Matrix acidizing treatments containing hydrogen fluoride (HF) acid have been utilized in stimulation treatments of offshore wells to remove skin associated with fines migration for many years. In the last few years, operators have moved toward the use of organic acid – HF acid treatments due to corrosion concerns in the downhole tubular strings during the initial pumping of live acid and in the Titanium Stress Joints (TSJ) during the acid flow back through the production riser. A corrosion inhibitor to inhibit any unspent HF in the acid flowback returns would be beneficial to operators.

Production of spent acid flowing back through the production riser is seriously being considered because significant cost savings may be realized over other acid flowback options. However, although most HF acid systems are mostly and/or highly spent during the reaction time with the formation mineralogy, even small concentrations of remaining free HF in the spent acid returns can result in severe bore surface corrosion (etching) and by-product hydrogen absorption by the riser system TSJ. Lab studies were performed with several different inhibitor formulations added to two different spent organic – HF acid fluid systems to determine the ability for these candidate inhibitors to thwart corrosion (etching) and corresponding hydrogen uptake on ASTM Grade 29 titanium (Ti-29) test coupons.

These candidate inhibitors were subjected to four-hour exposure tests conducted at 170°F under 3500 psi pressure with various inhibitor concentrations to determine if the package could meet screening criteria of corrosion/etch rate of less than 0.5 mils per day (0.5 thousandths of an inch) and hydrogen uptake limits consistent with ASTM product specification limits for the short term exposure (i.e., four hours). These lab test results are compared to those from recent published lab test studies on titanium in live and spent HF containing acid fluids, along with discussion on practical implications and considerations for their field use.

Developing a corrosion inhibitor to inhibit the residual HF acid in the spent flowback returns and prevent etching and hydrogen uptake by the TSJ in the production risers not only yields effective protection of the TSJ, allowing flowback fluids to be returned thru the production riser, but also offers a significant operational cost savings.

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