markets have been overseas, where the company makes bulk sales. Several cleanup firms in the U.S. use the product and Ambientpetrol plans to open a company to perform cleanup work in the U.S. “We’re working on the permits we need,” Nieves explained.
The company has the compound mixed at a site in Orlando. Though there are seven other products manufactured in the U.S. for petroleum cleanup and degreasing, not all of these products are 100 percent organic and biodegradable.
While the company still has operations in Venezuela, Ambientpetrol has manufactured its product in the U.S. for nearly four years. “The main company’s here,” Nieves said. Even the Australian Chamber of Commerce has asked Ambientpetrol to consider a manufacturing operation there, Nieves commented, adding that they will continue to add personnel to accommodate their growth.
With the world’s demand for oil continuing to soar, solutions for the devastating results of spills will be welcomed around the world. It is a solution Ambientpetrol seems to have.