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Partial Processing – Case for Compact Separation (B-CSS-005)

The purpose of a production facility is to separate well fluids into phase components and process each into salable products or dispose of in an acceptable manner.  Separation is traditionally achieved with gravity-based vessels that can be quite large and inefficient.  With increasing demand from offshore and remote environments, new technology to improve on space, weight and process performance is needed. 

Compact Separation technology does not rely on large gravity-based vessels.  They utilize enhanced physical forces (i.e. cyclonic) for separation and as a result decrease the size/quantity of equipment required to do the same job.  The main driving benefits for compact separation include:

  • Space savings
  • Weight savings
  • Motion tolerance for floating facilities
  • Reduced chemical consumption
  • Reduced instrumentation
  • Reduced environmental effects – i.e. less raw materials, less paint, less heat loss, etc.

Examples of compact separation equipment include interceptor plates, G/L cyclones, L/L cyclones, S/L cyclones, rotordynamic equipment, and flotation cells.  When evaluating the compact separation technologies available, some factors to consider include:

  • Separation performance
  • Cost and overall net benefits
  • Operation and maintenance personnel requirements
  • Flexibility to handle varying process conditions
  • Turndown capability
  • Hold-up time
  • Pressure and energy requirements
  • Velocity/Wear
  • Sparing requirements 


Rawlins, C.H., “The Case for Compact Separation”, paper SPE-80994, Technology Today Series, 2003 Society of Petroleum Engineers. https://doi.org/10.2118/80994-JPT

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