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17 Apr. 00


On-site Training Course

Process / Production

Module - 8


Gap Elimination Program

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Process / Production

Module 8


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Table of Contents

1. Separation Fundamentals

- Separation Vessels
- System Problems
- Factors Affecting Separation

2. Separator Selection
3. Separator Components
4. Vessel Terminology
5. Types of Separators
6. Separator Internals
7. Material of Construction
8. Tag Number
9. Separator Applications
10. Separators Control and Safety Systems
11. Separators Operational Procedures

- Start-up
- Shut-down
- Routine Operation
- Separator Isolation for Internal Inspection

12. Troubleshooting
13. ADMA-OPCO Gas-Oil Separators

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Upon completion of this module, the developee will be able to:

Identify and explain the function of each major component of the
Explain how separators work
Explain when different separators are used.
Describe how liquid levels and gas pressure are maintained in
Identify the safety devices for separators.

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A) Separation Vessels

Separation vessels may be divided into two classes


A Scrubber is any vessel designed for separation of liquid from gas that does not have
sufficient capacity to handle surges of liquid. It is designed to handle relatively small
quantities of liquid with no degree of surging.

The scrubber is NOT used as a primary separation vessel.

Scrubbers are recommended only for:

1. Secondary separation to remove carryover fluids from gas

2. Removal of dust and other impurities from gas

3. Miscellaneous separation where the gas-liquid ratio is extremely high.

A separator is a mechanical device used for primary separation of liquid and gas,
which is normally accomplished with the aid of centrifugal force.

Either a tangential inlet or internal diverter is used to cause a spinning motion to the
incoming fluid.

A properly designed separator will also provide a means for releasing the entrained
gases from the accumulated hydrocarbon liquids.

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The objective of ideal separator selection and design is to separate the hydrocarbon
stream into liquid-free gas and gas-free-liquid.
Ideally, the gas and liquid reach a state of equilibrium at the existing conditions of
Pressure and Temperature within the vessel.

Two factors are necessary for separators to function:

1-The fluids to be separated must be insoluble in each other.
2-One fluid must be lighter than the other.

Separators depend upon the effect of gravity to separate fluids. If they are soluble in
each other, no separation is possible with gravity alone. For example, a mixture of
distillate and crude oil will not separate in a vessel because they dissolve in each
other. They must be segregated by the distillation process.
Figure 1 Separation Process

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Gravity Separation

Since a separation depends upon gravity to separate the fluids, the ease with which
two fluids can be separated depends upon the difference in the density or weight per
unit volume of the fluids.

In the process of separating gas and liquid, there are two separation stages:

1- Separate liquid mist from the gas phase.
2- Separate gas in the from of foam from the liquid phase.

Droplets of liquid mist will settle out from gas, provided thtat:

The gas remains in the separator long enough for mist to drop out.
The velocity of the gas through the separator is slow enough that no turbulence
occurs. Gas bubbles in the liquid will break out in most oil field applications in
30 to 60 seconds.

Therefore, separators are designed where the liquid remains in the vessel for 30 to
60seconds. The length of time that the liquid remains in the vessel is called residence
time or retention time.

B) Separation system problems

The main problems encountered in oil and gas separation are:

Liquid slugging
Oil fogs

Dust: causes erosion of compressor intake valves and plugging of small orifices in
various controlling and process equipment.

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Oil fogs and mist: Create environmentally and process equipment problems because
they contaminate lubricants, chemicals and desiccants.

These are common problems in natural gas pipelines, compressor stations,
conditioning equipment, and control systems.

C. Factors Affecting Separation

The factors that affect the separation of liquid and gas phases in a separator are:

Separator internals
Fluid stream composition
Operating pressure
Operating temperature
Residence time

Changes in any one of these factors on a given fluid stream will change the amount of
gas and liquid leaving the separator.

Effect of factors that cause separation

Separation factor Effect of factor
1.Difference in weight of fluids

2. Residence time

3. Coalescing surface area

4- Centrifugal action

5- Presence of solids

6- Operating pressure

7- Operating temperature
Separation is easier when weight
difference is greater.
Separation is better with longer time

Separation is better with larger area

Separation is better at higher velocity

Makes separation more difficult

More gas will remain in solution at
higher pressure
More volatile liquid components will
be lost at higher temperature

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2. Separators Selection

Several factors should be considered when selecting a separator for a specific
application. These factors are:

Inlet Flowrate

The size of the selected separator should match with the inlet rate of the fluid being
separated. A margin in the separator capacity should be taken into account for future
increases in the inlet rate.

Stream Characteristics

In addition to the obvious quantities of liquid and gas to be separated, the following
characteristics influence the vessel selection.

Proportion of gas and liquids composing the inlet stream.
Difference between the viscosity of the gas and that of the liquid
Particle size of liquid droplets in the gas phase
The actual size of the separation section must meet both the retention time
and settling velocity criteria.
Existence of impurities or special conditions such as H2S, CO2, pipe scale,
foam, fogs, etc.
Instantaneous flow rates (slugging or heading).

Retention Time
It is the time a single droplet theoretically remains in the vessel.
The average retention time for typical separation vessels is as follows:

Two-phase Separators Minutes
35 API Oil and higher 2.0
20 API Oil 3.0
15 API 4.0
Three-phase Separators Minutes
35 API Oil and higher 5.0
20 API Oil 10.0
15 API 15.0

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All types of separators have four main sections (Figure 2). These sections are:

Primary separation section.
Secondary separation section.
Liquid accumulation section.
Mist extraction section.

Primary Separation Section

This section removes the bulk of liquid in the inlet stream. Slugs and large liquid
particles are removed first to minimize gas turbulence and re-entrain of liquid
particles. To do this, the velocity and direction of flow are changed. Centrifugal force
created by either inlet baffle or internal piping allows for changes of flow direction
and reduction of stream velocity.

Secondary Separation Section

The separation principle in this section is gravity settling of liquid from gas after
stream velocity has been reduced.

The efficiency of this section depends on :
The gas and liquid properties.
Particle size.
Degree of gas turbulence.

Some designs use straightening vanes to reduce turbulence. The vanes also act as
droplet collectors.

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Liquid Accumulation Section

Liquids and solids collect in this section. Because the section is away from stream
turbulence, gravity causes dense solids such as sand and clay to settle on the separator
bottom . These are removed periodically.

Liquids continue to collect until the level reaches the designed dump level .The liquid
level controller cause the liquid-level control valve to open and liquids flow out from
the separator.

Two factors determine the capacity of this section :

1. The volume of well stream surges.
2. The time liquid must remain in this section for efficient breakout of solution

Mist Extraction Section

It removes the very small droplets of liquid in a final separation step before the gas
leaves the vessel. The mist extractor has a several designs, for example, a series of
vanes and woven -wire mesh pad. More recent designs use the woven wire mish pad


The term "oil and gas separator", in oil field terminology, designates a pressure vessel
used for the purpose of separating well fluids into gaseous and liquid components. A
separating vessel may be referred to as in the following ways:

1. Oil and gas separator
2. Separator
3. Stage separator
4. Trap
5. Knockout (vessel) (drum) (trap)
- Water knockout
- Liquid knockout
6. Flash chamber (trap) (vessel)
7. Expansion vessel (separator)
8. Scrubber (gas scrubber)
9. Filter (gas filter).

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The terms oil and gas separator, separator, stage separator, and trap all refer to a
conventional oil and gas separator. These separating vessels are normally used near
the wellhead, manifold, or tank battery to separate the fluids produced from oil and
gas wells into oil and gas or liquid and gas. They must be capable of handling
"slugs" or "heads" of well fluids.

A knockout (vessel) (drum) (trap) may. be used to remove only water from the well
fluid or all liquid oil plus water, from the gas. In the case of a water knockout the gas
and liquid petroleum are discharged together and the water is separated and
discharged from the bottom of the vessel.

A liquid knockout is used to remove all liquid, oil plus water, from the gas. The water
and liquid hydrocarbons are discharged together from the bottom of the vessel and
the gas is discharged from the top.


Separators are classified in two ways:
1. According to the shape of the vessel.
2. According to the number of the fluids to be separated.

Classification According to the Vessel Shape

Separators are commonly manufactured in three basic shapes:

a. Horizotal Separators
b. Vertical Separators
c. Spherical Separators

A. Horizontal Separators

The horizontal separator (figures 3, 4 & 5) is designed for processing well stream
with large volume of gas .The large liquid surface area provides efficient removal of
gas from the liquid. This type of vessel has a large interface area between the liquid
and the gas phases, thus, adding more separation capability when the gas capacity is a
design criteria. The horizontal vessel is more economical in high-pressure separators
due to increased wall thickness required with large diameters. However, the liquid
level control replacement is more critical than that in vertical separators.

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Figure 4 Three-Phase Horizontal Separator

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B. Vertical Separators

This type (Figures 5, 6 & 7) is capable of handling large slugs of liquid without
carryover to the gas outlet and is best suited for well streams with high liquid content
and low gas volume. The action of level control is not critical.
Due to the greater vertical distance between the liquid level and the gas outlet, there
is less tendency to re-vaporise the liquid into the gas phase.
Vertical type is most often used for fluid streams having considerably more liquid
than gas.

C. Spherical Separators

Spherical separators (Figure 8) are compact vessels and provide good gas separation.
However, they have very limited surge space and liquid settling section.

When a well stream contains excess mud or sand or is subjected to surging foamy
components, the spherical separator is not economical. The liquid level control is
very critical.

These Separators are not popular today because of their limitations.

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Typical Separators

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Figure 6 Two-Phase Vertical Separator

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Figure 4 - Three

Figure 7 Vertical Separator

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Figure 8 Spherical Separator

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Classification According to the Number of Fluids to be Separated

Normally, fluids to be separated are either two or three fluids. In case of two fluids
such as gas and liquid, the separator to be used is a two-phase separator, which may
be a horizontal or vertical type. If three fluids are to be separated such as gas, oil and
water the vessel to be used is a three-phase separator. The number of phases refers to
the number of streams that leave the vessel, and not the number of phases that are in
the inlet stream. For example, well stream test separator frequently has gas, oil and
water but only the liquid and gas are separated in the vessel. Consequently, a two-
phase separator is one in which the inlet stream is divided into two outlet fluids, and a
three-phase separator is one which has three outlet fluids.

Some well streams contain sand or other solid particles which are removed in a
separator. Special internal devices are provided to collect and dispose of solid
materials. They are not considered another phase in this type of vessel classification.

A- Two-Phase Separators (Figures 3 & 6)

The flow in horizontal or vertical separators is similar. The well stream enters the
inlet side and strikes a baffle. Forward motion is stopped temporarily with the heavy
liquids falling to the bottom of the vessel.

Gas and liquid spray continue through straightening vanes, which cause liquid drops
to form and drop into the accumulation section.

As in figure 6, flow in a centrifugal separator is somewhat different than that in
conventional types. The vessels are usually vertical and depend on centrifugal action
to separate the fluids. The inlet stream is directed to flow around the wall of the
vessel in swirling motion. The heavier liquid moves to the outside, and droplets
collect on the wall and fall to the bottom. The lighter fluid collects in the middle part
of the vessel above the outlet pipe.

B- Three-Phase Separators

This type handles gas plus two immiscible liquid phases. The two liquid phases might
be oil and water, glycol and oil, etc. The potential application of three phase
separators occurs where space is a major consideration.

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Figure 9 Vertical Separator
with Sand Removal facilities

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6. Separator Internals

Production equipment involving the separation of oil and gas usually have a wide
variety of mechanical devices that should be present in all separators, regardless of
the overall shape or configuration of the vessel. These mechanical devices improve
the separators efficiency and simplify its operation. The most commonly used
devices are:

Inlet configuration
Intermediate configuration
Outlet configuration

A- Inlet Configuration

In horizontal separators the inlet configuration can take many shapes as shown in the
figures (10& 11). The most commonly used are:

- Structural channel iron
- Angle iron
- Flat plates
- Dished heads
- Schopentoeter

The latter three shapes have been considered the optimum configurations for certain
applications. These shapes are used in gas liquid separators in front of the inlet
nozzle of the vessel, which serve two purposes:

1. To aid in the separation of entrained gas from the liquid.
2. To divert the fluid flow downstream.

In vertical separators, there is a centrifugal inlet device (Figures 6 & 7), which causes
the primary separation of the liquid and gas to take place. Here, the incoming stream
is subject to a centrifugal force as much as 500 times the force of gravity. This action
stops the horizontal motion of the liquid droplets together, where they will fall to the
bottom in the settling section.

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The Schoepentoeter (vane-type) is a Shell-property inlet device and is commonly
used for introducing gas/ liquid mixtures into a vessel or column

It is used to absorb the initial momentum as the well fluid enters the separator. It
tends to deflect the direction of flow causing gas to rise and free liquid to drop that
the flow encounters a drop in velocity as well as reduction in pressure.

Figure 11 shows schematically the typical outline of a Schoepentoter in a vertical
vessel together with its design parameters (for simplicity not all the vanes are shown).

The geometry of the Schoepentoter is largely standardised so that the choice of
dimensions to be made by the designer is limited to the following:

The number of vanes per side n

The vane angle a, which is 8 degrees o less.

The length of the straight part of the vanes, L
, which shall be 75, 100, 150
or 200 mm. The choice of L
is also used to fix the vane spacing.

The radius of the vanes, R
, which shall be 50 or 100 mm.

With a Schoepentoeter, it is normal to specify a protruded nozzle, although this is not

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Figure 10
Schematic Outline of the Schoepentoeter

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a =vane angle, angle made by straight part of vanes with centre line.
B. =edge angle, angle made by edge of the row of vanes with centre line.
D. =vessel inside diameter, mm.
. =inlet nozzle inner diameter, mm.
E =available space, mm.
=length of straight part of vanes (normally 75, 100, 150 or 200 mm)
=number of vanes per side.
=vane radius, mm (normally 50 or 100 mm)
t =vane material thickness, mm (normally 3 mm, but typically 5 mm for heavy
duty, e.g slugs)
=width of vane entrance opening, mm.

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B- Intermediate Configuration

The most commonly used configurations of these intermediate devices are:

Coalescing plates
Straightening vanes
Horizontal baffles

These are commonly used in gravity separation sections and are as follows:

- Coalescing plates (Figure 4)
Several configurations are available. They are used in gas-liquid vessels to remove
liquid from the gas and are not used where hydrate or paraffins are present.

- Straightening vanes (Figure 3a)
These are used to separate liquid mist from gas where hydrates or paraffins are
present. They are used when hydrates or paraffins prevent the use of pads.

- Weir (Figures 5)
As illustrated in figures, it is a dam-like structure, which is controlling the liquid level
and keeps it at a given level. Maybe one or two weirs are used in one separator,
where one maintains the oil level and the other maintains the water level.

- Horizontal Baffles (Figure 4)
These are used in large gas liquid separators to prevent waves in the liquid phase.

C- Outlet Configuration

These mechanical outlet devices are sometimes used in horizontal and vertical
separators, and the most commonly used are the following.

- Mist pad or extractor (Figurers 3, 6 & 12)
Most frequently used in gas - liquid separators and normally located near the gas
outlet to coalesce small particles (mist) of liquid that will not settle out by gravity. It
breaks oil-water emulsion to help in segregating the two liquids. It is not used where
hydrates or paraffins may be present. The stainless steel woven wire mesh mist-
eliminator of thickness 10 20 cm (4-8 inchs) is considered to be the most efficient

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It is held in place by a stud grid which prevents it from being swept out or torn by a
sudden surge of gas, and has been proven to remove up to 99.5% or more of the
entrained liquids from the gas stream.

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- Wire Mesh Demister (Figures 12 & 13)

This type offers the greatest area for the collection of liquid droplets per unit volume
as compared to vane type.

- Vane Type (Figures 3 & 13)

It consists of a labyrinth formed with parallel metal sheets with suitable liquid
collection pockets.

The gas passing between plates is agitated and has to change direction a number of
times. Vane type mist eliminators have their applications in areas where there are
entrained solid materials in the gas phase.

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- Vortex Breakers
The liquid outlet should be equipped with anti-vortex devices to prevent a vortex
from forming, and gas from going out with the liquid. Several types are shown in the

Figure 14 Outlet Vortex Breaker

7. Material of Construction

Most separators operate under pressure. They are usually constructed of steel which
is built in accordance with rigid pressure vessel specifications. The heads and shell
are usually made of steel, and all seams are welded.

If severe corrosion is anticipated, the separator may be internally lined with corrosion
resistant material such as monel or stainless steel.

If salt water is the corrosive agent, protection can be provided by coating with special
paint or tar. Most internals are also made of steel and welded to the wall of the vessel.
If man-ways are provided, the internals may be bolted in place so that they can be
removed for cleaning or repairing.

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8. Tag Number (name Plate)

Tag numbers are necessary to identify instruments, vessels and equipment in the
plant. In addition, they help in identifying the functions of plant vessels and
equipment. For example a centrifugal pump can have various uses, but the tag
number will help in identifying its function.

In process plants, tag numbers are of particular importance to operation and
maintenance personnel as they help them understand the functions associated with
each installation.

Tag numbering system is designed to prevent confusion between interments/vessels
or equipment of the same function when they are located in different process units in
an installation.

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Separators are a vital part of production operations. Their most common application
in the oil patch is to segregate gas, oil, and water. Each of the three fluids must have
virtually 100% removal of the other fluids in order to have the highest commercial

Liquid must be removed from a gas stream to prevent it from accumulating in low
parts of a pipeline and restricting the flow of gas. If the gas requires processing in a
dehydration or sweetening plant, liquids must be removed to prevent serious
operational problems in the processing plant.

Crude oil must be free of gas so that storage tanks will not be subjected to hazards
resulting from escaping gas. The water content of crude oil must be low in order to
prevent a reduction in its value.

For environmental reasons as well as energy conservation requirements, it is usually
necessary to remove oil from water that is discharged in any process operation.

The following table shows the most common applications of the different types of

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Table 3.1

Common applications of horizontal and vertical Separators


1. High gas-oil ratio streams.
2. Oil-water segregation where long residence time
is required.

1. Low gas-oil ratio streams.

2. In packaged process plants (limited space).

3. Where a high level of liquid must be held to
prevent a pump from vapor locking, or maintain
a liquid seal.

The designation of high or low gas-oil ratio is rather arbitrary. The following are
specific instances in which high or low GOR's usually occur:


Oil well streams
Flash tanks in dehydration and sweetening plants
Fractionator reflux accumulators


Oil well streams
Gas well streams
Gas pipeline scrubbers
Compressor suction scrubbers
Fuel gas scrubbers

The terms Flash Tank, Accumulator and Scrubber are commonly used for specific
applications of separators. The vessels are gas-liquid separators.

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A. Control

Separators have two major control points:

1. Pressure control.
2. Level control.

Pressure Control (Figure 15)

Control of pressure and level are basic for good separator operation. The pressure of
the separator must be rather constant, independent of the operation of adjacent
equipment. Usually, this means a backpressure valve on the gas outlet, any off-set
due to flow rate changes normally causes no problem.
However, the vessel design pressure and high pressure alarm or shut down controls
must be consistent with the range of pressure expected for the proportional setting
and off-set anticipation.

The pressure in a separator should not exceed the preset operating pressure of the
vessel. Therefore, pressure is regulated with a pressure control valve, which regulates
the flow of gas leaving the vessel.

Level Control (Figure 15)

Two-Phase Separators Level Control

In horizontal separators the liquid level in the separator has a significant effect on the
performance of the vessel. The level of liquid in the separator needs to be properly
controlled so that it does not affect the space occupied by gas in the vessel.

If the liquid level is high, it will reduce the vapour disengaging space and can result
in some liquid carrying over in the outlet gas stream.

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In a vertical separator the liquid level will not have much effect on the quality of
the gas out of the vessel because the vapour space is usually several meters (feet)
high, and a few centimetres (inches) will have a little effect.

Three-phase Separators Level Control

A three-phase separator is one in which the outlet streams are gas and two liquids. In
almost every 3-phase separator, one of the liquids is oil, and the other one is usually
water, but it may be glycol, brine, amine or any other liquid that is not soluble in oil.

Level control in three-phase separators for oil and water individually has a little
importance because control of the water level will affect the level of both water & oil.

Figure 15 Separator Pressure and Level Controls

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B. Safety Devices

One of the most serious concerns in any process plant is the possibility of explosions
or rupture of pressurized equipment.

These dangerous conditions occur when operating pressure exceeds the design limits
of the equipment.

In order to prevent this occurrence, various types of safety devices are installed to
relief the internal pressure when it exceeds the operating limit.

Pressure Relief Valve: This opens automatically when the process pressure
exceeds the high limit (design pressure), and discharges the excess pressure
from the system. This valve is installed on the outlet of the vessel.

Rupture Disc: It is used to protect process vessels from overpressure. It
bursts, or ruptures when the process pressure exceeds a pre-determined

Shutdown Valve: Most process are provided with automatic controls that
shutdown in the event of a dangerous process condition. Shutdown valves
are normally located in the inlet manifold upstream of the vessel.

Blowdown Valve: Blowdown valves are used for plant depressuring during
emergency or plant maintenance shutdown.

Pressure Switches: The vessel is protected against over pressure by a
pressure switch high (PSH) which indicates a pressure alarm high and a
pressure switch high high (PSHH) which initiates process shutdown (PSD)

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A. Start up of a Separator

1. Ensure that the drain / vent valves are closed and the spades /blinds have
taken off where not required

2. Ensure that the vessel is hydro tested and purged.(Nitrogen Purge)

3. Check and ensure that the instruments are on line/ service. (calibrate them if

4. Ensure that the safety systems are on line.

5. Check and set the set points on the controllers as required

6. Ensure that the vessel is properly lined up.

7. Introduce the well fluids at a controlled rate and monitor the increase in
pressure and level in the vessel.

8. Adjust the controller set points as required (Gas/ oil/water).

9. When the pressure and level reach the desired set values, normalise the
alarms and shut down switches on the panel.

10. Install the orifice to get proper gas flow readings.

11. Reset the oil counter.

B. To-Shut down a Separator

1. Raise the orifice in the chamber.
2. Bypass the alarm /shut down switches as required.
3. Divert the flow and isolate the separator.
4. Ensure that the level and pressure are in safe positions.
5. Drain/vent the vessel as required.

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C. Routine Checks For the Operator

1. Check the separator pressure.

2.Check the separator temperature.

3.Check the gas flow

4.Check the level in the sight glass.

5 Verify the level of the transmitter and sight glass.

6. Check that the instruments are in service.

7. Check the PD of the filters.

8. Check the oil /water flow meters

9. Ensure that the safety systems are in service.

10. Check for any abnormal noise or leaks.

D. To Isolate a Separator for internal Inspection

1. Carry out background NORM /L. S. A checks.

2. Raise the orifice to the upper chamber.

3. Bypass the alarm/shutdown switches as required.

4. Divert the flow.

5. Reduce the level/pressure in a safe manner.

6. Drain /vent the vessel as required.

7. Adhere to safety policies.

8. Check the validity of the permit, and the permit conditions.

9. Isolate the vessel with double block isolation.

10. Spade the vessel as required.

11. Open the monitor (ensure that the fire extinguisher and the fire water pump
are stand by)

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This is a topic to state an example, where an operator gains confidence through
experience only.

An operator on these daily routines notes down the log readings. He observes that the
level in the sight glass is normal. But the separator has tripped on high level. It is the
job of the operator to check whether it is an actual alarm or a faulty one. He should
follow the following procedure:

1. Stop the audible alarm, bypass the switch and energise the panel.

2. Check the transmitter and the sight glass, to determine the actual

3. If the level is normal, isolate and drain the L. S.H.H if it still remains
unhealthy then call in the instrument technician to check it out.

4. On isolating and draining, if it comes back to normal for some
reasons the switch could have been sticking. Have it cleaned and
serviced by the instrument technician.

5. There could also be an instance when the switch on the separator is
healthy but the separator has tripped on LSHH on the panel. This
indicates that there is an air leak, and the tube has burst, venting off
the air from the shut down loop of the separator.

The above situation is just an example for the operator to know how to
troubleshoot/analyse a particular problem.

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A- Troubleshooting Procedure for Liquid Carryover in Outlet Gas Stream

Cause of Carry Over Troubleshooting Procedure
1. Excessive inlet gas flow rate Check gas flow rate and cut back to design
2. High liquid level which cuts
down vapor disengagging
Check liquid level. Blow down gauge glass.
Lower level to design point
3. Coalescing plates or mist pad
or centrifugal device is
plugged with dirt or hydrates
a. Check temperature and pressure to
determine if hydrates can form .
b. Measure pressure drop across device. It
should be less than
0.1 bars [2 psi]. If drop across mist pad is 0,
pad may have torn or come loose from its
mounting. Pressure drop measurement should
be made at the design gas rate. High-pressure
drop indicates plugging. Internally inspect if
4. Excessive wave action in
Check or install horizontal baffles.
5. Operating pressure is blow
design pressure
Check pressure and raise to design pressure or
lower gas rate in proportion to reduction in
6. Liquid API gravity is higher
than its design value
Check liquid gravity. If it is above its design
value, gas rate will have to be cut in
proportion to difference in gravity.

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B. Troubleshooting Procedure for Inability to Hold a Constant Liquid Level

Cause of Level Change Troubleshooting Procedure
1. Float is totally covered with liquid a. Blow down gauge glass to get
accurate level reading.
b. If float cage is external, blow it
down to ensure pipes between cage
and vessel are not plugged.
c. When gauge glass and float cage are
clean, check if float is covered with
d. Manually drain enough liquid from
vessel so that of float is
2. Liquid level is below float a. Perform steps a and b above.
b. If level is below float, close valve
on liquid line.
c. Put level controller in liquid in
Note: Level controller will not function
if the liquid level is 0. Allow level to
rise above the float until float is
covered. Float must be partially
immersed in order for the controller to

3. Liquid flow rate has changed. a. If level controller does not have
reset, the level control point on the
controller will have to be changed
each time the liquid rate changes
b. If controller has reset, it can be
adjusted to take care of changes in
liquid flow rate.

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B. Troubleshooting Procedure for Inability to Hold Constant Liquid Level

Cause of Level Change Troubleshooting Procedure
4. Liquid enters vessel in slugs. Level
controller does not react fast enough
to drain liquid.
a. Lower level set point on controller.
b. Lower proportional band setting.
c. In some cases it may be helpful to
install a valve positioned on the level
control valve in order for it to open
5. Level control valve is not operating
a. Check valve action to see that it is not
closing when it is supposed to open.
b. Stroke-valve to fully open and closed
positions to see that the spring tension
is not too tight or too loose, and that
nothing is under the valve seat to
prevent it form closing.
c. Check liquid flow rate with valve
fully open to see that there is no
restriction in the line.
6. Wave action is causing internal
float to move.
Install float shield.
7. Level controller shows no response
to change in level.
a. Manually twist torque tube or float
arm to see that controller shows
response. If there is no response,
repair controller. If controller shows
response, float has apparently
dropped off, or liquid level is above
or below float.
b. Check liquid level as described in
items 1 & 2.
c. Manually open and close drain valve
so that the liquid level travels the full
length of the float. If the controller
shows no response, the float had
fallen off.

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B. Troubleshooting Procedure for Inability to Hold Constant Liquid Level

Cause of Level Change Troubleshooting Procedure
8. Float in oil-water interface is totally
immersed in emulsion.
a. Check for emulsion in vessel by
draining a line connected to the
vessel near the float.
b. Drain emulsion from vessel if it is

9. Gravity of oil has changed so that
float will not respond to change in
a. Check gravity of liquid.
b. If it is different from its design
value, consult level controller
supplier to get a new float.

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C. Troubleshooting Procedure When One Liquid Contains an Excessive
Amount of the Other Liquid.

Cause of Excessive Amount of
Troubleshooting Procedure
1. The flow rate of one or both liquids is
Check flow rates and cut back to design
2. The temperature of the liquids is
below its design value.
Check the temperature and raise it to the
design temperature
3. Filters or coalescing material is
a. Check pressure drop across
coalescing device.
b. Clean or replace coalescing material
or filter elements.
4. Interface level is above or below float
so that level controller will not
a. Blow down gauge glass and cage to
get accurate level indication.
b. Open or close valve on liquid lines
as required to bring interface level to
centre of float.
5. Improper interface level a. If oil contains water, interface level
is too high. Level must be lowered.
b. If water contains oil, interface level
is too low. Level must be raised.

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There are seven HP separators presently in use for processing the partially
stabilised crude oil at the Umm Shaif Plant (USP) facilities.

An arrangement of pipework and manifolds fitted with diverter valves splits
into individual 8 inch crude inlet lines for the following HP separators:

No 8
No 10
No 12
No 14
No 16
No 18

This is to ensure that an equal volume flowrate of crude is directed to each
HP separator. A separate 16 inch HP crude header feeds HP separator No
20, which was commissioned at a later date.

The following text describes the facilities provided for HP Separator No 8.
The identical facilities provided for other HP Separators are included in Table
1 on the next page.

As shown in Figure 3.2, the inlet line is fitted with a choke valve, pressure
control valve and shutdown valve. The choke valve is manually operated and
controlled by the Production Operators.

The second valve is the pressure control valve PV-040A which operates
under the management of the MOL pressure controller PICR-040 to maintain
the oil reception pressure at 500 psig.

The third valve on the inlet line is the shutdown valve SDV-100 which is
controlled by the ESD system.

As crude oil enters the HP separator through a tangential pipe into a cyclone
chanmber, it is diverted downwards in a spray. Inside the separator, the
crude oil is subjected to a reduction in pressure and velocity. The reduction in
pressure to 250 psig in conjunction with the designed retention time, causes
the three phase separation of oil, gas and produced water to take place
inside the vessel.

On the upstream side of the weir, produced water is discharged under
interface level control (LV-108) to the SWDP via the degassing drum for
further treatment.

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Evolved gas inside the vessel passes through a straightening section
followed by a series of demister pads to the gas chamber through a
tangential pipe. The separator off-gas flows to the HP scrubber. A flow orifice
FE-116 is installed in the gas outlet line to measure the flowrate of gas being
discharged from the separator. A motorised valve HV-117 is provided for
vessel isolation.

The operating pressure of all the HP separators is controlled at 250 psig by
PCV-460A/F HP gas pressure control system.

A demister pad is located at the gas separator outlet to catch any entrained
liquid droplets in the gas stream which coalesce and collect in the gas
chamber boot. Liquids from the gas chamber boot are dumped under level
control to the oil outlet line from the HP separator.

The oil level on the downstream side of the weir is controlled by Level
Control Valve LV-104 which maintains an oil level in the separator to prevent
gas blow-by. Oil from the vessel and liquids from the gas chamber boot are
directed through an intermediate header to the LP separators.

Figure 3.3 shows the internal parts of an HP Separator.

The equipment tag numbers for all HP Separators are tabulated below.

Table 1 HP Separator Tag Numbers

ater LCV
Gas Outlet
Boot LCV
No 8 SDV-100 LV-108 HV-117 LV-111 LV-104
No 10 SDV-140 LV-148 HV-157 * LV-144
No 12 SDV-180 LV-188 HV-197 LV-191 LV-184
No 14 SDV-220 LV-228 HV-237 LV-231 LV-224
No 16 SDV-260 LV-268 HV-277 LV-271 LV-264
No 18 SDV-300 LV-308 HV-317 LV-311 LV-304
No 20 SDV-340 LV-348 HV-357 LV-351 LV-344

* HP Separator No 10 is not fitted with a gas boot.

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There are seven LP separators presently in use for processing the crude oil
recovered from the HP separators.

The 12 inch intermediate header from the HP separator splits into individual
10 inch crude inlet lines for the following LP separators:

No 9
No 11
No 13
No 15
No 17
No 19
No 21

This is to ensure that an equal volume flowrate of crude is directed to each
LP separator.

The following text describes the facilities provided for LP separator No 9. The
identical facilities provided for other LP separators are included in Table 2 on
the next page.

As shown in Figure 3.2, the inlet line is fitted with a manual isolation valve,
and a shutdown valve. The manual isolation valve is always in the open
position unless the LP separator is isolated for maintenance. The Shutdown
Valve SDV-120 is the second valve on the inlet line and is controlled by the
ESD system.

The LP separator operates in a similar manner to the HP separator with the
exception of the gas chamber boot. The LP separator is not provided with a
gas boot as the gas evolved in the vessel has relatively less entrained
liquids.The reduction in pressure to 40 psig in conjunction with the designed
retention time causes three phase separation to occur.

On the upstream side of the weir, produced water separated is discharged
under Interface level control to the SWDP via the degssing drum for further

Released gas is discharged to the LP gas scrubber, via Flow Orifice FE-136
and a downstream motorised Isolation Valve HV-137.

The operating pressure of all the LP separators is controlled at 40 psig by the
LP gas pressure control system.

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The oil level on the downstream side of the weir is controlled by Level
Control Valve LV-124 which maintains an oil level in the separator to prevent
gas blow-by. Oil from the vessel is discharged through a 30 inch LP header
to the US Horton spheroids, (see Module 4).

The equipment tag numbers for all LP Separators are tabulated below.

Table 2 LP Separator Tag Numbers

ater LCV
Gas Outlet
Boot LCV
No 9 SDV-120 LV-128 HV-137 - LV-124
No 11 SDV-160 LV-168 HV-177 - LV-164
No 13 SDV-200 LV-208 HV-217 - LV-204
No 15 SDV-240 LV-248 HV-257 - LV-244
No 17 SDV-280 LV-288 HV-297 - LV-284
No 19 SDV-320 LV-328 HV-337 - LV-324
No 21 SDV-360 LV-368 HV-377 - LV-364

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Crude oil feed to the HP separators is automatically controlled by the
pressure control valves or PVs for the oil reception facilities. These PVs
direct the crude oil through the inlet lines for the individual HP separators.

If necessary, the manual choke valves located upstream of the PVs may be
cut back by the Production Operators to restrict or stop the flowrate of crude
to the HP separators.

The operating levels in the HP and LP separators are automatically
controlled by level control valves or LCVs. Although the level control valves
may be adjusted locally, the set-points for the level controllers are normally
adjusted from the Distributed Control System (DCS).

The pressure of the HP and LP separators are automatically controlled by
PCVs-460A/F (HP) and PCVs-480A/E (LP).

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HP Separators

The instrumentation provided for all seven HP separators is identical.

The major instrumentation associated with HP Separator No 8 is listed in the
table below. The corresponding instrumentation associated with the other HP
separators can be identified from the relevant P&IDs.

HP Separator No 8
LAHH-112 High High Oil Level Trip - 95%
Initiates ESD-3.3 shutdown
LALL-112 Low Low Oil Level Trip - 5%
Initiates ESD-3.3 shutdown
LAL/H-104 Oil Level Low/High Level Alarm Low - 20%
High - 60%
LAL/H-111 Boot Level Low/High Level
Low - 10%
High - 60%
LALL-109 Low Low Produced Water Level
- 25%
Initiates ESD-3.5 shutdown
LAL/H-108 Produced Water Level Low/High
Level Alarm
Low - 20%
High - 80%
PAHH-114 High High Pressure Trip - 275 psig
Initiates ESD-3.3 shutdown
PAH-116 High Pressure Alarm - 260 psig

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LP Separators

The instrumentation provided for all seven LP separators is identical.

The major instrumentation associated with the LP Separator No 9 is listed in
the table below. The corresponding instrumentation associated with the other
LP separators can be identified from the relevant P&IDs.

LP Separator No 9
LAHH-132 High High Oil Level Trip - 95%
Initiates ESD-3.4 shutdown
LALL-132 Low Low Oil Level Trip - 5%
Initiates ESD-3.4 shutdown
LAL/H-124 Oil Level Low/High Level Alarm Low - 20%
High - 60%
LALL-129 Low Low Produced Water Level
- 25%
Initiates ESD-3.5 shutdown
LAL/H-128 Produced Water Level Low/High
Level Alarm
Low - 20%
High - 80%
PAHH-134 High High Pressure Trip - 75 psig
Initiates ESD-3.4 shutdown
PAH-136 High Pressure Alarm - 60 psig

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6.1.1 Start-up of the HP and LP Separators

Once the HP and LP separators have been nitrogen purged, the separators
must be pressurised with hydrocarbon gas from the ADGAS HP and LP
systems before crude oil can be re-introduced to the vessels.

Once the HP separator is pressurised to the normal operating pressure of
250 psig, the shutdown inputs are temporarily bypassed to allow the inlet
shutdown valve for the vessel to be reset to the open position.

The level controllers are reset to Local Control before crude is introduced to
the HP separator. Once the choke is opened to introduce crude to the HP
separator and operating conditions have stabilised in the vessel, the
controllers can be reset to Auto Control with normal setpoints. The
shutdown inputs are finally reinstated to provide vessel protection.

The LP separator is started up in a similar manner.

6.1.2 Normal Operations

The HP and LP separators normally operate with all level controllers set in
automatic mode and controlled from the DCS. The operating pressure of the
HP and LP separators is controlled by the HP and LP pressure control

It may be necessary to shutdown one or more of the HP or LP separators for
maintenance or as a routine operation.

To shutdown one of the vessels, the choke valve or manual isolation valve
on the inlet line must be closed to stop the crude flowing into the vessel.
Once the choke or manual isolation valve is closed the operating levels in the
other separators must be checked. This is to ensure that the separators now
in service can process the extra crude.

The level controllers for the vessel are now switched to Local Control and
the operating levels in the vessel reduced to a minimum.

To avoid gas blow-by the operating levels in the vessel must not be reduced
below the low low level trip points.

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Once the operating levels in the vessel are just above the trip points, the
shutdown valve on the inlet line must be closed from the local field panel to
isolate the vessel.

The vessel can now be positively isolated for draining and depressurisation,
if required.


The HP separators can be isolated manually or by ESD by the following
shutdown valves located in the respective separator inlet line:

SDV-100 (HP separator No 8)
SDV-140 (HP separator No 10)
SDV-180 (HP separator No 12)
SDV-220 (HP separator No 14)
SDV-260 (HP separator No 16)
SDV-300 (HP separator No 18)
SDV-340 (HP separator No 20)

The LP separators can be isolated manually or by ESD through the following
shutdown valves located in the respective separator inlet line:

SDV-120 (LP separator No 9)
SDV-160 (LP separator No 11)
SDV-200 (LP separator No 13)
SDV-240 (LP separator No 15)
SDV-280 (LP separator No 17)
SDV-320 (LP separator No 19)
SDV-360 (LP separator No 21)

There are no blowdown valves for the HP and LP separators.


The trip logic for the HP and LP separators is shown in Figure 3.3.

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Steam is available at the inlet lines to the HP and LP separators. This utility
is used to remove heavy crude deposits from the internals of the separators
and gas-freeing prior to man entry.


Nitrogen is available at each of the HP and LP separators to be used in
purging operations. Prior to start-up the separators are purged to atmosphere
until the oxygen content in the vessel is less than 2%. The purging process
must be successfully completed to inert the vessels prior to the introduction
of any hydrocarbons.


Corrosion Inhibitor from the Chemical Injection Package is injected to the 36
inch MOL upstream of the sphere receiver. This chemical protects the
internal surfaces of the pipework from any corrosive effects of the wellfluids.

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