Oilfield scale formation is dependent upon the production of water and as a result most scale inhibitors are water soluble and deployed using an aqueous phase. For treatment of wells that produce only small amounts of water and/or have water sensitive matrices and wells with high water cuts with lifting problems the use of an aqueous inhibitor can cause many problems. Even with the development of oil miscible and emulsified scale inhibitors the same problem can be encountered when the incorrect screening procedure has been used in the laboratory.
This study describes the development of a range of truly oil soluble scale inhibitors for squeeze application. A particular feature of these materials is that they preclude aqueous phases and are soluble in crude oil and diesels. The products have been designed so that is possible to deploy calcium sensitive scale inhibitors in a non-aqueous medium. Upon contact with formation water passing the near wellbore the scale inhibitor will partition into the water phase and undergo a precipitation reaction. This provides a mechanism for potentially increasing treatment lifetime.
In addition, the scale inhibitor precipitation can be further controlled and enhanced through emulsification with a calcium loaded aqueous medium also containing organic additives to aid and enhance the precipitation process. Although this involves incorporating water into the product package the invert emulsion provides an oil continuous matrix and is still considered to be significantly less damaging to water sensitive formations than standard oil dispersible and emulsified scale inhibitor packages.
A detailed investigation into the properties of selected oil soluble and emulsified products has been performed. Experimental data on compatibility with production fluids, thermal ageing, oil/water partitioning, inhibitor performance, extent of precipitation and core flood studies to evaluate formation damage potential and retention and release characteristics will be presented.
This paper will also highlight how the use of the oil soluble precipitation process can increase squeeze lifetimes when compared to traditional aqueous squeeze treatments. In addition, a new core flood procedure for the screening and evaluation of non-aqueous chemical treatments will be described and the implications this has for field application of these products will be discussed.
Oilfield scale is a key issue in the petroleum industry where vast amounts of water are used and co-produced with hydrocarbons. The formation of mineral scale can create a range of problems including; reduction in pipe carrying capacity, increase in operational hazards due to blocked valves, localization of corrosion attack, impedance of heat transfer, and increases in operating costs due to down time and system maintenance.