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Oilfield Glossary
Oilfield Glossary
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oil and gas separator

1. n. [Production Facilities]
A vessel that separates the well fluids into gas and total liquid. A two-phase separator can be horizontal, vertical or spherical. The liquid (oil, emulsion) leaves the vessel at the bottom through a level-control or dump valve. The gas leaves the vessel at the top, passing through a mist extractor to remove the small liquid droplets in the gas. Separators can be categorized according to their operating pressure. Low-pressure units handle pressures of 10 to 180 psi [69 to 1,241 kPa]. Medium-pressure separators operate from 230 to 700 psi [1,586 to 4,826 kPa]. High-pressure units handle pressures of 975 to 1,500 psi [6,722 to 10,342 kPa]. Gravity segregation is the main force that accomplishes the separation, which means the heaviest fluid settles to the bottom and the lightest fluid rises to the top. Additionally, inside the vessel, the degree of separation between gas and liquid will depend on the separator operating pressure, the residence time of the fluid mixture and the type of flow of the fluid. Turbulent flow allows more bubbles to escape than laminar flow.