Operation of a Dry-Desiccant Type Hydrocarbon Recovery Unit
- Q.S. Drake (Lion Oil Co.) | E.R. Dawson (Lion Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1960
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 19 - 21
- 1960. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.3 Dehydration, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems
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The dry-desiccant type of hydrocarbon recovery and dehydration unit has been on the market in the oil and gas industry for several years, but not until the last few years have developments on the unit been such as to justify more than a passing glance. Prior to this, the operator's main concern was to dehydrate gas to meet the pipeline specification for water-vapor content; any distillate recovered was considered a bonus. That is not the case today.
Companies have come to expect this unit to "pay its way" and to show a profit beyond the initial cost of the unit, as well as to dehydrate the gas. There now is no reason for allowing heavy hydrocarbons to be delivered to a natural gas pipeline for a price which is about 1/20th of its value if recovered as a stock-tank product.
Structural Characteristics of the Unit
Though the main concern here is with the operational characteristics, it will be helpful to give a brief description of the unit. The unit is fully automatic, skid-mounted and (with the exception of the regeneration gas heater) is self-contained. (See Fig. 1.) In this operation, the gas flows from the wellheads to conventional high-pressure separators and into the unit. Here the gas alternately passes through two vertical adsorption towers, which are packed with silica gel, and goes from there to the gas sales line. While one tower is adsorbing the distillate and water, the other is being regenerated in preparation for adsorption. In the regenerating tower, the liquids are being removed from the desiccant by circulating heated regeneration gas. This heated regeneration gas causes the adsorbed liquids to vaporize and be carried out with the regeneration gas. These vapors are cooled through heat exchangers to a liquid state and separated in the regeneration gas scrubber. The separated liquids are then staged to a stabilizer tower (or to a low-pressure separator) and then on to the stock tank. The gas from the regeneration gas scrubber returns to the gas pump suction. Thus, this unit is operating by what is termed a closed regeneration system; i.e., the regeneration gas is in a separate closed system from the main gas stream and is used over and over for regeneration.
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