Phase Separation Chemicals 101

MINIMIZING DISRUPTION

During time-sensitive oil production, it is not uncommon for solids, liquids and gasses to mix, necessitating the implementation of procedures to separate these various phases into raw materials that can be further utilized. With a number of mechanical and chemical processes available, it is possible to diversify the processes necessary to maximize your production capabilities and reduce downtime.

WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO SEPARATE?

Crude oil and natural gas are often found in the same location when drilling, but because of their different densities, it is necessary to separate them from one another. Since this involves a liquid and a gas, the separation process is physical, although due to the presence of water in the production process, chemicals are necessary to separate crude oil from fluids.

TWO PHASE & THREE PHASE SEPARATION

Mechanical separation equipment can be configured in horizontal and vertical orientations and provide separation of well fluid into gas, oil, and water phases. In some instances, it is necessary to use mechanical means over phase separation chemicals. While this can increase downtime while increasing production capabilities, it is important to thoroughly evaluate your production site to determine the proper procedures to optimize each process.

  • Two-Phase Separators extract liquids from natural gas and are commonly used in oil and gas facilities at both onshore and offshore sites.  
  • Three-Phase Separators extract the water, oil and gas components from the materials removed from the well site. 

COMMON PHASE SEPARATION CHEMICALS

Preferred over mechanical separation in many instances, chemical phase separators can be added to the production equipment during extraction or added to the raw materials after extraction in order to obtain separation of the various materials for further production and refinement processes.

  • Demulsifiers – During the extraction  process, oil and water are likely to mix and create an emulsion, creating instability that can impede the separation process. These crude oil demulsifiers, also known as emulsion breakers, are complex chemicals specifically formulated for each production site in order to accelerate oil-water separation, reduce heating requirements, and minimize vessel retention times. 
    • What is the difference between emulsification and demulsification? When water mixes with crude oil, the emulsion that is created must be separated before the oil can be further processed. Demulsification methods can include the addition of chemical demulsifiers, increasing temperature, reducing the flow velocity by a mechanical means, or applying electrostatic fields that aid this complex process.
  • Water Clarifiers – In order for water to be used in the oil and gas production process, it must meet purity specifications before it can be injected into a well or reused, or prior to disposal. Clarifiers remove oil and other insoluble matter and are used to maximize oil recovery from the production site.
  • Defoamers – During oil and gas production, foam can be produced as a byproduct of the processes and chemicals used, which can then have a negative impact on the production equipment and slows down the extraction process. An oil extraction defoamer works to combat this  and reduce the amount of water necessary to drive the oil to the surface. From silicones for crude oil and water separation to non-silicone products for gas treatment and water injection systems, product selection testing is crucial in these applications, ensuring that the proper compounds are used for each site. 

Using mechanical apparatus as well as chemicals such as demulsifiers, water clarifiers, and defoamers, the chemical formulas used during this process are determined by an analysis of the site location, oil chemistry, environment and the equipment in order to develop a protocol that minimizes disruption for the process and effectively separates oil from water and natural gas.

DynaChem provides a vast array of innovative chemical solutions and technical services applicable throughout all phases of exploration and production. We strive to provide advanced solid chemical solutions to Exploration & Production companies across the United States, a full-service chemical provider, with a team of extremely gifted, well-respected industry veterans eager to play a role in defining the future of production chemicals.

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