Barium Sulfate (Barite) is one of the common oil and gas field scales formed inside the production equipment and in the reservoir. Barite is also a common weighting material used during drilling oil and gas wells. Barium sulfate scale may exist as well in carbonate formations. The removal of barium sulfate from calcium carbonate formation is a challenging problem because of the solubility of calcium carbonate is higher compared to that of barium sulfate in different acids. In addition, barium sulfate is not soluble in the regular acids such as hydrochloric (HCl) acid and other organic acids.
In this paper, the effect of calcium carbonate on barium sulfate solubility in a chelating agent and converter catalyst was investigated using solubility experiments at 80°C as a function of time. 20 wt.% DTPA with 6 wt.% potassium carbonate (converter) were used at pH of 12. The effect of calcium chelation on the barium sulfate solubility was studied in two scenarios. The first scenario when Barium sulfate is dissolved first then the solution reacts with calcium carbonate. The second scenario when both calcium carbonate and barium sulfate are exposed to the DTPA solution at the same time. In addition, the effect of calcium carbonate loading on the barium sulfate solubility was determined using 25, 50, 75, and 100 wt.% of the scale as calcium carbonate. As an evaluation criterion, inductively coupled plasma (ICP) was used to analyze the cation concentration and determine the solubility of each scale type.
For the two scenarios of barium sulfate dissolution, the presence of calcium carbonate had a significant effect on the solubility of barium sulfate. When DTPA solution got saturated first with barium cations after 24 hours, and the addition of calcium carbonate to the solution will cause immediate barium drop of solution (concentration drop from 2140 to 1984 ppm in 30 min in 50 ml solution) which cause precipitation of barium sulfate. In addition, simultaneous chelation of both calcium carbonate and barium sulfate showed a low barium sulfate solubility compared to calcium carbonate. This can be explained by the high affinity of DTPA to calcium compared to barium.
It is highly recommended to account for the presence of any calcium source during the design of the chemical formulation for barium sulfate scale removal using DTPA. Therefore, DTPA treatment formulation is recommended in sandstone formations. Field results can be completely different from laboratory results if Ca2+ chelation from carbonate rocks is ignored.