The work described in this paper has been conducted over several years under both laboratory and field conditions. Several field case histories and supporting laboratory observations are presented to substantiate the conclusions expressed.

Asphaltenes are often invoked to describe the nature of organic damage and obstructions found when atypical forms of organic deposits appear. In fact a majority of problems studied by this laboratory have been misidentified as asphaltene when the true problem was due to paraffin wax deposition. Asphaltenes are poorly understood, consequently methods aimed at dealing with deposit mechanisms and chemical prevention present a doubly difficult challenge. Asphaltene deposition mechanisms and the chemical structures responsible are less well characterized than those of emulsion breaking, corrosion protection, and paraffin deposit control. Since most asphaltene deposits are associated with paraffin and there exists many proven methods of paraffin control, in many cases it makes better sense to attack organic deposit problems with paraffin control products than some unproven "asphaltene inhibitor".

This paper suggests that adequate methods exist today for the removal and control of paraffin wax damage, and that methods for the control of asphaltenes are still in a relatively embryonic state of development. Until the day comes that asphaltenes are well understood chemically, as are waxes, emulsions, corrosion, and scale, the hope of economically treating them will remain a problem for research.

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