Since 2015, scale problems have appeared when gas production decreased below 30 Mm3/day and wells could not evacuate liquid and solids to the surface due to liquid loading. Scale depositions were found in casing and tubing at different depths close to Quintuco Formation perforations. During 2019, more than 30 wells were mechanically cleaned using slick line to remove scale every 30 days approximately. This paper describes the study of the origin of scale in gas wells producing from multiple formations and the chemical technology applied to solve this problem in the mature urban field Centenario (Neuquén - Argentina).
Core and water analysis were performed to study the scale phenomenon at the productive formations and to determine the compatibility between fracturing and formation waters. In addition, it established the scale origin and served to detect further wells susceptible to suffer scaling problems. Scale is produced in the casing, not in the formation, due to changes of pressure and temperature related to the expansion of gas and changes in water mix compatibility at Quintuco perforations depth. Due to the field location, subsurface safety valves were installed in the tubing to prevent possible blowouts. Thus, capillary string for product injection was discarded. A proven chemical technology for oil wells-encapsulated scale inhibitors-was adapted to treat gas wells aiming for a treatment duration of three months. The method consisted of a mechanical clean-up followed by a batch treatment of encapsulated product with water and, finally, a slick line run to ensure it reached the bottom-hole. The chemical treatment pilot was carried out in 6 wells.
Candidates were selected based on abnormal production decline, scales showed after slickline intervention, favorable response after mechanical clean-up, and high intervention frequency. The pilot held in 2019 showed an increase in gas rate production of 12 Mm3/day on average representing 40% of well production, high stability in gas production and a reduction of slickline intervention frequency. The duration of the treatment was initially estimated according to the liquid rate of the well and the product concentration used. During 2020 the pilot will be expanded to 32 wells in the field.
Solid scale inhibitor for gas wells is relatively new in the industry and there is not much bibliography about application and results in this type of wells. This paper describes the methods used for scale characterization, the prediction of its formation in gas wells, the selection method for scale inhibitors, the product application technique to the wells and the results obtained in the pilot, demonstrating its technical and economic feasibility for field use.