Injection of low-sulfate seawater (LSSW) instead of untreated full-sulfate seawater (FSSW) is widely used to mitigate barium sulfate scaling risk at the production wells. LSSW injection may no longer be required when the barium concentrations in the produced water drop below a certain threshold. Such a trigger value could be estimated from the barium sulfate precipitation tendency. Relaxation of requirements for the sulfate reduction plant (SRP) can significantly reduce operational costs. This study investigates the impact of several parameters on the timing and degree of relaxation of the output sulfate concentration by the SRP. Finally, the optimal switching strategy is proposed for a field case.

The strategy for switching from LSSW to FSSW (e.g., time and method; direct or gradual increase in the sulfate concentration) was initially investigated using generic 2D areal and vertical models. The sensitivity study included the impact of reservoir heterogeneity and the initial barium and sulfate ion concentrations. Findings were later applied on a full-field reservoir simulation model followed by a mineral scale prediction software to investigate the specific switching strategy for a field that has multiple wells and significantly more complex heterogeneity.

The results show that barium concentrations in the formation brine affect the choice of switching time more than the output sulfate concentration produced by the SRP. The degree of heterogeneity around the producers also has a significant impact on the switching time. Another parameter is the contrast in the permeability between layers; higher contrast allows a longer period of coproduction of the scaling ions and thus delays the switching time. In the field case, switching to FSSW at early times allows higher consumption of barium ions because of its in-situ precipitation. Barium is no longer a limiting ion, and so a higher degree of deep reservoir precipitation reduces the requirement for prolonged LSSW injection. Another strategy is a gradual relaxation of LSSW output, which allows even earlier buildup of the injected sulfate concentration compared with the direct FSSW switch.

The study investigates the reservoir parameters that affect sulfate relaxation of LSSW injection for a field. After the proposed workflow, the optimal relaxation strategy can be designed for other field cases.

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