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Reservoir Fluid Properties Lab

PVT Experiments: Separator Test

Separator Test experiments are carried out for both oil and gas condensate
mixtures. A sample of reservoir liquid is placed in the laboratory cell and
brought to reservoir temperature and bubble-point pressure. Then the
liquid is expelled from the cell through a number of stages of separation.
Usually, two or three stages of separation are used, with the last stage at
atmospheric pressure and near-ambient temperature (60 to 80°F). The gas
is let out of the separator and its volume is measured at standard
conditions. The liquid from the first separator is let into a second separator
at a lower pressure and temperature; more gas will be liberated as
sketched in the figure below. This gas is transferred to standard conditions
and measured too.

The vessel representing the stock tank oil is a stage of separation. Pressure
in the cell is held constant at the bubble point by reducing cell volume as
the liquid is expelled. The temperature of the laboratory separator and
stock tank usually are set to represent average conditions in the field. The
stock tank is always at atmospheric pressure. The pressure in the separator
is selected by the operator.
The formation volume factor of oil is calculated as:

Reservoir Fluid Properties Lab

S indicates a separator test, and b indicates bubble point pressure in the

reservoir. The volume of liquid expelled from the cell is measured at bubble
point conditions. The volume of stock-tank liquid is measured at standard
The solution gas-oil ratio is calculated as:

With all volume adjusted to standard conditions.

The specific gravities of the separator gas and stock-tank gas are measured.
Often the composition of the separator gas is determined.
Finally, a separator volume factor is calculated. It is the volume of separator
liquid measured at separator conditions divided by the volume of stock-
tank oil at standard conditions, bbl/STB.
The separator test usually is repeated for various values of separator
The results a separator test are given below:

Reservoir Fluid Properties Lab

Data from a separator test on a black oil are given below. Note that the
volume of separator liquid was measured at separator pressure and
temperature before it was released to the stock tank.
Prepare a separator test table for the reservoir fluid study.

Reservoir Fluid Properties Lab

Reservoir Fluid Properties Lab

Reservoir Fluid Properties Lab

The results of four separator tests are given below:

Notice that the oil formation volume factor varies from 1.474 bbl/STB to
1.495 bbl/STB. Also the solution gas oil ratio varies from 768 scf/STB
(676+92) for a separator pressure of 100 psig to 795 scf/STB for a separator
pressure of 300 psig. This is disturbing in that the values of these basic fluid
properties are dependent on the method of surface separation. The
differences are not great, however, these differences show that the fluid
property calculations described later in this chapter should use the results
of a separator test performed at expected field operating conditions.