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Engineering Encyclopedia

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Crude Oil Processing

Note: The source of the technical material in this volume is the Professional Engineering Development Program (PEDP) of Engineering Services. Warning: The material contained in this document was developed for Saudi Aramco and is intended for the exclusive use of Saudi Aramcos employees. Any material contained in this document which is not already in the public domain may not be copied, reproduced, sold, given, or disclosed to third parties, or otherwise used in whole, or in part, without the written permission of the Vice President, Engineering Services, Saudi Aramco.

Chapter : Process File Reference: AGE10502

For additional information on this subject, contact R.A. Al-Husseini on 874-2792

Engineering Encyclopedia

Process Crude Oil Processing

CONTENTS

PAGES

NEED AND PURPOSE OF THE GOSPS ..................................................................................... 1

PROCESS FLOW.......................................................................................................................... 3

SPHEROIDS AND STABILIZERS .............................................................................................. 7

GLOSSARY ................................................................................................................................ 10

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NEED AND PURPOSE OF THE GOSPS


Safe and environmentally acceptable handling of the crude is assured by treating the produced crude in the GOSPs and related crude processing facilities. GOSPs were first used in Saudi Arabia to relieve the excess pressure due to associated gas in the produced crude. As the water content of the produced crude increased, facilities for control or elimination of water were added. Later, as the effects of corrosion due to salts in the crude were recognized, modern desalting equipment was included in the GOSP design. With the construction of the Master Gas System, gas compression and recovery facilities have been added, saving gas that was previously flared. Raw crude oil may have the following materials present:

Water Emulsions (up to 3% of crude) Free water (above 3%, to 30%) Salt Gas 50,000 to 250,000 mg/liter formation water Dissolved gas (up to 600 scf/bbl crude). Results in production pressures in excess of 3000 psi in some fields Up to 1000 ppm

H2S

The sour, wet crude must be treated to make it safe and environmentally acceptable for storage, processing, and export. The concerns, due to various contaminants, are shown in the following table. Contaminant Water Salt Gas H2S Specifications of crude for export include: X X X X X Safety Environmental Corrosion X X

Water content Salt content

0.3 vol %, maximum 10 pounds (as NaCl) per 1000 barrels 11 psig TVP (4-5 psi RVP) 70 ppm

Vapor pressure H2S

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Gas is evolved from the produced crude when the pressure is reduced to the crude bubble point, the temperature and pressure at which part of a liquid begins to convert to a gas. For example, if a liquid is held at constant pressure, but its temperature is increased, a point is reached at which bubbles of gas begin to form in the liquid. This is the bubble point. Similarly, if a liquid is held at constant temperature but the pressure is reduced, the point at which gas begins to form is the bubble point. The volume of gas associated with a typical crude is shown graphically in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1. Vaporization and Expansion

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Process Flow
A modern GOSP includes the process equipment required for pressure reduction, gas removal and recovery, water and salt removal, and water cleanup and disposal, as well as a number of associated items. The GOSP has evolved as engineers sought to control additional crude quality concerns close to the point of production (water, salt, recovery of gas). The design also reflects the quality, in terms of pressure, water and salt content of the crude, and accessibility to gas gathering systems. Thus, it is not practical to establish one GOSP design as a standard for all production fields in the Eastern Province. A typical GOSP flow diagram is shown in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2. Typical GOSP Plan

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The dominant features of all GOSPs are the long, cylindrical oil-gas separators used for stepwise pressure reduction. A modern oil-gas separator or trap, as shown in Figure 3, contains elements designed to ensure smooth flow and elimination of oil mist carryover into the gas stream.

FIGURE 3. Oil/Gas Horizontal Separator The horizontal separator has the maximum liquid surface area for releasing gas from a large volume of crude oil. Key components of a modern trap, as shown in Figure 3, include:

A.

Impact baffle reduces the velocity of the incoming crude liquid

B. Defoaming element breaks up foam produced by gas escaping from the crude C.

Mist extractor collects fine droplets of crude oil mist that is carried from the oil by the gas so that the gas leaving the trap will be as dry as possible release

D. Wave breaker keeps the liquid surface as smooth as possible for gas and for control of the liquid level in the vessel

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Modern desalting operations use wash water and emulsion-breaking chemical injection to remove salts carried by the formation water produced with the crude oil. A modern two-stage desalting operation is depicted in the flow diagram shown in Figure 4. Details of a desalter/dehydrator are shown in Figure 5.

FIGURE 4. Electrical Desalting Two Stage

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FIGURE 5. Desalter/Dehydrator Details

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SPHEROIDS AND STABILIZERS


Additional processing is required to release the final portions of associated gas as well as the H 2S present in the crude. A typical spheroid, used to reduce the crude pressure to very near atmospheric, is shown in Figure 6.

FIGURE 6. Typical Spheroid The liquid level in the spheroid is held at approximately 30 per cent to allow mist in the vapor to settle out and return to the liquid.

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To release the H2S associated with the crude, mild heating followed by vapor stripping is employed, as shown in Figure 7.

FIGURE 7. Crude Stabilization While the spheroids are usually located at oil processing centers such as Abqaiq and Ras Tanura, rather than at the GOSP locations, the crude stabilization operations are always centrally located. Figure 8 shows the overall processing employed at Abqaiq, including spheroids, crude stabilization, and gas recovery. Following stabilization, the crude oil is safe for storage in fixed or floating roof tanks and for transportation by ocean tanker.

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FIGURE 8. Abqaiq Plants Processing After stabilization, the crude oil should meet all specifications for shipment.

RVP 4 psia, maximum (11 TVP, maximum) H2S Salt 70 ppm, maximum 10 pounds per 1000 barrels, maximum

Water 0.3 vol %, maximum

Figure 8 shows the overall crude processing at Abqaiq, including spheroids and stabilizers. The stabilized crude is ready for export or refining. The gas collected from the spheroids and stabilizers is compressed, cooled to condense materials heavier than ethane, and then distilled to separate methane and ethane from heavier materials, which are sent to Ras Tanura for further fractionation.

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GLOSSARY
associated gas Gas released from the crude oil when the pressure on the crude is lowered below the crude bubble point. Associated gas comes from the crude as opposed to gas produced from a gas well. The temperature and pressure at which part of a liquid (crude oil) begins to be converted to a vapor (released gas). The process of using chemicals, heat, wash water, and an electromagnetic field to remove salts from the crude oil. A mixture in which one liquid (water) is uniformly and homogeneously distributed in another liquid (crude oil). A graphical representation of a process or system showing major flows, equipment, and control schemes for that system. Small flows and instrumentation details are not included. Water contained in the rock formation from which crude is produced, and which is produced concurrently with the crude. The processes and systems used to recover gas released from the crude for a useful purpose rather than flaring the gas. Gas-oil Separation Plant. The concept, applied to a process or system, of accounting for all input materials in the output streams ( what goes in must come out). The process of systematically lowering the pressure held on produced crude to allow gas to be released and make the crude safe for handling at low pressure.

bubble point desalting emulsion flow diagram

formation water gas recovery GOSP material balance

pressure reduction

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produced crude spheroid stabilization

A term applied to crude oil as it comes from the wellhead, prior to any treatment or processing. A spherical tank, operated at near atmospheric pressure, for the purpose of making the final step in lowering the crude pressure. The process consisting of heating followed by vapor stripping of the crude and intended for control of the vapor pressure and H 2S content of the crude. A long, cylindrical, horizontal vessel used for gas-oil separation in all GOSPs.

trap

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