Increasing emphasis has been placed by Esso Production Malaysia Inc. (EPMI) to address the potential emulsion concerns in its existing operations in light of projected increases in water production offshore and in anticipation of potential impact on its export crude quality. The proper approach to demulsification is often a point of contention, as a generic solution to oil treatment is relatively difficult to find. Although oil treating approaches can be grouped into four main categories, i.e., heat, chemical, settling time, and agitation, each producing system is unique and must be reviewed individually to arrive at its respective solution. This paper will discuss EPMI efforts to identify methods of resolving its emulsion concerns, with focus on one of its offshore locations, Guntong Complex. This paper will discuss the initial provisions included in the original platform design basis, tests performed to identify resolution requirements and studies to determine the optimum practical facility requirements. This paper will focus on EPMI's efforts to remove water from emulsified crudes (forward emulsion treatment) only. Produced water treatment disposal is not addressed in this paper.
EPMI operates as a contractor to PETRONAS, Malaysia's government oil company, under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) awarded in 1976. This operating area is about 1.4 million acres in size and is located in the South China Sea 125 miles (200 kilometers) off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. EPMI currently has 12 oil producing fields which together produce the Malaysian crude commonly referred to as the Tapis Blend. There are a total of 32 platforms, comprising 14 manned and 18 unmanned platforms. There are 5 main oil gathering lines from the producing platforms that feed into a central pumping platform located in the Tapis field (Figure 1). At Tapis pumping platform, these fluids are commingled and pumped through a 24 inch trunkline to the (onshore Terengganu crude oil terminal (TCOT) at Kertch for final processing before being delivered to a nearby PETRONAS refinery or ships via a marine (offloading system. Since 1978, EPMI's oil production has increased significantly. EPMI currently produces in excess of 330 kbpd of oil. However, as the fields mature, EPMI is now experiencing increasing water production, currently around 90 kbwpd or 20% of total fluid production. This water production is expected to increase in future years. Some of this water stays in emulsified form.