Damages due to asphaltene deposits both in the formation and in equipment is a well-known problem in production operations.

Asphaltenes have been thoroughly described and analyzed, but very few articles introducing surfactants as asphaltene flocculation inhibitors have yet been published.

As surfactants can adsorb on the surface of asphaltenes, thus preventing their flocculation, Anticor Chimie and Elf Aquitaine Production have set up a system of surfactants that allows asphaltene dispersion in crude oil. A specific formula has to be designed for each case, usable with current oil production processes.

Two different applications have been carried out:

  • On the first oilfield, damage was due to the plugging of the surface equipment and the difficulties in breaking down emulsions. The use of a suitable surfactant formulation has prevented plugging and allowed effective water/oil separation at the well head

  • On the second oilfield, plugging occurred in the vicinity of wellbore, which caused a decrease in production and the formation of deposits inside the tubing. Wireline scraping had to be carried out twice a week.

A field trial squeeze was carried out, and resulted in a flow rate increase of 26 %. The surroundings of the hole were unplugged. Wireline scraping was stopped as deposits no longer appeared (during the treatment period).

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