An experimental study of a gravity-driven downhole separator for a pumped horizontal or deviated well is presented in this study. It considers the effects of the upstream flow, gas and liquid flow rates and deviation angles on the global separation efficiency and the free gas at the pump intake. The efficacy of downhole separators is typically tested under steady-state conditions where the fluids are injected above the separator. A new outdoor facility, which allows the injection of a two-phase mixture below the separator was designed, constructed, and used in this study. Gas and liquid flow rates and deviation angle are varied to study the liquid holdup in the liquid-rich outlet and the separator efficiency. The experimental results demonstrate the effects of the operation conditions and deviation angle on the behavior of downhole separators. It is found that the separator has two regions of performance; namely, high efficiency region and a region where the efficiency decreases with the liquid flow rate. Moreover, the effect of the deviation angle affects the results. The findings provide conditions under which and where the separator can be operated efficiently in the field.
Demulsification is the breaking of a crude oil emulsion into oil and water phases. A fast rate of separation, a low value of residual water in the crude oil, and a low value of oil in the disposal water are obviously desirable. Produced oil generally has to meet company and pipeline specifications. For example, the oil shipped from wet-crude handling facilities must not contain more than 0.2% basic sediment and water (BS&W) and 10 pounds of salt per thousand barrels of crude oil. This standard depends on company and pipeline specifications. The salt is insoluble in oil and associated with residual water in the treated crude. Low BS&W and salt content is required to reduce corrosion and deposition of salts. The primary concern in refineries is to remove inorganic salts from the crude oil before they cause corrosion or other detrimental effects in refinery equipment. The salts are removed by washing or desalting the crude oil with relatively fresh water. This stability arises from the formation of interfacial films that encapsulate the water droplets. To separate this emulsion into oil and water, the interfacial film must be destroyed and the droplets made to coalesce.
A flare or vent disposal system collects and discharges gas from atmospheric or pressurized process components to the atmosphere to safe locations for final release during normal operations and abnormal conditions (emergency relief). In vent systems, the gas exiting the system is dispersed in the atmosphere. Flare systems generally have a pilot or ignition device that ignites the gas exiting the system because the discharge may be either continuous or intermittent. Gas-disposal systems for tanks operating near atmospheric pressure are often called atmospheric vents or flares, and gas-disposal systems for pressure vessels are called pressure vents or flares. A flare or vent system from a pressurized source may include a control valve, collection piping, flashback protection, and a gas outlet. A scrubbing vessel should be provided to remove liquid hydrocarbons. The actual configuration of the flare or vent system depends on the hazards assessment for the specific installation.
How these and related factors affect subsea processing design are discussed below. The value of subsea processing is determined primarily by reservoir characteristics and water depth. Well productivity index (barrel per psi drawdown or PI), which is a function of reservoir permeability, is one of the keys. A high PI will leverage the reduced backpressure provided by subsea processing to higher production rates. This can have enormous economic implications for low-pressure reservoirs in deep water.
Using heat to treat crude oil emulsions has four basic benefits; It reduces viscosity, increases droplets, dissolves paraffin crystals, and increases density between oil and water. Which allows the water droplets to collide with greater force and to settle more rapidly. The chart in Figure 1 can be used to estimate crude-oil viscosity/temperature relationships. Crude-oil viscosities vary widely, and the curves on this chart should be used only in the absence of specific data.
Micelles [mi-sel] (singular "micelle"), or micellae (singular "micella"), are spherical clusters of hydrocarbon molecules that act as emulsifying agents. This type of micelle is known as a normal-phase micelle (oil-in-water micelle). An Inverse micelle has a hyprophobic and hydrophilic side, with the hyrodphilic side at the center and the hydrophobic side facing the solvent. Micelles are approximately spherical in shape. Other phases, including shapes such as ellipsoids, cylinders, and bilayers, are also possible.
They assist oil/water/gas separation, aid in fluid transport, protect treating equipment, and improve the quality of the gas, oil, and water. A wide range of chemicals is available for water treating. A chemical-injection package enables various types of chemicals to be dosed into the water stream to optimize the treatment process. Storage-tank capacity is designed to allow the plant to run for several days between refills. General dosing rates and injection points for the main chemical classes are listed in Table 1. These rates provide guidelines for sizing injection pumps and chemical-storage tanks. Water-clarification chemicals aid in coagulating and flocculating the oil and solid particles into larger ones to enhance their separation from water.
Produced water typically enters the water-treatment system from a two- or three-phase separator, free-water knockout, gun barrel, heater treater, or other primary-separation-unit process. This water contains small concentrations (100 to 2000 mg/L) of dispersed hydrocarbons in the form of oil droplets. Because the water flows from this equipment through dump valves, control valves, chokes, or pumps, the oil-particle diameters will be very small ( 100 μm). Treatment equipment to remove dispersed oil from water relies on one or more of the following principles: gravity separation (often with the addition of coalescing devices), gas flotation, cyclonic separation, filtration, and centrifuge separation. In applying these concepts, one must keep in mind the dispersion of large oil droplets to smaller ones and the coalescence of small droplets into larger ones, which takes place if energy is added to the system. The amount of energy added per unit time and the way in which it is added will determine whether dispersion or coalescence will take place. Stokes' law, shown in Eq. 4.1, is valid for the buoyant rise velocity of an oil droplet in a water-continuous phase. Several immediate conclusions can be drawn from this equation. The third conclusion requires further elaboration. Heat is the primary mechanism in oil-treating equipment to remove small water droplets from oil. The addition of heat significantly reduces oil viscosity, which prompts more rapid settling, and heat destabilizes water-in-oil emulsions. Heat is not commonly used in water treating because the percentage change in viscosity per degree of temperature change is much less in water than in oil. Water-in-oil emulsions tend to have a higher percentage of the dispersed phase than the oil-in-water emulsions; the dispersed phase tends to have larger-diameter droplets stabilized by heat-sensitive emulsifiers, and it takes twice as much heat input to raise a barrel of water as it takes to raise a barrel of oil to the same temperature. Small oil droplets contained in the water-continuous phase are subject to the competing forces of dispersion and coalescence.
Demulsifier selection is still considered an art that improves with experience; however, there are methods now available to eliminate some of the uncertainties involved in demulsifier screening and selection. The properties of a good demulsifier were addressed previously. How to select the best demulsifier and to optimize its usage is addressed here. Demulsifier selection should be made with the emulsion-treatment system in mind. Some of the questions to be asked include the following.
Crude oil is seldom produced alone because it generally is commingled with water. The water creates several problems and usually increases the unit cost of oil production. The produced water must be separated from the oil, treated, and disposed of properly. All these steps increase costs. Furthermore, sellable crude oil must comply with certain product specifications, including the amount of basic sediment and water (BS&W) and salt, which means that the produced water must be separated from the oil to meet crude specifications.