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Heater Treater – Access Project Profile

ErectaStep Stair and Access Platform Installation for an Horizontal Heater Treater

Heater treater platform

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By Tracy Mikulec
Jun 25, 2024
Estimated 3 minute read

ErectaStep Stair and Access Platform Installation for a Horizontal Heater Treater

This ErectaStep installation, sold and installed by one of our valued distributors, successfully implemented a modular stair and access platform system to facilitate maintenance and inspection of a horizontal heater treater in an oil and gas facility. This installation not only provides safe and easy access for maintenance workers but it also is configured with standard components that bolt together, eliminating the need for custom fabrication or welding

Project Highlights:

  • Modular Components: Utilized standard ErectaStep components, which bolted together without the need for custom fabrication or welding.
  • Quick Shipment: Standard components were in stock and shipped the next day.
  • Minimal Site Preparation: The only requirement was the pouring of concrete footers for the stairs and platform.
  • Compliance and Safety: The system is fully OSHA compliant, ensuring a safe working environment for maintenance personnel.

ErectaStep Metal Stair Configuration

The access platform surrounding the Heater Treater is configured with prefabricated, modular aluminum components. These components include stairs, platforms, and handrails that bolt together easily, providing a practical and cost-effective solution that takes a fraction of the time of a traditional fabricated stair. This modular design allows for future adjustments or expansions without significant additional costs.

Heater Treater Overview

What is a Heater Treater?

A heater treater is a device in the oil and gas industry that separates water and solids from crude oil using heat and mechanical processes.

Heater Treater


Functionality of a Heater Treater:

A Heater Treater is equipment in the oil and gas industry that separates oil-water emulsions. It is a 3-phase separator vessel that uses heat and mechanical separation devices to remove water from crude oil before it is transported through pipelines

  1. Degassing: Untreated crude enters the vessel, where gases are vented into a gas collection line.
  2. Heating: The crude passes into a section containing fire tubes, where it is indirectly heated to reduce viscosity and separate water and solids.
  3. Coalescing: The oil and emulsion pass through an electrostatic device that induces droplet coalescence, separating water molecules from the oil.

Untreated crude oil enters the degassing section through an inlet at the top of the vessel, where dry gases are vented into a gas collection line with a mist extractor. Water within the crude settles at the bottom and is removed via a separate outlet. The crude then moves into a heating section with fire tubes, where it is indirectly heated. This process separates free water and solids from the crude.

The heating process, which typically ranges from 98.6 to 158 °F depending on the crude’s viscosity, reduces the oil’s viscosity and helps break the emulsion. The heated oil and emulsion rise over the fire tubes and enter an oil surge chamber equipped with a differential float device that regulates the oil level. The surge chamber is located between the heating and coalescing sections

Next, the oil and emulsion move into the coalescing section through a spreader. Here, an electrostatic device passes alternating current through the emulsion, causing water droplets to coalesce. These larger droplets then settle to the bottom of the tank due to gravity, and the dry oil is extracted from a separate outlet at the top of the tank.