The EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) and North Ghawar Producing Department (NGPD) have completed successful field trials of the new Inline Water Separator (IWS). The IWS is composed of a series of compact vessels with proprietary technologies to separate water from oil.
Water is typically produced with oil and in many cases can make up much of a well's production. The flow of water in pipelines from wells to gas-oil separation plants (GOSPs) imposes pressure on the wells, thereby slowing or preventing production of oil. With water flow expected to increase over the next few decades, an IWS can separate the water before it enters the pipeline and reduce the pressure imposed on the well.
"EXPEC ARC anticipates the longer-term needs of the company and develops the technological solutions to address those needs," said Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, executive director of Petroleum Engineering and Development. "This innovative project will help to extend field life and increase oil recovery at lower cost."
The IWS also removes smaller oil droplets, which can be damaging to a reservoir, from the separated water before it is reinjected into the ground. The separator is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for monitoring the efficiency of separation and precise process controls.
"With the IWS, we can now handle the water closer to its source and prolong the life of our fields while minimizing the use of artificial lift," said Abdulaziz O. Al-Kaabi, acting manager of EXPEC ARC.
Additional benefits of the IWS include less pipeline corrosion, lower emulsions, energy savings by separating and injecting disposal water closer to the disposal wells, and avoidance of costs associated with expanding the existing water-handling facilities.
NGPD has taken the lead in facilitating and coordinating the installation and testing of the IWS. "NGPD is at the forefront in the search for viable technologies to increase oil production and improve our processes," said NGPD manager Abdullah Al-Helal.
Trial runs, which began in January and ended in April, covered a wide range of oil rates at different water-cuts with encouraging results. Team members believe that successful applications of technologies such as IWS will contribute to maintaining Saudi Aramco's role as the world's most reliable supplier of energy.
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