Oil quality management is an ongoing challenge, and there are costly financial implications when the product quality falls below the required specifications for trading. Furthermore, it has been reported that upsets in the dehydration and desalting (D&D) process leading to off-specification oil quality are commonly experienced following well interventions (stimulations and cleanouts), particularly when dealing with heavy oil.

Detailed research of problems at one D&D facility was conducted, starting with the analysis of existing field data (mainly from well stimulation and cleanout jobs) and recommending and processing laboratory tests to identify the root causes. A chemical mitigation strategy was developed with the implementation of key performance indicators (KPI) and workflows in a production operations software platform, which includes a surveillance and smart alert system that displays KPIs on dashboards for chemical management, mapping for forecasting scenarios of well jobs, time to arrive to the D&D facility, and chemical injection forecasting. The production operations platform is used for input data and generating dashboards including data from SCADA and dynamic multiphase flow simulation online systems to obtain and build the gathering network locations for all jobs and the lapsed time to arrive at the D&D process, making back allocations to gathering stations.

About 30% of stimulation and cleanout jobs have affected the D&D process due to increased volume of suspended solids in the system; these act as natural emulsifiers at the water-oil interface, contributing to emulsion stabilization. When the emulsion is highly stable, the applied chemical treatment becomes ineffective downstream; the D&D process is therefore unable to effectively remove water and salt from oil. The irregularity of the demulsifier injection also adversely affects the efficiency of the process.

The completion of this work provided a clear understanding of the root causes and insights into KPI behavior. The integrated solution enabled real-time monitoring and optimization of the chemical mitigation through better data usage and interpretation using the production operations platform combined with the multiphase flow simulator online system. This enabled the operator to perform timely monitoring and to proactively take actions to reduce the impacts on heavy oil quality.

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