Crude produced in the North of Monagas Estate, East Venezuela, has a high asphaltene content, which comes out of solution in both the wellbore tubulars and pipeline. This can eventually lead to complete plugging of the pipeline. This increases the cost of maintaining production because of the need to periodically remove these organic deposits. In a specific case, 9 km of 8-5/8-in. outside diameter (OD) production pipeline was successfully cleaned out using 2-in. OD coiled-tubing (CT) to regain pipeline production. As there is limited literature or documentation on the use of CT for this specific application, the operator and the service company established a joint team to do the feasibility study and engineering. Some of the key points were; the design of a frame to lay down the injector head, define the entry points along the pipeline, the selection of the bottomhole assembly (BHA), and fluids to use. Other issues were the measurement of stresses (push/pull) on the CT so that the CT could be run as far as possible in the pipeline without damaging either the CT or the pipeline. The pipeline was successfully cleaned, the CT being run seven times from five different entry points in the pipeline. This resulted in savings of USD 1 million for the operator and significantly reduced the time to recover normal production in the pipeline.

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