Waxy Crude: Getting the Float Right

Waxy Crude: Getting the Float Right

If you have been in the Utah Uinta Basin oil fields, you know one common challenge: paraffin or as it is known around there: “waxy” crude.  This isn’t the sweet stuff from the Bakkan up in North Dakota or from the fields in East Texas, this stuff will turn into a candle of wax if you let it cool to 90 degrees or less. Typically, paraffin crude wells are continuously heated between 125 degrees and 185 degrees, which is quite hot!

So if your liquid level instrument is based on a dual-float system, like Kodiak Instruments, then you have a unique challenge.  Floats that work in the sweet crude often get stuck in the waxy crude.  Because of the paraffin properties in the crude along with other impurities and heat, the wrong floats can become coated and plugged, giving an incorrect product and water level reading.

Our answer?  A balance between material, size, surface area and buoyancy.  It needs to be heavy enough to fall if it gets high and dry during a tank pickup, and yet buoyant enough to stay afloat without falling below the surface.  We use stainless steel floats in the waxy crude, and polyurethane floats in sweet crude.  Each style of crude requires different factors.  Our floats are rated for 10+ years in each environment.

If you would like to try our floats for a free tester, give us a call or email, and we’d be happy to show you how we solved the challenge.

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