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SEPARATOR :Closed vessels to remove liquid from gases
An oil/gas separator is a pressure vessel used for separating a well
stream into gaseous and liquid components.
They are installed either in an onshore processing station or on an
offshore platform.
Based on the vessel configurations, the oil/gas separators can be
divided into horizontal, vertical, or spherical separators.
In teams of fluids to be separated, the oil/gas separators can be
grouped into gas/liquid two-phase separator or oil/gas/water threephase separator.
Based on separation function, the oil/gas
separators can also classified into primary phase separator, test
separator, high-pressure separator low-pressure separator
deliquilizer degasser etc.
To meet
process requirements, the oil/gas separators are normally designed
in stages, in which the first stage separator is used for preliminary
phase separation, while the second and third stage separator are
applied for further treatment of each individual phase (gas, oil and
Depending on a specific application,
oil/gas separators are also called deliquilizer or degasser. The
deliquilizers are used to remove dispersed droplets from a bulk gas
stream; while the degassers are designed to remove contaimined
gas bubbles from the bulk liquid stream

:Conventional oil/gas separator names

Oil/gas separator

Gas/liquid separator





:Separator container

An oil/gas separator generally consists of following components

Inlet device located in pre-separation zone/section for

preliminary phase separation

Baffles downstream the inlet component to improve flow


Separation enhancement device located in the primary

separation (gravity settling) section for major phase

Mist extraction device located in gas space to further reduce

liquid content in the bulk gas stream

Various weirs to control the liquid level or interface level

Vortex breaker to prevent gas carry under at outlet of liquid


Liquid level/interface detection and control, etc.

Gas, oil, water outlet

Pressure relief devices

In most oil/gas processing systems, the oil/gas separator is the first

vessel the well stream flows through after it leaves the producing
well. However, other equipment such as heaters may be installed
upstream of the separator.

Function of a separator
The primary functions of an oil/gas separator, along with separation
methods, are summarized in Table 1

Requirements of separators
Separators are required to provide oil/gas streams that meet
.saleable pipeline specification as well as disposal

Oil must have less than 1% (by volume) water and less than 5
lbm water/MMscf gas.

Water stream must have less than 20 ppm oil for overboard
discharge in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

Design Consideration
The oil/gas separators are typically sized by the settling theory or
retention time for the liquid phase. To handle the liquid surges or
production fluctuation frequently encountered during oil/gas
production, it is a common practice to size the oil/gas separators
with a sufficient margin. The separator is generally divided into the
following functional zones

Inlet zone

Flow distribution zone

Gravity separation/coalescing zone

Outlet zone

Inlet zone
Appropriate inlet device is needed to obtain an initial bulk
separation of liquid/gas. In most cases, gas will have already come
out of solution in the pipeline, leading to the separator (because of
pressure drop across an upstream choke or a control valve). Hence,
the majority of the gas is separated from the liquid in the inlet zone.
Because of foaming issues and the need for higher capacities,
cyclonic inlets are now becoming increasingly popular. For
applications with inlet momentum saying less than 9 kPa, a vane
.inlet can be used
:Typical inlets include

Flat impact plates

Dished-head plates

Half-open pipes

Vane-type inlet

Cyclone-cluster inlet

These inlets, although inexpensive, may have the shortcoming of

negatively affecting separation performance. However, for highermomentum fluids, these inlets can cause problems. The flat or
dished-head plates can result in small drops and foam. The openpipe designs can lead to fluid short-circuiting or channeling.
Although inlet momentum is a good starting guideline for selection,
the process conditions, as well as the demister choice, should also
be considered. For example, if the liquid loading is low enough that
a demister can handle all the liquid, then inlet devices can be
.applied beyond their typical momentum ranges

Flow distribution Zone

Regardless of the size of the vessel, short-circuiting can result in
poor separation efficiency. Integral to any inlet device is a flow
straightener such as a single perforated baffle plate. A full-diameter
plate allows the gas/liquid to flow more uniformly after leaving the
vane-type inlet, inlet cyclones, or even the impact plates. The plate
also acts as an impingement demister and foam breaker as well.
Typical net-free area (NFA) ranges in the 10 to 50% range. As the
NFA lowers, the shear of the fluids gets higher, so the NFA should be
matched to the particular application. One concern of these plates is

solids buildup on the upstream side. Generally, the velocities are

high enough in the inlet zone to carry the solids through the
perforations. In any case, a flush nozzle should be installed in the
inlet zone. Other designs include flow straightening vanes. However,
.the open area is generally too high to be effective

Gravity/coalescing zone
To assist in separation (and foam breaking), mesh pad, vane pack,
and/or plate/matrix packs are sometimes introduced in the
gas/liquid separator. These internals provide more impingement or
shearing surfaces to enhance coalescing effect of the dispersed
phase. For the gas phase, matrix/plate packs and vanes have been
used to aid in liquid drop coalescence or foam breaking. The theory
behind installing the high surface internals such as plate packs for
foam breaking is that the bubbles will stretch and break as they are
dragged along the surfaces. However, if most of the gas flows
through the top portion of the pack, the foamy layer will not be
sufficiently sheared, and the bubbles will meander through to the
.other end

Outlet zone
Mist capture can occur by three mechanisms; it should be kept in
mind that there are no sharply defined limits between mechanisms.
As the momentum of a droplet varies directly with liquid density and
the cube of the diameter, heavier or larger particles tend to resist
following the streamline of a flowing gas and will strike objects
placed in their line of travel. This is inertial impaction, the
mechanism responsible for removing most particles of diameter >
10 m. Smaller particles that follow the streamlines may collide with
the solid objects, if their distance of approach is less than their
radius. This is direct impaction. It is often the governing mechanism
for droplets in the 1- to 10-m range. With submicron mists,
Brownian capture becomes the dominant collection mechanism. This
depends on Brownian motionthe continuous random motion of
droplets in elastic collision with gas molecules. As the particles
become smaller and the velocity gets lower, the Brownian capture
becomes more efficient. Almost all mist elimination equipment falls
:into four categories





Separator performance
Separation performance can be evaluated by liquid carrying over
and gsa carrying down rates, which are affected by many factors,
:such as

Flow rates

Fluid properties

Vessel configuration


Control system


Separator Components:

1) Primary Separation Section Removes the bulk of the fluid from

the well stream. A tangential inlet which imparts a circular motion to
the fluids.

2) Liquid Accumulation Section To receive the liquids after

separation. Must be large enough to handle surges.
3) Secondary Separation Section Removing smaller droplets of
liquid by using gravitation. Slows the velocity of the gas to minimize
turbulent flow.
4) Mist Extraction Section Removes entrained droplets.
Impingement is used for this. The fluid strikes obstructions which act
as a collecting surface.

Classification by Operating Configuration:

Separators are classified by shape and size. Vertical, horizontal, and
spherical are the most common

:Advantages of the different types

vertical separator (1
A-Liquid level control not as critical
B-Will handle large quantities of sand
C-Easier to clean
D-Has greater surge capacity
E-Less tendency for revalorization of liquid

Horizontal separator: (2
A-Successfully used in handling foaming crudes
B-Cheaper than vertical?
C-Easier to ship on skid assemblies
D-More efficient for large volume of gas
E-Smaller diameter for a given gas capacity

:Spherical separator (3
A-Cheaper than the other two
B-Better clean-out and bottom drain features than vertical type
C-More compact than the others

:Classification separators by Function

Two phase separator(1
gas is separated from the liquid with the gas and liquid being
discharged separately
Three phase separator(2
In three-phase separators, well fluid is separated into gas, oil, and
water with the three fluids being discharged separately

Factors Influencing Separation

1) Operating pressure, Pressure effects the densities of the fluids. The net
effect is an increase in pressure causes an increase in the gas capacity.
2) Temperature, The net effect of Temperature is an increase in
temperature causes a decrease in the capacity.
3) Densities of the fluids, efficiency of particle collection varies with the
densities of the fluids. At constant pressure and temperature the gas
capacity is the square root of the difference of the densities divide by the
density of the gas.
4) Gas velocity, since the gravity separation depends on the settling
velocity of the droplets, a small decrease in the velocity of the gas will
increase the capacity of the vessel.
5) Viscosity also affects the settling velocity of the droplets.

:Facilities and processes

The oil and gas industry facilities and systems are broadly defined,
according to their use in the oil and gas industry production stream
Includes prospecting, seismic and drilling activities that take place before the
development of a field is finally decided
2) Upstream:
Typically refers to all facilities for production and stabilization of oil and gas.
The reservoir and drilling community often uses upstream for the wellhead,
well, completion and reservoir only, and downstream of the wellhead as
production or processing. Exploration and upstream/production together is
referred to as E&P.
3) Midstream:
Broadly defined as gas treatment, LNG production and regasification plants,
and oil and gas pipeline systems.


4) Refining:
Where oil and condensates are processed into marketable products with
defined specifications such as gasoline, diesel or feedstock for the
petrochemical industry. Refinery off sites such as tank storage and distribution
terminals are included in this segment, or may be part of a separate
distributions operation.

5) Petrochemical:
These products are chemical products where the main feedstock is
hydrocarbons. Examples are plastics, fertilizer and a wide range of industrial