Oil and Gas Separation IS a Science
- M. Steve Worley (Black, Sivalls & Bryson Inc.) | Lawton L. Laurence (Black, Sivalls & Bryson Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 1957
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 11 - 16
- 1957. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 4.1.3 Dehydration
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Some oil and gas separations are simple while others are very complex. The oldest forms of separation were manual operations. Observation of physical differences in the components of the mixture to be separated, (color, size, shape, etc.) formed the basis for the action. The actual Separation was then accomplished by applying some force or influence to get the "sheep" into one pen and the "goats" in another.
All separations rely on some physical or chemical difference in the things to be separated. The type and amount of force or influence necessary to effect the separation is determined by these differences. Application of known physical laws of nature are very helpful. Where the known physical laws are inadequate, experience is necessary, often resulting in relatively inefficient cut and try methods with many tests. When the conditions of the separation process change, it is often necessary to drastically change the force or influence causing separation in order to maintain a high efficiency.
Oilfield lease separations vary from removing slugs of oil from gas to dehydration and hydrocarbon fractionation. However, this paper will be limited to a discussion of the mechanical separation of gases and liquids. No matter what the cause of gases and liquids occurring together, their separation cannot ever be complete. The design of separation equipment then becomes a question of balancing cost with desirable or necessary efficiency.
General Description of Types
The most general classification of separators in the oilfield regards their shape. The first and still most popular type of separator consists of vertical cylinder with appropriate internals. The inlet is near the center of the vessel with the gas outlet near the top and the liquid outlet near the bottom. It is a very versatile separator due to its flexibility in operation.
Larger gas capacities can be handled in a horizontal cylinder than in the same diameter vertical cylinder. However, higher gas throughput usually leaves less space for liquid surge and for the accumulation of mud, sand and paraffin. The application of this type separator is very satisfactory for known flowing conditions in a moderately clean well-stream.
Recently spherical separators have gained considerable popularity. The shell consists of two hemispherical heads with appropriate internal construction. They have operating versatility comparable to the horizontal separator and are very compact and easily hooked up.
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