Better Desalting for a More Challenged Refinery | RefinerLink

RL Blogs

Better Desalting for a More Challenged Refinery

By Steve Pagani

Nov 25, 2019

Desalters provides a very critical service for your refinery, and requires careful monitoring and regular optimization.


For most, the refining process starts with a desalter. It’s a fairly simply concept. Mix water and crude, provide plenty of residence time, separate water and crude.


Yet as refineries take on more and more challenged crudes one of those challenges is around desalting.

There a few different objectives when it comes to the desalter. 


Hopefully you can guess the primary objective… to remove salts from the raw crude. Many sites process crudes with a high amount of solids as well. The desalter is counted on to separate these solids out as well.


In addition, quality of desalter brine is also a concern. High amounts of solids and oil can create problems for downstream tanks and water processing plants.


When evaluating methods to improve desalter operations, it’s always important to remember these objectives. The goal is to have minimal water, salts, and solids in the desalted crude and create brine with high solids content but low oil content.


When trying to achieve these objectives you have a few friends to help you along the way. The first is residence time. The higher the residence time in a desalter, typically the better your oil/water separation. Unfortunately, this is a variable you can only control with the size of your vessel, the operating level in your vessel, or the feed rate.


Though you’re unlikely to increase the size of your desalter or cut unit feed, increasing desalter level could be a possibility. If desalted crude quality isn’t affected, a small increase in operating level could be beneficial as it may significantly improve the quality of your brine.





One other variable that often doesn’t get optimized often enough is the pressure drop across the desalter mix valve. The higher the pressure drop the better the mixing and thus improved removal of salts; yet many times too high of a pressure drop can result in formation of emulsion layers that are tough to break. The optimal pressure drop is highly dependent on the types of crudes you run so it’s important to periodically perform test runs to ensure you’re operating in the right spot.


The next ally is the type of polymer injection that you utilize. As mentioned in our refinery contractor partnership blog, it’s critical to enlist the expertise of chemical vendors to find the right solution for your system. The type of polymer can make an enormous difference and needs to be routinely validated for the types of crudes that are run. Polymers can assist in solids separation and emulsion breaking.


Not only is the type of injection important but also the location of the injection. Many times the longer a chemical has to interact with the crude the better.  Some may even consider an injection for solids separation at the Crude Tank with another injection for breaking emulsions at the desalter.


Challenge different chemical vendors to come up with the right solution for your refinery. Perform trial runs on a frequent basis to make sure you’re getting the most effective chemical and also that you’re receiving a competitive price.


Finally, the quality of the water that’s used for desalting is also important. Many sites utilize stripped sour water as a source for the desalter and contaminants in this waste stream may end up affecting performance. It’s important to monitor the quality of your water carefully so that it doesn’t have unintended consequences.


Remember that the desalter provides a very critical service for your refinery. Like any other section, it requires careful monitoring and regular optimization. Efforts to improve desalter performance will almost certainly pay off.

Enjoy this content? Join our Free Newsletter    
  • Daniel Vargas Fagundez :   Regarding heavy crude oil upgraders, desalting performance is always a good challenge because the high viscosity, high density (even with diluent, typical diluted crude oil has 16 API), high salt content, and high emulsion tendency (because the solids and high naphtenic acids content).

    Oct 04, 2015

  • Michael Wilkinson :   some parameters to monitor/control to aid better desalting are as follows: 1. temperature of crude ( as well as the water temperature ); consider the effects of Stroke's law here 1. mixing valve pressure drop (function of emulsion stability) 1. water:crude ratio (% water injection) 1. rag (emulsion) layer thickness 1. efficacy of chemical addition 1. water source, effluent water quality (e.g. pH, Cl, ) 1. crude quality (ptb, BSW, API) inlet/outlet 8. interphase level

    Oct 06, 2015

  • David Williams :   As mentioned in the blog, one way to improve the performance of the desalter is to control the water level. That can be accomplish by many ways, floats, displacers, DP, radar, capacitance, and nuclear. All of these had some issues associated with them especially if you start blending crudes. If an emulsion forms, the best way to measure the level is with a density profiler using nuclear density at various elevations to provide you a profile of the separation inside the vessel.

    Jan 24, 2016

  • RachaelMildred :   EFFECTIVE LOVE SPELL TO GET EX HUSBAND/BOYFRIEND OR EX WIFE/GIRLFRIEND AND CURE HERPES AND INFERTILITY THAT WORKS WITHIN 24 HOURS.  Contact Dr. Odunga at OR Whats App/CALL +2348167159012 I got my ex husband back to me and also got fertile and gave birth to twin girls after 12 years of marriage. When I came online last year, I saw a testimony about Doctor ODUNGA and how he has been helping people with marriage issues and I decided to contact him. We spoke on email at and later he gave me his WhatsApp number which is +2348167159012. He assured me he would help me get my ex husband back after 3 years of no contact. Doctor Odunga is the best spell caster I must say. My husband called me after 24 hours of contact. The third day, I received natural herbs for fertility and after using it, I became fertile and conceived. I and my husband reconnected, had sex and I was pregnant. Presently I am happy to say I am the mother of twin girls and this is ALL THANKS TO DOCTOR ODUNGA. I came online to say this If you need help, I believe you are saved with this man. Contact his email at  OR Whats App/Call +2348167159012 and you too will give a testimony too to help others

    Mar 27, 2021

  • Jessica smith :   After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don’t believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called Dr Zuma zuk and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: or WhatsApp him +15068001647 you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

    Apr 03, 2021

  • Joan Hardy :   Hi viewers, I'm posting this Because i found lots of people having marriage problems which I also experienced. I recently found help from a man called Dr. Oselumen he did a great job that made my man fell back in love with me again after ten months of separation. I want you to know there are fake online spell Dr .s if someone out there needs help, can email this great spell caster, droselumen@gmail. com check or connect with him on WhatsApp +2348054265852. He will give you the best result.  CONTACT HIM FOR ANY KIND OF HELP,MONEY SPELL,LOTTERY SPELL,PREGNANCY SPELL,DIVORCE SPELL,SPELL TO STOP COURT CASE AND WIN ANY COURT PROBLEM,DEATH SPELL,BUSINESS SPELL,HEALING SPELL,SPELL TO REMOVE BLACK MAGIC OUT FROM YOUR LIFE,FAMILY AND MARRIAGE PROBLEM.  

    Apr 24, 2021

  • Stephanie Sally :   Hello everyone, I am from Wembley, Britain. I want to write this testimony to tell others and thank Dr. Odunga for what he has done for me. The first 12 years of my marriage I have had 5 miscarriages and I was called all sorts of names by my mother-in-law and this made my marriage life very hectic and a burden of sorrow. I contacted Dr. Odunga for help and I will say that he is a very strong and honest man and he indeed helped me solve my problem. I saw his email in a testimony and i contacted him, little did i know it would be the end of all my problems. After 2 days of contact, I received a fertility herb and he told me to use it. The herb worked and my husband even loved me more and bought me expensive things. One afternoon, I went to a nearby hospital and came back home with the positive result of my pregnancy and after 9 months I gave birth to a baby boy. Ever since I contacted Dr. Odunga, my story has been different. I have 3 children at present and I am very happy in my marriage. Please, contact him at OR Whats App him +2348167159012 to help you too

    Apr 30, 2021

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!