Scale formation has been a persistent challenge in many sour gas wells producing from one of the world's largest gas reservoir in Saudi Arabia. Accumulation of scale deposits on downhole tubular and in wellhead manifold interferes field operation, limits well accessibility and decreases well productivity. Extensive efforts have been devoted to understand the scale formation process and to develop cost-effective mitigation strategy. This paper discusses the up-to-date knowledge on the scale formation in these prolific gas wells and presents the descaling technologies deployed and currently considered.

Scale composition analyses have been performed for a large number of deposits collected during well workovers and interventions. Wide range of mineral phases were identified and their distribution showed significant variations with samples. Scale often consisted of several different mineral phases. Iron sulfides were usually the dominant components, these included pyrrhotite, troilite, mackinawite, pyrite, marcasite and greigite. Ferric iron scales, such as hematite, magnetite, akaganeite, goethite and lepidocrocite, were also common in the scale mixtures. Common mineral scales, especially calcite, were often found. In addition, iron carbonate and other ferrous iron compounds were also identified. The relative abundance of these minerals showed wide-ranging variations from well to wells. Those variations also changed and with depth and time in the given wells. A more interesting phenomenon was the layered structure in the scale deposits, with two distinct layers having very different compositions. These results provided critical information for the understanding of scaling formation process.

Scale removal with chemical method had limited success in past. Scale dissolvers, based on HCl acid, caused severe tubular corrosion and formation damage. Different mechanical techniques have been tested and implemented over the years. These field experiences are reviewed in the paper. Also, challenges and requirements for scale dissolvers are discussed.

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