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Unique scrubber test rig

September 30, 2004, 16:00 CEST

A special rig to test gas/liquid scrubbers under real conditions has been constructed by Statoil to avoid the risk of faults occurring on its production installations.

The unique facility has become operational today, 30 September, at the group’s Kårstø metering and technology laboratory (K-Lab) north of Stavanger.

It ranks as the world’s first rig of its kind for large-scale testing of separation equipment under actual operating conditions of pressure, temperature and gas/liquid composition.

Operational problems associated with scrubber systems to separate liquids from gas have prompted Statoil to boost its own expertise and that of its suppliers in this area.

The purpose of the new rig is accordingly to qualify new technology as well as to identify restrictions on and improvements for existing equipment.

Gas scrubbers have various applications, but are most often used to protect other systems – mainly compressors – by removing liquid droplets to bring the gas to the right quality standards.

“Such equipment has become more compact in recent years,” explains Arne Olav Fredheim, a specialist in gas processing at Statoil’s research centre in Trondheim.

“In their efforts to minimise weight and volume, however, suppliers have failed to produce hardware which functions well enough or provides the required efficiency.

“The new test rig will allow us to test scrubber solutions under real conditions before they are placed on our installations.”

Mr Fredheim has played a key role in designing the test rig, which will be operated in collaboration with the equipment suppliers.

Statoil will require that new technology for gas scrubbing is qualified at the K-Lab rig before being introduced on its installations.

Scrubber failures have given rise to both capacity restrictions and production shutdowns.

Such problems have caused output restrictions totalling more than NOK 30 million per day in gas processing plants, for instance.

In addition comes NOK 25 million per annum in higher energy costs because of reductions in compressor efficiency.