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The Advantages of a Vertical Separator for Gas Service

By Corr S. Pondent ; Updated January 09, 2018

In the oil industry, separators serve to separate gas from liquid. These separators ensure a rough separation of the liquid and gas. They also use a mist extractor to separate mist and an oil collector to collect the liquids at the bottom of the separator. There are different types of separators, including vertical separators and horizontal separators. Vertical separators offer some advantages. (See references 1,2)

Vertical Separator

A vertical separator makes an incoming stream spin around. This action causes the liquid drops to stay together and fall to the bottom of the separator, along its walls, due to the action of gravity. The separator has enough surge room to handle the liquid so that it is not carried over to the gas outlet. These separators are useful for the separation of well streams that have a low to medium ratio of oil to gas, as well as those with relatively large slugs of liquid. (See reference 3)

Level Control

Vertical separators are not sensitive to the level fluctuations of the liquid. This enables them to allow for level control since, because of their shape, the change in liquid volume for each unit of level change is slight. Not only that, changes in level flow will not impact the cross-section of the gas-flow or the mist content of the gas. This makes vertical separators good for separation of wellstreams that fluctuate at a rapid pace. (See references 1,2)

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Maintenance

Vertical separators take up less floor space per unit of gas capacity than other types of separators. Also, they are relatively simple to clean, which makes them suitable for the separation of sandy, crude oils. They can also handle mud, paraffin and wax without plugging. These vertical separators show less of a tendency for re-entrainment than other separators. Re-entrainment refers to the creation of waves and ripples in the liquid, as a result of high gas velocity at the interface of the gas and liquid. (See references 1,2)

Disadvantages

Vertical separators also have their disadvantages. For one, they tend to be more expensive than other types of separators. For instance, a horizontal gas separator of the same gas capacity is smaller and cheaper. This cost difference tends to be greater if high-pressure separation is called for. They need a larger diameter for any given gas capacity. Also, they are more difficult to mount and ship. And it is more difficult to reach and service their instruments and safety devices which are top-mounted. (See references 1,2)

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