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Process Measurement & Control Solutions

NOTE 7: WATER KNOCK-OUT CONTROLS for


HEATER-TREATERS & FREE WATER SEPARATORS
INTRODUCTION
Produced oil contains water in highly variable amounts. This process is complicated by the presence of complex
Heater-treaters heat the produced uid to break oil/water emulsions that do not give a clear cut oil/water interface.
emulsions and to reduce the oil viscosity. The water is then
typically removed by utilizing gravity to allow the free water A typical installation on a separator has an AGAR ID-201
to separate from the oil. The water is removed through Interface Detector inserted horizontally 24 inches above the
a dump valve on the bottom of the separator. Oil in the vessels water draw-off nozzle through a 1 - 2 ball valve
discharged water is a loss of valuable product and causes and a AGAR Seal Housing. The AGAR ID-201 Interface
an increase in water treatment costs. Detector controls the on/off dump valve when the water
concentration at the ID-201s probe tip exceeds a preset
Control of the water dump valve is complicated by the value, such as 80%. The setting for the probe is checked
nature of the produced uids, such as those from reood by analysis of samples taken from the seal housing.
oil elds. Fireooding is a method of extracting very Additional checks are made by taking samples above
viscous oil by burning about 10% of the oil below ground and below the seal housing. Since oil/water emulsions
to heat the remaining oil to reduce its viscosity. Water containing more than 80% water are not stable, the AGAR
injection is then used to push the oil to the producing well. ID-201 Interface Detector control ensures that only oil-free
The produced uid contains highly variable amounts of water is dumped from the vessel and that emulsions build
water, carbon (from the burnt oil), oil and sand. It is very above the probe.
viscous, forms stabilized emulsions and severely fouls/
coats instrumentation. In the installation shown below, an AGAR ID-201/RL/PN
system solenoid valve directly controls the pneumatic-
AGAR WATER KNOCK-OUT CONTROL actuated, fail-closed water dump valve. The presence of
Both free water knock-out drums and heater-treaters are 20% or more oil will vent the actuator to close the dump
gravity separators. Water sinks to the bottom, and oil oats valve. Water content over 80% opens the solenoid valve,
to the top because of density differences. The separator supplies air to the dump valve and opens the water valve,
must be large enough to allow the water sufcient residence thus dumping oil free water. The opening and closing
time and laminar conditions that enable the water to settle speed of the dump valve is controlled by the air supply
to the bottom instead of being carried overhead with the valve for opening, and the solenoids throttling when closing
oil. the valve.

APPLICATION NOTE 7
All Agar Corporation Instruments are covered by one or more of the following U.S. Patents: 4,503,383; 4,774,680; 5,099,697; 5,101,163; 5,101,367; 5,263,363;
5,503,004; 5,551,305; 5,589,642; 5,741,977, RE 36,597. Other patents pending in the USA and other countries.
APPLICATION NOTE 7 - Water Knock-Out

Interface Detector Installation Details Notes On Interface Float Chambers And Level
Gauge Glasses
1. Free gas is seen by the AGAR ID-201 Interface Detector
as oil. To avoid false readings, the uid at the probes Most vessels are tted with level gauges or oat chambers
antenna must be gas free. to give a visual indication of the height of the interface in the
vessel. These are mounted in bridles that are separate from
2. The ID-201 is not affected by coatings because it
the vessel so that they can be isolated for maintenance.
operates at high frequency and can see through
However, the readings from a gauge glass or a float
normal coating build-up. Because velocities inside
chamber must be interpreted with caution because:
the vessel are low, oil lms tend to form to a maximum
thickness and remain stable, so routine recalibration is 1. The connections between the level gauge and the
usually not necessary. vessel usually are located so that emulsions can not
enter. Instead of accurately being lled with oil, an
3. The ID-201 is calibrated on-site using the actual oil and
emulsion layer, and water, the level gauge will be lled
process water. If uids other than oil and process water
with only oil and water layers. Moreover, the narrow
are to be used, the AGAR factory should be informed
tube acts as a separator and shows only clear-cut
so that any required modications can be made before
interfaces.
shipment to the end user.
2. The level bridle is actually a manometer showing a
4. Normally, changes in oil and water characteristics will
pressure balance between two columns of uids: one
not affect the ID-201. If, however, the waters NaCI
inside the vessel and one outside. Having the same
content falls below 2000 PPM, the probe will have to
interface height in the chamber as in the vessel is only
be recalibrated. coincidence.
5. The ID-201 probe can be adjusted to work within 3 3. Level gauge connections are sometimes located so that
inches of grounded metal. However, Agar recommends the gauge can only ll with water. Over time, oil and
that no metal be closer than 6 inches to the tip of the emulsion will become trapped at the top of the gauge
probe. glass. This gives a false indication of water height.
The height and density of the trapped oil will affect the
6. Rapid cycling of the dump valve is usually not a
water height shown.
problem because the ID-201 incorporates a 5% water
content hysteresis, and an approximate 3 second 4. A change in uid densities in the vessel will affect the
delay. However, if rapid valve cycling is a problem and interface height shown in the level gauge. Temperature
restriction of the drain rate is not acceptable, there are differential from the vessel to the gauge, changes in
three alternatives: (a) Vertical mounting of the Interface oil density, emulsion composition, or water salinity will
Detector will increase the level change needed to trigger all affect the gauges level.
the relay; (b) A time delay relay may be tted to the ID-
201 to reduce cycling; (c) Two ID-201s can be used -- a 5. Particles in the oil can cause a blockage of the small
high probe and a low probe. The dump cycle begins openings in the isolation valves for a level gauge.
when water covers a high probe and ends when the This blockage, which prevents the level gauge from
water drops below the low probe - System 2. functioning, is not detectable unless the level gauge
is purged.

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ER No. 5024; SL0017 Rev -

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