Polymer flood using partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) has been proven to be an effective method to increase oil recovery. However, when HPAM breaks through the reservoir and shows up in the produced fluids, it brings unique emulsion characteristics and challenges to the separation processes. Operators have experienced frequent equipment failures on heat exchangers and heating elements. Traditional oil dehydration uses mechanical heater treaters which rely on elevated temperature to improve the settling of the dispersed water phase. In HPAM flood, the fire tubes in these mechanical heater treaters have become problematic and experienced repetitive failures. Electrostatic technology uses the response to the electrostatic field by the polar dispersed water phase to enhance the water settling. Electrostatic technology has been a proven technology for oil dehydration and desalting for water flood and other recovery methods such as Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), but not widely used in HPAM flood. A joint study was conducted between Cameron and Cenovus to evaluate the electrostatic dehydration of the heavy oil from HPAM flood. The results of the study indicate that, due to the presence of HPAM in water, the electrostatic dehydration of the wet oil from HPAM flood demonstrates some unique characteristics. Electrostatic dehydrators can achieve about 300% of the capacity of mechanical heater treaters. Proper equipment and process designs are important to reduce the equipment failures. The results of the study offer a more effective oil dehydration technology to the HPAM flood producers. The benefits of electrostatic dehydration can be especially valuable for the offshore implementation of HPAM flood due to the space and weight savings.

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