More cost effective oil production is possible if process design engineers start treating use of production chemicals in a more systematic way when they design new production platforms. Typically it is not common to include the effect of foam breaker and emulsion breaker when sizing separators. Design criteria for separators like foaminess and size of water droplets have little value when sizing separators if it is used without evaluating the positiv effect of the production chemicals. Testing on some of Norsk Hydro’s offshore facilities have shown that water treatment plants are not able to operate according to design without using emulsion breaker and a polyelectrolyt at low water cuts. Testing also indicates that a small oil stream from an oil sump can "polute" the oil-water separation system in the main separators because of its high content of surface active materials.
Injection systems for production chemicals are often added to the process on a "just in case" basis. Considering the importance of chemicals such as emulsion breaker and a polyelectrolyte, which are both vital to the quality of the water effluent, the process engineer should ensure that these chemicals work at optimum conditions. Parameters like temperature, concentration of active chemical component, and retention time in the pipe upstream of a processing vessel are important.
At the same time the oil companies requires that "green chemicals", combined with use of less chemicals in the effluent, to be used as part of their environmental policy. Unfortunately "green chemicals" are often less effective that other chemicals, making it difficult to reduce the amount of chemicals going overboard. The answer to the problems is to integrate the use of chemicals in the process design in order to achieve a synenergi effect.