CNOOC Iraq Limited (CILB) operates the Missan oilfield in Iraq, which consists of three oilfields: Buzurgan oilfield, Abu Gharib oilfield and Fauqi oilfield. To maximize production from the field it has been necessary to overcome different challenges related to asphaltenes (tubing deposition, formation damage, emulsions) – firstly by properly understanding the fluid behaviour, and then by developing and implementing mitigation strategies.

To understand the asphaltene stability of the reservoir fluids, an isothermal depressurization study was performed on a monophasic bottomhole sample from the reservoir's main production unit.

Asphaltene Onset Pressures (AOPs) were identified and used for tuning an equation-of-state model to generate an asphaltene precipitation envelope (APE). Modelling software was used to calculate pressure-temperature profile of fluids both in the near wellbore region and production wells and determine if they entered the APE. This was reviewed against historical field data to assess if asphaltene issues were predictable.

Common fluid property screening tests (e.g. De Boer plots, Colloidal Instability Index) under-predicted the occurrence of asphaltene precipitation in the oilfields.

When fluid pressures and temperatures in the reservoir and well environment were compared against the modelled APE, they showed the reservoir fluids passing through the asphaltene instability region for most wells, indicating a risk of deposition in the tubing and in the formation.

Comparing predictions with field data highlighted that precipitation of asphaltenes does not always result in tubing deposition and additional factors such as watercut and oil viscosity need to be considered. Other fluid-related issues, such as stable emulsions and formation damage, have been observed in the field and require managing. Results from this study show that these can be explained in terms of asphaltene stability issues arising from fluid P/T behavior and interactions with water.

The importance of drawdown management, already practiced by the field operator, is shown to be a key tool for managing and controlling asphaltene issues. The value of optimizing solvent-based stimulations and retaining the ability to stimulate ESP-lifted wells is also demonstrated.

Measuring asphaltene stability using virgin reservoir samples, and applying fluid screening tests, are common activities during new field appraisals. The results inform high value decisions, ranging from completion design to reservoir management strategy.

This study, conducted on a mature field with known production history, shows how results from fluid characterisation studies relate to actual experience of asphaltenes during production. The use of fluid studies in diagnosis and treatment of operational challenges is also demonstrated.

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