The Crude Unit: Desalter Decontamination For Improved Efficiency – Desalters

Almost every modern crude unit employs five distillation processes to turn crude oil into refined marketable petroleum products. The first process is desalting that removes impurities such as salt from crude oil. It is done in desalter equipment — big-sized drums operated through power supply by desalter transformers — where raw oil is washed with water to remove soluble impurities and particulate matter. To say the least, nearly 90% of the impurities get removed from crude oil during desalting, accumulating as debris in the bottom of the desalter. However, this makes desalter less efficient over time, which is why cleaning it regularly is crucial.

Now cleaning the desalter equipment is difficult because of the nature of the accumulated debris — heavy tars mixed with production sand and inorganic salt. Plus, the equipment’s internal components obstruct the circulation method, making cleaning more difficult. That said, desalter decontamination is a good way to clean it out.

How desalter decontamination is done?

To effectively clean desalter drums, suitable solvent-based solvents are used to dissolve heavy tars and other impurities along with deep penetrating heavy tar-bed. Once the resident tars are fluidized, well-selected acidic surfactants are circulated to get rid of the corrosion products that contaminate these drums. However, pay special attention not to use chemical products that promote the stabilization of emulsion formation. This is because residual cleaning surfactants may cause water-in-oil emulsions inside of the drum once the operations resume, which may further cause downstream processing issues.

Why is using suitable chemicals vital?

The desalter equipment design generally poses challenges during the cleaning process. And the chemicals you use for cleaning can make all the difference. For effective cleaning, choosing proven effective chemical products is of the utmost importance for various reasons. They include:

  • Reduced waste volume
  • Reduced operation outage time
  • An increased amount of resource recovery
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Easy cleaning process

How to make cleaning a desalter easier?

Along with using suitable chemicals, your approach to decontaminate the equipment holds heavy significance. To start with, try circulating the cleaning surfactants top to bottom and from one end to another. If possible, insert 3D nozzles on lance rods to improve the mechanical disruption of heavy tar-bed. If mud pumps are functional, use them during the cleaning. However, make sure to use positive displacement, high volume pumps instead of centrifugal pumps to carry fluid circulation. This is because large amounts of solids can wreak havoc on centrifugal pumps.

Final Note

Cleaning desalters are challenging to clean. However, with effective chemical solutions, you can keep your equipment clean and efficient. To simplify the process, getting help from desalter services is a good move since they specialize in these systems and know all nitty-gritty, including power supply by a desalter transformer.

If you need help with your desalting process, we are here to help. Get in touch with us today.