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Separator Coalescor Panels
Problem: A large oil and gas company was concerned about the use of coalescor panels (14 inches deep with ½ by ½ inch openings) in horizontal separators used in a large field (about 400 separators). The coalescor panels would plug with solids and ice, resulting in plugging of oil and water outlets and damage to the separator's internal components. The damage was costly to repair and maintain (about $4,000). Frequent replacement of the panels resulted in high maintenance and waste management costs (15 to 20 separator coalescor change outs would generate about 25 cubic yards of waste costing about $1,000 for disposal). Also, when a separator had to be serviced due to coalescor panel problems, the production had to be shut-in.
Solution: The operator's solution was to make a simple equipment modification. A ½-inch thick fiberglass baffle perforated with 1-inch x 1-inch holes was designed to replace the coalescor panels. The new baffle costs about $200 to fabricate and install. The new baffle performed well in the separator. Flow characteristics were adequate for optimum performance of the separator.
Benefits: The elimination of the coalescor panels in turn eliminated all of the associated separator maintenance and waste management problems previously experienced. No vessel clean outs or repairs have been necessary for the modified separators. The operator did not provide the specific economics for this project. However, this equipment modification is obviously very cost effective. A simple $200 modification has eliminated a repair and maintenance expense of about $4,000. Therefore, it is apparent that the small capital investment was quickly recovered. In addition, the operator gained benefits such as increased production, reduced waste management costs, reduced regulatory compliance concerns, and improved worker safety due to reduced confined entry.