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DEHYDRATION

What you should get out of this course.

• The purpose of dehydration


• Hydrate formation
• The composition of the gas
• Principles
• The different processes
 dehydration by glycol absorption
 dehydration by methanol absorption
 dehydration by adsorption
• Diagram and location in the process
• Operating a dehydration installation
• Problems encountered

The process – dehydration 2


The purpose of dehydration

• Introduction
When the gas is at reservoir temperature and pressure, it is
generally saturated with water.

 Water is responsible for:


– most types of corrosion when it is associated
- with acid gases (H2S and CO2)
- or salts (calcium carbonates)
– hydrate formation

The gas therefore has to be processed to remove the water it


contains.

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The purpose of dehydration

• Purpose:

 Treat to obtain hydrocarbons which meet the specifications


 Optimise recovery of the hydrocarbons
 Discharge the non-marketable effluents
 Protect persons and installations
 Facilitate transport in the pipelines (corrosion)
 Prevent corrosion problems in the lift gas or injection gas
systems.
 Prevent hydrate formation

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Hydrate formation

• Definition:
Crystal structures with a set geometry that require the presence of
water and components present in hydrocarbons, for their formation.

Hydrates are a major problem in the production and transport of natural


gas.

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Hydrate formation

• How do they form?


 Presence of liquid water
Example: liquid water released by the gas during a change in the
pressure or temperature conditions
 Presence of light hydrocarbons
Only the first four hydrocarbons (methane, ethane, propane, butane)
are likely to form hydrates in presence of liquid water (risk of hydrates
in the presence of CO2 or d’H2S)
 Favourable conditions: temperature and pressure
Hydrate formation conditions: pressure must be sufficiently high and
its temperature sufficiently low.

The process – dehydration 6


Hydrate formation

• How do they form?


 Certain factors contribute to hydrate formation
– Vortices
– Gas velocity
– Bends, orifices,  changes
– High pressure
– Self-amplifying effects
– Low temperature
 Each natural gas has its own specific hydrate formation range, which
depends on:
– the density of the gas in relation to air (KATZ method)
– its composition and solid-vapour equilibrium factors at P and T for
the most precise methods (CARSON and KATZ method).

The process – dehydration 7


Hydrate formation

• How do they form?


 The area where T < T1, is governed by the hydrate formation
curve.
 The area where
T > T1,
is governed by the
dew point curve.

The process – dehydration 8


Hydrate formation

• Why is it a problem?
 Hydrate formation leads to:
– blocking of the pipes and equipment
– production shutdown
– risks of overpressure in the installations.
 water deposition due to condensation in the pipes or free water
from the reservoir may cause large pressure drops with risks of:
– "water hammer" effects due to the liquid slugs
– erosion
 Water is responsible for most types of corrosion when it is
associated with
– acid gases (H2S and CO2)
– or salts (calcium carbonates).

The process – dehydration 9


Hydrate formation

• Why is it a problem ?

If a pipe becomes blocked by hydrates, the hydrate


block adheres so strongly to the pipe walls and is so hard that it
cannot be removed by any normal mechanical means.

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The gas composition

• Commercial gas
 H2S content: 1.5 to 4 ppm
 Total sulphur and contaminants: 50 to 150 mg/Sm3
 CO2 content: 2 to 3% molar mass
 Water dew point: - 15°C at 70 bar
 Hydrocarbon dew point: - 2°C at 70 bar

The process – dehydration 11


The gas composition

• examples of different natural gas compositions

Composition (% volume)

N2 1.50

H2O 1.00

H2S 15.30

CO2 9.30

C1 68.00

C2 3.00

C3 0.90

C4 0.50

C5 0.20

C6+ 0.30

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Principles

This solution consists of moving the hydrate formation curve


outside the facility's operating range. To achieve this, several
solutions are at our disposal.

• Displacing the hydrate curve


 inhibition by glycol or methanol.
 Case of uses considered:
– inhibition by non-recoverable
methanol (without regeneration)
– inhibition by methanol,
regenerated for re-use
– inhibiting with regenerated
diethylene glycol

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Principles

• Displacing the operating range


 Maintain pressure
 Increase temperature
– reheaters
upstream
– heat insulation
for the short pipes
 Scope of application
– short onshore gas
gathering systems.
– heating upstream of the expansion nozzles (in certain cases).
– acid gases or gases with non-negligible CO2 content.
 Not recommended in the following cases
– offshore – high heating power
– long distances.

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Principles

• Displacing the operating range


 Advantages
– simple to install and implement.
– no water condensation
– no corrosion when there is H2S and/or CO2 present in the gas.
– low investment costs when no major heat insulation on the
downstream line.
– moderate operating costs.
 Disadvantages
– safety problems if bare flame equipment is used on gas
installations.
– footprint and weight not negligible (offshore). high costs when heat
insulation is necessary
– need for a reliable fuel gas supply or another source of heat
– gas does not meet commercial standards with respect to water
content.

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Principles

• Displacement of the dew point curve


 To avoid water condensation
in the dehydrating unit’s
operating range by sufficient
gas dehydration.
 Scope of application
– long distance transport of gas at
commercial specifications.
– offshore: large subsea lines
carrying gas containing CO2 (corrosion)
– upstream of the cooler units.
 Contre-indications
– short gas gathering lines.
– short offshore inter-platform links.

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Principles

• Displacement of the dew point curve


 Advantages
– no water condensation
– no corrosion when there is H2S and/or CO2
– good reliability
– dew points obtained at commercial sales standards (-15 / -20°C at
70 bar).
 Disadvantages
– relatively complex to install (investment)
– safety problems if bare flame glycol reboiler used.
– footprint not negligible (offshore)
– continuous monitoring preferable.

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The different processes
• dehydration by glycol absorption

The process – dehydration 18


The different processes

• dehydration by glycol absorption (cont'd)


 Principle:
– Absorption section
- The glycol absorbs water
- The gas circulates from
bottom to top
- the regenerated glycol
is injected at the top
of the absorber

The process – dehydration 19


arie
The different processes
KOW: Vapeur d'eau

• dehydration by glycol absorption (cont'd)


 Principle:
Glycol humide

Condenseur
– Regeneration section de tête

- water-laden glycol is
Still column

nte parmi drawn off from the flash drum Brûleur

Rebouilleur
urni - series of filters
Filtre
- glycol flows down Colonne
Stripping
Fuel gas
de
through the column stripping
Gaz
sec
Stockage
- exits the column towards
the reboiler for regeneration
- the water vapour exits Gaz
de flash
the distillation column in
the reverse direction
Glycol sec Gazoline
Glycol
- the concentrated glycol
exits the reboiler via Pompe à glycol
Séparateur gazoline
a weir glycol

The process – dehydration 20


The different processes

• dehydration by glycol absorption (cont'd)


 Performances
– most commonly used process
– dew point -15 to -20 °C at 70 bars
– use of TEG preferred (Triethylene glycol)
 Scope of application
– protection of treatment units by cooling
– protection of collection systems when there is no salt water
ingress or when there are WKOs at the well head.
– protection on medium distance pipes.
– subsea wells when there is no salt water ingress.
– upstream of long-distance gas lines
– protection of downstream lines
– upstream of the turboexpander
– presence of CO2 --> corrosion

The process – dehydration 21


The different processes

• dehydration by glycol absorption (cont'd)


Not recommended in the following cases :
– long lines subject to corrosion, sea lines,
– long pipes with many low points (there is a danger of the glycol
being unevenly distributed over the whole of the facility).
– production of salt water (contamination by salts from the DEG at
regeneration).

The process – dehydration 22


The different processes

• dehydration by methanol absorption


 Inhibition by methanol (not recovered)
– Scope of application:
- small installations
- seasonal injection
- small quantity of gas
- subsea wells
- short lines
- stand-alone installation
- commissioning after testing
– Not recommended in the following cases:
- long lines
- prohibitive quantity to be injected

The process – dehydration 23


The different processes

• dehydration by methanol absorption (cont'd)


 Inhibition by methanol (regenerated)
– Scope of application:
- developments with subsea wells
- long distances
– Not recommended in the following cases:
- lines which are impossible to repair
- prohibitive quantity to be injected

The process – dehydration 24


The different processes

• dehydration by adsorption
property of certain solids (= desiccants) to fix certain molecules on
their surface.

The process – dehydration 25


The different processes

• dehydration by adsorption

The main desiccants are:

 Alumina: Good activity but becomes deteriorated by absorbing the


heavy hydrocarbons which are not eliminated by heating.

 Silicagels: These are highly active amorphous substances, which are


easy to regenerate and which adsorb the heavy hydrocarbons to a
lesser degree. They are sensitive to liquid water.

 Molecular sieves: These consist of zeolite crystals

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The different processes

• dehydration by adsorption
Differences between the main desiccants:

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The different processes

• dehydration by adsorption (molecular sieve)

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The different processes

• Advantages and disadvantages of the various processes


 Inhibition by glycol with regeneration
– Advantages:
- low glycol consumption in simple regeneration (little
vaporisation in the gas) )
- no pollution problem (water eliminated during the vapour
phase).
- safe storage (low volatility product).
– Disadvantages:
- presence of liquid in the transport facility (injection flow rate
higher than that of the methanol)
- corrosion if H2S or CO2 present
- difficulties (or impossibility) to regenerate if salt water present
- gas does not meet the specifications

The process – dehydration 29


The different processes

• Advantages and disadvantages of the different processes


 Inhibition by methanol (not recovered)
– Advantages:
- simple to install
- low investments
- small equipment size
- good reliability
– Disadvantages:
- creation of a two-phase flow
- corrosion if H2S or CO2 present
- high operating costs
- methanol supply?
- storage (safety)
- gas does not meet the commercial standards with respect
to water content.

The process – dehydration 30


The different processes

• Advantages and disadvantages of the different processes


 Inhibition by methanol with regeneration
– Advantages:
- good reliability
- no water discharge
– Disadvantages:
- presence of liquid in the lines
- corrosion if H2S / CO2 present
- loss of methanol (50%)
- complex to install
- gas does not meet specifications

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Representation and location in the process

• REPRESENTATION
 PFD (Process Flow Diagram):
this document, which is issued during the project phase, shows
the main process lines and tanks and their main operating
parameters

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Representation and location in the process

• Representation
 P&ID (Piping & Instrumentation Diagram)
This document, which is issued during the project phase, shows
all the process lines and tanks and their main operating
parameters in a much more complex format than the PFD.

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Representation and location in the process

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Representation and location in the process

• Location

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Representation and location in the process

• Location (Example: Girassol)

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Representation and location in the process

• Criticality

 If the dehydration unit (TEG) shuts down, the methanol injection


is automatically opened at the column outlet.
 If methanol injection is impossible, the following must be stopped:
– gas-lift
– gas injection
which generates a loss of production

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Operating an installation

• Absorption section
 Parameters governing absorption
– Concentration of the regenerated glycol
The glycol's purity level depends on:
- The bath temperature in the reboiler.
The higher the temperature, the more water is released by the
TEG.
The limit is set at 204°C because the TEG deteriorates above
215 C.
- The operating pressure of the distillation column
Operating below atmospheric pressure generates higher
concentrations at equivalent temperatures.
- The use of a dry gas stripping column.
With the stripping column, a level of 99.9% can be reached
(<98.7%).

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Operating an installation

• Absorption section
 Parameters governing absorption
– Gas temperature in the absorber
The dew point at the top of the absorber depends on the
temperature there. A reduction in the gas temperature at the inlet
to the unit reduces the dew point at the outlet.
– Glycol circulation rate
- The minimum glycol circulation rate for a good glycol-gas
contact is approximately 15 litres per kg of water to be
removed from the gas.
- Average flow rate of 25 l/kg of water to be removed, for a
conventional installation..

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Operating an installation

• Absorption section
 Normal operation

 Downgraded operation
– Dehydration column by
passed
– MeOh pump operating

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Operating an installation

• Regeneration section

 Regeneration makes use of the distillation principle by heating


the glycol - water solution in a reboiler whose energy is normally
supplied either by a fire tube, or by electric heating elements

 The temperature of the glycol bath in the reboiler must be


maintained at 204°C, for example, for the TEG.

The process – dehydration 41


Operating an installation

• Recirculation system section


 Pumps
– Pumps are used to circulate the glycol through the regeneration
system
 Filtration
– The solid particles are stopped by the filters, which prevents them
being drawn into and deposited in the regeneration equipment by
the glycol.
– The hydrocarbons present in the glycol are removed with an
activated charcoal filter which prevents foaming problems,
generally due to the presence of corrosion inhibitors, solid
particles, etc. in the crude.
 pH neutralisation equipment
– A chemical injection unit is used to neutralise the pH of the glycol,
which must be maintained at 6 -7 to prevent foaming.

The process – dehydration 42


Problems encountered

• Operating problems in the regeneration section


 Glycol oxidation
– The oxygen, which penetrates into the system through the
atmospheric storage tanks and pump seals, can oxidise the glycol
and form corrosive acids.
– The use of a gas atmosphere is recommended in the storage
tanks

 Thermal breakdown
– An excessive temperature in the reboiler can break down the
glycol and form corrosive products (the TEG decomposition
temperature is 215°C).
– Local overheating may be caused by salt or bitumen deposits on
the fire tubes or heating tubes.

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Problems encountered

• Operating problems in the regeneration section


 Controlling the pH
– The acidity of the glycol is due to the two points mentioned above
and to the presence of acid compounds in the gas to be treated
(H2S, CO2) which increase the equipment corrosion rate.
– The glycol must be maintained at a level of pH = 7 - 8 by injecting
a pH neutraliser

 Deposits
– Good filtration and activated charcoal treatment prevents the solid
particles and bituminous hydrocarbons from being deposited.

The process – dehydration 44


Problems encountered

• Operating problems in the regeneration section


 Foaming
– Foaming may increase the glycol losses and reduce the capacity
of the equipment.
– he causes of foaming are related to the presence of the following
in the glyco:
- liquid hydrocarbons,
- corrosion inhibitors,
- salt,
- fine particles in suspension.

 Presence of condensates
– The liquid hydrocarbons cause the glycol to foam.
– They can be eliminated in the flash drum and in the activated
charcoal filters.

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Problems encountered

• Operating problems in the regeneration section


 Salt contamination
– The salt deposits increase the equipment corrosion rate, and
reduce the heating tube heat transfers.

– This salt is transported by a fine water vapour mist, which can be


trapped by demister at the separator.

The process – dehydration 46


Problems encountered

• Operating problems in the regeneration section


 Glycol losses
– The glycol losses increase the operating costs of this type of unit. They
can be caused by:
- Vaporisation
These losses can be limited by sufficiently cooling the gas
upstream of the absorber.
- Entrainment
The high points in the column are generally equipped with
internal systems (separator, demister, coalescer) designed to
prevent the glycol being mechanically entrained through the
system.
- Mechanical leaks
Mechanical leaks can be reduced by keeping the pumps,
valves and other equipment on the lines correctly maintained

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