Paraffin crude is a special type of heavy crude that contains the wax-like substance paraffin but has few asphaltic components. This waxy substance may accumulate on production components, such as tubing near the surface of the drilling site, during operations. In addition to being used as a wax, paraffin can be broken down to produce kerosene and motor lubricating oils.
Equipment for sampling paraffin crude is designed to keep the crude oil warm to prevent the paraffin wax from accumulating and hardening within the system.
High Temperature Crude
Highly-viscous crude oil, such as oil sands, may need to be significantly heated to lower the oil viscosity enough for pumping and transport. Oil sands especially are difficult to extract at standard temperatures, and high heat is required to thin the oils enough to pump them out of the ground or to separate them from mined sand and other debris. In such cases, systems and equipment may require special seals, temperature modifying mechanisms such as thermal fins, and other modifications to ensure safe handling of the high-temperature product.
Gaseous or Bubblepoint Crude & High Vapor Pressure Crude
In reservoir conditions, crude oils commonly have natural gas in solution. Lighter, more volatile crudes are especially likely to include natural gas components. As this gaseous crude oil is removed from the reservoir to surface pressure, the natural gas components may come out of solution. The pressure point at which gas starts coming out of solution and forming bubbles for a specific crude is called its bubblepoint pressure. Systems and equipment for crude oil that has a high gas to oil ratio (known as the gas-oil ratio or GOR) should include constant-pressure solutions to prevent the loss of the hydrocarbon gas components. This loss, or shrinkage, may occur with typical atmospheric-style systems.
Some crude oil is extremely volatile and may release gases at a high vapor pressure. In addition to preventing vaporization and loss of the hydrocarbon gas components, systems for this type of crude may need to include solutions and safeties for high pressure gas exposure, such as armored sight glasses and higher-pressure relief valves.
High Pressure Stable Crude
Stable crude oil, crude oil with low volatility and low gas content, may still be at high pressure. In some cases, crude oil may be at high pressure due simply to the pressure in the oil reservoir itself. Other times, stable crude oil may be pumped up to higher pressure to get more viscous oil out of the reservoir or to transport oil via a high-pressure pipeline. Regardless of the reason for the high-pressure state, extra precautions are taken in the design of systems for crude oil at high pressure.
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