Solids present in the incoming crude

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Solids in the incoming crude act as surfactants, which stabilise emulsions preventing the separation of water and hydrocarbons. Some of the heavier solids can be oil-coated and leave with the brine, increasing slop-oil generation.

It is important to measure solids, in order to learn what potential problems may arise from desalting the crude. When analysing crude oil, it is important to note that basic sediment from the BS&W test is not the same as filterable solids. The ‘solids’ reported from the two tests will impact the wastewater plant differently. Basic sediment can include unresolved emulsions, asphaltenes and heavy paraffins as well as high molecular weight polymers from the production field. Refiners should refrain from performing only a toluene wash on a filterable solids test. It will leave behind salt crystals and provide a false high value for filterable solids. After completing a toluene wash, a hot water wash should be performed to remove the crystalline salts and provide an accurate value of filterable solids.

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