Nuclear Salt-in-Crude Monitor
- Salahuddin Sheikh (Arabian American Oil Co.) | Albert P. Richter (Texaco Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- May 1983
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,009 - 1,016
- 1983. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 5.5.11 Formation Testing (e.g., Wireline, LWD), 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating
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The Arabian American Oil Co. (ARAMCO) recently installed a nuclear salt-in-crude monitor (SICM) that continuously measures the salt content of a flowing stream of crude oil. This device was developed by Texaco Inc.'s Bellaire (TX) Research Laboratory.
The monitor consists of two parts: a counting chamber and an instrument console. The counting chamber is a length of 24-in.-diameter pipe containing a long-life neutron source and a gamma ray detector, both mounted in cross pipes so that there is no direct contact with the flowing crude. Neutrons from the source are absorbed by chloride ions in the stream, which in turn emit gamma rays. The intensity of the gamma rays is proportional to the amount of chlorine in the crude.
The gamma ray detector is electrically connected to the instrument console, which is located in a control room. The console contains the necessary instrumentation to process the data from the detector, to compute the salt concentration, and to provide a continuous printed record of the salt per thousand barrels (PTB).
Introduction and Background
Chlorine, usually in the form of salt, is a troublesome contaminant in crude oil production pipelines and plants, and it must be maintained within certain limits to minimize crude oil handling and processing problems. ARAMCO has recognized the need for an improved method to monitor salt content in crude oil at gas/oil separation plants, shipping stations, and refineries to ensure that crude being transported meets salt contents specification of 10 lbm PTB (20 ppm chlorine). The Texaco laboratory has developed and built an SICM to meet our needs. The SICM is an instrument designed to monitor the salt content continuously and automatically in a flowing stream of crude oil. The salt content determination is accomplished by measuring the chlorine levels present in the crude using a nuclear technique that was verified several years ago during the development of the Texaco chlorine log. The measurement technique also provides simultaneous readings of the sulfur levels in the crude. Because the nuclear reactions occur essentially instantaneously, the measurement of salt (chlorine) and sulfur are unaffected by the velocity of the flow stream. The instrument is capable of measuring less than 10 lbm of salt PTB with an accuracy of +2 lbm PTB or better. Sulfur content can be measured down to 0.25% with an accuracy of +0.05% sulfur as long as the salt concentration remains below several hundred pounds PTB. These specifications are applicable only to flowlines containing no free gas.
The SICM consists of two major subsystems: a counting chamber and an instrument console (Fig. 1). The standard counting chamber is a 48-in. section of 24-in.-diameter, 1/2-in.-wall pipe that can be installed in any size flowline to monitor the total crude stream. The counting chamber contains a long-lived radioactive source and a gamma ray detector system, each housed in a cross pipe and protected from direct contact with the flowing crude oil. The counting chamber is electrically connected to the instrument console, which can be located several hundred feet away. The console, a microprocessor-based system. is a self-contained unit that requires only 115-V AC line power. It contains the instrumentation necessary to power the detector assembly and to process the data from the counting chamber.
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