Formation of sulphate and carbonate scale is well understood within the hydrocarbon extraction industry with injection of incompatible water such as seawater into reservoir with significant concentration of barium, strontium and calcium. To overcome this challenge chemical inhibition has been utilized for many decades and in the past 15 years elimination/reduction of the sulphate ion source from injection seawater using sulphate reduction membranes has been employed.
This paper present laboratory work to qualify a scale inhibitor and field results of its application to prevent scale formation when an operator had to change from low sulphate seawater (LSSW) mixed with produced water (PW) for their water injection source to a blend of LSSW/PW and full sulphate seawater (SW). The increased level of sulphate presented a significant scale risk within the topside process on fluid mixing but more significantly increased the risk of scale formation within the near wellbore region of the injector wells which were under matrix injection rather than fracture flow regime. The qualification of a suitable inhibitor required assessment of the retention of a potentially suitable vinyl sulphonate co polymer scale inhibitors to ensure it had low adsorption and was able to propagate deep into the formation before being adsorbed from the supersaturated brine.
Coreflood studies using reservoir core were carried out to assess the scale risk of the LSSW/PW/SW brine, propagation and release characteristic of the short-listed scale inhibitors. The recommendation that followed the laboratory studies was to apply a batch treatment of concentrated scale inhibitor to each injector well to provide a high concentration pad of scale inhibitor that would be transported into the reservoir when the scaling LSSW/PW/SW fluid was injected. Protection was provided by continuous application of the same chemical at minimum inhibitor concentration to prevent scale formation within the topside and the desorption of the batched inhibitor within the near wellbore would prevent scale formation within this critical region. Thirteen injection wells were treated with a pad of 10% vinyl sulphonate co polymer scale inhibitor to a radial distance of 3 ft. prior to the start of LSSW/PW/SW injection. Highly scaling brine has been injected now for 16 months into the thirteen wells at an average rate of 25,000 BWPD per well with no decline in injector performance observed.
The lessons learned from this study are that changes in scaling potential within a PWRI system can be controlled by carrying out an assessment of location of scale formation and adoption of more typical production well scale squeezes treatment technology to protect the critical near wellbore region around PWRI injection wells.