A separator for petroleum production is a large drum designed to separate
production fluids into their constituent components of oil, gas and water. It
can be horizontal, vertical or spherical as well as being two-phase or
three-phase. It can also be permanent or portable. |
Separators work on the principle that the three components have different
densities, which allows them to stratify when moving slowly, with gas on top,
water on the bottom, and oil in the middle.
Any solids, such as sand, will also settle in the bottom of the separator.
Separators used in the oil and gas industry can be divided into two general
categories: test separators and production separators. A test separator is a
vessel used to separate and meter relatively small quantities of oil and gas. It
is sometimes equipped with different meters to determine oil, water and gas
rates, necessary to diagnose well problems, evaluate production performance of
individual wells, and manage reserves properly. Thus, occasionally, it is
referred to as a well tester or a well checker.
A production separator operates on the same basis as a test separator; however,
it is much larger in size and its inflow consists of the oil mixture obtained
from all the wells.