An oil production plant is a facility which processes production fluids from oil wells in order to separate out key components and prepare them for export. This is distinct from an oil depot, which does not have processing facilities. Typical oil well production fluids are a mixture of oil, gas and produced water.
The production plant can be considered to begin after the production wing valve on the oil well Christmas tree. The reservoir fluids from each well are piped through a flow line to a choke valve, which regulates the rate of flow and reduces the pressure of the fluids.The flow lines from each well are gathered together at an inlet manifold and routed into a (first stage) separator, which separates the three fluid phases. Produced water, the densest phase, settles out at the bottom of the separator, oil floats on the top of the produced water phase, and gas occupies the upper part of the separator.
Two stage oil separation train.Oil from the first stage separator may be cooled or heated in a heat exchanger to aid further separation. Oil is then routed either to a second stage separator, operating at a lower pressure than the first stage to further separate oil/gas/water, or to a coalescer to further remove water.Several stages of separation, operating at successively lower pressures, aim to reduce the amount of dissolved gas and hence reduces the flash point of the oil to meet the export oil specification. For higher oil flow rates parallel trains of separators may be necessary to handle the flow and to provide a turn-down capability.
From the final stage of separation, or from the coaleser, oil may be cooled to meet export specifications and is metered to accurately measure the flow rate and then pumped via a pipeline to the onshore terminal. Some installations such as concrete gravity-base structures and have integral oil storage tanks which are continuously filled with oil and periodically discharged into oil tankers.
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