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Separators work on the principle that the three components have different densities, which allows them to stratify when moving slowly with gas on top, water on the bottom and oil in the middle. Any solids such as sand will also settle in the bottom of the separator. These separating vessels are normally used on a producing lease or platform near the wellhead, manifold, or tank battery to separate fluids produced from oil and gas wells into oil and gas or liquid and gas.

The term separator in oilfield terminology designates a pressure vessel used for separating well fluids produced from oil and gas wells into gaseous and liquid components. A separator for petroleum production is a large vessel designed to separate production fluids into their constituent components of oil, gas and water.

The physical and chemical characteristics of the oil and its conditions of pressure and temperature determine the amount of gas it will contain in solution. The rate at which the gas is liberated from a given oil is a function of change in pressure and temperature. The volume of gas that an oil and gas separator will remove from crude oil is dependent on the physical and chemical characteristics of the crude, operating pressure,operating temperature, rate of throughput, size and configuration of the separator, and other factors.


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