The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us of the dangers inherent in oil exploration. Whether through offshore drilling platforms or onshore drill rigs, the task of finding, extracting, and processing oil and gas is challenging and fraught with risks. The April 20th explosion and subsequent crude oil contamination off the Louisiana Coast also underscores the need for using the best equipment and drilling techniques, both in terms of reliability, safety, and effectiveness. At the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston this week, examples of each of these will be on display, as well as other products which demonstrate the current Best Practices in the field of oilfield technology.
Best Practices For Oil and Gas Production Includes Desanders
The first step in extracting crude oil involves drilling, and then a water-oil emulsion mixture must be separated so the oil can be processed alone. A free water knockout tank system (FWKO) is often used to separate most of the water, as well as any sand, silt, clay, or other solids. A heater treater device is typically installed after the FWKO, a device which uses heating, gravity, coalescing, and other techniques to isolate the oil or gas. In many installations, excess sand can build up in the FWKO tank, and require cleaning and other maintenance at regular intervals. This can be prevented using a sand filtration system. A hydrocyclone (cyclone separator) or centrifugal separator designed specifically for this purpose are sometimes called desanders. Centrifugal separators use centrifugal action to separate the solids from the liquid, and can be used in a variety of other waterflood injection applications and as a pre-filter to other forms of finer filtration as well.
Best Practices and Case Studies Using Desanders
- The Renaissance Energy in southwest Saskatchewan was experiencing a high level of sand in the FWKO tank, forcing the plant to shut down for maintenance every 4-5 months. The produced water contains an oil/water emulsion of sand, clay, silt, and hydrocarbons. The build up of sand was causing a drop in efficiency and effectiveness, making the subsequent heater-treater step take too long and with disappointing results. The Production Engineer decided to try a LAKOS Centrifugal Separator desander after other types of filtration failed. The results with a LAKOS yielded cost savings exceeding $100,000 at this single site alone.
- At an Anderson Exploration site, a bag filter system requiring extensive maintenance was replaced with a LAKOS Separator. Installed in combination with a hydrocyclone, the LAKOS unit cost less than 15 percent of the cost of the bag filtration and requires minimal maintenance. Chief Operator Brad Smith has been exceptionally pleased, and a second system was soon installed at another location.
- Crestar Energy operates a water plant at their oil production facility at Niton Junction in Alberta, Canada. Water is drawn from the McLeod River and combined with produced water for injection into the producing zone. Barrier filters were being clogged with sand and grit, until a LAKOS Separator was installed.
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