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Engineering Encyclopedia

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CRUDE OIL DESALTING

Note: The source of the technical material in this volume is the Professional
Engineering Development Program (PEDP) of Engineering Services.
Warning: The material contained in this document was developed for Saudi
Aramco and is intended for the exclusive use of Saudi Aramcos employees.
Any material contained in this document which is not already in the public
domain may not be copied, reproduced, sold, given, or disclosed to third
parties, or otherwise used in whole, or in part, without the written permission
of the Vice President, Engineering Services, Saudi Aramco.

Chapter : Chemical
File Reference: CHE-104.06

For additional information on this subject, contact


PEDD Coordinator on 874-6556

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Section

Page

INFORMATION ............................................................................................................... 4
INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................. 4
PRINCIPLES OF CRUDE OIL DESALTING ................................................................... 5
Background ..................................................................................................... 5
Source of Salts and Contaminants in Crude ................................................... 6
Contaminant Tests .......................................................................................... 8
Desalting Process ......................................................................................... 10
Theory ........................................................................................................... 14
Typical Desalter Performance ....................................................................... 19
DETERMINING desalter Process Variables and OPTIMUM Operating CONDITIONS. 21
Oil Feed Quality ............................................................................................ 21
Temperature.................................................................................................. 21
Pressure........................................................................................................ 22
Wash Water Rates, Quality, Injection Points, and Sources........................... 23
Wash Water/Oil Mixing.................................................................................. 24
Electric Field.................................................................................................. 28
Oil/Water Residence Times........................................................................... 32
Chemical Additives........................................................................................ 34
DESALTER DESIGN FEATURES................................................................................. 36
Conventional Low Velocity Units ................................................................... 36
Natco Dual Polarity ....................................................................................... 41
Petreco Bielectric Design .............................................................................. 42
Howe-Baker Edge Design ............................................................................. 45
Mud Wash System ........................................................................................ 46
Electrical Components .................................................................................. 47
Entrance Bushings................................................................................... 47
Transformers and Reactors ..................................................................... 49
Electrical Instrumentation......................................................................... 50
Interface Level Control .................................................................................. 51

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ESTIMATE THE SIZE OF A DESALTER ...................................................................... 55


DESALTER PERFORMANCE EVALUATION............................................................... 57
Performance Indices ..................................................................................... 57
Analytical Procedures ................................................................................... 58
Shutdown/Startup Procedures ...................................................................... 58
TROUBLESHOOTING CRUDE OIL DESALTING EQUIPMENT .................................. 59
SUMMARY.................................................................................................................... 60
WORK AIDS.................................................................................................................. 63
Work Aid 1: Graph for Determining Optimum Operating Condition .............. 63
Work Aid 2: Resources for Estimating the Size of a Desalter....................... 64
Work Aid 4: Resources for Troubleshooting Desalter Operation .................. 71
GLOSSARY .................................................................................................................. 79
REFERENCES.............................................................................................................. 81
ADDENDUMS ............................................................................................................... 84
Addendum E: Water Solubility in Crude Oil E-94...................................... 84
Addendum A: Desalter Shutdown and Start Up Instructions ........................ 85
Addendum B: Desalting Equipment Vendors ............................................... 89
Addendum C: Typical Chemical Analysis of Sea & Aquifer Water .............. 91
Addendum D: Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes .............................. 92
Addendum D:

Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes ............................. 92

Addendum D:

Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes ............................. 93

Addendum E: Water Solubility in Crude Oil................................................. 94

Table of Figures
Figure 1. Basic Sediment and Water............................................................................. 9
Figure 2. Single-Stage Desalting Flow Diagram .......................................................... 11
Figure 3. Two-Stage Desalting Flow Diagram ............................................................. 12
Figure 4. Three-Stage Electrostatic Desalting System ................................................ 13

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Figure 5. Solution Versus Mixture ............................................................................... 14


Figure 8. Surfactants ................................................................................................... 18
Figure 9. Double-Ported Globe Valve - Mix Valve ...................................................... 25
Figure 10. Optimizing Mixing Valve P ...................................................................... 26
Figure 11. Variable-Speed Multistage Mixer ............................................................... 27
Figure 12. Variable-Speed Multistage Mixer Effect on Desalted Oil ............................ 28
Figure 13. Electrostatically Enhanced Water Droplet Coalescence ............................ 30
Figure 14. Typical Petreco Low Velocity Desalter ....................................................... 37
Figure 15. Drilled Pipe Inlet Distributor in Coalescence Zone ..................................... 38
Figure 16. Inverted Trough Distributor in Water Phase ............................................... 39
Figure 17. Electrical Configurations (Single-Volted) .................................................... 40
Figure 68. Electrical Configurations (Double-Volted) ................................................... 41
Figure 19. Natco Dual Polarity Design ........................................................................ 42
Figure 20. Bielectric Desalter ...................................................................................... 44
Figure 21. Howe-Baker Edge Design .......................................................................... 45
Figure 22. Mud Wash System ..................................................................................... 47
Figure 23. Typical Entrance Bushing ........................................................................... 48
Figure 24. Howe-Bakers Double Protection Bushing ................................................. 49
Figure 25. Agar Desalter Controls ............................................................................... 53
Figure 26. Trycock Interface Sampler ......................................................................... 54
Figure 27. Desalter Flow Diagram ............................................................................... 57
Figure 1A. ..................................................................................................................... 63
Figure 2B. ..................................................................................................................... 66
Figure 2C. .................................................................................................................... 67
Figure 2D. .................................................................................................................... 68
Figure 3D. Desalter Flow Diagram .............................................................................. 70

Table

Table 1. Emulsion/Demulsification Factors ................................................................. 15

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INFORMATION
INTRODUCTION
This module addresses the importance of desalting in crude oil
production and refining. Crude oil desalting involves the process
separation of salt, sediment, and slugs of water. The module
begins by covering the principles of crude oil desalting. This
section provides some background on the desalting process,
the source of salts and contaminants in crude oil, and typical
desalter performance.
The second section covers the various process variables
affecting crude oil desalting and operating guidelines. These
variables are: oil feed quality, temperature, pressure, wash
water rates and quality, wash water/oil mixing, electric field,
gravity settling, and chemical additives.
The third section covers desalter design features. A description
of conventional low velocity units, electrical components, and
interface level control is presented. A procedure to estimate the
size of desalters based on Saudi Aramco data is also
presented.
The fourth section covers performance evaluation and
troubleshooting. The various performance indices and analytical
techniques are discussed. Common performance problems and
operating difficulties are described along with associated
corrective measures.

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PRINCIPLES OF CRUDE OIL DESALTING


Background
Contrary to what many people think, a refinery's desalting unit is
one of its most valuable assets. The desalter removes watersoluble contaminants and oil-insoluble particulates. It provides
more protection to refinery equipment than any other single
piece of process hardware.
Crude oil is a mixture of many different hydrocarbon molecules.
It is extracted from formations beneath the earth's surface and
transported to refineries. During this time, many opportunities
exist for contaminants to enter the crude oil. The crude oil can
accumulate contaminants from brine in the oil formation,
formation stimulation programs, polymer injections to reduce
formation particle entrainment, chemicals to enhance the
operation of necessary machinery, additives to reduce paraffin
build-up, corrosion inhibitors, polymers injected into pipelines to
reduce drag coefficients, and many others.
The desalter makes possible:

Greatly reduced corrosion and fouling problems


(contaminants contribute to fouling and coking of refinery
equipment)

Protection from small slugs of water in crude oil feed due to


tank switching, high bottoms level, and use of previously
inactive lines.

Greater throughput

Extended runs (less downtime)

More stable plant operation

Optimum operating temperatures with minimum fuel


requirements

Consistent production of on-spec products

Overall reduced operating costs

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The desalter achieves this by removing:

Brine

Sediment (sand, silt and drilling mud). Sediment usually


refers to particles that are larger than about 20 microns, a
somewhat arbitrary cut-off point. These particles are large
enough to be centrifuged from the oil and they will usually
settle out given enough time.

Suspended solids (mostly corrosion products such as metal


sulfides and oxides). These particles are usually smaller
than 20 microns and too small to settle out. They are also
hard to detect by centrifuging. The best measurement
technique is filtration, which captures these particles along
with sediment as "filterable solids".

Desalting is an integral part of refinery crude oil processing but


desalters have a limited capability to remove contaminants.
Export crude oil specifications limit the amount of salt and
sediment so that refinery desalters can provide adequate
protection of refinery equipment. Field/GOSP desalters are
often required to meet these crude oil specifications.

Source of Salts and Contaminants in Crude


The salt found in crude oil originates from production, secondary
or tertiary recovery, and/or transportation and handling
operations. Operating experience has shown a wide range of
salt composition from wet crude production in different parts of
the world. The geologic formations from which a crude is
produced influence the brine composition and concentration.
The water-soluble impurities in the brine produced with the
crude consist primarily of sodium, calcium, and magnesium
salts that are generally chlorides. In some crudes considerable
quantities of sulfates are also found. Chlorides are the most
corrosive components in the brine. At high temperatures these
salts undergo hydrolysis that liberates hydrochloric acid. In the
refinery this acid is carried overhead in the flash and
fractionating towers.

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The three common salts found in crude oil and their typical
compositions are:
Volume %

Salt
Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

75%

Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2)

15%

Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)

10%

Brine concentrations vary from merely brackish waters all the


way to concentrated solutions. Salt concentrations in crude oil
brine have been found to vary from about 3% (close to that of
sea water shown in Addendum C) to more than 25%. The salt
composition in the brine can also vary significantly depending
on source, recovery techniques, and shipping and handling
procedures. This is evidenced by the wide range of Ca/Na ratio,
chloride, sulfate, and carbonate contents measured in crude oil
brines around the world. For a specific crude, salt content may
correlate with bottoms, sediment, and water (BS&W) content,
but such relations are meaningless for different crudes or for
crudes from the same geologic formation that are recovered
using different production techniques.
New fields will frequently start producing clean crude containing
only a few pounds of salt per thousand barrels of crude (ptb).
One ptb is equivalent to approximately 3 wppm (weight part per
million) dependent on the crude gravity as shown below.
Crude Gravity, API

wppm/ptb

45

3.56

35

3.36

25

3.04

10

2.85

As well production age increases, however, the crude salt


content also rises. Water flooding and CO2 injection are the
principal secondary recovery techniques for continuing crude
production from wells with declining crude flow. Crudes
produced by water flooding have higher than normal solids
content and electrical conductivity, and are, therefore, more
difficult to desalt. Injection of CO2 containing gas may dissolve
more calcium bicarbonate into the water with the crude.

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When secondary recovery becomes uneconomical, tertiary


recovery methods are used. These include steam injection and
fire flooding. Fire flooding involves injecting air in the producing
well and igniting it to stimulate the flow of crude and increase
recovery. Crudes from tertiary recovery operations, particularly
fire flooding, are notoriously difficult to desalt.

Contaminant Tests
Refineries classify contaminants into four major groups: water,
salt, sediment, and metals. It is the function of the desalter to
remove as much of these contaminants as possible. Poor
removal of these contaminants cause upsets throughout the
refinery. For instance, slugs of water can blow out crude tower
trays and reduce the effective tower pressure which can lead to
off-spec products. Salts cause exchanger fouling, furnace
coking and corrosion especially in the crude unit. Sediments can
cause fouling and erosion in high velocity areas such as piping
bends. Metals can poison catalysts.
Laboratory monitoring methods include the following:
Contaminant

Laboratory Test

Water

1. Distillation, 2. Centrifuge (BSW)

Salt
Conductivity

1. Titration, 2. Chromatography, 3.

Sediment

1. Centrifuge (BSW), 2. Filtration

Metals

Spectroscopy

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Water and sediment is usually determined by a BS&W test in


which a crude sample is placed in a graduated centrifuge tube
and spun at speeds up to 3600 RPM. The resulting levels of
water and sediment are read for the tube as indicated in Figure
1. the result is expressed as a percent BS&W.

Figure 1. Basic Sediment and Water

Metals are not usually monitored in crude oil but are monitored
in refinery feed stocks to other units.

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Desalting Process
Initial "oil treating" or dehydration of crude oil production usually
takes place in the oil field to reduce the volume of water moving
through the transportation system. Most crudes can be
electrostatically dehydrated to the 0.1% to 0.5% BS&W. Some
heavier (under 20 API) and more viscous crudes (greater than
18 cSt at operating temperature) can only be reduced to the
0.5% to 5.0% BS&W range. Depending on the crude oil source,
the amount of salt that is acceptable for export markets is
typically 10 ptb. While this is not low enough to achieve the
fouling and corrosion control desired in a refinery, it is low
enough for single-stage desalting at the refinery to achieve
acceptable salt levels.
Electrostatic desalting is used to remove salts and particulates
from crude oil. The crude oil-brine mixture is contacted with
wash water using a mix valve just upstream of the desalter
vessel. Salt is extracted from the brine into the wash water
droplets. The electric field in the desalter enhances water
droplet coalescence so that water/oil separation requires much
less residence time, and hence a smaller vessel, than is needed
for unenhanced settling. Small quantities of desalting aids are
often added to enhance contacting effectiveness, droplet
coalescence, and water separation. Desalted oil is removed
from the top of the desalter vessel and the briny water from the
bottom.
The most efficient place to remove salt from crude oil is usually
at the refinery because the desalting can be done at the
optimum temperature. Field desalters do not often have much
control over the operating temperature because heating the
crude adds a significant cost. Heating the crude for refinery
desalting adds no additional cost since the crude must be
heated to process it in the atmospheric crude column (Atm.
Col.).

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Refinery desalters are generally installed in the crude oil


preheat exchanger train of the atmospheric crude column. As
indicated by the schematic presented in Figure 2 for a singlestage desalting operation, chemical desalting aid (demulsifier) is
typically injected at the suction side of the crude charge pump,
and wash water (fresh water) is added at the mix valve
immediately upstream of the desalter. The treated oil from the
desalter (desalted product) is fed through the remaining crude
preheat exchangers before entering the Atm Col. Some
installations include a preflash unit between the desalter and
these downstream exchangers. The wastewater from the
desalter (effluent water or brine) is fed to an API separator,
brine settling tanks, or other oil-water separation unit prior to
any treatment required for meeting local environmental
regulations for wastewater discharge. In situations where a
suitable wash water supply is inadequate, a portion of the
effluent brine may be recycled to supplement the fresh wash
water available for the operation.

Figure 2. Single-Stage Desalting Flow Diagram

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A typical two-stage electrostatic desalting operation is shown


schematically in Figure 3. Since large quantities of suitable
wash water are unavailable at most refineries, typical two-stage
desalter operations feature countercurrent water-oil flow. In
such an operation, fresh water is added at the mix valve for the
second stage desalter and the effluent water from the second
stage is used as wash water for the first stage. Demulsifier
injection is required upstream of the first stage, and depending
on the nature of the demulsifier, may also be needed upstream
of the second stage as well.
Saudi Aramco production facilities typically have an electrostatic
coalescer dehydrator vessel upstream of the desalter vessel(s).
GOSP desalters typically have a dehydrator stage followed by
one desalter stage.

Figure 3. Two-Stage Desalting Flow Diagram

GOSP desalters may be three-stage desalters in countercurrent


operation using saline (sea or well) wash water (see Figure 4).
The first stage operates as an electrostatic coalescer dehydrator
which can operate with or without wash water. The second and
third stages operate as a conventional two-stage configuration.
To conserve wash water, a fresh wash water rate of ~ 1.5% and
internal water recycle rates of ~ 3% of crude throughput may be
used in each stage to supply the necessary 4.5% water in this
case.

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Figure 4. Three-Stage Electrostatic Desalting System

Work Aid 1 lists Saudi Aramco field/GOSP desalter facilities and


configurations.

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Theory
When two or more substances come in contact with one
another, they may:

React to form a new compound

Dissolve to form a stable liquid phase

Become a homogeneous mixture or two distinct phases

Precipitate out of solution

Reactions and precipitations are not normally encountered in


desalter operations and will not be discussed.
When a substance is dissolved in solution, the molecules
separate from each other. In a mixture, the solute molecules are
grouped together as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Solution Versus Mixture

A mixture has been described as two or more intermingled


substances with no constant percent composition and with each
component retaining its essential properties.

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A general rule of thumb is that "likes dissolve likes". For


instance, a hydrocarbon mixed with a hydrocarbon will usually
form a stable solution but a hydrocarbon mixed with water will
form a mixture, In desalter applications energy is added through
mix valves, mixers or pumps to disperse the water as very small
droplets. A stable water/oil mixture is called an emulsion or rag
layer. In any separator there may be an emulsion or rag layer
(water/oil mixture) between the oil phase and the water phase.
Factors that influence the forming of an emulsion
(emulsification) or the breaking up of an emulsion
(demulsification) are shown in Figure 6.

MACROSCOPIC
Factor/Property

Favors Demulsification

Favors Emulsification

density

large density difference

small density difference

time

long retention time

short retention time

vessel size

large vessel

small vessel

flowrates

low flowrates

light flowrates

temperature

high temperature

low temperature

pressure

--

--

droplet size

large size

small size

droplet attraction

opposite charges

same charges

MICROSCOPIC
Factor/Property

Favors Demulsification

Favors Emulsification

surfactants

small to none

large quantities

surface charge

little to no charge

high charge

contaminants

small to none

large quantities

pH

acidic to neutral in

basic in most systems

most systems
Table 1. Emulsion/Demulsification Factors

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The rate at which water droplets dispersed in oil will settle is


defined by Stokes law in a desalter as shown in equation 1.
8.3 x105 (SG water
V=
oil
Where:

SGoil ) d2

SG

= specific gravity

d
V

= viscosity
= diameter of droplet
= settling velocity

Eqn. 1

From this equation, it can be seen that large density differences


increase the settling velocity and favors demulsification. As
temperature is increased, the viscosity decreases which also
favors demulsification. Sufficient pressure is necessary to keep
the oil from vaporizing as the temperature is increased. In
general, any factor that increases the droplet diameter will
greatly increase demulsification. Coalescence which combines
water droplets increases droplet diameter. A similar equation
can be written for oil droplets in the water phase.
In order to understand why electrostatic fields increase
coalescence, it is necessary to examine droplets on a
microscopic scale. A typical water droplet is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 6. Neutral Solution


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The water droplet has no net charge. When this water droplet is
placed in an electrostatic field, the droplet distorts (elongates).
In addition, the ions in solution migrate to one side as shown fin
Figure 8.

Figure 7. Electrical (Dipole) Coalescence

This gives each half of the droplet a net positive or negative


charge. Coalescence will be encouraged since opposite
charges attract. The attractive force is described by the
following equation.

Where:

Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards

F=

K E2 r 6
a4

K
E
r
a

=
=
=
=

Eqn. 2

dielectric constant for oil


voltage gradient
droplet radius
distance between droplets

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As with settling velocity, the droplet size plays an important role


in the rate of coalescence. The attractive force between 10
micron droplets is a million times that between 1 micron drops.
As drops become closer the force increases. With 5% wash
water, the distance between drops is 2 diameters and
coalescence occurs in 0.1 seconds. With only 0.1% wash
water, the distance between drops is 8 diameters which reduces
the force 250 fold and coalescence becomes insignificant. A
large voltage gradient cannot compensate for large distances
between drops caused by use of inadequate amount of wash
water.
A surfactant is a material that migrates to the oil-water interface.
It generally has a hydrophobic end (no water affinity) and/or a
hydrophillic end (strong water affinity). It can have catonic,
anionic or neutral tails. The hydrophilic end of the surfactant will
align itself with the water droplet as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 8. Surfactants

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The hydrophobic ends of the surfactants inhibit water droplet


contact. When these surfactants have a net charge (surface
charge), the coalescence inhibition is amplified. The function of
desalter chemicals is to remove these surfactants from the
interface so that water droplets can coalesce.
In addition to surfactants, other contaminants can also hinder
desalter operation. For instance, amines and high pH can have
a detrimental effect on coalescence. Amines will form salts by
reacting with an organic acid in the crude. The polar end of the
hydrocarbon salt will migrate to the oil-water interface and
become a surfactant. High water pH can increase the formation
of organic salts formed due to contaminants. A consistent
source of high quality wash water for the desalter will minimize
the large detrimental effects of surfactants and contaminants.

Typical Desalter Performance


Properly sized and operated single-stage desalting is capable of
meeting most refinery salt-in-crude requirements for reduced
corrosion and fouling when handling lighter oils (30 API or
higher). Desalting efficiencies ranging between 90% and 95%
can be expected for a properly sized and operated unit.
Efficiencies between 85% and 90% can be anticipated for heavy
crudes (20 API or lower) or crudes blended with residua that
are more difficult to desalt. New desalter designs for heavy
crudes may have desalting efficiencies as high as 95%.
Salt concentrations in the feed to a Saudi Aramco Refinery
desalter are about 10 ptb, depending upon source, extent of
field treating, and transportation and handling operations prior to
desalting. The salt content of feeds to Saudi Aramco production
facility desalters is in the range of 4,000 ptb and above. Salt
concentrations in the crude leaving desalters are generally
between 1 ptb in the refinery and 10 ptb at GOSP. Although
such salt levels are adequate for minimizing fouling and
corrosion in refinery crude preheat exchangers and crude unit
operations, salt levels below 1 ptb may be required in the heavy
feeds to cat cracking units, to reduce catalyst poisoning by
sodium in the feed or ammonium chloride plugging in the cat
cracker fractionator. To achieve such low salt levels, two-stage
desalting may be required. With two-stage desalting, salt
removal efficiencies of about 99% can be achieved. Also, large
water slugs can be removed in a two-stage desalter with
minimal effect on downstream operation.
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Saudi Aramco Refinery desalter feed oil generally contains


between 0.05 and 0.5 vol% water, with values as high as 1%
occasionally reported. Feeds to Saudi Aramco production
facility desalters contain as much as 30 vol% water. Effluent oil
from a single-stage desalter will generally contain between 0.05
and 0.5 vol% water, depending on the physical properties of the
oil. Water contents of up to 0.5 vol% in the desalted oil are not
uncommon when handling heavier crudes, which are more
difficult to dehydrate. A water content of 0.1 vol% is typical in
most desalted oils. The water carryover from a desalting
operation can, therefore, be the same, or even slightly higher,
than the water in the feed oil. However, because of dilution with
wash water, the water carried over from the desalter has a
considerably lower salt concentration than the water in the feed.
Thus, desalting efficiency can remain high even with slightly
higher water content in this treated oil.
Mechanically filterable materials in the crude that are insoluble
in both oil and water are generally classified as solids. Solids
content in the crude to a desalter typically varies from 1 to 200
ptb. Vendor experience suggests desalter solids removal
efficiencies of 50% to 90% depending on the density and
viscosity of the crude and the effectiveness of any desalter
chemical additive.

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DETERMINING DESALTER PROCESS VARIABLES AND OPTIMUM


OPERATING CONDITIONS
The primary variables in the process include oil feed quality,
desalter operating temperature and pressure, wash water
amount and quality, pressure drop across the mixing valve, the
electric field, oil and water residence times in the vessel, and
type and amount of chemical additive used.

Oil Feed Quality


Oil feed type and quality has a significant influence on desalter
performance. Oil from secondary and tertiary recovery is
usually more difficult to desalt. Normally, light (high API gravity)
oils are relatively easy to desalt. Heavier oils are more difficult
to desalt for several reasons. The density difference between
the oil and water is smaller and the oil viscosity is relatively
higher so that the rate of water droplet settling in the desalter is
low. Heavier oils also tend to contain more naturally occurring
emulsifiers than lighter crudes. These tend to inhibit water
droplet coalescence and promote the formation of stable
emulsions in the desalter. In addition, heavier crudes often
contain more sulfur and, therefore, more iron sulfide. Iron
sulfide is insoluble in oil and basic water (over 7 pH) and tends
to accumulate at the oil/water interface in the desalter, making it
a very effective emulsion stabilizer. Effective desalting of
heavier crudes may require reduced throughputs or increased
desalting capacity, higher temperatures, more intense wash
water/oil mixing, and/or increased chemical demulsifier dosage.

Temperature
For every desalter installation and crude blend processed, there
is an optimum desalter operating temperature. Crude is heated
to the desired refinery desalter operating temperature by the
portion of the crude preheat exchanger train upstream of the
desalter. The location in this preheat exchanger train is
determined by the desired desalter operating temperature.

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High temperature is required for several reasons. The primary


purpose is to lower the oil viscosity to increase the settling rate
of water droplets in the desalter. In addition, higher temperature
tends to promote coalescence of the water droplets by
enhancing the drainage of the oil-surfactant layer surrounding
the water droplets. Larger water droplets thus formed settle
more rapidly in the lower viscosity oil. Production field/GOSP
desalters typically operate at temperatures between 60F and
200F. The operating temperature range is typically 200300F for refinery desalters. This temperature range is high
enough to melt waxes that could hinder coalescence and water
separation from the oil.
Excessively high desalter operating temperatures can cause
significant operating problems. High desalting temperatures
increase crude conductivity, and may cause high current draw
and low desalting voltage that could result in poor water droplet
coalescence and desalting.
Since water solubility in the crude increases with increasing
temperature as shown in Addendum E, high desalter operating
temperatures can also lead to higher water content in the crude
from the desalter. Operating temperatures above 300F should
be avoided since standard desalter entrance bushings will fail
frequently in prolonged service at such temperatures.

Pressure
Desalter operating pressure must be maintained at a sufficiently
high level to prevent vaporization. If a vapor space develops in
the vessel, a safety float switch or low level switch will
automatically de-energize the electrodes and effectively shut
down the desalter. Any vaporization results in erratic operation
and a loss in desalting efficiency by generating turbulence that
hinders coalesced water droplet settling in the desalter. The
required pressure depends on the desalter operating
temperature and crude type. Desalters typically operate at
pressures between 65 and 300 psig.

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Wash Water Rates, Quality, Injection Points, and Sources


Wash water rates between 4 and 8 vol% (10 to 12 vol%
maximum) of the crude throughput are required to maintain
effective desalter performance. The wash water is normally
injected just upstream of the mixing valve. Wash water addition
provides the water droplet concentration needed to contact and
rupture the protective coating surrounding the brine and
promote coalescence to form larger, more easily separated
droplets with reduced salt concentration. This water is essential
for the desalting process. Insufficient wash water leads to poor
contacting with brine droplets in the oil, reduces the dilution
effect on the salt concentration in entrained water from the
desalter, and reduces the effectiveness of the desalter's electric
field in promoting droplet coalescence because the water
droplets are too far apart.
In situations where a suitable wash water supply is inadequate,
a portion of the effluent brine may be recycled to supplement
the fresh wash water available for the operation. In general,
because of the higher ionic content in the recycled water, water
recycling does not work as well as fresh water addition and
should be used only where there are no practical alternatives.
Wash water should have a much lower salt content than
formation water or the brine in the crude oil. Raw water that
Saudi Aramco uses is not normally salt free and has high total
dissolved solids as indicated for aquifer water in Addendum C.
The wash water quality for refinery desalters is a key process
consideration that not only affects the desalting operation, but
also has significant impact on preheat exchanger-fouling,
furnace tube coking, and fractionator plugging. Ideally the wash
water should be essentially free of oxygen, ammonia, dissolved
salts (total hardness), soluble organics, and hydrogen sulfide,
and also have a pH such that the effluent brine from the desalter
has a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Raw water (filtered or with low
solids content) or stripped sour water is typically used as wash
water for desalting. The effect of using such process water as
desalter wash water should be evaluated by process
calculations. Wash water acidification or caustic addition
facilities may be required to meet pH requirements.

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Crude unit atmospheric and vacuum column condensates are


good wash water types for refinery desalters. Boiler feed water
is also good, if it has zero hardness and a low soluble salt
content. These types of water are preferred because they are
free of dissolved oxygen. When atmospheric crude column
overhead water is used as wash water, fluctuations in the
quality of this water due to erratic overhead system corrosion
control can cause desalting problems. For example, a drop in
the overhead pH can dissolve iron. Raising the pH at the
desalter can cause the iron to precipitate as solid iron sulfide
particles that stabilize emulsions in the desalter and can cause
excessive water carryover and/or oily desalter brine. Cooling
tower blow down is not considered very suitable for desalter
wash water because it normally contains fine solids that can
stabilize desalter emulsions. Water from cat feed Hydrofiners
and FCCUs is also unsuitable as desalter wash water because
it contains very high levels of ammonia. Such water must be
stripped in a sour water stripper before use, to less than 200
ppm ammonia. Stripped sour water is a suitable wash water
source since much of the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide has
been removed.

Wash Water/Oil Mixing


The degree of wash water/oil mixing is generally regulated by
controlling the pressure drop ( P) across a specially designed
globe valve, typically a double-ported globe valve (see Figure
10). This mixing energy must ensure that the wash water
contacts all of the dispersed brine droplets in the oil. The mixing
valve is specifically designed to produce the desired intimate
mixing between the wash water and the oil. Increasing the P
increases the mixing energy imparted to the oil charge and
causes the formation of smaller water droplets. Mixing must be
sufficient to produce the desired contacting between the wash
water and brine, sand, and sediment particles in the oil, but not
high enough to cause formation of a stable emulsion.

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Figure 9. Double-Ported Globe Valve - Mix Valve

Under mixing or over mixing can occur. As indicated in Figure


11, under mixing (an insufficient P) results in low salt removal
and low water carryover. If under mixing is a problem, the
pressure drop across the mixing valve should be increased.
Too great a pressure drop across the mixing valve (over mixing)
causes the production of such small water droplets that a tight
water-in-oil emulsion is generated that cannot be readily broken
by the electric field in the desalter. Indications that over mixing
is occurring include unusually low electrode voltage and a
higher than normal water carryover into the desalted oil.

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Figure 10. Optimizing Mixing Valve P

The P required for optimum mixing varies according to


operating temperature and crude type. Mixing valve pressure
drops between 7 psi and 25 psi are typical. Manual valve
adjustment is normally used to achieve the desired mixing P,
although diaphragm actuated valves can be used if remote
operation is needed. Accurate P readings require use of a
differential pressure gauge rather than the difference between
two separate gauges.
For heavy crude oils, desalter vendors sometimes recommend
the use of variable speed in-line dynamic mixers (see Figure
12). Such mixers are also suitable for light crudes but do not
justify the cost. Saudi Aramco does not use variable speed inline mixers.

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With permission from Howe-Baker Engineers, Inc.

Figure 11. Variable-Speed Multistage Mixer

The effect of using a variable-speed, multistage, motor driven


mixer is shown in Figure 13 which is a plot of BS&W and salt
content for a desalted crude. After 5 hours of on-spec
operation, a conventional mix valve replaced the mixer with 40
psi pressure drop across it. While the BS&W remained
relatively stable, salt content increased to 15-20 ptb from less
than 5. After the mixer was put back in service, salt levels
returned to less than 5 ptb.

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With permission from Howe-Baker Engineers, Inc.

Figure 12. Variable-Speed Multistage Mixer Effect on Desalted Oil

Electric Field
The purpose of the electric field in the desalter is to dehydrate
(demulsify) the water/oil dispersion after the mixing operation.
This is accomplished by polarizing the water droplets, thereby
enhancing droplet coalescence and greatly increasing the
water-settling rate in the desalter. Most desalters employ ac
fields with an applied voltage in the range of 15,000-25,000 V.
There are actually two electric fields in a low velocity desalter.
The field between the lower electrode and the water interface is
where most of the dehydration occurs. The second field
between the two electrode grids provides a polishing action on
the dispersion. The voltage gradient in these fields is generally
between 1,000 and 5,000 V/in. A low interface level will result in
a significant reduction in the voltage gradient and poor
dehydration / desalting.

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With no external forces acting on it, a water droplet suspended


in crude oil assumes a spherical shape (Figure 14). When a
high-voltage electric field is imposed, however, the droplet
distorts into an elliptical shape, with positive charges
accumulating at the end nearest the negative electrode of the
external electric field, and negative charges at the end nearest
the positive electrode (Figure 14). The drop is an induced
dipole. Two adjacent droplets in the field have an electrical
attraction for one another (Figure 14). The negative end of one
droplet is nearest the positive end of the neighboring droplet, so
there is an attractive force between the two that tends to draw
them together. This force should be of sufficient magnitude to
rupture the interfacial film between the droplets upon collision,
and allows them to coalesce into one larger droplet.

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Figure 13. Electrostatically Enhanced Water Droplet Coalescence

The relative effect of the variables that determine the magnitude


of the attractive force between droplets in an electric field is
described by:
F=

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a4

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Where:
F

attractive force

dielectric constant for oil

voltage gradient

droplet radius

distance between droplets

As drops increase in size and become closer, the force between


them becomes very great, interfacial films can be penetrated,
and coalescence is rapid. With 5% wash water in the water/oil
emulsion, the average distance between drops is about 2
diameters and the electrically induced coalescence proceeds
almost instantaneously. When the emulsion contains only 0.1%
water, drops average about 8 diameters from each other, the
dipole attraction forces are diminished by a factor of about 250
and are insignificant. Turbulence in the electric field results in
random movement that brings fairly widely separated drops into
occasional proximity where the dipole attraction force pulls them
together. Turbulence at the oil/water interface, however, can
result in re-entrainment of water droplets into the oil and should
be avoided.
Increasing the voltage gradient of the electric field cannot
compensate for large distances between droplets due to low
water droplet concentration in the emulsion. A critical voltage
exists for a given water droplet size that, if exceeded, will cause
the drop to disperse.
CVG k /r

Eqn. 4

Where:
CVG =

critical voltage gradient

constant

surface tension

droplet radius

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The relation indicates that as the drop size becomes larger, the
voltage at which redispersion occurs becomes smaller. Low
values of interfacial tension between water and oil will also
increase the tendency for electrical dispersion. Practically,
gradients above 12,000 V/in. have been found to cause larger
droplets to redisperse and, therefore, are usually avoided in
commercial desalter operations. Some desalter designs use
high voltage gradients to promote mixing to replace some or all
of the mixing valve function.

Oil/Water Residence Times


The final stage in the desalting process involves removal of the
coalesced water/brine droplets from the oil by gravity settling.
The higher the droplet settling rate, the less oil residence time is
required in the desalter for effective performance. An increased
settling rate corresponds to higher capacity for an existing
desalter, or a smaller, less expensive grass roots installation.
The rate at which the water droplets fall out of the oil can be
predicted by Stokes' law:

8.3 x10 5 (SG water


V=
oil

SG oil ) d 2

Eqn. 1

Where:
SG

specific gravity

viscosity, cP

diameter of droplet, in.

settling velocity, in./min.

and 8.3 X 105 is a combination of the gravitational constant and


unit conversions.

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From this relationship, it is apparent that the settling rate is


higher when the specific gravity difference between the aqueous
droplet and the oil is high and when the oil viscosity is low.
Obviously the density difference is greatest when higher API
(lower density) oils are desalted. The density of crude oil is
typically in the 0.8-0.95 specific gravity range (45-17 API). A
10 API oil has approximately the same density as water.
There may be some instances where the water/oil density
difference is so small that the oil must be blended with a lighter
diluent to decrease overall blend density to permit effective
desalting. In the range of desalter operating temperatures, the
difference between water and oil densities is essentially
independent of temperature.
Temperature has a significant effect on the oil viscosity. As the
temperature of oil is increased, its viscosity decreases
exponentially which increases the settling velocity as shown in
Stoke's law. This is especially important for lower API gravity
crudes where, for example, an increase in desalter operating
temperature from 200F to 300F can decrease viscosity by
almost an order of magnitude, resulting in an equivalent
increase in the droplet-settling rate.
The coalesced droplet size is the most significant factor
influencing the settling rate and, therefore, the size or capacity
of the separation equipment. Stokes' law predicts that the
settling rate is proportional to the square of the drop size. This
means, for example, that if the size of a brine droplet found in a
typical oil field emulsion is increased from 1 to 100 microns, the
settling rate increases by a factor of 10,000. Electrostatic
desalters, with their enhanced water droplet coalescence,
effectively enlarge water droplets, resulting in dramatic settling
rate increases and comparable sizing benefits over conventional
gravity settling equipment. It is estimated that the average brine
droplet size is in the range of 1 to 10 microns entering the
desalter and is enlarged to 300-600 microns by the desalter
electric field. The electrostatic coalescence takes about 0.1
seconds to complete.
The desalter water/oil interface level helps determine the oil and
water residence times in the desalter. Raising this interface
level increases the water residence time and decreases the oil
residence time in the vessel.

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Maintaining an interface level that is either too high or too low


may cause desalter-operating problems. If the oil/water
interface is too high, the risk of water carryover is, therefore,
high. In addition, the desalter dehydration efficiency may be
appreciably reduced due to decreased crude residence time in
the unit. Vendor information suggests that adequate
dehydration of most crudes requires 15 to 20 minutes oil
residence time in a low velocity unit.
A low oil/water interface level may produce an oily effluent brine
or "black water." With a low interface level, the water residence
time in the desalter can be reduced below that required for
settling, and lead to oil carry under into the desalter brine.
Water residence times on the order of 80 to 300 minutes have
been reported. Longer water residence times produce lower oil
concentration in the effluent water. There is no guideline for the
minimum water residence time required to produce oil-free
brine.
A low oil/water interface level in a low velocity unit also reduces
the voltage gradient for coalescence since the water phase is
the ground leg of the circuit. The oil/water interface should be
maintained at the vendor suggested level unless there is
indicated shorting of the grids due to an emulsion/rag layer. An
emulsion/rag layer between the oil and water phases will result
in a false interface level reading. The interface level indicator
will indicate the interface level that would exist if the
emulsion/rag layer were demulsified.

Chemical Additives
The final major control variable in the desalting process is the
desalter chemical additive. This additive may be referred to as
a demulsifier, emulsion breaker, or surface-active agent. The
desalting chemical works at the oil/water droplet interface,
disrupting the emulsion stabilizing film surrounding the droplets
and allowing them to coalesce more easily. It should be a
multifunctional additive, formulated to assist in removing solids
from the crude and produce oil-free effluent water and
adequately dehydrated crude. This distinguishes desalting
chemicals from oil-field demulsifies whose sole purpose is to
dewater crude oil.

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Small amounts of chemical additives, in the range of 3-10 parts


per million of the oil throughput, are generally employed in
electrostatic desalters to improve desalting effectiveness. To be
effective, the chemical must be able to migrate quickly through
the oil phase to the interfacial film. Because both residence
time in the oil and turbulence help the additive diffuse to the
interfacial film, the chemical is usually injected into the oil
upstream of the charge pump. Sometimes chemical additives
are added to both the wash water and the oil or just to the wash
water.
Solids also tend to collect at oil/water interfaces and act to
stabilize emulsions in the desalter. It is generally better to
remove these inorganic solids in the water phase rather than
have them remain as contaminants in the oil. To water wet
these solids, the chemical additive molecule has one end that is
attracted to the particle, with the other end strongly attracted to
water so that it can carry the particle into the water phase for
removal.
Rarely can one chemical perform all the actions desired of a
desalting aid. Generally, two or more are blended together to
produce a chemical additive that meets the necessary
performance criteria. Laboratory and field studies are required
to make the selection of the most cost effective additive blend
and dosage. Chemical additive vendors generally provide
assistance for such studies.

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DESALTER DESIGN FEATURES


Conventional Low Velocity Units
The supplying vendor provides the design of crude oil desalters.
Currently there are three major vendors of refinery desalters,
Petreco, Howe-Baker (in Europe Howe-Baker currently markets
as Howmar) and Natco. Petreco and Howe-Baker also supply
oil field desalters in addition to the other major vendor of oil field
units, Natco. A listing of desalting equipment vendors is
presented in Addendum B.
Conventional "low velocity" units are the most typical (see
Figure 15). These units are horizontal cylindrical pressure
vessels with size related to crude oil processing rate capability.
Typical vessel diameters are 10 to 16 ft, with lengths ranging
from 30 to 150 ft (T-T). Either hemispherical or elliptical vessel
heads are used.
Approximately the lower one-third of the vessel contains the
aqueous phase, while the upper portion is filled with crude oil.
There are two sets of parallel horizontal electrode grids located
at or near the center of the vessel within the crude oil. The
volume occupied by the aqueous phase is needed for water
settling to obtain oil-free brine. The region between the upper
electrode and the aqueous phase is the coalescence zone,
where the desalting operation takes place. The region above
the electrodes is used to collect desalted crude into an outlet
header.
The electrodes are of an open grid design rather than being
solid plates. They are typically fabricated as a grating structure
formed of horizontal rods spaced 4 to 6 in. apart. Oil and water
can freely flow through the electrode structure. Oil emulsion
inlet distributors and oil outlet headers are designed to achieve
uniform vertical flow through the electrode region; i.e., oil up,
coalesced water down. This flow pattern is the basis of the type
designation "low velocity."

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Oil/Water Interface
Control

Transformer
Oil Outlet
Electrodes

Vessel

Water Outlet
Emulsion Inlet
Distributor

Figure 14. Typical Petreco Low Velocity Desalter

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Two designs of oil emulsion inlet are in use that reflects the
differing design philosophies of the vendors. Howe-Baker
prefers a drilled pipe distributor that discharges the crude as
horizontal jets into the primary coalescence zone located above
the water interface but below the lower electrode (Figure 16).
Petreco and Natco use an inverted trough flow distributor
located underneath the water-oil interface. The trough has
holes on the sides that allow the crude to trickle out (Figure 17).
Conceptually, the trough design can better handle water slugs in
the crude feed. However, the trough design also requires that
all oil in the feed pass through both the water phase and wateroil interface, possibly hindering water droplet settling.

Desalted Crude Outlet

Upper
Electrode
Lower
Electrode

Secondary
Coalescence
Region

Oil

Water
Crude
Emulsion
Inlet

Primary
Coalescence
Region

Brine Outlet

Figure 15. Drilled Pipe Inlet Distributor in Coalescence Zone

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Desalted
Crude Outlet

Upper
Electrode

Secondary
Coalescence
Region

Lower
Electrode
Primary
Coalescence
Region
Crude
Emulsion
Inlet

Brine Outlet

Figure 16. Inverted Trough Distributor in Water Phase

The two parallel horizontal electrodes in a "low velocity" unit can


be energized utilizing a number of different electrical
arrangements. For three-phase power systems, the two
common arrangements are termed "single-volted" and "doublevolted."
In a "single-volted" design, the upper electrode is grounded and
the lower electrode is divided into three segments, with each of
the segments energized by one phase of the high voltage power
supply in a "wye" configuration (Figure 18). The voltage
difference between the electrodes, the lower electrode and the
aqueous interface, and across the entrance bushings used to
bring the high voltage leads through the desalter vessel wall, is
equal to the line-to-neutral phase voltage. This voltage is
normally in the 16,000 to 23,000 V range.

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Transformers

wyo
Secondary

Delta
Primary
Upper
Electrode
3-Segment
Lower
Electrode

AV Electrodes
DV Bushings

Figure 17. Electrical Configurations (Single-Volted)

In a "double-volted" design, both upper and lower electrodes are


divided into three segments, with the segments located directly
above/below each other being connected to line phase voltages
120 out of phase (Figure 19). In the "wye" configuration used,
the voltage difference between the electrode pairs is thus 1.732
times the line-to-neutral voltage, while the voltage difference
between the electrodes and aqueous interface and across the
high voltage entrance bushings is equal to line-to-neutral
voltage. With a line-to-neutral voltage of 16,500 V, the voltage
between electrodes is 28,600 V. This difference in voltage
drops possibly enhances coalescence in the region between the
electrodes without increasing the voltage stress on the entrance
bushings. Another advantage is that a coalescence field is still
maintained across the whole desalter area even with one
electrical phase out of service due to transformer or bushing
failure. A disadvantage of the double-volted design is that it
draws more power and requires larger transformers.

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Transformers
wye
Secondary

Delta
Primary

?V Electrode = 1.732
?V Bushings

3-Segment
Electrodes

Figure 68. Electrical Configurations (Double-Volted)

Natco Dual Polarity


The Natco low velocity desalter uses solid vertical electrode
plates instead of a horizontal grid as shown in Figure 20. The
inlet distributor is in the oil phase like the Howe-Baker design.
Coalescence occurs as the mixture flows between the vertical
electrodes where there is a DC voltage gradient as well as
between the electrodes and the water phase where there is an
AC voltage gradient. Wash water is added upstream of the mix
valve and at the top of the desalter vessel. Natco claims that
this design gives a 25% higher flux loading with an equivalent
performance to a two-stage unit. Natco also claims that this
design can give equivalent performance to a two-stage low
velocity unit with less mixing and a lower temperature.

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Figure 19. Natco Dual Polarity Design

Petreco Bielectric Design

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The Bielectric desalter feeds dual streams of oil-water emulsion


(feed) between three electrode grids. The dual feed nozzles
feed are planar and direct flow horizontally between the
electrode grids as shown in Figure 21. As coalescence
proceeds, water droplets grow large enough to overcome the
viscosity of the crude and fall due to gravity. They descend in a
rain-like pattern out of the flowing oil into the non-turbulent pool
of water below. The Bielectric desalter increases water
residence time by allowing a higher water level than
conventional low velocity desalters. Power units furnish high
voltage electricity 120 out of phase to each of three electrodes.
With this phasing, dual-treating fields will remain effective even
if power to one of the electrodes is lost.

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Figure 20. Bielectric Desalter

Conventional low velocity units can be revamped to the


Bielectric design to give about twice the capacity or increase
performance to a two-stage unit in a single vessel.
The Bielectric design is limited to feeds with no more than 15%
water so it may not be applicable for GOSP desalters.

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Howe-Baker Edge Design


Figure 22 shows a comparison of the Edge design to the
original 2-grid low velocity unit.

Figure 21. Howe-Baker Edge Design

The principle differences between the original designs include:


1. A larger water layer giving a longer water residence time.
The distributor has been raised.
2. A 3-grid design giving a high intensity field between grids,
which are double volted (see Figure 19).
3. A lower intensity field between the lower grid and the water
layer, which is grounded.
4. Special design non-loading transistors supply secondary
voltages of 12KV, 16KV or 20KV to the desalter internals.
The voltage level can be changed via an external off-load
tap-changer to optimize dehydration / desalting efficiency
when charging a variety of crudes.

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5. High voltage entrance bushings provide "double protection"


to prevent damage to expensive transformers in the event of
an entrance bushing leak or failure.
The Edge design is claimed to have increased capacity, process
heavier crudes, process higher water contents, improved
efficiency, and reduce water requirements. Existing units can
be revamped to the Edge design.
The Shaybah field dehydrator/desalter to be completed in 1998
will use Edge technology.

Mud Wash System


The mud wash (sediment wash) is a sparger intended to agitate
the water phase in the desalter to suspend the solids
accumulated on the vessel bottom. The solids are then
removed from the vessel with the effluent water. The sparger
consists of a header typically 12 to 18" off the vessel floor with
nozzles positioned about every 6' of vessel length.
The mud wash should be operated once or twice a week for 30
minutes to 2 hours. On a second stage desalter, once or twice
a month is sufficient if the wash source is clean.
For a closed recirculation loop and wash system, the water
source is effluent water as shown in Figure 23. A portion of the
effluent brine is pumped to the mud wash header for
distribution. The water draw to the mud wash pump is normally
ahead of the effluent brine exchanger and level control so that
the desalter level and temperature are not altered when mud
washing.
During the mud wash cycle the interface should be maintained
at the normal level. If the water level rises into the electrical
grids, water carryover can occur. A level that drops too low can
result in poor dehydration and oily water effluent. A rapid
increase or decrease in interface level can cause the crude rate
to swing, thus affecting downstream operations.
Variations in the mud wash system include use of steam instead
of water to provide agitation and mud washing as a continuous
process.

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Figure 22. Mud Wash System

Electrical Components
Desalters utilize electrical components that have been
developed specifically for desalter use, based on years of
operating experience and testing.
Entrance
Bushings

The most critical electrical components are the entrance


bushings, which carry the high voltage leads through the steel
wall of the desalter vessel (Figure 24). The electrical and
mechanical stresses on an entrance bushing are severe. The
bushing must seal against desalter pressure and temperature,
while at the same time insulating very high voltages. When a
transformer entrance bushing fails, the portion of the grid
receiving power through this connection is out of service and the
desalter operation can be seriously impaired.

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Figure 23. Typical Entrance Bushing

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Howe-Bakers Double Protection extreme bushing design is shown in Figure 25.

Figure 24. Howe-Bakers Double Protection Bushing

Transformers and
Reactors

External transformers supply the required high-voltage electric


power. Modern desalters are equipped with 100% reactance
controlled transformers. With this design, a reactor (inductor),
connected in series to the transformer, limits short circuit power
to prevent damage to electrical components. As the
conductivity of the emulsion being treated increases, the
reactance automatically adjusts the high voltage downward.
The voltage increases as the emulsion conductivity decreases,
without operator intervention. This electrical system provides
operating convenience in that occasional short circuits (caused
by water slugs, occasionally high conductivity, etc.) do not
require immediate operator attention, and once the upset period
is over, the system automatically returns to normal operation.

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Transformer sizing is a function of desalter size, operating


temperature, and the specific crude or crude blend being
processed. The desalter vendors specify transformer size
based on past experience or on laboratory measurements.
Transformer size is specified on a kVA basis. The actual
transformer load in kilowatts (kW) is normally 25-30% of the
kVA rating. If the operating temperature or type of crude being
processed is changed, the transformer load may also change.

Electrical
Instrumentation

Normal desalter instrumentation includes transformer primary


amperage and a voltage reading from a tap on the transformer
secondary. Both of these are measurements of the load being
drawn by the desalter. High amperage and low voltage are
indicative of the electrodes being shorted by emulsion. No
voltage is indicative of a short circuit from bushing or insulator
failure. The desalter vendors normally supply local
instrumentation with a desalting unit. It is desirable to repeat
the voltage and amperage readings in the control room so that
desalter operation can be easily monitored. Another monitoring
aid is a readily visible "pilot" light, located by each desalter
transformer, which is energized from the transformer secondary
tap. A bright light indicates normal operation, while a dim light
indicates high current draw and the need for possible corrective
action.

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Interface Level Control


Proper desalter operation requires that the oil/water interface be
maintained at the correct level in the desalter vessel to maintain
the proper electric field gradient in low velocity desalters. If the
oil/water interface is too high, the current to the desalter will
increase, because the electrical path to the ground through the
water layer becomes reduced, resulting in arcing and water
redispersion. The risk of water carryover is also increased. A
low oil/water interface level will reduce the voltage gradient and
thereby reduce coalescence. A low oil/water interface may
produce oily effluent brine by reducing the water residence time
below that required for settling. Because of the reduced water
residence time in the desalter, the effluent brine quality will also
be more affected by solids accumulated at the bottom of the
desalter and sensitive to level controller problems. Level control
is achieved by adjusting the rate of brine removal out of the
bottom of the desalter in response to the sensed interface level.
Normally automatic level sensing is achieved with floats
(displacers) or with capacitance probes. The floats are usually
installed internally in the desalter vessel. Although external
floats are easier to maintain, they are not recommended since
they are subject to error if the float temperature is not
maintained at the same value as in the desalter. Even if the
external temperature is kept at a proper level, erroneous
readings can occur with changes in crude type until the external
loop is purged.
Capacitance probes appear attractive since they have no
moving parts and are insensitive to oil gravity changes.
Capacitance probes that employ radio frequency sensing and
circuitry to compensate for probe fouling are best. In general,
the best experience has been with capacitance probes for
interface level control.
Microwave (Agar Controls) level sensing was tried
unsuccessfully in Safaniya. Interface level is detected by the
difference between the signal sent and received by using the
principle that microwaves are absorbed by water and not by oil.
Safaniya found that iron sulfide at the interface also absorbed
microwaves and gave a false interface level indication.

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Agar Controls claims great success in automating refinery


desalters using microwave probes as shown in Figure 26.
Some failures have also been reported in refineries using the
Agar control system with microwave probes. One probe
measures the interface level and controls the brine outlet flow.
Another probe measures the formation of a rag or cuff layer and
controls chemical addition. For a bottom-injected desalter
(inverted trough), the cuff probe is in the oil layer above the
interface. For a top injected desalter (drilled pipe, bielectric), the
cuff probe is in the water layer. A capacitance probe in the inlet
crude line also warns of a water slug.

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Figure 25. Agar Desalter Controls

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All interface level measurements will give a false reading if a


stable emulsion (rag layer or cuff) is between the oil and water
phases. The level indication will be for the interface level that
would exist if the emulsion were resolved into oil and water.
Desalter vessels are also equipped with trycock samplers to
physically withdraw fluid from the interface region as shown in
Figure 27. The use of these samplers is essential in monitoring
desalter operation for interface emulsion (rag layer or cuff) and
in checking the automatic level sensor readings.

Figure 26. Trycock Interface Sampler

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ESTIMATE THE SIZE OF A DESALTER


The required size of a desalter is a function of its operating
temperature, the physical properties of the crude being
processed, and the crude flow rate. The supplying vendor
normally provides desalter sizing. The vendors have enough
past experience with major crude oils to allow them to design
directly. For new crude oils, or novel blends, the vendors carry
out desalting tests in their pilot plant facilities.
For screening purposes and to check the consistency of vendor
proposals, desalter size can be estimated from Work Aid 2A.
This figure applies to conventional low velocity desalters and
was developed from the Saudi Aramco desalter design data
summarized in Work Aid 1.
Most of the southern area GOSP desalters listed in Addendum
A were originally sized based on the criteria for a standard
GOSP design. The wet crude handling facilities in these
GOSP's were sized based on a grid loading of 150 BPD/ft2 as
shown in Work Aid 2A.
The correlation line in Work Aid 2A for vessel loading is
described by the equation:

BPD
+ 64.3
= 56.9 log 10

ft 2

for 0.04


50

Eqn. 6

Where:
BPD =

bbl/day feed rate

ft2

horizontal projected cross sectional area, ft2

density difference between water and oil, grm/


cm3

oil viscosity at operating temperature, Poise

log10 =

logarithm to the base 10

/ =

separation parameter, (grm/ cm3)/Poise

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This correlation and Work Aid 2A is similar to what is typically


used by the vendors. Densities and viscosity are those at desalter
operating temperature. However, if this information is not readily
available, the densities can be estimated from Work Aid 2B and
the viscosities from Work Aid 2C. Especially with viscosity, effort
should be made to verify estimates from the figure with actual
data. Vessel loading in BPD/ft2 is based upon the maximum
horizontally projected area of the desalter vessel, including the
area contributed by the heads. Care must be taken to distinguish
between tangent-to-tangent and end-to-end vessel size
specifications.
For multistage desalters, each stage would be sized as
discussed above.
The relative desaltability of various crudes is illustrated in
Addendum D (Parts 1 & 2). Addendum D (Part 1) shows the
relative desaltability as vessel loading for various crudes at
250F and Addendum D (Part 2) shows vessel loading as a
function of temperature for Saudi Arabian Crudes.

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DESALTER PERFORMANCE EVALUATION


Performance Indices
Several indices have been developed to evaluate desalter
performance. These indices provide a means of monitoring the
overall efficiency of the process, as well as the key individual
operations, namely mixing the crude and wash water and
separating the resultant aqueous emulsion from the oil. The
indices include the desalting or overall salt removal efficiency,
dehydration efficiency, and several indices for evaluating the
effectiveness of the wash water/oil mixing. Together with the
effluent water quality, they act, as guides toward determining
whether the desalter is performing properly and which aspect of
desalter operation must be modified to obtain good
performance.
Work Aid 3 summarizes the various performance indices. In
order to quantify these indices, reliable desalter operating data
must be obtained. These data include the water entrained in
the feed and desalted oil (Wi and Wo, respectively, expressed
as vol% and usually determined by BS&W), salt content of the
feed and desalted oil (Si and So, respectively, expressed as ptb
of NaCl), wash water rate (Ww, expressed as vol% of oil feed
rate), and the salt content of the wash water (Sw, expressed as
ptb of NaCl). This terminology is summarized on the desalter
block flow diagram shown in Figure 28. Reliable analytical
techniques are required for the BS&W, salt, oil-in-effluent water,
and solids-in-oil measurements.

Figure 27. Desalter Flow Diagram

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Analytical Procedures
Proper evaluation of desalter performance requires analysis for
BS&W and salt in the feed and desalted oil. The water
contained in this oil, as determined by distillation, may also be
desirable to differentiate between dissolved and entrained water
in the oil. Since serious errors can be introduced in the
efficiency calculations, and therefore the evaluation and
troubleshooting process, by inaccurate analytical results, it is
important that reliable procedures be carefully followed to obtain
the necessary data.
BS&W should be determined by the centrifuge method, using
water saturated toluene and demulsifier. The analysis should
be performed at about 140F. A comprehensive test procedure
is described in the Manual of Petroleum Measurement
Standards (MPMS). The elevated temperature and demulsifier
addition are essential to obtain reproducible results. BS&W
analyses determine only the entrained water in the sample at
the analysis temperature. Total, entrained plus dissolved, water
is best determined by the distillation method from the MPMS.
The most reliable method for determining the salt content in the
oil is by the extraction of samples with water in the presence of
suitable solvents, and analysis of the aqueous extract. The
salts of most concern to the refinery are the chlorides, because
they cause corrosion at crude unit conditions. The aqueous
extract is therefore analyzed for chlorides by titration with silver
nitrate solution.

Shutdown/Startup Procedures
Typical startup and shutdown procedures are shown in
Addendum A.

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TROUBLESHOOTING CRUDE OIL DESALTING EQUIPMENT


The most commonly experienced desalter performance
problems include low desalting efficiency, oily or black effluent
water, and water carryover in the desalted crude. Observed
operating difficulties include formation of a thick emulsion band
in the desalter, widely fluctuating voltage or amperage readings,
low voltage, and high current draw. There can be several
possible causes for each desalter problem. Depending on the
cause, different corrective actions are required.
Common desalter performance and operating problems are
indicated in Work Aids 4A to 4G, with a list of possible causes
and associated corrective measures. The appropriate action
depends on the cause of the problem.
Work Aid 4H shows a Petreco troubleshooting guide.

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SUMMARY
This module addressed the importance of desalting in crude oil
production and refining. The first section covered principles of
crude oil desalting. The following key points were discussed:

Process separations accomplished by crude oil desalting:

Salt removal.

Sediment removal.

Removal of slugs of water.

The second section covered process variables affecting crude


oil desalting and operating guidelines. The following key points
were discussed:

Primary process variables:


-

Oil field quality.

Temperature.

Pressure.

Wash water rate and quality.

Wash water/oil mixing.

Electric field.

Oil/water residence times.

Chemical additives.

Variables that determine the magnitude of the attractive


force between droplets in an electric field:
-

Voltage gradient.

Drop size.

Distance between droplets (wash water rate).

Desalter voltage.
-

Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards

Typical voltage AC field:

15,000 to 25,000 V.
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Typical voltage gradient:

1,000 to 5,000 V/in.

Critical voltage gradient:

> 12,000 V/in.

Variables that determine the rate at which water droplets


settle from oil:
-

Water/oil density difference.

Drop size.

Oil viscosity.

Typical desalter residence times.


-

Oil:

15 to 20 minutes.

Water:

80 to 300 minutes.

The third section covered desalter design features. The


following key points were discussed:

Zones in a desalter.
-

Lower one-third contains aqueous phase for settling to


obtain oil-free brine.

Coalescence zone between upper electrode and


aqueous phase.

Zone above electrodes collects desalted crude into


outlet header.

Variables used for estimating desalter size.


-

Water/oil density difference.

Oil viscosity.

The fourth section covered performance evaluation and


troubleshooting. The following key points were discussed:

Analytical measurements required to evaluate desalter


performance.

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BS&W in feed and desalted oil.

Salt in feed and desalted oil.

Desalter performance indices monitor:


-

Salt removal efficiency.

Dehydration efficiency.

Efficiency of wash water/oil mixing.

Common desalter operating/performance problems.


-

Inadequate salt removal.

High water carryover in desalted oil.

Oily effluent water (black water).

Wide emulsion band.

Fluctuating voltmeter/ammeter readings.

Continuous low voltage and/or high ammeter readings.

Sharp increase in current draw (amperage).

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WORK AIDS
Work Aid 1:

Graph for Determining Optimum Operating Condition

Figure 1A.

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Work Aid 2:
Work Aid 2A:

Resources for Estimating the Size of a Desalter


Existing Saudi Aramco Desalter Design Data

D30

314

D29

SH
GOSP-3

SH
GOSP-4

SH
GOSP-6

Plant 15

G.26

G.57

RT REF.

Safaniya

Natco

Natco

Natco

Petrolite

1000 B/SD

330

330

330

250

Diameter, ft

14

14

14

16

Plant No.

Vendor
Crude Oil Capacity,

64B

U20

Safaniya

ABQ
GOSP-2

ABQ
GOSP-6

Petreco

Natco

Mitsubishi

Natco

162

162

(per train)

(per train)

165

220

14

14

12

12

Length (T-T), ft

148

148

148

140

148

148

87

118

Operating Temp., F

90

90

90

250

142

142

90

175

API at 60F

35.3

35.3

35.3

28.1

27.7

27.7

Crude sp.gr.at Cond.

0.8374

0.8374

0.8374

0.82

0.860

5.4

5.4

5.4

2.62

2(2)

2(2)

2(2)

single volt

Crude Gravity,

Viscosity, cP
at Cond.

41

35

(at cond.)

(at
cond.)

0.860

0.82

0.85

8.75

8.75

4.3

6.4(1)

3(3)

3(3)

2(2)

2(2)

single volt

single volt

Single volt

150

100

100

75

9963

34807

25540

3-10

20947

20947

9180

< 10

< 10

< 10

< 10

< 10

< 10

< 10

15

30

30

0. 5

30

30

17.4

16.5

No. of Vessels
- in series
- in parallel
(no. of trains)
Electrical Config.

single volt

Transformers
- number
- size, kVA
Salt Content, ptb
- inlet
- outlet
Inlet Water Content,
vol%

Notes:
(1) Estimated viscosities.
(2) One electrostatic dehydrator vessel and one desalter vessel in series.
(3) One electrostatic dehydrator vessel and two desalter vessels in series.

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Refinery

Jeddah

Rabigh

Ras Tanura

Riyadh #1

Riyadh #2

Yanbu

Plant No.

CDU-2

5300

15

RCD

R110

J103

Vendor

Petreco

Petrolite

Petreco

Howe-Baker

Howe-Baker

Petreco

Crude Capacity, (MBD)

42

82 x 4

275

60

100 (1)

85 x 2 (2)

Vessel Diameter (feet)

12

10

14

12

12

12

Vessel Length (T-T), (feet)

36

80

86

60

100

61

No of Vessels

- in series

- in parallel (no. of trains)

Single

Single

Dual

Single

Single

Single

- No. per Vessel

- size, kVA

60

60

75

40

60

60

- Fahrenheit

220-240

230

280-310

185

195

255-275

- Celsius

105-116

232

138-155

85

90

125-135

Crude Gravity, (API at 60F)

32

33

34

33

33

33

Crude Gravity, (S.G. at Op T)

0.85

0.86

0.746-0.8

0.845

0.845

0.859

Crude Viscosity, (cP at Op T)3

1.3

1.2

0.94

1.9

1.7

1.0

- Inlet (Arab Light)

2-6

1-3

2-6

2-6

2-6

- Outlet (Arab Light)

1-3

0.2-0.8

1-2

1-3

1-4

- Inlet (Arab Extra Light)

4-10

- Outlet (Arab Extra Light)

1-2

- Crude Charge

0.05

0.05

0.5

0.5

0.05-0.1

- Wash Water

4-5

4.5-6

2-3

3-5

3-4.5

- Crude Outlet

0.2-0.4

0.1-0.2

0.05

0.1

0.1

0.2-0.4

Electrical Configuration
Transformers

Operating Temp., F

Salt Content, (ptb)

Water Content, (Volume %)

Notes:
(1) Design capacity 100 MBD Operating capacity 146 MBD.
(2) Design capacity 85 X 2 MBD Operating capacity ranges from 60 x 2 MBD to 110 x 2 MBD.
(3) Viscosities are approximate.

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Work Aid 2B:

Size Basis for Saudi Aramco Desalter

Figure 2B.

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Work Aid 2C:

Typical Density Versus Temperature Curves for Saudi Aramco


Desalter Fluids

Figure 2C.

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Work Aid 2D:

Characteristic Temperature-Viscosity Relationship for Saudi Aramco


Crude Oils

Figure 2D.

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Work Aid 3:

Equations for Evaluating Desalter Performance

Index

Desalting Efficiency
Dewatering Efficiency(1)

Symbol

Definition

Si So
x 100
Si

> 90%

W w + Wi Wo
x 100
Ww + Wi

> 95%

Mixing Efficiency(2)
Optimum Salt Content(3)
Mixing Index

Process Efficiency

Good
Performance
Value

S
Wo i 1
So
x 100
W
W o (S i + 0.01 W w S w
Ww + Wi

MI

A
So

Si So
x 100
Si A

> 0.90

Where:
Si = Salt content of crude oil charge, ptb of NaCl
So = Salt content of desalted oil, ptb of NaCl
Sw = Salt content of wash water, ptb of NaCl
Wi = Water content of crude oil charge, vol%
Wo = Water content of desalted oil, vol%
Ww = Wash water rate, vol% of crude oil charge rate
Notes: (1)

Ww includes recycle water, if any.

(2)

Based on salt-free wash water.

(3)

Use fresh water rate and salt content for Ww and Sw, respectively.

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Figure 3D. Desalter Flow Diagram

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Work Aid 4:
Work Aid 4A:

Resources for Troubleshooting Desalter Operation


Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of Inadequate Salt Removal

Possible Causes

Desalter capacity exceeded by


handling heavier oil than design basis.

Corrective Action

Decrease throughput.
Increase operating temperature.
Blend heavy oil with lighter oil.

Insufficient wash water rate.

Increase wash water rate to between 4% and


8% of oil flow rate.

Inadequate mixing.

Increase mix valve P in 1-2 psi increments to


establish optimum.

Low operating temperature.

Increase temperature of untreated oil, close all


unnecessary heat exchanger bypasses.

Low electrode voltage.

Check electrical system for operating


problems.

Insufficient demulsifier dosage or


ineffective demulsifier.

Increase demulsifier chemical injection rate


and/or change type.

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Work Aid 4B:

Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of High Water Carryover in


Desalted Oil

Possible Causes

Corrective Action

High oil/water interface level.

Check water level by using interface sampling


lines; decrease level to lowest possible with
good effluent water quality and clear water at
30 in. level.

Excessive mixing valve

Open mixing valve completely, allow


amperage to stabilize, and increase mixing
valve pressure drop slowly (allow about onehalf hour per adjustment) to establish optimum
setting.

P.

Excessive water injection.

Reduce wash water injection rate to between


4% and 6% of oil flow rate.

Very high BS&W content in oil feed.

Sample crude for BS&W; decrease wash


water injection rate to compensate for excess
water in feed.

Electrical failure.

Check voltage and amperage readings; if


transformer or entrance bushing failure
identified, or power cannot be restored
immediately, discontinue wash water injection.

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Work Aid 4C:

Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of Oily Effluent Water (Black


Water)

Possible Causes

Corrective Action

Low oil/water interface level.

Check water level by using interface sampling lines;


raise level until clear water is obtained at the 30 in.
level and effluent water quality is acceptable without
excessive water carryover into desalted oil.

Excessive mixing valve

Open mixing valve completely until operation


stabilizes, then increase P in small increments until
optimized. If wash water rate too high, decrease to
between 4% and 6% of oil flow rate.

P.

High effluent water pH.

Check effluent water pH. If greater than 7.5,


reevaluate wash water components, acidify wash water
with H2SO4 until effluent water pH is between 5.5 and
7.0.

Sludge in desalter.

Clean desalter. If not possible, try operating with


higher interface levels as long as salt removal
efficiency is not impaired.

High solids concentration in


effluent brine. (Excessive oil
content in solids.)

Check wash water for particulates and minimize where


possible. Investigate incorporating improved solids
wetting agent in chemical additives package.

Excessive asphaltenes in
crude.

Increase water residence time in desalter by raising


interface level, providing this does not interfere with
desalting efficiency. Avoid blending light naphtha with
heavy oils.

Low operating temperature.

Close any unnecessary bypasses to maximize preheat,


if operating temperature is below normal.

Insufficient or ineffective
demulsifier addition.

Increase chemical demulsifier dosage and/or change


demulsifier.

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Work Aid 4D:

Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of a Wide Emulsion Band

Possible Causes

Corrective Action

Oil feed properties -- high


BS&W, low gravity, waxy
constituents, high particulate
loading, emulsifiers from oil
field recovery.

Slug feed chemical (e.g., 2 to 4 x normal rate) for a


maximum of 2 to 3 hours -- then lower injection rate to
less than 10 ppm to stabilize operation. Investigate
offsite crude handling procedures. Check for
alternative chemical additive package with more
effective solids wetting agent.

Excessive mixing valve

Open mixing valve completely, allow amperage to


stabilize and slowly increase P to optimum value.

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Work Aid 4E:

Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of Voltmeter and/or Ammeter


Readings Varying Widely and Continuously

Possible Causes

Corrective Action

Water level in desalter too


high.

Check water level using interface samples; decrease to


lowest level that gives good quality effluent and clear
water at 30 in. level. Check interface level controller and
valve for proper operation; check sensor calibration if
necessary.

Stable emulsion formed in


desalter.

Increase injection rate and/or change type of demulsifier


chemical.

Excessive water injection.

Check that wash water rate is between 4% and 6% of oil


flow rate; stop wash water injection if controller or water
flow meter operation is questionable.

Gas forming in desalter


vessel.

Operating temperature too high or back pressure


insufficient. Check backpressure valve operation.

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Work Aid 4F:

Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of Continuous Low Voltage and/or


High Ammeter Readings

Possible Causes

Corrective Action

Stable emulsion has entered


desalter.

Stop wash water injection and operate without water for


about 30 minutes. If unsuccessful, decrease interface
level and stop desalter operation for about 2 hours and
then resume. When voltage returns to normal, resume
wash water injection with mixing valve wide open;
slowly increase mixing valve P to optimum. Increase
injection rate and/or change type of demulsifier
chemical.

Water/oil interface too high.

Check level versus set point using interface-sampling


system. Lower water level and confirm proper
operation of interface level control system.

Temperature too high.

Check desalter-operating temperature. Check oil


conductivity-temperature relationship with desalter
vendor. Operate desalter at temperatures where oil is
less conductive.

Failed entrance bushing.

Check bushing and replace if necessary. Ascertain that


transformer connected to bushing is not source of
problem before checking bushing.

Failed insulator inside


desalter.

Take desalter out of service. Empty and purge the


vessel. When entry is permitted, enter vessel,
determine which insulator has failed by visual
inspection and/or electrical resistance test, and replace
it.

Energized electrode has


become grounded.

Shut down system, empty and purge vessel. When


safe entry permitted, inspect vessel interior and
ungrounded electrode.

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Crude Oil Desalting

Work Aid 4G:

Troubleshooting Desalter Problem of Sharp Increase in Current Draw


(Amperage)

Possible Causes

Corrective Action

Water slug entering with


crude.

Reduce wash water injection rate and check offsite


crude handling procedures.

High water level in desalter.

Check level controller setting by using interface


sampling system. Lower level while retaining good
effluent water quality and clear water at 30 in. level.

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Work Aid 4H:

Petreco Troubleshooting Guide

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GLOSSARY
Atm. Col.

Atmospheric column in Crude Unit.

APS

Atmospheric pipe still.

BS&W

Basic (or bottoms) sediment and water content in crude


oil expressed as volume percent and determined by a
centrifuge procedure.

Demulsification/

breaking an emulsion

Demulsifying
Desalting
Efficiency

The percentage of the original salt removed by


desalting.

dewatering
efficiency

The percentage of wash water plus water contained in


the incoming crude that is removed in the desalter.

Emulsification/

creating an emulsion

Emulsifying
kVA

Kilovolt-ampere.

kW

Kilowatt.

Mixing Efficiency

The percentage of feed water used for perfect mixing.

Mixing Index

The ratio of the optimum salt content to the actual salt


content in the treated oil.

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Oil-In-Water
Emulsion

Oil as the dispersed phase in a continuous water


phase. The effluent brine from the desalter may be an
oil-in-water emulsion.

Optimum Salt
Content

The best possible desalting obtained when all of the


brine droplets are coalesced with all of the wash water
droplets dispersed into the crude during the mixing
process, and the dispersed water is reduced to the
practical minimum in the electrical dehydration step.

Process Efficiency

The ratio of the actual to the optimum salt removal


efficiencies.

ptb

Salt content in oil is expressed as ptb. One ptb is one


pound of salt (as NaCl) per thousand barrels of oil, and,
depending on the specific gravity of the oil, corresponds
to approximately 2.85 wppm.

Stable Emulsion

Either a water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsion wherein the


dispersed phase does not coalesce or separate from
the continuous phase. Stable emulsion layers can grow
in a desalter and result in excessive water and salt
carryover into the treated oil, as well as a very oily
effluent brine sometimes referred to a "black water."

Water-In-Oil
Emulsion

Product of the dispersion of water (dispersed phase)


into oil (continuous phase) with the water droplets
larger than colloidal size. The feed to the desalter is a
water-in-oil emulsion.

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REFERENCES
(1)

Bartley, D., "Heavy Crudes, Stocks Pose Desalting Problems, Oil & Gas Journal,
February 1, 1982.

(2)

Non-proprietary information from the ER&E Desalter Handbook and Operating


Guide, August 1986.

(3)

Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards.

(4)

Non-proprietary information from EPRCo Production Operations Division Surface


Facilities School, "Crude Oil Desalting," Volume I, March 1986.

(5)

Vendor Brochures.

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ADDENDUMS
Section ...................................................................................................................... Page

Addendum A: Desalter Shutdown and Start Up Instructions ....................................A-85


Addendum B: Desalting Equipment Vendors............................................................B-89
Addendum C: Typical Chemical Analysis of Sea & Aquifer Water .......................... C-91
Addendum D: Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes........................................... D-92
Addendum E: Water Solubility in Crude Oil..............................................................E-94

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Addendum A: Desalter Shutdown and Start Up Instructions


The following sections summarize typical desalter shutdown, inspection/maintenance
preparation, and start-up instructions, which are similar to those provided by the
equipment manufacturer. These sections are not designed to be used in place of
existing operating instructions. Therefore, detailed operating instructions supplied by
the equipment manufacturer should be used whenever possible.
Typical Desalter Start-Up Instructions
1.

Make a thorough inspection of the drum before it is closed up. Check all
instrument taps to be sure they are not plugged.

2.

Check that all mechanical work is complete.

3.

Check that man way cover has been installed and all blinds removed.

4.

Steam to atmosphere for at least one hour to remove air and warm up.

5.

Pressure test with steam pressure.

6.

Open safety valve.

Fully open mix valve.

8.

Vent desalter at high point; slowly fill with crude. When full, open inlet valve wideopen and close vent valve. Vent valve control may have to maintain a minimum
pressure in the desalter to prevent vaporization.

CAUTION: Fill Desalter slowly so as not to interrupt feed to Crude Unit.

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9.

Open outlet valve slowly and let operations stabilize.

10. Slowly close desalter bypass and let pressures and temperature stabilize.

11. Turn on electrodes.

12. Start wash water to Desalter and start Desalter Water Booster Pump to preheat
train.

13

Close mix valve to give the desired pressure drop for optimum desalting.

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Typical Desalter Shutdown Instructions

1.

Open the Desalter bypass valve and when pressure and temperature stabilize,
close the Desalter inlet valve.

2.

Stop water to Desalter (shutdown Desalter Water Booster Pump).

3.

Displace brine water from Desalter to the oily water sewer. Monitor this closely to
prevent putting oil to the sewer.

4.

Turn off electrodes.

5.

Close Desalter outlet valve and pump the crude out through the pump out system.
Do not pump water into the pump out system. Vent steam into the Desalter while
pumping out to prevent pulling a vacuum.

6.

After all oil is pumped out, steam to Oily Water Sewer for about two hours.

7.

Block off Safety Valve to isolate vessel from Hot Flash Drum.

8.

Open high point vent and steam to the atmosphere for two hours.

9.

Lock out electrical power to electrodes.

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Typical Desalter Inspection/Maintenance Preparation


1.

Install blinds in inlet and outlet lines, safety valve line, steam line, water line, and
pump out line..

2.

Open man way for visual inspection from outside for cleanliness.

3.

Wash and clean as necessary for entry.

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Addendum B: Desalting Equipment Vendors

Natco

Natco, Inc.
P. O. Box 1710
Tulsa, OK 74101
Telephone: (918) 663-9100
Telex: 49-2427
Cable: Natco Tulsa

Natco U.K. Limited


London, England
Telephone: (01) 499-9423
Telex:
25776

National Tank France

Paris, France
Telephone: 225-0167
Telex:
650225

Howe-Baker

Howe-Baker Engineers, Inc.


P.O. Box 956
Tyler, TX 75710
Telephone: (214) 597-0311
Telex:
735450 Howe-Baker Tyl
Cable:
HOWBACO

Howe-Baker Engineers, Inc.


European Division
Europa House, Allum Lane
Elstree, Hertfordshire WD6 3NG, England
Telephone: (44+1) 953-7221
Telex:
23985 HOBAC G
Cable:
HOWBACO ELSTREE

Howe-Baker (Italiana) S.r.l.


Via V. Monti, 101
20099 Sesto S. Giovanni
Milan, Italy
Telephone: (39+1) 247.09.59
Telex:
320243 HOWBAC I

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Howmar International Limited


Albany Park Estate
Frimley Road
Camberly, Surrey GU15 2QQ
England
Telephone: (44+276) 681 101
Telex:
858646
Petreco
Petrolite Corporation

Petreco Division
P.O. Box 2546
Houston, TX 77001
Telephone: (713) 926-7431
Telex:
775 248

Petrolite GmbH
P.O. Box 2031
Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade 59
6380 Bad Homburg 1, West Germany
Telephone: 49-6172-12930
Fax: 49-6172-28260

Petrolite-France S.A.
25 Rue Beranger
75003 Paris, France
Fax: 33-14-804-9337

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Addendum C: Typical Chemical Analysis of Sea & Aquifer Water

Symbol

Seawater,
ppm

Aquifer,
ppm

Sodium

(Na+)

12,600

696

Calcium

(Ca++)

545

222

Magnesium

(Mg++ )

1,660

82

Sulfate

(SO 4--)

3,260

418

(Cl-)

22,800

1,280

(HCO3-)

164

195

Silica

(Si)

2.8

12.9

Boron

(B)

8.2

0.72

Strontium

(Sr)

9.6

5.5

Copper

(Cu)

<0.5

< 0.5

Zinc

(Zn)

<0.5

0 - 11

Manganese

(Mn)

<0.5

< 0.5

Barium

(Ba)

<0.5

< 0.5

Lead

(Pb)

0.76

< 0.5

(TDS)

41,000

2,890

7.9

7.0

1.0315

1.0024

Ions

Chloride
Bicarbonate

Total Dissolved
Solids
pH
Specific Gravity

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Addendum D: Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes

PART 1:

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Addendum D:

Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes

PART 2: Relative Desaltability of Various Crudes As A Function of Temperature

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Addendum E: Water Solubility in Crude Oil

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