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Separation Systems

Solids Handling

Solids Handling
Solids in the production
stream can lead to wear, poor
performance and blockages
in the production system.
The challenge when removing
solids from the production
stream is do this with high
efficiency, at a low pressure
drop and while ensuring
small particle removal.
FMC Technologies Solids
Handling Systems meet all
of these criteria.

Photo (Heidrun Platform): Statoil

Increase production
Avoid expensive shut-downs
Minimize wear and damage to equipment reducing
maintenance cost
Compact systems: Highly efficient sand removal and
handling with a small footprint

Separation Systems
The separation company major oil companies go
to with their most challenging projects
Maximum return on investment through extensive
experience and know-how
The only separation company with a proven track
record with inline separation equipment
The leading company in subsea separation
Develops out-of-the-box solutions for the separation
challenges of tomorrow
The only supplier of sand removal and desanding
technologies with experience based on challenging
subsea applications

Solids Handling Challenges

Solids are undesirable when producing oil and gas.
They can lead to problems like wear, which can affect
choke valves, pumps, compressors, piping and hydrocyclones. Other problems caused by solids are blockages of
instrument nozzles and a negative impact on separation
equipment such as the clogging of filters, blocking of
hydrocyclones and filling up of separators.
Solids are not always expected but can occur for a v ariety
of reasons. For example due to an increase in the gas-oil
ratio (e.g. due to gas injection), low-pressure production,
increased water production, well clean up or well/sand

Solids, no problem

desanding, bulk
separation of larger
sand particles
(>~100 microns)

Sand removal
system for separator

Fine solids
separation from water
streams (1-50microns)

Desanding from
sand slurry streams
(~5 microns)

Sand cleaning

To gas processing

To oil treatment


Sand handling

FMC Technologies design complete solutions for removing

the sand from the production stream and for handling the
sand for disposal. Our portfolio consists of highly efficient
and compact sand handling systems for removing sand
from single or multiphase streams, systems for removing
sand from separator vessels, as well as sand cleaning
We are the only supplier of sand removal and desanding
technologies with experience of the challenging subsea

Clean sand

Subsea Sand Handling Experience

Marlim Subsea Separation System
The Petrobras Marlim Project is the worlds first system for deepwater
subsea separation of heavy oil and water that includes water reinjection to
boost production in a mature field development.
The Marlim system is the most complex subsea processing
project carried out to date. The water is separated from the
well-stream and re-injected back into the reservoir. This is the
first application where the produced water is used for
pressure maintenance of the reservoir as part of the subsea
separation operation and also the first subsea heavy oil
The system includes a PipeSeparator concept, separating the
water from the well stream and a water treatment system
using InLine HydroCyclones.

equipment and to avoid sand accumulation. It also contains a

dual redundant Sand Jetting System in the outlet section of
the PipeSeparator, and an InLine DeSander for removing the
smallest particles in the water stream from the separator to
protect the re-injection well and reservoir. The separated sand
is routed with the oil to the topside facility.
All the separation and sand handling equipment has been
tested as part of the technology qualification program started
Q4 2009, and was completed Q2 2010. The Marlim system
was successfully installed in Q4 2011.

The sand handling system includes an InLine DeSander at the

inlet of the separation system. This removes most of the sand,
from the multiphase well stream, to protect the downstream

First Subsea InLine Desander application

Through the Sand Tolerance Qualification Project we

have demonstrated our ability to develop wear-resistant
hydrocyclones. In fact, this is the worlds first subsea
hydrocyclone. The development focused on process
design and material selection to ensure maximum
sand tolerance, while accelerated erosion tests were
conducted to create alternative solutions. The tests
demonstrated excellent sand tolerance, and this
successful technology is now being manufactured and
will be integrated in the system.

The system receives the production stream, a mixture of oil,

gas, water and sand, and separates the gas from the liquids.
Next, the heavy oil is separated from the water using a novel
pipe separation design that was licensed and developed in
cooperation with Statoil. The system also integrates
Separation Systems proprietary water treatment and sand
handling technologies as part of the subsea separation
system. The separated gas is added back to the oil stream
to provide gas lift to the FPU, while the separated water is
injected back into the reservoir to further increase
Sand Removal Application for:
Multiphase / Heavy oil

Enhance the Gas-Liquid and Liquid-Liquid Separation

Reduce frequency of flushing of separators
Produced Water

Protection of downstream equipment and reinjection

Tordis Subsea Separation Boosting and Injection

Tordis is recognized as one of the most important breakthrough technology
milestones for subsea in recent years.

The Tordis system is a water and sand separation and re-injection system. The water and sand are separated from the wellstream in a semi-compact separator vessel, where the sand
separates and accumulates at the bottom. The vessel includes
a sand removal system which is operated by high-pressure
water from the water injection pump. This system is a dual
redundant system with two independent technologies:
A Sand Jetting system as the primary sand removal
A cyclonic sand removal system which can be
operated as a back-up in case of a potential failure of
the main sand removal system.

The removed sand is conveyed in batches to a desander

and sand accumulator vessel. The accumulated sand is pressurized and goes to the discharge side of the water injection
pump. All the separated sand is injected with the water. The
sand handling system ensures that the water injection pump
does not need to handle significant amounts of sand.
The Tordis sand handling system was qualified through a
Subsea Separation and Sand Handling System Qualification
Program at FMCs facilities in The Netherlands during 2003
and 2004. The InLine DeSander/sand accumulator was
qualified as part of the Technology Qualification Program
of the Tordis project in 2005.

As the first deepwater subsea processing system in West Africa which includes
subsea gas/liquid separation Pazflor is another of FMCs milestone projects.

Pazflor Subsea Separation System

The Pazflor system is a subsea gas-liquid separation and
liquid boosting system. The separator removes the gas
from the liquid, so that the liquid can be pumped while
gas flows freely to the surface. The Pazflor project includes
three subsea separation stations, each including one separator and two hybrid boosting pumps.

The separator is designed to prevent sand accumulation.

In addition, a sand handling system including a proprietary
sand-flushing arrangement is installed as a back-up
solution to remove any build-up of sand during operation.
The sand handling was qualified as part of the Technology
Qualification Program during an extensive separation and
sand handling qualification program in 2008.

Operating principle of the InLine DeSander

Upon entering the cyclone, the fluids are given a swirling
motion by a specially designed swirl element. Light phases
(water, oil and gas) leave the separation section through
the centre opening. The solids collect on the outside of the
middle pipe section. This pipe section is tapered and thus
guides the solids into a concentrated stream, which is taken
to the solid outlet. The multiphase (gas-liquid) stream that
was separated into the inner pipe is passed to the outer
pipe through openings in the swirl element blades.

InLine design (easily incorporated in existing pipe
routing, low weight and space requirement)
0-50% gas-liquid ratio
Minimal reject-flow required
Low dependency between efficiency and sand load
Good turndown
Can be installed horizontally or vertically
Unit length 5-10 x ID

Swirl element to impart swirl flow and G-forces for separation.

Separation section: the sand is pushed out to the side wall
while the liquid or multiphase flow leaves the separation
section through centre openings.

Performance of the InLine DeSander

For a given flow a single unit, a few large units, or multiple
smaller units can be used. Benefits of using multiple smaller units
is that the G-force will be higher and thus smaller size particles
can be separated. The advantage of the larger units is that these
are more robust when separating larger particles and are better
at handling large amounts of sand.

Swirl element &

Separation chamber


Design Flow Rate


Max. Inlet Sand

Load kg/h









From: 1 - 100 microns

100 %

Sand extraction

96 %

Liquid/gas stream
with sand particles

500 Kg.

Sand stream

499 Kg.

Sand free

1 Kg.

Separating smaller particles efficiently

Case study: Hassi Messaoud

The guaranteed performance for the unit is to achieve a
solid content of less than 30 ppm (wt) based on an inlet
condition of less than 500 ppm (vol) of solids. The oil
content is approximately 400 ppm (vol) of oil in water.
The collection vessel is equipped with a Sandwash System
for automated disposal of the sand.
Layout of an InLine DeSander for Hassi Messaoud in Algeria,
used to remove sand from the produced water stream before it is
routed to the produced water system. The unit used a bundle of
three smaller 3" units to separate smaller particles efficiently.

Sand Removal Efficiency

92 %

88 %

84 %







Case study: the Heidrun platform

The stream being handled here is the sand-wash outlet
stream from a separator, which contains not only sand but
also a large amount of wash water from the separator. This
water exceeds the handling capacity of the solids disposal
system and thus the sand needs to be concentrated before

Photo: Statoil/Kjetil Alsvi

The Heidrun platform

Sand removal efficiency average
Sand removed / wt %



Flow /






270 micron
200 micron
150 micron
HD Sand

Separation efficiency achieved by the InLine DeSander installed

on the Heidrun platform. Test sands with different mean particle
sizes and the actual Heidrun (HD) sand were separated from the
liquid stream at different flow rates. The shaded green area
indicates the required performance and operating envelope.

The schematic layout of the InLine DeSander shows the way the
unit was installed on the Heidrun platform. The inlet pipe
(purple) is connected to the InLine Desander (pink) from the top.
The liquid outlet is on the side connected to the liquid outlet
piping (red). The solids outlet is on the bottom of the InLine
DeSander and connected to the solid collection vessel (yellow).

Test skid
Defining solutions for sand handling challenges requires
predicting how the technologies will perform on actual
facilities. An indication of the suitability of a certain technology can be obtained from laboratory tests. However,
this is never a 100% guarantee that it will work at specific
For that reason Separation Systems provides test skids
that can be hooked up to a slipstream of the process
stream. In this way an accurate indication can be obtained
of the efficiency that our technical solution will have in
your production facilities and you can be assured of
success when the equipment is finally installed.

We have the following test skids available:

InLine DeWaterer
InLine HydroCyclone

Other solutions by
Separation Systems
Production Improvements
Compact Total Separation Systems
Heavy Oil production
Efficiency Improvement and Troubleshooting
Produced Water

The InLine- DeGasser, DeSander, PhaseSplitter, DeWaterer and DeLiquidiser are patented by Statoil and FMC has exclusive worldwide
license to sell this technology.

Copyright August 2010 | FMC Technologies

FMC Technologies
1777 Gears Road
Houston TX 77067
Phone: +1 281 591 4000

FMC Technologies
Separation Systems
Delta 101
6825 MN Arnhem
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0)26 7999100