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SwRI to lead oil and gas separation technology joint industry project

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) launched a multi-million dollar joint industry project to better understand oil and gas separation technology. The objective of the Separation Technology Research Program (STAR Program) is to combine industry knowledge and resources to advance research that could lead to better equipment and test protocols.

SwRI is leading the three-year program, which is open to operating companies, contractors and equipment manufacturers. International participation is welcomed and encouraged. The three-year membership ranges from $450,000 to $75,000 depending on the type of company.

Separating fluid mixtures into streams of oil, natural gas and water efficiently and cost-effectively using lighter weight equipment that requires less space is very important to the industry. The STAR Program will involve this three-phase separation process as well as gas/liquid separation and liquid/liquid separation.

There are several advantages of this joint industry program. Pooling resources and industry experts allows a more cost-effective approach to solving problems, especially in an environment where companies develop oil and gas fields in partnerships, and making decisions with common data is beneficial. This collaborative approach means both company-proprietary and non-proprietary equipment can be tested, with results shared among the members. Additionally, research will be conducted using existing gas/liquid flow loops in place at SwRI, minimizing capital costs

—Chris Buckingham, program director in SwRI’s Fluids and Machinery Engineering Department and manager of the STAR program

Members of the program will guide research initiatives by developing a project scope, identifying technologies to be tested, providing input on standard test approaches, witnessing testing and commenting on results.

Goals of the program are to develop standardized testing methods, collect data to improve equipment performance and develop analytical models for various types of separation equipment.


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