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Gas Processing

Field Separation of oil from gas

Rarely a reservoir can yield pure natural gas. Hydrocarbon stream produced is a complex mixture of several hydrocarbons, intimately mixed with water. Often solids and other contaminants are also present. It is important to remove any solids and contaminants and to separate the produced stream into water, oil and gas which are handled and transported separately. Gas and liquid separation operations involve the separation and stabilization of these phases into saleable products.






Field processing of natural gas includes: Gas and liquid separation operations to remove the free liquids- crude oil, hydrocarbon condensate, and water and the entrained solids. Recovery of condensable hydrocarbon vapors. Stage separation , or low temperature separation techniques are used. Further cleaning of the gas and oil streams after separation. Gas dehydration processing to remove from the gas condensable water vapor that may lead to the formation of hydrates. Removal of contaminants or otherwise undesirable components ,such as H2S and other corrosive sulfur compounds and CO2.

To efficiently perform its separator functions a well designed separator must Control and dissipate the energy of the well stream as it enters the separator and provide low enough gas and liquid velocities for proper gravity segregation and vapor-liquid equilibrium. Remove the bulk of the liquid from the gas in the primary separation section. Have a large settling section, of sufficient volume to refine the primary separation by removing any entrained liquid from the gas and handle any slugs of liquid.

Minimize turbulence in the gas section of the separator to ensure proper settling. Have a mist extractor(or eliminator) near the gas outlet to capture and coalesce the smaller liquid particles that could not be removed by gravity settling. Control the accumulation of froths and foams in the vessel. Prevent re-entrainement of the separated gas and liquid. Have proper control devices for controlling the back pressure and the liquid level in the separator. Provide reliable equipment for ensuring safe and efficient operations.


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Separators can be categorized into three basic types: Vertical separators Horizontal separators Spherical separators


The well stream enters the vertical separator tangentially through an inlet diverter that causes an efficient primary separation by three simultaneous actions on the stream : 1. Gravity settling 2. centrifugation 3. Impingement The gas from the primary separation section flows upwards ,while the liquid falls downward into the liquid accumulation section. The smaller liquid droplets that are carried along by the upwards rising gas stream are removed in the centrifugal baffles near the top. Finally a mist extractor at the gas outlet removes any entrained liquid droplets from the gas in the micron size.


Advantages :
A vertical separator can handle relatively large liquid slugs without carryover into the gas outlet. The tendency of the liquid to revaporize is also minimized , because less surface area is available to the liquid for evaporation. It occupies less floor space, a particularly important advantage for operations on an offshore platform where floor area is at a premium. Disadvantages: They are more expensive to fabricate and more expensive to transport to location. A vertical separator for the same capacity is usually larger than a horizontal separator , since the upwards flowing gas in the vertical separator opposes the falling droplets of liquid.






Separation begins with well flow streams entering a vessel horizontally and hitting a series of perpendicular plates. This causes liquids to drop to the bottom of the vessel while gas (red) rises to the top. Gravity separates the liquids into oil (brown) and water (blue). The gas, oil and water phases are metered individually as they exit the unit through separate outflow lines. Mechanical meters measure fluids; an orifice meter measures the gas. Both devices require periodic recalibration.


In the double tube type separator , the upper tube acts as the separator section, while the lower tube merely functions as a liquid accumulation section. The double type separator is similar to a single tube separator, but with a greater liquid capacity. The liquid generated in the primary separation section near the inlet is immediately drained out into the lower tube.

They have a much greater gas-liquid interface area, permitting higher gas velocities. They are cheaper to fabricate and ship than vertical separators. They are also easier and cheaper to install and service.

Liquid level control is critical for horizontal separators , and the surge space is rather limited. They are much harder to clean, and therefore not advisable to use where the well produces a lot of sand. They occupy a lot of space.


A ball-shaped vessel used for fluid separation. A spherical separator can be used for two-phase or threephase separation purposes. An inlet flow diverter spreads the entering well stream tangentially against the separator wall. The liquid is split into two streams that come together after halfway around the circular vessel wall and then fall into the liquid accumulation section. A mist extractor is used for the final removal of small liquid droplets in the gas. Nevertheless, their compact size and ease of transportation have made them suitable.

Spherical separators are very inexpensive cheaper than either the vertical or the horizontal separators. They are very compact , and offer better clean out and bottom drain features than even the vertical type.

Liquid level control is critical to the spherical separator performance. They have very limited surge capacity and liquid settling section. Because of the limited internal space , it is difficult to use a spherical separator for three phase (gasoil-water )separation.

The several different techniques applied for separation processing can be broadly classified into two categories: 1. Mechanical separation 2. Chemical separation In separators, the mechanical separation methods that are applied are of three types: 1. Centrifugal action 2. Gravity settling 3. Impingement

Consider a centrifuge of radius R2, height h, and inner shaft radius R1. Feed enters at a volumetric rate q. As the centrifuge rotates at an angular speed , the heavier liquid droplets are thrown outward to the centrifuge walls . The residence time t for the fluid in the centrifuge is given by: t= centrifuge volume/volumetric flow rate of fluid = (R22-R12)h / q In the analysis it is assumed for simplicity that the liquid droplets are spherical, with a uniform diameter dp.

The area A projected by a droplet is therefore equal to (/4)dp2.