In response to the expressed needs of Oil Producers, a novel instrument has been developed for measuring and controlling the performance of production separators. The instrument, known as a Density Profiler, provides the operator with realtime information about the vertical distributions of the various materials inside the separator: sand, water, emulsion, oil, foam and gas. This allows the operator to exercise fine control over the operation of the separator in a way never before possible. For example, the results of adding antifoam or demulsifying agents can be visualized immediately in the control room so that the effectiveness of these procedures can be monitored and appropriate action taken.

Over twenty profilers have been installed to date at locations around the world. They are highly reliable: the measurement probes have no moving parts and have no contact with the process fluids, thus minimizing the possibility of mechanical breakdown.

This paper describes the instrument and focuses on its unique mode of operation. Case studies are used to illustrate the substantial economic benefits that are realized from

  • Optimization of the separation process

  • Elimination of unscheduled shutdowns

  • Optimized levels of chemical additives leading to reduced costs.

  • Elimination of oil spills

  • Elimination of damage to downstream equipment.

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