Many challenges can be encountered when separating oil and water in a production train. Two of the most common challenges are presence of stable emulsions and/or high oil viscosities -- both of which can limit separation efficiency significantly if not appropriately addressed. Production of heavy oil is becoming more the norm in today’s mature oil industry, where most of the light and easy oil fields have been produced or are nearing their end-life. Similarly, stable emulsions are increasingly encountered as new wells and fields are tied-in to existing ones, which increases tendency to form stable emulsions due to incompatible chemical compositions. The conventional solution to these challenges includes a combination of higher process temperatures, higher chemical dosages, larger vessels and/or more separation stages. However, a significant drawback to the conventional solutions is that they often demand increased energy consumption, higher material costs, larger operating costs, and/or larger space for the production facility. Furthermore, it is not always feasible to address the issues by conventional means due to restricted energy availability or space restrictions.
In this presentation we focus on how the challenges can be resolved more efficiently by application of electrocoalescence at an early stage in the process train. Wärtsilä has taken the concept of electrostatic separation one step further and developed the Vessel Internal Electrostatic Coalescer (VIEC) that tolerates water and gas contents up to 100%.
The VIEC technology was the OTC “Spotlight on new Technology” award winner in 2004 and has since then been implemented on several major projects.
Wartsila is a technology provider that specializes in delivering solutions to enhance oil/water separation and optimize oil treatment facilities. The core technology of Wartsila is based on patented advanced electrostatic internals. In addition, laboratory services and CFD analyses are provided for studying and optimizing the process, both with and without the use of the technology.