Optimize Separator Operating Pressures to Reduce Flash Losses
- Brian Edward Boyer (COMM Engineering) | Steve O'Connell (Devon Energy Production Co. LP)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE/EPA/DOE Exploration and Production Environmental Conference, 7-9 March, Galveston, Texas
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2005. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7.4.4 Energy Policy and Regulation, 4.9 Facilities Operations, 4.6 Natural Gas, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 6.5.1 Air Emissions, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.2.2 Fluid Modeling, Equations of State, 4.1.1 Process Simulation, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements
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Flashing losses from crude oil and condensate storage are routinely vented to the atmosphere.By minimizing operating pressure of low-pressure separators, the amount of flashing losses can be reduced, resulting in increased profits at a minimal cost of implementation and an immediate payback.Companies can be report these methane reductions to the Environmental Protection Agency's Natural Gas STAR Program.Devon Energy realized savings of approximately $7000 per year after separator optimization at one of its oil and gas production facilities.
Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. (Devon) surveyed its G. A. Ray No. 93 oil and gas production facility and increased profits approximately $7000 per year by optimizing the operating pressures of the three-phase, low-pressure production separators.The primary goal of the optimization was to increase profits for the facility by putting more gas into the sales pipeline and to reduce emissions of methane with minimal costs to the facility.This paper describes methods for optimizing separator pressures at an oil and gas production facility and Devons' results for optimizing its G. A. Ray No. 93.
In the oil and gas production, processing and transmission operations, processes that involve crude oil and condensate undergoing pressure drops result in the separation of natural gas from the oil fraction.This liberation of natural gas is commonly referred to as "flashing" of natural gas from the oil.These flash gases typically have a higher BTU value than the inlet gas and have more value.These gases from crude oil and condensate (oil) storage tanks are generally vented to the atmosphere (although sometimes they are recovered for use as fuel gas, gas lift gas, sent to the sales pipeline or burned in a flare).For facilities that do not have a low-pressure gathering system or do not operate a low-pressure booster compressor, the low-pressure separators and/or heater treaters may vent to the atmosphere or burn the gas in a flare.
Companies can optimize the process by reducing operating pressures of low-pressure separators and heater treaters such that less flash gas is vented to the atmosphere.For example, less flash will be generated from a oil storage tank provided the facility reduces the operating pressure of the low-pressure separator or heater treater just upstream of the oil storage tank and the flash gas from the low-pressure separator or heater treater is routed back into the system (e.g., suction of compressor, fuel gas system, etc.). This may require a lower operating pressure for the booster compressor's first stage suction or for the fuel gas system.These optimizations can be accomplished by adjusting operating pressures with minimal capital and operational costs.
A survey of the operating parameters of a facility can reveal opportunities to reduce flash losses and increase profits by increasing gas sent to sales. Such a survey may reveal opportunities that warrant a vapor recovery unit to recover the remaining flash gas that is vented to the atmosphere before or after optimization.
These flash gas savings result in a reduction in the emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas.Companies can report these methane reductions to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) voluntary program known as Natural Gas STAR Program.The Natural Gas STAR's Lessons Learned document entitled, "Installing Vapor Recovery Units on Crude Oil Storage Tanks" gives information on the sizing and economics of vapor recovery units for oil storage tanks.
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