The individual analysis of polymeric scale inhibitors in co-mingled flow backs from wells in subsea and deepwater templates is a particularly challenging application for analytical techniques in the industry.

The application of the analytical technique of mass spectrometry to this challenge has resulted in routine 3rd generational analytical methods where a primary inhibitor can be quantified in the presence of a secondary subsea squeeze inhibitor and a tertiary topside scale inhibitor; something which had not been demonstrated previously in commercial applications. In more complex deep water field developments in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, where 4–8 wells can be co-mingled, the use of these third generation analytical techniques may not always be sufficient therefore it is necessary to develop improved methodologies to cope with the presence of an increasing number of chemical families.

This paper presents details of an emerging 4th generation analytical method which is being developed to allow the accurate quantification of 4–5 chemical families of scale inhibiting polymers in the presence of each other and other production chemicals such as corrosion and hydrate inhibitors. These would include scale squeeze polymers, scale inhibiting polymers applied subsea, or scale inhibiting polymers applied topsides. This method builds upon the 3rd generation analytical technology by using a novel mass detection technique which gives a much enhanced sensitivity and specificity to molecular functional groups.

The development of this method will add to the rich "toolbox" of state-of-the-art analytical techniques which now allow the analyst an unparalleled ability to generate accurate, specific and robust data from even the most demanding of applications and allow the chemical supplier and operator to individually monitor wells tied back to even the most complex of subsea templates in the most challenging of deepwater applications.

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