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In-line separation boosts recovery

June 23, 2003, 16:30 CEST

A new technology which uses compact in-line separation to improve recovery from producing fields is being seen by Statoil as a potential solution for deepwater subsea developments.

“Reservoir and drilling technologies don’t offer the only ways of improving recovery,” observes Vidar Sørensen, head of the process design sector in Exploration & Production Norway.

“In-line separation shows that new process technology on platforms can also yield substantial additional volumes.”

Statoil has developed this solution in cooperation with the offshore supplies industry.

In addition to substantial production benefits, it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from offshore platforms by about 50 per cent compared with existing technology.

In-line separation meets the challenges posed by growing liquids and gas output from gas and oil reservoirs respectively, and by the rising water cut on fields in the tail phase.

Statoil has achieved great success with a prototype separator installed since last September on its Sleipner T platform in the North Sea to separate liquid from gas.

Similar equipment is due to be installed on the Statfjord B platform further north this autumn.

Compared with traditional separation tanks, which are large, heavy and expensive, the in-line solution – which has a tubular form – is light, compact and considerably cheaper.

The price of an in-line separator is about NOK 15-20 million, as against NOK 200-500 million for a conventional facility.

Mr Sørensen notes that the technology could extend the period of profitable tail production and make small discoveries commercial.

It is also likely to permit simplification and cost-savings on subsea developments, and could make platforms unnecessary in the longer run.

Patented by Statoil, the technology is also attracting great attention from other oil companies.

In-line separators have already been adopted on the UK continental shelf and in the Middle East after Statoil demonstrated their advantages on its own installations.