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Solids Handling

Separation Systems

Solids Handling
Solids in the production stream can lead to wear, poor performance and blockages in the production system. The challenge when removing solids from the production stream is do this with high efficiency, at a low pressure drop and while ensuring small particle removal. FMC Technologies Solids Handling Systems meet all of these criteria.

Photo (Heidrun Platform): Statoil

Increase production Avoid expensive shut-downs  Minimize wear and damage to equipment reducing maintenance cost  Compact systems: Highly efficient sand removal and handling with a small footprint

Separation Systems
 The separation company major oil companies go to with their most challenging projects  Maximum return on investment through extensive experience and know-how  The only separation company with a proven track record with inline separation equipment  The leading company in subsea separation  Develops out-of-the-box solutions for the separation challenges of tomorrow  The only supplier of sand removal and desanding technologies with experience based on challenging subsea applications

Solids Handling Challenges

Solids are undesirable when producing oil and gas. They can lead to problems like wear, which can affect choke valves, pumps, compressors, piping and hydrocyclones. Other problems caused by solids are blockages of instrument nozzles and a negative impact on separation equipment such as the clogging of filters, blocking of hydrocyclones and filling up of separators. Solids are not always expected but can occur for a v ariety of reasons. For example due to an increase in the gas-oil ratio (e.g. due to gas injection), low-pressure production, increased water production, well clean up or well/sand collapse.

Solids, no problem anymore

Well-stream desanding, bulk separation of larger sand particles (>~100 microns)

Sand removal system for separator vessels


Fine solids separation from water streams (1-50microns)


Desanding from sand slurry streams (~5 microns)


Sand cleaning system


To gas processing

To oil treatment 3 4

Subsea oil gas water Sand

5 Sand handling system Clean sand

FMC Technologies design complete solutions for removing the sand from the production stream and for handling the sand for disposal. Our portfolio consists of highly efficient and compact sand handling systems for removing sand from single or multiphase streams, systems for removing sand from separator vessels, as well as sand cleaning solutions. We are the only supplier of sand removal and desanding technologies with experience of the challenging subsea applications.

Subsea Sand Handling Experience

Marlim Subsea Separation System
The Petrobras Marlim Project is the worlds first system for deepwater subsea separation of heavy oil and water that includes water reinjection to boost production in a mature field development.
The Marlim system is the most complex subsea processing project carried out to date. The water is separated from the well-stream and re-injected back into the reservoir. This is the first application where the produced water is used for pressure maintenance of the reservoir as part of the subsea separation operation and also the first subsea heavy oil application. The system includes a PipeSeparator concept, separating the water from the well stream and a water treatment system using InLine HydroCyclones. The sand handling system includes an InLine DeSander at the inlet of the separation system. This removes most of the sand, from the multiphase well stream, to protect the downstream equipment and to avoid sand accumulation. It also contains a dual redundant Sand Jetting System in the outlet section of the PipeSeparator, and an InLine DeSander for removing the smallest particles in the water stream from the separator to protect the re-injection well and reservoir. The separated sand is routed with the oil to the topside facility. All the separation and sand handling equipment has been tested as part of the technology qualification program started Q4 2009, and was completed Q2 2010. The Marlim system was successfully installed in Q4 2011.

First Subsea InLine Desander application

The system receives the production stream, a mixture of oil, gas, water and sand, and separates the gas from the liquids. Next, the heavy oil is separated from the water using a novel pipe separation design that was licensed and developed in cooperation with Statoil. The system also integrates Separation Systems proprietary water treatment and sand handling technologies as part of the subsea separation system. The separated gas is added back to the oil stream to provide gas lift to the FPU, while the separated water is injected back into the reservoir to further increase production. Sand Removal Application for:  Multiphase / Heavy oil  Enhance the Gas-Liquid and Liquid-Liquid Separation Reduce frequency of flushing of separators  Produced Water  Protection of downstream equipment and reinjection pump

Through the Sand Tolerance Qualification Project we have demonstrated our ability to develop wear-resistant hydrocyclones. In fact, this is the worlds first subsea hydrocyclone. The development focused on process design and material selection to ensure maximum sand tolerance, while accelerated erosion tests were conducted to create alternative solutions. The tests demonstrated excellent sand tolerance, and this successful technology is now being manufactured and will be integrated in the system.

Tordis Subsea Separation Boosting and Injection

Tordis is recognized as one of the most important breakthrough technology milestones for subsea in recent years.

The Tordis system is a water and sand separation and re-injection system. The water and sand are separated from the wellstream in a semi-compact separator vessel, where the sand separates and accumulates at the bottom. The vessel includes a sand removal system which is operated by high-pressure water from the water injection pump. This system is a dual redundant system with two independent technologies:  A Sand Jetting system as the primary sand removal system.  A cyclonic sand removal system which can be operated as a back-up in case of a potential failure of the main sand removal system.

The removed sand is conveyed in batches to a desander and sand accumulator vessel. The accumulated sand is pressurized and goes to the discharge side of the water injection pump. All the separated sand is injected with the water. The sand handling system ensures that the water injection pump does not need to handle significant amounts of sand. The Tordis sand handling system was qualified through a Subsea Separation and Sand Handling System Qualification Program at FMCs facilities in The Netherlands during 2003 and 2004. The InLine DeSander/sand accumulator was qualified as part of the Technology Qualification Program of the Tordis project in 2005.

As the first deepwater subsea processing system in West Africa-which includes subsea gas/liquid separation Pazflor is another of FMCs milestone projects.

Pazflor Subsea Separation System

The Pazflor system is a subsea gas-liquid separation and liquid boosting system. The separator removes the gas from the liquid, so that the liquid can be pumped while gas flows freely to the surface. The Pazflor project includes three subsea separation stations, each including one separator and two hybrid boosting pumps. The separator is designed to prevent sand accumulation. In addition, a sand handling system including a proprietary sand-flushing arrangement is installed as a back-up solution to remove any build-up of sand during operation. The sand handling was qualified as part of the Technology Qualification Program during an extensive separation and sand handling qualification program in 2008.

Operating principle of the InLine DeSander

Upon entering the cyclone, the fluids are given a swirling motion by a specially designed swirl element. Light phases (water, oil and gas) leave the separation section through the centre opening. The solids collect on the outside of the middle pipe section. This pipe section is tapered and thus guides the solids into a concentrated stream, which is taken to the solid outlet. The multiphase (gas-liquid) stream that was separated into the inner pipe is passed to the outer pipe through openings in the swirl element blades.

 InLine design (easily incorporated in existing pipe routing, low weight and space requirement)  0-50% gas-liquid ratio  Minimal reject-flow required  Low dependency between efficiency and sand load Good turndown  Can be installed horizontally or vertically  Unit length 5-10 x ID

 Swirl element to impart swirl flow and G-forces for separation.  Separation section: the sand is pushed out to the side wall
while the liquid or multiphase flow leaves the separation section through centre openings.

Performance of the InLine DeSander

For a given flow a single unit, a few large units, or multiple smaller units can be used. Benefits of using multiple smaller units is that the G-force will be higher and thus smaller size particles can be separated. The advantage of the larger units is that these are more robust when separating larger particles and are better at handling large amounts of sand. Diameter Design Flow Rate m3/h 2 120 600 Max. Inlet Sand Load kg/h 100 6400 32000

1" 6" 12"

Swirl element & Separation chamber

Sand extraction

100 %

From: 1 - 100 microns

96 %

92 %

Liquid/gas stream with sand particles

Sand stream

Sand free liquid/gas

Sand Removal Efficiency

88 %

84 %

500 Kg.

499 Kg.

1 Kg.


1" Diameter





Separating smaller particles efficiently

Case study: Hassi Messaoud

The guaranteed performance for the unit is to achieve a solid content of less than 30 ppm (wt) based on an inlet condition of less than 500 ppm (vol) of solids. The oil content is approximately 400 ppm (vol) of oil in water. The collection vessel is equipped with a Sandwash System for automated disposal of the sand.
Layout of an InLine DeSander for Hassi Messaoud in Algeria, used to remove sand from the produced water stream before it is routed to the produced water system. The unit used a bundle of three smaller 3" units to separate smaller particles efficiently.

Case study: the Heidrun platform

The stream being handled here is the sand-wash outlet stream from a separator, which contains not only sand but also a large amount of wash water from the separator. This water exceeds the handling capacity of the solids disposal system and thus the sand needs to be concentrated before disposal.

Photo: Statoil/Kjetil Alsvi

The Heidrun platform

Sand removal efficiency average 100 90 Sand removed / wt % 80 70 60 50 40 10 270 micron 200 micron 150 micron HD Sand 20 Flow / m3/h 30 40 50 60

Separation efficiency achieved by the InLine DeSander installed on the Heidrun platform. Test sands with different mean particle sizes and the actual Heidrun (HD) sand were separated from the liquid stream at different flow rates. The shaded green area indicates the required performance and operating envelope.

The schematic layout of the InLine DeSander shows the way the unit was installed on the Heidrun platform. The inlet pipe (purple) is connected to the InLine Desander (pink) from the top. The liquid outlet is on the side connected to the liquid outlet piping (red). The solids outlet is on the bottom of the InLine DeSander and connected to the solid collection vessel (yellow).

Test skid
Defining solutions for sand handling challenges requires predicting how the technologies will perform on actual facilities. An indication of the suitability of a certain technology can be obtained from laboratory tests. However, this is never a 100% guarantee that it will work at specific facilities. For that reason Separation Systems provides test skids that can be hooked up to a slipstream of the process stream. In this way an accurate indication can be obtained of the efficiency that our technical solution will have in your production facilities and you can be assured of success when the equipment is finally installed.

We have the following test skids available:  InLine DeWaterer  InLine HydroCyclone

Other solutions by Separation Systems

Production Improvements  Compact Total Separation Systems Heavy Oil production  Efficiency Improvement and Troubleshooting Produced Water

The InLine- DeGasser, DeSander, PhaseSplitter, DeWaterer and DeLiquidiser are patented by Statoil and FMC has exclusive worldwide license to sell this technology.

Copyright August 2010 | FMC Technologies

FMC Technologies 1777 Gears Road Houston TX 77067 USA Phone: +1 281 591 4000

FMC Technologies Separation Systems Delta 101 6825 MN Arnhem The Netherlands Phone: +31 (0)26 7999100