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Selection of Separators

Petroleum engineers normally do not perform

detailed designing of separators but carry out
selection of separators
manufacturers product catalogs.
This section addresses how to determine
separator specifications based on well stream
The specifications





Gas Capacity
The following empirical equations proposed by
SoudersBrown are widely used for calculating
gas capacity of oil/gas separators:

Table 10.1 presents K values for various types of

Also listed in the table are K values used for other
designs such as mist eliminators and trayed towers
in dehydration or gas sweetening units.

Substituting Eq. (10.1) into Eq. (10.2) and applying

real gas law gives

It should







Height differences in vertical separators and

length differences in horizontal separators
are not considered.
Field experience has indicated that additional
gas capacity can be obtained by increasing
height of vertical separators and length of
horizontal separators.
The separator charts (Sivalls, 1977; Ikoku,
1984) give more realistic values for the gas
capacity of separators.

In addition, for single-tube horizontal vessels,

corrections must be made for the amount of
liquid in the bottom of the separator.
Although one-half full of liquid is more or less
standard for most single-tube horizontal
separators, lowering the liquid level to increase
the available gas space within the vessel can
increase the gas capacity.

Liquid Capacity
Retention time of the liquid within the vessel
determines liquid capacity of a separator.
Adequate separation
requires sufficient time to
obtain an equilibrium condition between the liquid
and gas phase at the temperature and pressure of
The liquid capacity of a separator relates to the
retention time through the settling volume:

Table 10.2 presents t values for various types of

separators tested in fields.
It is shown that temperature has a strong impact on
three-phase separations at low pressures.

Tables 10.3 through 10.8 present liquidsettling volumes with the conventional
placement of liquid-level controls for
typical oil/gas separators.

Proper sizing of a separator requires the use

of both Eq. (10.3) for gas capacity and Eq.
(10.4) for liquid capacity.
Experience shows that for high-pressure
separators used for treating high gas/oil ratio
well streams, the gas capacity is usually the
controlling factor for separator selection.
However, the reverse may be true for lowpressure separators used on well streams
with low gas/oil ratios.