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SUBSEA ULTRADEEPWATER COMPACT MULTIPHASE SPHERICAL SEPARATION SYSTEM
Authors: Mika Tienhaara, Bart Lammers, ASCOM Separation, Simon Stevinweg 27 , 6827 BS Arnhem, the Netherlan ds

Copyright 2012, Instituto Brasileiro de Petróleo, Gás e Biocombustíveis - IBP Este Trabalho Técnico foi preparado para apresentação na Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, realizado no período de 17 a 20 de setembro de 2012, no Rio de Janeiro. Este Trabalho Técnico foi selecionado para apresentação pelo Comitê Técnico do evento, seguindo as informações contidas no trabalho completo submetido pelo(s) autor(es). Os organizadores não irão traduzir ou corrigir os textos recebidos. O material conforme, apresentado, não necessariamente reflete as opiniões do Instituto Brasileiro de Petróleo, Gás e Biocombustíveis, Sócios e Representantes. É de conhecimento e aprovação do(s) autor(es) que este Trabalho Técnico seja publicado nos Anais da Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012.

Introduction Subsea developments in the recent years, has taken the processing solutions to a certain level of advancement and complexity with the need for multiphase separation. This shows that subsea processing is maturing and possible to materialize. At the same time it is important to provide technologies and solutions that are compact, have high performance, robust and are maintenance free. Deepwater and ultradeepwater field developments, such as the Brazilian Pre Salt will need subsea solutions that do not only comply with these parameters, but for these developments the aspects of installation costs and complexity needs to be accounted for as well. ASCOM Separation has over the recent years developed and supplied high performance compact technologies for inline gas/liquid separation, multiphase inline desanding and inline deoiling. This technology has been tested and verified both for topsides as well as for performing subsea processing qualification and is part of continued development and applications. Furthermore, ASCOM has a concept under development for multiphase separation using compact internals in spherical vessels to enable the next level of technology advancement for subsea processing. This concept includes gas/liquid, liquid/liquid separation and sand handling; produced water treatment can also be accommodated for. The concept is currently under development and planned for testing and verification in both a low pressure and high pressure loop under realistic conditions. The ASCOM Spherical Separator Subsea is much more compact than conventional horizontal separator vessels with comparable separation performance. Conventional spherical separator efficiency is lower than a conventional horizontal separator, but the special internals solutions with high performance by ASCOM allows for at least equal separation efficiency as with a horizontal separator. In this comparison the Spherical system also has the benefits of largely reduced footprint, weight, simplified fabrication and seabed installation. Typically installation costs subsea counts to equal or higher costs as for the system design, fabrication and assembly. With the spherical system the internals arrangement is largely simplified, interpreting in an simpler control philosophy and is less costly. The spherical concept is intended to be capacitate ultradeep subsea processing solutions towards 3000m water depths that are robust, reliable and with economically sound frames in aspects of design/hardware and installation. A case study for the system is described which comprises a 2-vessel system (spherical) that is arranged for gas-liquid separation, sand management and with downstream liquid/liquid separation and sand management by means of sand jetting system and sand removal cyclones. The different internals components with functions will be described along with performance data and comparison to conventional systems using horizontal separators. The comparison will show on size and weight, with discussion on the costs involved.

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Functional description The particular design for the case study using two spherical separators for full multiphase separation: the first sphere for the gas-liquid separation and the second sphere for the liquid-liquid separation. The system is described below and the concept shown in figure 1.:

Gas-liquid separation The inlet of the bulk separation sphere (first spherical separator) has a vane diffuser, or an inlet cyclone arrangement depending on inlet conditions and properties, in addition the sphere has a circular sand jetting system installed. In the top, demisting cyclones are installed to ensure the correct gas specification. At the bottom line there is a sand boot for solids removal with fitted solids removal cyclones (SRC) that by hydraulic means actively removes the built up sand and solids. Liquid/liquid separation The liquid flows further into the downstream main spherical separator (second spherical separator) with an inlet device to distribute the liquid flow in an optimal way. The sphere is fitted with a spiraling baffle to ensure the liquid to flow using the maximum volume of the sphere and resulting in a residence time required for adequate settling of the water and oil phase respectively, thus resulting in an equal separation performance as a horizontal separator vessel. At the lower section of the spherical separator, there is a circular sand jetting system in addition to the outlets for water and crude oil at respective levels and achieving required specifications for the crude oil before pumped to the surface facilities and the produced water for reinjection.

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Solids handling As discussed, both spherical vessels are equipped with sand jetting systems, that efficiently collect the amount of solids in the wellstream and flush it to the respective sand boots. In these sand boots, located diretly below the two vessels the sand slurry is hydraulically removed through the solids removal cyclones.

Separation performance The spherical separators will handle any occurring slugs and the volume is adapted and designed to allow for adequate residence time. Compared to traditional vessels, the space and weight will be dramatically decreased. The high performance and robustness of the system will enable to reduce system complexity, risks and overall costs. The separation performance of the spherical vessel is at least as good as for horizontal separators. The ASCOM spherical concept is a plausible solution for enabling ultradeep water and deepwater subsea developments to manage potential risks in the best way, which the case study along with system simulations and technology performance data will show. Case study The design basis has been chosen with the objective to have a feasible concept for down to 3000 m water depth. In this initial design study, the following data are for a shallow water depth case: Design pressure: Water depth:
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250 bara 355 m
3

Slug size: Design temperature inlet: Design temperature gas export pipeline: Allowable free water flow rate in gas pipeline: GVF in oil out of separator: OIW in water out of separator:

4 m3 113 °C 100 °C 5 m3/d per 3 MSm3/d @ 85 bara /85 °C 10 % 1000 ppm

In this case study both conventional and spherical systems configurations are compared.  Design1a and 1b – horizontal 3-phase separator with internals. 1b with demisting cyclones in dome and using a higher K-factor based on verified test results. Based on conventional solutions, similar to what is used topsides. Design 2 is a more advanced design, similar to what is applied in the Statoil Tordis subsea process system. Inlet cyclone for gas-liquid separation with downstream horizontal separator Design 3 is a semi compact solution based on split processing (as in Tordis) and a spherical separator with advanced internals serving a conventional duty (i.e. water and oil leaving the separator comply to specifications). Inlet cyclone for gas-liquid separation, with downstream spherical liquid/liquid separator. Design 4 is a compact solution, also based on split processing (as in Tordis) but on a minimized spherical separator with advanced internals that can accommodate slugs, but downstream compact inline separators will ensure that oil and water specifications are reached. Inlet cyclone, spherical separator for bulk oil-water separation, with downstream inline dewaterer and deoiler for final treating.

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All the above designs comply with the requirements set for seabed separation, however, the sizes and weights are highly varying. For shallow water applications conventional to semi advanced solutions have an industry preference, but as deeper waters, beyond 1500m depth are approached, the need for more compact, light solutions raise in importance. Then the advantages of design cases 3 and 4 show high value.

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It can be seen in the above table, that the advanced designs 3 and 4 gives a tremendous reduction in weight and clearly also a size reduction. The smaller sizes allows for subsea module size reduction, allowing for simplified installation.

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Separation performance comparison The flow in the second sphere has been evaluated with CFD to compare it with conventional separators. In the following figures the results of these simulations are shown. First the streamlines starting at the inlet are drawn to show the global circulation pattern. In the next three figures the flow is shown in more detail by plotting the total, tangential and downwards velocities. It follows that the design of the baffles, and the resulting flow area in between them, result in a well aligned flow without strong velocities differences and nicely balanced downwards momentum.

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The curved baffle design in the second spherical vessel allows for required liquid retention time to provide either the required specification on the water and oil phases, or a bulk separation followed by inline dewaterer and deoiler to provide final specification. In the latter case, the spherical vessel size can be reduced.

The design of the spherical vessel internals results in close to equal separation efficiency as a conventional horizontal separator vessel. The above graph is a comparison of separation efficiency of equal volume horizontal separator vessel and a spherical vessel with the curved baffle design. It shows that with the initial design, the efficiencies are highly comparable. Conclusions     For deepwater subsea separation, at depths beyond 1500m, novel concepts are required, and can be enabled by spherical separators The liquid-liquid separation of a spherical separator is comparable to a horizontal separator provided a good internals design for the spherical separator The spherical concept will allow for reduced weight and size compared to traditional horizontal separators which is less than 50% of a traditional separator A combination of inline technology with spherical will allow for a very compact and light weight system

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