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ADVANCED SEPARATION COMPANY BV

INNOVATIVE AND RELIABLE SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE PROCESS SYSTEMS

Cyclone- and Vessel-based Technologies for Solids/Sludge Removal, Handling & Cleaning

Report Ref.: D0904-013-REP1 Rev.2 Date: 15-Nov-11 Prepared by: Willem de Waard ASCOM BV Simon Stevinweg 27 6827 BS Arnhem The Netherlands
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Checked by:

Danny Thierens

Table of Contents
1 1.1 2 2.1 2.2 2.2.1 2.2.2 2.2.3 2.2.4 2.2.5 2.2.6 2.2.7 3 3.1 3.2 3.2.1 3.2.2 3.2.3 3.3 4 4.1 4.2 4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.3 4.2.4 4.2.5 4.2.6 5 5.1 5.1.1 5.1.2 5.1.3 6 SOLIDS/SLUDGE PRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................. 3 TYPES OF PRODUCED SOLIDS/SLUDGE .................................................................................................................................. 3 REMOVAL TECHNOLOGIES & LOCATIONS .............................................................................................................. 4 TECHNOLOGIES ................................................................................................................................................................ 4 LOCATIONS ...................................................................................................................................................................... 5 Location 1 Downstream of Well Head ...................................................................................................................... 6 Location 2 Upstream of Separator ............................................................................................................................ 7 Location 3 Separator................................................................................................................................................. 8 Location 4 Oil Outlet Line of Separator ..................................................................................................................... 9 Location 5 Water Outlet Line of Separator ............................................................................................................. 10 Location 6 Slurry Drain Line of Separator ............................................................................................................... 10 Location 7 Upstream of Produced Water System ................................................................................................... 10 VESSEL-BASED REMOVAL .....................................................................................................................................11 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................................................. 11 METHODS OF SOLIDS REMOVAL FROM A VESSEL ................................................................................................................... 13 Manual removal ........................................................................................................................................................ 13 Fluidising solids by spraying water and draining the slurry ....................................................................................... 13 Fluidising solids by rotating water and hydraulically removing the slurry ................................................................ 16 ASCOM HIPER SOLUTION ............................................................................................................................................... 18 CYCLONE-BASED REMOVAL ..................................................................................................................................19 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................................................. 19 DESANDER TYPES............................................................................................................................................................ 19 Type 1 Multi Phase Desander (Conventional) ......................................................................................................... 19 Type 2 Multi Phase Desander (Advanced) .............................................................................................................. 20 Type 3 Single Phase Desander (Advanced, d>50 micron) ....................................................................................... 21 Type 4 Single Phase Desander (Conventional, d<50 micron) .................................................................................. 22 Type 5 Single Phase Desander (Conventional, high load) ....................................................................................... 22 Type 6 Single Phase Desander (Advanced, high load) ............................................................................................ 22 HANDLING ...........................................................................................................................................................23 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................................................. 23 Manual removal ........................................................................................................................................................ 23 Drainage into big bag ................................................................................................................................................ 23 Online removal .......................................................................................................................................................... 24 CLEANING ............................................................................................................................................................26

1 Solids/sludge Production
1.1 Types of Produced Solids/Sludge
Solids/sludge is a natural and an induced by-product of oil and gas production. The solids/sludge produced consists of four types: 1) Drilling solids/sludge (drilling mud, cement, etc.) 2) Natural reservoir solids/sludge (sand, clay, etc.) 3) Induced reservoir solids/sludge (fracturing sand, gravel pack, etc.) 4) Corrosion products Drilling Solids/sludge Drilling solids/sludge such as drilling mud and cement are used during the drilling and completion of the well to provide a static head such that the well cannot blow-out and to seal the production pipe to the reservoir structure, respectively. During those operations drilling solids/sludge will be spilled into the well when the drilling bit reaches the reservoir. Some of these solids/sludge may leave the well again during the initial testing of the well. However, some of this material may still be produced when the commercial production starts. Natural reservoir solids/sludge The natural reservoir solids/sludge are produced naturally. The particle sizes of these solids/sludge is typically small to medium, up to 2000 m and a concentration anywhere between 5 and 30,000 ppm(v) under peak conditions. When solids/sludge are produced from the start, this may be at an initial high production rate, which then declines to a lower level of continuous solids/sludge production. Alternatively, when solids/sludge are produced with the start of produced water production, the solids/sludge production rate is likely to increase with the increase of the produced water production rate. Subject to the reservoir and well behavior, solids/sludge slugs may occur. Induced reservoir solids/sludge Induced reservoir solids are solids/sludge that are being produced after a well has been worked-over, the solids-restraining down-hole gravel pack has collapsed or the reservoir has been fractured to release the hydrocarbon volumes of oil & gas contained in pockets in to the main reservoir such that they can be accessed/extracted. The size of the solids/sludge that typically are produced as a result of fracturing is up to 2000 m and a concentration of up to 10,000 ppm(v). However, when the down-hole gravel pack erodes or collapses, the particle sizes may be up to 3500 m. Corrosion Products Corrosion products are the most difficult to predict in terms of size and quantity, however, their size ranges anywhere from 10 to 10000 m. Therewith they pose the greatest risk with respect to blockage.

2 Removal Technologies & Locations


2.1 Technologies
Because of the abrasive nature of the solids/sludge, the lifetime of subsea piping and (choke) valves and downstream equipment and instrumentation is greatly affected and the cost implication to replace such equipment is significant. The solids/sludge can be removed from the process streams by three methods: 1) Sand traps 2) Cyclone-based desanding equipment 3) Vessel-based desanding equipment Sand traps Sand traps are often not more than a vertical piece of pipe with likely a division plate in front of the inlet nozzle, as depicted in Figure 1 and where it is claimed the solids/sludge particles are being collected as a result of the reduced velocities. However, in most cases the liquid velocity is too high for an efficient removal of the medium and smaller size particles.

Figure 1 Sand trap

Figure 2 Tangential Cyclone

Cyclone-based desanding equipment The solids/sludge can also be removed by cyclones. In particularly where space is limited cyclones will prove to be an efficient means to remove the solids/sludge from the process streams. Cyclones, such as depicted in Figure 2, can be employed in multi-phase streams (Gas / Liquid / Solids) as well as in single phase streams (Liquid/Solids OR Gas/Solids). Subject to the specific process conditions, including flow rates, turndown- and the removal requirements, the cyclone units can be designed either in a mono-cyclone or a multi-cyclone configuration. Vessel-based desanding equipment Most operators chose to have the solids separated in the separators first, from where further handling is undertaken.

2.2 Locations
Various locations can be identified where the solids/sludge can be removed from the production process. The earlier the solids/sludge are removed from the process, the more beneficial this will be. The locations identified are shown in Figure 1 and listed below: 1. Downstream of well head 2. Upstream of separator 3. Separator(s) 4. Oil outlet line separator 5. Water outlet line separator 6. Sandjetting system drain line 7. Upstream of Produced Water Treatment System
Location 1 / Type 1 or 2

Location 1 / Type 1 or 2

No Desander Required Choke No Desander Required Choke No Desander Required Choke

Figure 3

The process flow streams depicted in Figure 3 for the 1st Stage Separator represent other separators that may be present more downstream in the process. When sand is expected in those locations as well, similarly as depicted above, desanders can be integrated in the process.

Desander Desander

Choke

Gas Treatment
Location 2 / Type 1 or 2 Location 3 Choke

1st Stage 3-Ph Separation

Various locations where solids/sludge can be removed

Desander Desander

Location 6 / Type 5 or 6

Location 5 / Type 3 or 4

Location 4 / Type 3 or 4

Oil Stabilisation

Location 7 / Type 3 or 4

Desander Desander

Desander

Produced Water Treatment

In Figure 3 above for the various locations in the process (all, except Location 3), also various cyclone-based desanders have been identified. The types are: 1. Multi phase desander (Conventional Type) 2. Multi phase desander (Advanced Type) 3. Single phase desander (Advanced Type, d > 50 micron) 4. Single phase desander (Conventional Type, d < 50 micron) 5. Single phase desander (Conventional Type, high load) 6. Single phase desander (Advanced Type, high load)

2.2.1 Location 1 Downstream of Well Head


Apart from sand screens or gravel packs installed in the reservoir itself, the first and most preferred external location to remove the produced solids/sludge is downstream of the well head. The reason for this being that the earlier the solids/sludge are being removed from the fluids, the better this is for the longlivety of the pipelines and everything that comes downstream. In the event the well head is located subsea, although technically feasible, cost-wise subsea solids/sludge removal as a standalone operation is very likely not attractive. Except in a situation where subsea Gas/Liquid separation is economically attractive, the desanding equipment could be integrated on the subsea process module as shown in Figure 4. Even then it remains to be evaluated how and where the collected solids/sludge will be disposed as most re-injection wells may not be able to receive the solids/sludge due to the risk of potential blockage of the reservoir pores.
Location 1 / Type 1 or 2

Location 1 / Type 1 or 2

No Desander Required Choke No Desander Required Choke

Figure 4

Desander Desander

Choke

Topside Gas Treatment


Location 2 / Type 1 or 2 Location 3

Desander

Choke

Subsea Separator

Location 6 / Type 5 or 6

Topside Oil Treatment

Various sub-sea locations where solids/sludge can be removed

Desander

Water Injection

The most convenient location for the desanding equipment is therewith on the topsides facilities of which the possible locations are shown in Figure 3. Provided that the choke valve is on the topsides located as well, the preferred location is upstream thereof as these devices suffer significantly from erosion by solids/sludge. As the desanding equipment in that case needs to be fully rated to the well pressure, the technical challenge is that at some point in time the collected sand will need to be brought to atmospheric conditions for cleaning and disposal. This can be done in a batch-wise operation whereby the Solids/Sludge Accumulator is properly isolated from the main desanding equipment and the pressure is relieved under an adequate procedure. For the duration of this procedure and the re-pressurising of the Solids/Sludge Accumulator, the desanding equipment will need to contain sufficient hold-up volume for the solids/sludge that are being collected during this time. In view of the solids/sludge produced, as discussed in Paragraph 1.1, it is of importance to design any desanding equipment robust enough to specifically deal with potential solids/sludge slugs and large particles. If so required, in a second stage more sophisticated desanding cyclone technology can be applied to separate the finer solids/sludge particles.

2.2.2 Location 2 Upstream of Separator


The second location where desanding equipment can be installed is upstream of the 1st Stage Separator. It receives the combined well fluids at a reduced pressure. As can be taken from Figure 5, such location may not always have a large plot space available and hence a compact design is essential for a successful execution of the brownfield modifications.

Proposed Installation Location of Desander Vessel

1st Stage Separator Figure 5 Proposed installation location of desanding equipment on a FPSO

Figure 6

Desanding equipment fitted upstream of 1st Stage Separator

Figure 7 Multiphase 2-Stage desanding vessel

In Figure 6 the proposed solution is visualised, both as how the desanding vessel fits in the limited space available. In view of the location it was chosen to include a by-pass line such that the desanding vessel could be isolated at all times and opened up for internal inspections. Similar to the desanding equipment downstream of the well head or upstream of the choke valve, the desanding upstream of the 1 st Stage Separator needs to be designed robust enough to specifically deal with potential solids/sludge slugs and large particles. If so required, in a second stage more sophisticated desanding cyclone technology can be applied to separate the finer solids/sludge particles. A 2-stage solids/sludge removal concept is shown in Figures 6 and 7, whereby the 1st stage captures the bulk of the coarse solids/sludge, fracturing products, gravel pack and corrosion products and the 2nd stage removes a significant part of the solids/sludge particles down to 50 micron. In Figure 7 the 2-stage vessel concept is shown.

2.2.3 Location 3 Separator


The third location where solids/sludge can be removed from the process fluids is obviously the 1 st Stage Separator itself. Not seldomly Clients have a preference for allowing the solids to settle in the separator first as this removes a number of concerns with respect to the potential blockage of desanding equipment from the check/approval-list. The solids/sludge removal from a separator is being discussed more extensively in Chapter 3.

2.2.4 Location 4 Oil Outlet Line of Separator


The fourth type of solids/sludge removing location is the oil outlet line of the upstream separator, upstream of the liquid level control valve. Solids/sludge are expected to carryover from the separator when: 1) Particles are larger than the particle cut size that theoretically can be separated by gravity a. Poor liquid distribution in separator b. Higher emulsion viscosity 2) Particles are smaller than the particle cut size that theoretically can be separated by gravity a. Small particle sizes / solid fines b. High hydrocarbon liquid viscosity 3) Excessive solids/sludge build-up a. Solids/sludge removal system not used (frequently) b. No solids removal system installed c. No solids production anticipated (and no solids removal system installed) When solids carry over unnoticed or in excessive quantities this is likely to have a significant effect with respect to erosion and fouling of the downstream equipment such as heat exchangers, valves, instrumentation and which even can lead to complete blockage of the piping, as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8 Blocked pipeline

2.2.5 Location 5 Water Outlet Line of Separator


The fifth type of solids/sludge removing location is the water outlet line of the upstream separator, upstream of the interface level control valve. Solids/sludge are expected to carryover from the separator when: 1) Particles are larger than the particle cut size that theoretically can be separated by gravity a. Poor liquid distribution in separator 2) Particles are smaller than the particle cut size that theoretically can be separated by gravity a. Small particle sizes / solid fines 3) Excessive solids/sludge build-up a. Solids/sludge removal system not used (frequently) b. No solids removal system installed c. No solids production anticipated (and no solids removal system installed) When solids carry over unnoticed or in excessive quantities this is likely to have a significant effect with respect to erosion and fouling of the downstream equipment such as heat exchangers, valves, instrumentation and which even can lead to complete blockage of the piping.

2.2.6 Location 6 Slurry Drain Line of Separator


The sixth type of solids/sludge removing location is in the slurry drain line of the separator. When operating the sandjetting system in a separator, the solids/sludge needs to be removed again from the produced water used to get it entrained in. Especially in the first few minutes the sandjetting system is operated, the solids/sludge concentration is relatively high and typically too high for conventional types of desanding cyclones available in the market. In order to bridge this technology gap, ASCOM has designed and developed a desanding cyclone system specifically for this application. The produced water used to fluidise the solids/sludge, subsequently needs to be treated to reduce the oil in water quantity. Various de-oiling technologies are available for this purpose, subject to the operating pressure.

2.2.7 Location 7 Upstream of Produced Water System


The seventh type of solids/sludge removing location is upstream of the Produced Water System. This is to protect the de-oiling hydrocyclones in particular from erosion. When operating the sandjetting system in a separator, the solids/sludge needs to be removed again from the produced water used to get it entrained in. Especially in the first few minutes the sandjetting system is operated, the solids/sludge concentration is relatively high and typically too high for conventional types of desanding cyclones available in the market. In order to dilute the slurry, it is re-combined with the Produced Water coming straight from the separator. The produced water is routed through desanding cyclones installed in this location and subsequently through de-oiling hydrocyclones to reduce the oil in water quantity.

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3 Vessel-based Removal
3.1 Introduction
In view of the fact that it is most common in the industry to allow the solids/slurry to enter the separator first, the concepts of vessel-based removal are discussed at this point. In Chapter 4 the various cyclone-based removal technologies will be discussed. When the fluids enter into a separator through a vane type inlet device, the liquid is generally highly turbulent. For that reason calming baffles are usually part of the separators design to re-distribute the liquid over the entire cross-sectional area of the vessel. This leads to even liquid velocities in the direction of the liquid outlet nozzles and will assist in maximising all separations occurring. The more evenly distributed the velocities are, the more predictable the separation performances will be. The separations that are occurring in the gas and liquid phases are: 1. Liquid from gas, 2. Aqueous liquid (water, glycol, etc.) from hydrocarbon liquid (oil, condensate, etc.), 3. Hydrocarbon liquid from aqueous liquid, 4. Solids from hydrocarbon liquid and/ or aqueous liquid. This is depicted in Figure 9.

d100 L iq

uid dro

plets in

gas

d 10

0W ater

d ro p

lets

Plate Pack Coalescer d100 Sand particles

0 d1

il d 0O

ro p

s let

Highly turbulent Droplet & particle Liquid inlet zone settling zone redistributing zone

Figure 9

Liquid flow profiles and separation processes occurring in a three phase separator

In terms of solids separation from hydrocarbon liquid and/ or aqueous liquid, although being subject to the more specific particle size distribution of the solids, it is generally experienced that most of the solids settles directly downstream of the calming baffles. This is also depicted in Figure 10.

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A Lower part of Plate Pack Coalescer critical for Oil from Water separation Plate Pack Coalescer
Sand accumulation

NIL LIL LLIL

NIL LIL LLIL

A View A-A Highly turbulent Droplet & particle Liquid inlet zone settling zone redistributing zone

Figure 10 Solids accumulation in a three phase separator Over the production time the solids will build up in the vessel and in three phase separators this eventually will start adversely affecting the oil from water separation performance. Firstly by taking up a volume which otherwise would be available for aqueous liquid flow, which increases the aqueous liquid velocities in the remainder of the volume. As an immediate result thereof, the hydrocarbon droplet d100% cut size separated will increase and therewith the OIW carryover content. Secondly, in the event a plate pack coalescer is installed in the separator to enhance the liquid-liquid separation performance, solids will settle and, over time, build-up from the bottom within the plate pack arrangement. When this happens, obviously the performance will be affected, but more importantly it will lead to down time as the plate pack boxes will likely need to be removed from the vessel for removing the solids settled between the plates. With an increasing solids volume present in the separator, the solids also will start carrying over to the downstream equipment and subsequently the effects of erosion will be noticed on (control) valves, instrumentation, heat exchangers, rotating equipment (centrifuges, pumps), hydrocyclones and other equipment that is sensitive to the abrasive nature of the solids or is susceptible for plugging. In both two and three phase separators the interaction of the stagnant solids layer with the liquid may result in a so-called cementing effect, whereby over time the solids particles agglomerate into a solid mass. It will be very difficult to either fluidise or remove this solid mass from the vessel and eventually may need to be removed by shovel. It is therefore stressed that the solids must be removed from the separators on a regular basis!

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3.2 Methods of Solids Removal from a Vessel


Presently three ways of removing solids from a vessel exist: 1. Manual removal 2. Fluidising solids by spraying water and draining the slurry 3. Fluidising solids by rotating water and hydraulically removing the slurry.

3.2.1 Manual removal


To remove solids manually from a vessel has three distinct disadvantages: 1. It requires Vessel Entry and therewith a shutdown of the system or an isolation of the vessel, 2. It costs loss of production during the shutdown, downtime and start-up of the facility/vessel, 3. It is labor intensive.

Figure 11 Test Separator half full with solids

Figure 12 Solids removed manually from separator

3.2.2 Fluidising solids by spraying water and draining the slurry


As an alternative to removing the solids manually, a so-called sandjetting system can be installed. A sandjetting system introduces water to the vessel and the layer of accumulated solids by an arrangement of nozzles with a flat spraying pattern. The jetting nozzles are located in such distance from each other so that the water spray pattern has a good overlap to cover most of the vessels bottom area, as shown in Figur e 13 and 14. The larger the vessels diameter, the more jetting headers will be required to fluidise the solids settled in the vessel. Because of the limitation in jetting water availability, the longer the separator, the more sandjetting sections will be required. Each section will need to be designed with its own jetting water feed and drain nozzle(s). This will allow the end user to operate every sandjetting section consecutively.

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Figure 13 Arrangement of sandjetting system and particular section

Figure 14 HiPer Sandjetting system being installed

In order to fluidise most of the accumulated solids particles in a particular section, the water flow rate needs to be sufficiently large. The straight and forwardly oriented water flow rates introduced with a sandjetting system, initially follow the vessel shell, however, at the centerline of the vessel, the water flow will be forced upward. Firstly because of the presence of an inverted V-shaped solids pan, serving as a slurry drain channel to the drain nozzle and a protection for the latter to avoid blockage during solids accumulation, and secondly because of the water flow coming from the opposite direction. This is also shown in Figure 15. As a result, the solids particles will become entrained in and distributed over the available aqueous liquid volume (3 phase separator). The aqueous liquid flow occurring through the vessel will drag the particles along towards the water outlet nozzle. Obviously, when the entrained solids particles reach calmer areas of the vessel, i.e. where no sandjetting system is in operation, these particles will start to settle again.

A During sandjetting, water volume will be filled with fluidised sand Plate Pack Coalescer NIL LIL LLIL NIL LIL LLIL

A Highly turbulent Droplet & particle Liquid inlet zone settling zone redistributing zone
Over time, sand will accumulate within Plate Pack Coalescer During sandjetting operations, sand carryover can be expected

View A-A

Figure 15 Solids accumulation in a three phase separator With most solids particles having accumulated directly downstream of the calming baffles, as shown in Figure 10, upon fluidisation, a certain fraction of the particles will settle in the downstream sections. This is also typically the area where a plate pack coalescer is installed to enhance the oil from water separation performance. Hence, it can be expected that, over time, solids will start to build up in the plate pack coalescer. Although the plate pack coalescer design may be such that it intends to minimise the solids accumulation on 14

the parallel plates itself, in the end, all solids will travel downward. Subject to the specific arrangement, potentially a lot of the solids separated in the plate pack coalescer may be accumulating in the centre, where it may prove difficult to be removed and then accumulation over time will be a fact. This is also shown in Figure 15. As the sandjetting sections will likely be operated consecutively for about 15 30 minutes each, each section will result in solids carryover to the downstream sections and the water outlet nozzle. Subject to the particle size distribution and the removal efficiency of the slurry by drainage, during the period of time the sandjetting sections are being operated, the downstream equipment may see quite a considerable solids entrainment in the produced water. It is for the end user to determine whether the intermittent operation of the sandjetting system, and the associated solids carryover, poses a threat to the stability, reliability and operational continuity of the downstream equipment! In any case, the big advantage of a sandjetting system is that the entire vessels bottom can be covered and that the removal efficiency therewith can be very high. The incidental risks, that should not be overseen, are the following: 1. Water is required from a clean source as jetting nozzles can easily block and affect the fluidisation rate and therewith the removal efficiency, 2. When a jetting or flushing nozzle is pointing towards vessels shell, it can turn into a solids blast system and causing severe erosion to the vessels shell. Item number one is a continued concern and is inherent to using spraying nozzles. Provided a clean water source is being used and the sandjetting system is inspected along with regular internal vessel inspections, the effect a single or a few blocked nozzle(s) may have on the performance of the entire system could be kept to a limit. Performance indicators such as Oil in Water quantity and solids accumulation in downstream (pump) strainers can be an indication of excessive solids accumulation in the separator and should not be ignored. Item number is very much related to the particular mechanical design of the sandjetting system. ASCOM has developed a design that avoids these effects. It is remarked that many vendors and suppliers design and supply a wide variety of sparging and sandjetting systems, however, often these consist of not more than a pipe with holes or a header with small pipes with their ends flattened. It is brought to the readers attention that such devices are malicious as in no way the water flow rate or the water spraying angle can be evenly distributed and controlled consistently over all spraying points. This will lead to solids not being fluidised in all areas and hence such systems are likely not to achieve the desired solids removal efficiency from the vessel.

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3.2.3 Fluidising solids by rotating water and hydraulically removing the slurry
Fluidisation of the accumulated solids, besides by using jetting nozzles (with a clearly defined and straight forwardly oriented spraying pattern), can also be achieved using a device that introduces the water with a horizontally rotating motion. Unlike sandjetting systems, this device fluidises the solids locally and removes the solids at the very same location, as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16 Solids removal from solids-filled bath tub This has a number of major advantages. Most importantly, it is not required to fluidise the entire accumulated amount of solids in a particular section in order to clear the path to the slurry drain nozzles to enabling slurry drainage from the vessel. The point of slurry removal immediately becomes available the moment the fluidising water is introduced into the vessel. This provides for reliability in the event that solids builds up excessively, it still can be removed from the vessel. Since it is not required to fluidise the entire accumulated amount of solids in a particular section, this also leads to a, in large vessels significantly, lower water flow rate requirement. Consequentially, much less turbulence is being created in the aqueous phase, hence, less solids becomes entrained and leads to fewer amounts of particles being carried along with the flowing liquid. This reduces the risk of these particles accumulating in a plate pack coalescer or carrying over. Since this device fluidises the solids locally and removes the solids at the very same location, the distance to the point of slurry removal is much shorter and so is the time a solids particle needs to remain fluidised before it is being removed. Also this reduces the risk of particles being carried along with the flowing liquid and found accumulating in a plate pack coalescer or carrying over. As shown in Figure 17, 18 and 19 for horizontal vessels, the Solids Removing Cyclones are generally linked in a small network of four cyclones and have a common motion water feed nozzle and a common slurry removal nozzle. For large vessel diameters a second row of cyclones would be positioned in parallel, but would see the cyclones linked differently.

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Conventional Solution

Remaining Sand

Large areas where sand remains Slurry Out Water In

Effective Removal Zone Max. 1000 mm Cross-sectional View

C/L to C/L Distance Water < 1000 mm In

Slurry Out Top View

Figure 17 Solids remaining in a separator by local fluidisation & removal The slurry is removed through dedicated piping from the vessel. Generally it is through the pressure difference between the vessel and the destination of the slurry that allows the motion fluid and the entrained solids swiftly to be removed from the vessel. In applications where the operating pressure of the vessel is not enough to route the slurry to its final destination (which can be on a higher deck), a venturi type pump can be used to boost the static head. This pump typically requires 3 times the amount of liquid that has to be drained from the vessel as motion fluid.

Figure 18 Solids remaining in a 1200 mm ID separator by local fluidisation & removal

Figure 19 Solids remaining in 1900 mm ID bath tub

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3.3 ASCOM HiPer Solution


One of the major disadvantages of solids removal by local fluidisation, however, is that not the entire area of the vessel bottom is covered and quite a bit of solids will remain. This is also shown in Figure 17. The effective range the solids are being removed in is limited to a circle of approximately 1 meter diameter around the cyclone. In line with the repose angle of the solids, over time, the solids could build u p against the vessels wall. Especially in three phase separators this is not desirable as when the oil-water interface is in contact with the solids this may cause an effect known as cementing of the solids to occur.
ASCOM HiPer Solution

Introduction of water brings sand into Effective Removal Zone

Slurry Out Water In

Introduction of water brings sand into Effective Removal Zone

Effective Removal Zone significantly increased Cross-sectional View

C/L to C/L Distance Water Optimised In

Slurry Out Top View

Figure 20 ASCOM HiPer Solids Removing Cyclone arrangement To overcome this limitation, ASCOM has further optimised the design of these Solids Removing Cyclone Systems and introduced two sparging headers. These sparging headers have a similarity with a sandjetting header, however their functionality is different. As the sparging headers are connected to the common motion water feed nozzle, the pressure is much lower and therewith the liquid flow rate. The sparging headers are entirely meant for introducing a water volume in to the solids banks such that they collapse and slide into the active removal zone of the Solids Removing Cyclones. This is shown in Figure 20. In any case, in three phase separators using Solids Removing Cyclones the solids can be removed from a vessel without much disturbance of the oil-water interface, minimising the impact of the online solids removal on the oil or solids content at the water outlet. Compared to sandjetting systems, the HiPer Solids Removing Cyclones use much less water per cyclone, typically 4 5 m3/hr/cyclone and operate very effectively at a pressure drop of 300 400 mbar. In addition, these cyclones are not prone to blockage as the result of solids entrained in the motion fluid.

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4 Cyclone-based Removal
4.1 Introduction
Various cyclone-based technologies, both conventional and advanced, have been developed by ASCOM to remove solids/sludge from well streams, multi phase and single phase process streams. In Chapter 2 various locations were identified where solids/sludge removal can take place. Since each of these locations represent different conditions, limitations as well as advantages, for more or less each of these locations a separate type of desanding technology can be identified. The types identified in Chapter 2 are: 1. Multi phase desander (Conventional Type) 2. Multi phase desander (Advanced Type) 3. Single phase desander (Advanced Type, d > 50 micron) 4. Single phase desander (Conventional Type, d < 50 micron) 5. Single phase desander (Conventional Type, high load) 6. Single phase desander (Advanced Type, high load) Each of these desanding technologies will be discussed hereinafter.

4.2 Desander Types


4.2.1 Type 1 Multi Phase Desander (Conventional)
The Type 1 Multi Phase Desander is essentially a conventional tangential cyclone. This desander is specifically suitable for severe service, such as can be found at well heads. The reason for this being is that the openings are sufficiently large for blockage not to occur, even in situations where sand slugs may occur. The pressure drop over tangential cyclones typically is in the order of magnitude of between 3 and 10 bar, subject to the actual process conditions. In high pressure fields where the arrival pressure is reduced over a choke valve, sufficient pressure will be available for this type of desanding cyclone.

Figure 21 4 Tangential Cyclone

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4.2.2 Type 2 Multi Phase Desander (Advanced)


The Type 2 Multi Phase Desander is a desanding cyclone that has been designed based on the design principles developed for the Single Phase Desander (Advanced) and which was amended to being able efficiently handling multiphase gas/liquid/solids flows whilst removing the produced solids/sludge. Again, this lead to a relatively compact design capable of removing the bulk of the solids/sludge larger than 50 microns. The pressure drop consumed is between 1 and 1.5 bar. For specific low pressure applications, the pressure drop over the cyclone can be tailored to be lower. Obviously this may affect the solids/sludge removal performance as well, but reducing the solids/sludge load to the downstream separator by 90% or more will already reduce the challenges experienced significantly. The vessel-based solids/sludge removal technologies, provided operated on a frequent basis, will then be able to keep the solids/sludge accumulation at an acceptable level within the vessel.

Figure 22 6 Multi Phase Desanding Cyclone (Advanced)

Figure 23 Multiphase 2-stage desanding vessel (Advanced)

As discussed in Paragraph 2.2.2, in applications where sufficient pressure is available, also a 2-stage solids/sludge removal concept can be considered as shown in Figures 23, whereby the 1st stage desanding cyclone is of a large diameter, as shown in Figure 22, to handle large solids/sludge particles and flows and slugs of the same. This cyclone will capture the bulk of the coarse solids/sludge, fracturing products, gravel pack and corrosion products. The 2nd stage desanding cyclone has a much smaller diameter and is able to remove a significant part of the solids/sludge particles down to 50 micron or smaller. In cases where the liquid fraction is minimal a High-GVF Desanding Cyclone can also be applied. This type of configuration consists of a Compact Gas/Liquid Separator to remove the liquids entrained with solids/sludge from the gas stream first. The separated liquids are routed through the liquid control boot where in the same volume the sand is being removed. This leads to significantly more compact and cost effective solutions as the desanding cyclone does not need to be designed to handle the 100% of the gas flow. 20

4.2.3 Type 3 Single Phase Desander (Advanced, d>50 micron)


The Type 3 Single Phase Desander (Advanced) is a desanding cyclone that has been designed to perfection to efficiently handling single phase liquid/solids flows whilst removing the produced solids/sludge. This has lead to a very compact/inline design that removes the bulk of the solids/sludge larger than 50 microns at a pressure drop between 1 and 1.5 bars. The qualification model is shown in Figure 24.

Figure 24 4 Single Phase Desander (Advanced) Subject to the specific process conditions, turndown requirements and separation/cut-size requirement, the desanding cyclones can be designed in a single cyclone configuration or in a bundle. Solids/sludge accumulator In any case, from the separation chamber, the separated solids/sludge is drained under gravity into a liquid filled solids/sludge accumulator. This accumulator can be designed in the same housing or can be an external hold-up volume/vessel that can be isolated from the process. In the first case where the accumulator is integrated in the desanding cyclones housing, solids/sludge removal is to be done online by using ASCOMs HiPer Sand Removing Cyclones or, if the pressure availability allows a sandjetting system. In the latter case, the solids/sludge accumulator can be isolated and de-pressurised such that the accumulated solids/sludge can either be removed manually or drained into a big bag. As also will be discussed in Chapter 5, this is more labor intensive.

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4.2.4 Type 4 Single Phase Desander (Conventional, d<50 micron)


The Type 4 Single Phase Desander (Conventional) is a desanding cyclone that has been designed to remove solids/sludge fines, i.e. particles smaller than 50 micron. In the event these sizes of particles are present in the production process, the risk is less that equipment (pumps, valves, etc.) becomes damaged as a result of the abrasive nature of the particles. However, the risk of accumulation is far more concerning as instrumentation etc. may become plugged and which will result in measurement errors. In order to remove solids/sludge fines sufficient pressure is required to produce sufficient g-forces to achieve a sufficiently low cut-size, e.g. 99% of particles removed < 10 micron. Unfortunately this leads to pressure drops of up to 5 10 bar. Hence, in low pressure applications the produced water will need to be boosted in order to being able to remove the fines.

Figure 25 1 Single Phase Desander (Conventional)

4.2.5 Type 5 Single Phase Desander (Conventional, high load)


The Type 5 Single Phase Desander (Conventional) is a desander that has been designed specifically to separate large concentrations of solids/sludge from sandjetting system drains by gravity. This desander is vessel-based and therewith very robust and very suitable for subsea solids handling applications.

4.2.6 Type 6 Single Phase Desander (Advanced, high load)


The Type 6 Single Phase Desander (Advanced) is a desander that has been designed specifically to separate large concentrations of solids/sludge from e.g. sandjetting system drains. The design of this desander is based on the design principles developed for the Single Phase Desander (Advanced) and which was amended to being able efficiently handling high solids/sludge concentrations. The pressure drop consumed is between 1 and 1.5 bar. For specific low pressure applications, the pressure drop over the cyclone can be tailored to be lower.

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5 Handling
5.1 Introduction
Solids/sludge handling essentially comprises of taking the solids/sludge from the location where they are being accumulated to the location where they are being cleaned and intrinsically removed from the process. In order to remove the solids/sludge from an accumulator, three methods can be applied: 1) Manual removal 2) Drainage into big bag 3) Online removal In particular the technologies available for the third method require clean (produced) water at certain elevated pressures. This may not always be available at (remote) offshore well head platforms, minimum production facilities or facilities where only 2-phase Gas/Liquid separation is performed. This means that solids/sludge handling and removal is very likely restricted to Method 1 and 2. For onshore facilities this can be overcome relatively easy by a mobile water buffer and/or small storage facility.

5.1.1 Manual removal


To remove solids/sludge manually from an accumulator has five distinct disadvantages: 1. It requires vessel entry and therewith an isolation of the vessel 2. It costs extra operational work during isolation work of the vessel 3. It is labor intensive 4. It may not be possible if the size of the accumulator is too small 5. It may not be possible if the big bag cant be brought easily to the lay down area of the crane

5.1.2 Drainage into big bag


To drain solids/sludge manually from an accumulator has four distinct disadvantages: 1. It requires an isolation of the vessel 2. It costs extra operational work during isolation work of the vessel 3. It is moderately labor intensive 4. It may not be possible if the big bag cant be brought easily to the lay down area of the crane In order to aid the drainage of the solids/sludge into the big bag, a small circular sandjetting system should be installed in the bottom of the accumulator that can be operated manually to flush and fluidise the solids/sludge during short internals. Such sandjetting system is shown in Figure 26.

Figure 26 Sandjetting system in vertical accumulator 23

5.1.3 Online removal


For the purpose of online solids/sludge removal from a solids/sludge accumulator two technologies exist: 1) Sandjetting system 2) Solids removing cyclones Sandjetting system The operating principle of the sandjetting system as has been discussed in Paragraph 3.2.2 for horizontal vessels is identical to the operating principle applicable to the solids/slurry accumulators. Only the size is significantly smaller and therewith the water flow requirement. Provided the operating pressure of the accumulator is sufficiently high and the distance not too far, the solids/sludge can be drained directly to the location where they are being cleaned without further boosting. Solids removing cyclones Specifically for the case where the operating pressure of the solids/sludge accumulator is insufficient and/or the slurry needs to be transported over a long distance, ASCOM has developed sand removing cyclones. The operating principle as has been discussed in Paragraph 3.2.3 for horizontal vessels is identical to the operating principle applicable to the sand removing cyclones installed in solids/sludge accumulators. As the active removal zone of the sand removing cyclones is approximately 1000 mm, only one unit would be required in accumulator vessels of up to 1200 mm in diameter. For solids/sludge accumulators this is already quite a substantial size, but in the event the accumulator for whatever reason is larger in diameter more sand removing cyclones can and will be considered. This is also shown in Figure 27.

Figure 27 Solids removing cyclones installed in Solids/Sludge Accumulator Solids removing cyclones are extremely robust as the openings are very large and therewith they are certainly not prone to blockage in any way. Since the point of removal is exactly there where the solids/sludge is being fluidised, the feed water clears the way for the solids/sludge removal. The removal can continue until everything within reach has been fluidised and removed from the accumulator.

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In order to boost the degree of fluidisation, and therewith removal, a circular sandjetting system could be installed to essentially break the solids build-up in the vessel by introducing high velocity water jets. Especially when the accumulator is emptied irregularly and at long intervals, a process so-called cementing may take place whereby the accumulated solids solidify as one big agglomerated lump. Such lumps obviously will be difficult to remove by fluidisation and in the event it continues to hinder the available accumulation time, eventually, it may need to be considered removing the lump manually. The required water flow of 5 m3/hr per solids removing cyclone installed is needed at an inlet pressure of at least 0.5 bar above the Solids/Sludge Accumulators operating pressure. The pressure difference between the accumulator and the location where solids/sludge is being cleaned, needs to be sufficient in order to overcome any static heads, pressure losses over control valves & instrumentation and the same over the length of the piping. In the event the pressure difference is insufficient, the pressure of the slurry can be boosted by means of a jet pump. This jet pump is does not contain rotating parts and therewith is considered static equipment. The jet pump is being fed by a flow rate of produced water of approximately 3 times the flow rate that needs to be boosted in pressure. The typical source for this produced water is the Produced Water Degassing Drum or the Floatation Unit. Either the Produced Water Pump or the Sandjetting Pump will deliver the produced water to the jet pump at an elevated pressure, as needed to boost the pressure to the desired level. The exact layout of the solids/sludge handling system and its integration thereof in the process facility depends very much on the exact process layout, its available source(s) of produced water, respective flow rates and the various operating pressures. For each facility this needs to be carefully reviewed.

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6 Cleaning
Solids/sludge accumulation locations need to be emptied from time-to-time. This can be done by routing 5 m3/hr/cyclone of produced water to the Solids Removing Cyclones in the Solids/Sludge Accumulation Vessels at typically 0.5 bar on top of the vessels operating pressure. In situations where the operating pressure is too low, a static jet pump can be used, using produced water at a higher pressure, to remove the slurry from the respective vessel and transport it to the Solids Cleaning Package. The main in-flow to the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Package is a discontinued slurry flow from various locations in the upstream or downstream production processes where solids or solids bound in a sludge are removed by means of desanding cyclones or can settle in vessels as the result of gravity. It is distinguished between removing solids/sludge from a Solids/Sludge Accumulators and removing solids/sludge from separators. This is merely done because of the slurry/water volumes involved. The proposed Solids Cleaning Package & Bagging Station is depicted in Figure 28. In the event solids fines are present (d < 50 micron), a small hold-up volume (1.75 m3) is included to serve as a buffer for motion water to be used around the Solids Cleaning Package. Where otherwise a Produced Water Degassing Drum or (Compact) Floating Unit would be used as the (preferred) produced water source, in this specific case this is not done to avoid feeding the solids fines present back into the production system. In order to limit the pressure class to which the Solids Cleaning Package has to be designed for, it is recommended to limit the design pressure to 17 bara, and hence the pressure has to be dropped when the slurry is coming from a Solids/Sludge Accumulator or separator operating at a higher pressure.
Sand Cleaning Package & Bagging Station Fines Separation Separators

Sample

Separators

Big Bag

Sand Accumulators (5 m3/hr)

Overboard

Sample

FI 7 17 bara FIC FIC 1.2 bara

FIC Sample Sample

Produced Water Degassing Drum (Compact) Floatation Unit

Closed Drain

Figure 28 Solids Cleaning Package & Bagging Station 26

Solids removal from Solids/Sludge Accumulators Initially the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel will be empty and in a batch-wise operation it then will receive slurry of solids from the one of the upstream Solids/Sludge Accumulators. In each of the cases the water flow rate required is only 5 m3/hr for 15 minutes plus an additional 5 minutes for flushing purposes. This brings the total volume of produced water being fed to the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Package to 1.75 m3. In order to accommodate this volume in its entirety a vessel is needed of 42 OD and 2000 mm Seam/Seam distance. The motion water that is received from the Solids/Sludge Accumulators will contain small quantities of oil which also partially will be released from the solids itself. It is therefore recommended to return the motion water that has accumulated in the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel back to one of the separators or Closed Drain Drum for polishing and using clean motion water from the Produced Water Buffer (fed from a Produced Water Degassing Drum or (Compact) Floatation Unit) for the solids and/or sludge cleaning operation. Once the oily motion water has been removed from the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Package and the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel has been filled with clean water from the Produced Water Buffer and the Produced Water Buffer having been re-filled, the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Package is to be isolated and the pressure in the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel raised to 9 barg. Subsequently a produced water flow of 5 m3/hr at a pressure of 9.5 barg is fed to the HiPer Solids Removing Cyclone inside the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel and 15 m3/hr is fed to the jet-pump at a pressure of 17 barg that is connected to the slurry discharge line coming from the same HiPer Solids Removing Cyclone. The diluted slurry coming from the jet-pump is then fed to a Desanding Cyclone on top of the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel where shear is introduced in a concentrated manner to remove oil residual on the solids particles. The solids will settle back into the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel under gravity. The motion water flow of in total 20 m3/hr is routed back to the Produced Water Buffer. In the event solids fines are present, the motion water can be routed via a small 0.5 1 desanding cyclone bundle to remove the solids fines that may have become entrained in the motion water. The solids fines are collected in the desander housing and flushed into Big Bags from time-to-time to intrinsically remove the solids fines from the system. The motion water will need to be fed back one of the separators or Closed Drain Drum from time to time and replenished with clean produced water from a Produced Water Degassing Vessel or (Compact) Floatation Unit. This operation is continued until the solids and motion water contain an acceptable level of oil to allow discharge. Discharge of cleaned solids can be done to sea provided the governmental authorities allow doing the same or otherwise they have to be collected in Big Bags to allowing transport to shore or to a designated location onshore where proper waste treatment can be managed and executed. Solids/Sludge removal from separators In principle the solids/sludge removal and solids cleaning follows in general lines the description above. The major difference lies in the volume of motion water required to transport the solids/sludge from separators. Subject to the size of the separator, a produced water flow rate of 20 30 m3/hr to operate the HiPer Solids Removing Cyclones for a duration of approximately 15+5 minutes per section. The total volume of produced water used is then 10 m3. Since the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Vessel is only designed to hold 1.75 m3, 8.25 m3 over this 20 minute time span will need to be routed back to one of the separators. Again, if fines are present, the produced water is routed via a small 0.5 1 desanding cyclone bundle.

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Routing the oily water from the Solids/Sludge Cleaning Package back to a separator or Closed Drain Drum will allow the oil entrained to become separated when introduced to the vessel in the upstream part close to the Normal Interface Level.

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