Electrostatic desalting is the industrial standard method for removing salt from crude oil. In this study a techno-economic analysis of a crude oil desalting plant is presented. A complete process simulation was conducted using Aspen HYSYS in parallel with a simulation in Microsoft Excel in order to account for salt concentrations. An economic assessment of the proposed design was performed to within ±30%. Subsequent cost-benefit analysis indicated an approximate internal rate of return (IRR) of over 400%, due to reduced corrosion and fouling in downstream equipment, heat integration, and wastewater minimisation. Varying the density of crude oil in the process simulation indicated that the ability to use heavier crude oils would result in higher economic savings. Given the high IRR and trends indicating a market low in light crudes, companies that have the ability to process heavier and less expensive crudes will be strategically positioned for the future.
Keywords: heavy crude oil, electrostatic desalting, techno-economic assessment, cost-benefit analysis