Oilfield chemicals are primarily used to make crude saleable, to minimize process problems, and to treat produced water to meet regulatory guidelines for disposal into the sea (offshore) or injection underground (onshore). Where these chemicals end up depends on such factors as the nature of the chemicals, injection location, solubility, and distribution coefficient of the chemicals in the oil and water phases. Chemicals that end up in the water phase will get into the environment only if the water is discharged to the environment.

This paper examines a number of issues which impact the amount of chemical used and the limits on the minimization of its use. These issues include: attitudes towards chemical usage, process limitations, and physical/chemical behavior of the chemicals, and interactions with other chemicals in the system.

Wastes from the production treating chemicals are also discussed in this paper. A total system approach is proposed to minimize the chemical usage in production operations.

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