Overcoming Challenges in Demulsification with Silicone Demulsifiers Esma Atlandi, Alvaro Luiz Gomes and Konstantin Sobolev Dow Corning Corporation
About the Authors Esma Atlandi Esma Atlandi has been a technical expert of high-quality silicone products in Dow Corning for 6 years, responsible for EMEA. Her experience spans multiple segments of the Oil & Gas industry from the wellhead, to refining, processing and even the shipment of finished products. Esma is therefore rightly placed to provide her customers with technical and innovative support as well as collaborative problem-solving tailored to meet her customers’ needs in foam control and in the demulsification process. Alvaro Luiz Gomes Alvaro has a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from the University São Paulo and a Master's in Chemistry from the State University of Campinas (2011). He also has an MBA in Economic Business Management (USP). Alvaro is currently a Senior Application Chemist at Dow Corning Brazil. His areas of expertise include the physical chemistry of polymers, especially biopolymers and silicones and also its various applications such as cosmetics, household, medical and pharmaceutical products and additives for oil extraction and processing. Alvaro is currently dedicated to helping customers in the Oil & Gas industry with gas and water separation from crude with the use of Silicone-based materials. He is the author of two books and has also published several articles in academic and technical journals. He has five patents involving applications of silicones in the fields of Cosmetology and Oil & Gas. Konstantin Sobolev Konstantin Sobolev graduated from IFP-School in France. After finishing his Ph.D. in Colloid Chemistry at the Gubkin University of Oil & Gas in Russia, he joined Dow Corning in 2005. Since then he has been leading business development and innovation efforts across multiple segments and applications. Currently, Konstantin is based in the Dow Corning European Headquarters in Belgium.
ABSTRACT The demulsification and separation of produced oil from water is an industry known challenge. Oil operators are faced with many obstacles when trying to efficiently and effectively separate water from crude oil. Nowadays, particular attention is being paid to the efficiency of the process both in terms of costs and speed of process, as well as environmental concerns including the quality of separated water. This paper will demonstrate how silicone demulsifiers can help operators efficiently separate water and oil to help them meet their challenges in productivity and improvement goals as well as infrastructure and logistical constraints. Used as a standalone demulsifier or as a booster to enhance performance, the Dow Corning® brand silicone-based chemical DMx portfolio delivers strong results in terms of rapid water drop, sharp oil/water interface, cleaner water and low temperature separation. INTRODUCTION The demulsification and separation of produced oil from water is a well-known challenge in the industry.1 Effective separation of water and brine from crude oil is essential in order to not only ensure the quality of crude oil and separated water, but to also prevent increased transportation costs, water treatment and disposal costs and the deterioration of equipment.2 Yet, to achieve these goals, operators are constantly facing challenges like high viscosity, high salt and paraffin content, and high emulsion stability which can often create problems for the formulators of demulsifier packages.3 Adding to this, operators are increasingly searching for oil in a range of conditions, such as in deep waters, heavy crudes and shale gas, which is also making oil extraction even more expensive and complex. Operators need to address all of these issues and challenges all Smith, Vernon and Arnold, Kenneth (1987) “Petroleum Engineering Handbook: Chapter 19 Crude Oil Emulsions” 2 Dalmazonne, C., Noik, C. Komunjer, L. (2005) “Mechanism of Crude-Oil/Water Interface Destabilization by Silicone Demulsifiers” SPE Journal 80241 3 Phukan, Monijt, et al. (2010) “New Silicone Copolymers for Efficient Demulsification” SPE Journal 128553
while doing so in a cost-efficient manner and ensuring environmental regulations are met for safe disposal of the separated water. Therefore, it is clear that particular attention is now being paid to the efficiency of the process both in terms of cost and speed of process, as well as environmental concerns including quality of separated water. Oil recovery operators know they have various demulsification tools at their disposal to efficiently separate water from crude oil, but choosing the right tool or mix of tools can sometimes be difficult. They have various options to choose from including applying heat, using electrostatic separation and/or using chemicals. Each tool presents its own demulsification challenges in terms of equipment, productivity and logistics. It has been noted that heating and electrostatic separation can sometimes not be sufficient in respecting residence times, especially in offshore production, and chemical additives have to be added in order to disrupt the interfacial film and enhance and speed up emulsion breaking.4 Furthermore, applying heat can be expensive and can cause a significant loss in the volume of oil.5 Chemical demulsifiers have therefore been seen to be an essential part of the demulsification process. They are popular because they can be easily applied to the emulsion, usually at a reasonable cost, and can usually minimize the amount of heat applied.6 Silicone demulsifiers are a relatively new type of chemical demulsifier which are driving efficiency.7 There have been several studies and tests done which show that silicone demulsifiers are efficient reagents both in pure form and as additives to organic systems.8 In this article we will focus in more detail on how the Dow Corning® siliconebased chemical DMx demulsifier portfolio can help operators meet their current challenges in oil/water separation.
Dalmazonne, C., Noik, C. Komunjer, L. (2005) Smith, Vernon and Arnold, Kenneth (1987) 6 Smith, Vernon and Arnold, Kenneth (1987) 7 Phukan, Monijt, et al. (2010) 8 Dalmazonne, C., Noik, C. Komunjer, L. (2005) 4 5
with productivity challenges. This can be demonstrated via bottle tests.
Dow Corning® DMx Demulsifier Portfolio Properties Dow Corning® brand Demulsifier DM1 DM2 DM3 DM4 DM5 DM6 DM7 DM8 1
Typical Viscosity at 25°C (cSt)
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
2,000 315 280 40 350 260 350 285
6.6 12.3 6.6 11.5 9.2 10.5 0.94 7.9
Cloud Point at 1% Aq. Sol. (°C) 39 >94