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The typical oil, water and gas separation train consists of a first-stage gravity separator, a second-stage gravity separator and an electrostatic coalescer unit with naked electrodes. The free gas and most of the water is removed in the first and second stages so that a low water-content oil phase is passed to the coalescer. A careful tuning of water content, retention time and temperature together with de-emulsifying chemicals is necessary to obtain a satisfying separation process. For heavy oil compositions, the process becomes difficult and often unstable.
This article describes a one-stage separator design by Norway’s Aibel Technology and the latest experimental results. The new data demonstrates that this technology enhances heavy oil separation and improves produced water quality. Possible applications of this technology are for oil producers on fields struggling with separation problems, and solving problems related to hydrate formation in separation processes.
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