Efficient dewatering of crude oil with GEA centrifuge solutions

There’s no oil without water: Not just crude oil, but also large quantities of gas, water and particulate matter are produced during the life of an oilfield. Before the oil can be sold and transported to a refinery for further processing, it must first meet a quality standard (“basic sediment and water”, or BS&W) that requires crude to be largely free of entrained water and particles.
Crude oil is dewatered (dehydrated) using GEA high-speed centrifuges, which also remove salts dissolved in the water phase, plus fine solid particles. GEA tailored and packaged centrifuge solutions handle these tasks reliably and efficiently.

Tackling heavy crudes

GEA centrifuges are not confined to oils of low and medium densities and viscosities. They also efficiently dewater and desalinate heavy crudes (20° API down to 13° API, or specific gravities of 0.93–0.98), which experience has shown are hard to treat using conventional gravity and electrostatic methods.

The small density difference between oil and water at these API gravities can only be exploited efficiently using high g forces created through centrifugal acceleration, which is precisely the advantage of GEA centrifuges. Centrifugal technology also minimizes operational requirements for heating, dilution, wash water and chemical additives. All this means a significant reduction in operating costs.

Powerful separators offshore and onshore

Key features of GEA centrifuges for dewatering crude oil are:

  • Efficient and reliable drives, either direct-drive or belt-drive.
  • High centrifugal forces and large clarification areas reliably separate entrained water and particles.
  • High throughputs.
  • Robust, compact, weight-saving and energy-efficient designs.
  • Ease of installation and operation means effective and user-friendly systems. 
  • Comprehensive monitoring of process conditions.
  • Insensitive to motion, for instance on floating facilities.
  • Flexible in terms of oil/water ratio.

GEA centrifuges are manufactured from high-quality materials, including duplex and super duplex steels, to withstand the harsh process conditions found in oil production and the high stresses experienced in operation. This allows them to meet our customers’ demands for long and efficient operating lives. GEA’s optimized designs cope easily with variations in both feed conditions and oil characteristics. With their combination of high separation efficiency and small footprint GEA separators are ideal for use offshore, where space is always key, though they are equally effective in onshore applications.

Complete plug & play systems

Depending on the product characteristics, GEA offers either nozzle-type separators or self-ejecting disk-type centrifuges. For dewatering of crude oil we can supply either stand-alone machines or complete “plug & play” installations including pumps, filters, control systems and supervisory equipment. For installations that require gas-tight and explosion-protected systems, GEA also supplies complete Ex packages to ATEX/ISO standards with nitrogen blanketing.

Two centrifuges for the price of one

During the long life of a reservoir, the proportion of water to oil generally increases. This can upset the performance of conventional dewatering equipment and ultimately require additional investment in water treatment, while leaving oil treatment systems with spare capacity.

GEA disk-stack centrifuges are so flexible that they can easily cope with changing feed conditions, thus reducing investment costs to a minimum. It is even possible to convert a GEA centrifuge from oil dewatering to oily water cleaning. This requires minimal changes to the machine, and can be done quickly using a conversion kit supplied by GEA.