Volume: 3 | Issue: 3

Separations Technology Technical Section Will Hold Special Session at 2014 SPE ATCE

The 2014 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) will take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. With its aging wells and processing facilities that present specific challenges, Europe is an interesting place for oil and gas production and applied separations technology. Several oil majors’ head offices are located in Europe and many separations technology providers have their origins in the European sector. The SPE Separations Technology technical section (STTS) could not afford to miss the opportunity to hold a special session at ATCE.

The STTS membership has grown to more than 550 as of April, and 13% of the members are from the North Sea region. This year’s ATCE will be held in their backyard, allowing more in this group to attend the conference.

The STTS surveyed its members about training preferences regarding separation. The most preferred training settings were identified as conferences and webinars, which emphasized the importance of the STTS’ organization of special sessions at ATCEs.

This year’s special session is titled “Separations Technology Technical Section: Unlocking Hidden Production Potential in Existing Facilities and Mature Fields” and will be held from 1400 to 1700 on 27 October.

In keeping with a theme of affordable energy, the session will explore options for optimizing separation facilities to handle the increase in water production and the drop in wellhead pressure by assessing methods that are suitable for the change in production profiles. The main goals of minimizing cost and maximizing recovery are to use existing facilities while applying suitable, cost-effective upgrades.

The optimization of separation facilities requires solutions that can take different forms, including vessel-based retrofits with alternative internals, compact cyclonic separation equipment with minimum footprint requirements, control and operational modifications, and tailored chemical management programs.

Debottlenecking opportunities for maintaining or increasing production capacity often exist in brownfield facilities. In mature fields, where pressure declines and water production increases over time, methods can be applied to adapt the separation equipment to effectively handle the changing conditions and enable the operator to maintain or increase production while using existing facilities.

Two committee members, Brad Nelson of Maxoil Process Solutions and Chris Buckingham of Southwest Research Institute, will join me in moderating the session. The committee is still looking for one or two speakers to complete the panel, and the session agenda will be finalized by the end of June. 

I am looking forward to returning to my home country and the beautiful city of Amsterdam and hope to see you there. For more information about the event, visit

Victor van Asperen is a director of the SPE Separations Technology Technical Section.

He is the general manager at FMC Technologies Separation Systems and can be reached at



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