Production, transportation and storage of highly waxy crude oil is very challenging. This is because they are usually characterised by high content of macro-crystalline waxes, predominantly consisting of n-alkanes (C18 to C36) that which could cause costly deposition within the wellbore and production equipment. The accumulation of deposited wax can decrease oil production rates, cause equipment breakdown, and clog the transport and storage facilities. Currently, different polymeric inhibitors have been utilised in the oil and gas field to mitigate and prevent wax deposition. However, as of today, there is no distinctive wax inhibitor that could work effectively for all oil fields. One of the objectives of this work is to study the efficacy of a blended commercial wax inhibitor - pour point depressant on wax deposition mitigation in a flow rig designed with 0 and 45-degree bends in the pipeline.
Standard laboratory techniques using high-temperature gas chromatography (HTGC), rheometer rig, polarized microscope and elution chromatography were employed to obtain n-paraffin distribution, oil viscosity, WAT, pour point and SARA fractions. Series of experimentation were carried out with and without the inhibitor in a straight pipe test section. The severity of wax deposition in the pipeline built-in with a 45-degree bend is compared with a straight pipe. The blended inhibitor was tested at concentrations of 500, 1000, and 1500-ppm, under laminar and turbulent conditions. The crude oil sample was found to be naturally waxy with wax content of 19.75wt%, n-paraffin distributions ranges from C15-C74, WAT and pour point of 30°C and 25°C respectively. The severity of wax deposition in the test section is 43% higher in 45-degree bend compared to straight pipe. However, the severity of the deposition was reduced to 12.3% at extremely low temperature and flow rate. Nonetheless, better inhibition performance was achieved at 25 and 30°C. The wax thickness was reduced from δwax ≈ 0.36mm at 5 l/min to δwax ≈ 0.132mm at 7 l/min at constant coolant temperature (25°C) and 1500-ppm, whereas, no wax deposition was observed at 11 l/min. Mechanisms such as molecular diffusion due to frictional pressure losses, shear dispersion and gravity settling due to momentum change and hydrostatic, alongside with thermal difference are the main drivers for wax deposition in both straight and bend pipe. Whereas, the interaction mechanisms such as the nucleation, alongside with adsorption, co-crystallization, and solubilisation between the new blended inhibitor and the wax crystals provide an improved inhibition performance in the system even at extreme cases.