This paper discusses the effects of Ca2+, Mg2+, and Fe2+ on inhibitor retention and release. Better understanding of phosphonate reactions during inhibitor squeeze treatments has direct implication on how to design and improve scale inhibitor squeeze treatments for optimum scale control. Putting various amounts of metal ions in the inhibitor pill adds another degree of freedom in squeeze design, especially in controlling return concentrations and squeeze life.

Phosphonate reactions during squeeze treatments involve a series of self-regulating reactions with calcite and other minerals. However, excess calcite does not improve the retention of phosphonate due to the surface poisoning effect of Ca2+. The squeeze can be designed so that maximum squeeze life is achieved by forming a low solubility phase in the formation. Addition of Ca2+, Mg2+, and Fe2+ in the pill solution at 0.1 to 1 molar ratios significantly improves the retention of phosphonate. Alternatively, these metal ions can be dissolved from the formation while an acidic inhibitor pill is in contact with the formation minerals. Both BHPMP and DTPMP returns were significantly extended by the addition of metal ions, e.g. Ca2+ and Fe2+. The addition of Mg2+ may increase the long-term return concentration, which is important for some wells where a higher inhibitor return concentration is needed.

The laboratory squeeze simulations were compared to two field return data obtained from squeeze treatments performed on two wells located in a sandstone reservoir in Saudi Arabia. The sandstone formation contains significant amounts of iron-bearing minerals.


Mineral scale formation is a persistent problem in oil and gas production, especially in older reservoirs with increased water production and drawdown. Inhibitor squeezes are commonly used to deposit the scale inhibitors into the formation. During an inhibitor squeeze treatment, a volume of the inhibitor solution is pumped into the formation and followed by injecting another volume of brine or diesel to place the inhibitor further away from the well bore and allowing it to react with the existing rock. During production following a squeeze treatment, the inhibitor is slowly desorbed or dissolved into the formation water.

Earlier efforts have focused on describing what happens and when to re-squeeze.[1,2] More recent papers have advanced the knowledge of inhibitor reactions under various production conditions.[3–1]2 The primary conclusions from several previous studies of NTMP(aminotri(methylene phosphonic acid))-calcite reaction are[13–16]:

  1. The extent of NTMP retention by carbonate-rich formation rock is limited by the amount of calcite that can dissolve prior to inhibitor-induced surface poisoning;

  2. Calcite-surface poisoning effect is observed after approximately 20 molecular layers of phosphonate surface coverage that retards further calcite dissolution;

  3. The consequence of retarded calcite dissolution is that less basic ion,, is released into solution, leaving the solution more acidic; therefore, more soluble calcium phosphonate solid phases form.

The inhibitor return concentration can be altered by changing the inhibitor concentration in the pill. The ability to control the high inhibitor return may be useful in initial water breakthrough where high inhibitor return is desired. Kan et al.[17] also compared the retention of NTMP, DTPMP (diethylenetriamine penta (methylene phosphonic acid)), BHPMP (bis-hexamethylenetriamine penta (methylene phosphonic acid)) and PPCA (phosphinopolycarboxylic acid) with pure calcite, a calcite-rich chalk rock, a calcite and clay-rich formation rock from Guerra ranch, McAllen, TX and a quartz sandstone with very little calcite from Frio formation, Galveston County, TX. Similar inhibitor returns were observed in both calcite-rich and low-calcite rock, suggesting that calcite is the primary solid responsible for phosphonate retention. Clays or other minerals play a secondary role in phosphonate retention. The retention of the polymer-based inhibitors is much lower than phosphonates. The data show that BHPMP provides the highest squeeze life at MIC > 50 mg/L. DTPMP is the preferred inhibitor at MIC between 1 and 50 mg/L and NTMP is the preferred inhibitor at MIC < 0.3 mg/L.

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