• Our desalter is facing a rag layer issue when we process cabinda crude. The brine turns black. It seems like our current emulsion breaker can not solve this problem. Is there any ideas or recommendations?



  • sam lordo, Becht, salordo@comcast.net

    First determine what the black, it could just be solids that are not oily coated.. if they settle then the desalter is doing it job in removing solids.. if the solids don't settle and float then the desalter operation needs to be optimised, WW rate, Mix valve settling, chemical additons (primary and any adjunct chemistries). Also check the asphalt compatibility of the crude feed.



  • Lekh Raj Gupta, Reliance Industries, Lekhrajgupta2012@gmail.com

    Oil getting down in water phase. In all such cases, it may be different behaviour every time,  refines has to generate their own data base . Initial four actions are no cost or low cost actions, need to be planned under monitoring by process trending persons.

    One Parameters affecting oil into water is  tight emulsion caused by mixing energy high, try one to relax it.

    Another, High desalting temp, affects water density also, in turn poor separation, try it.

    Next, wash water up and down, both to be tested. Of course it will change time of desalting.

    Also, lower ph improves separation, try for some time.

    And, increased Interphase level increases separation better by changing residence time. Same can be affected by reduced crude input, not desirable.

    Also chemical suggested by experts may help from less up to good extent

    These all actions need careful monitor, past experience band some data base crude to crude.



  • Alexander Vartapetyan, ARBADOX CHEMICALS, alexander.vartapetyan@arbadox.com

    We have come across such a case when the acidity of oil has greatly increased. Check the pH level of the drainage water from EDU. If it is below 5.0 or above 8.5 units, then you need to look for reasons and adjust. Part of the problem can be solved by increasing the  washing water rate by 20-30 percent of the current one.



  • Nicola Porter, Tracerco, nicola.porter@tracerco.com

    The brine quality is poor likely due to some oil carry-under, either caused by poor interface control or lack of separation due to a number of factors. The Tracerco Profiler can help operators monitor all process interfaces within the vessel and optimise their emulsion breakers when processing different crudes by measuring their effectiveness over time.  The instrument can also detect asphaltenes and stabilised emulsions, monitor the interface height of fluids and solids in real time, help control wash water quality by increasing contact time and improving separation efficiency.  Please get in touch if you would like to discuss further.



  • N Sekar Murthy, Ashphil Consultancy, nssvdvr@gmail.com

    Analysis of the rag layer specially the asphaltenes to solids (sand, silt, and other suspended solids) ratio will throw light on the problem being faced. Some refiners witness such problem while processing slop which could induce crude incompatibility with such paraffinic crude. Perhaps it may be worth pulling out slop for couple of days from crude unit and process elsewhere in secondary units. Additionally, approach your local Veolia water technologies representative. They have extensive knowledge on demulsifier and get the right formulation to mitigate this issue. Poor desalting is typically associated with poor dewatering and water shot into d/s heaters and fractionation tower which wastes energy other than corrosion in OH section. Good luck.


  • Ben Morgan, Baker Hughes, ben.morgan@bakerhughes.com

    A deeper dive into the composition of the rag layer can help identify what are the emulsion-stabilising components in order to check whether the existing desalter program is fit for purpose when processing Cabinda.

    Furthermore, its important to understand the impact of Cabinda with respect to the other crudes in the diet in terms asphaltene stability. Destabilised asphaltenes have emulsion stabilising properties. We would suggest a combination of lab analysis and desktop review as the first step.


  • Marcio Wagner da Silva, Petrobras, marciows@petrobras.com.br

    According to the datasheet of the Cabinda crude oil, this is a light  and sweet crude oil which probably contains high amounts of paraffinic hydrocarbons. To realize an adequate analysis it's important to know if the refinery is processing only the Cabinda crude or under blending with heavier crudes, in this case we can saw chemical instability between the crudes leading to asphaltenes precipitation which stabilize emulsions reducing the separation efficiency in  the desalter vessels and provoke the change in the brine colour. In this case, it's possible to solve the problem by applying a crude stabiliser agent which is dosed independently of the emulsion breaker agent.

    Another approach is analyze the incompatibility between the Cabinda crude with the another crude oils processed by the refinery and take anticipatory actions like reduce the processed flow rate in the crude oil distillation unit to ensure a higher residence time in the dessalters when processing a crude blending with high incompatibility potential, or avoid to process crude oils chemical incompatible with the Cabinda crude.



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