Oil Sands Conference & Trade Show

Sour Water Tower Foam Control

Michael Gallagher -

Technical Specialist

Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

September 13, 2023 -

2:00 pm

At bitumen upgrader sites, efficiency of the sour water concentrator tower is essential to maintain productivity of the coker and the overall upgrading process. The role of the concentrator tower is to strip volatile contaminants, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), from the collected streams of sour water generated on site, and enable its reuse in the process. Inability to produce a treated stream that meets process standards can significantly impede production. The presence of foam in the tower, which can be caused by aromatic hydrocarbons such as Naphtha, presents a significant issue as it acts as a carrier for contaminants into the treated stream. In the absence of a contingency treatment program, the main action to respond to contaminated sour water is to reduce coker throughput, in order to manage sour water production of the site of which can cost millions in daily production loss. After presenting the sour water tower operational concepts and discussing the various sources of contamination, this paper will review a case study where a Canadian oil sands’ sour water concentrator tower was treated with a foam control agent and prevented recurrence of a month-long, $48MM rate curtailment on coker production.

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Michael Gallagher

Technical Specialist

Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

Michael Gallagher is a Senior Technical Consultant for Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions based in Canada that has specialized in supporting refineries and oil processing industry for over 30 years. Michael's areas of specialty include chemical treatment phase separation, corrosion control, refinery water treatment, process optimization and automation. Michael supports oil & gas industry applications all over North America.