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Building a better gun barrel

According to Bill Ball, about 80% of gun barrel tanks are misapplied at saltwater disposal wells. Ball should know. He has spent 50 years in the oil patch…

According to Bill Ball, about 80% of gun barrel tanks are misapplied at saltwater disposal wells (SWDs). Ball should know. He has spent 50 years in the oil patch, 20 of those years with CE Natco. While there he devoted much time to the challenge of separating oil, gas and water.

The gun barrel, as Ball has often preached, was developed early on in the industry to dehydrate oil. It was not intended to efficiently separate oil from water. It is called a gun barrel because a bird’s eye view of the main tank and the water leg look like the end of a rifle. Has a catchy name allowed it to survive, in spite of its inability to handle high water cuts?

Ball recognized that times had changed and water cuts had increased. There was a need for higher quality water going down disposal wells. Water coming to the SWDs has varying amounts of oil in it, but on average ranges from 0.5% to 1%. With that in mind,he developed a product back in the early 1990s which he dubbed the HWSB®. According to the product literature, the acronym stands for “Hydro-dynamic Water Separation Breakthrough”. A “Hard Working SOB” is easier to remember, as another industry insider noted.

Like the gun barrel, the HWSB has no moving parts. Unlike the gun barrel, the liquids are introduced nearer the top of the tank. The oil has a short distance to travel. The water turns downward, in a plug flow. After it has passes a second baffle, it flows out of the tank through an opening in the center column.

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