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Investigation of Interactions Between Gas Hydrates and Several Other Flow Assurance Elements (wax, asphaltene, scale, naphthenates)

Investigation of Interactions Between Gas Hydrates and Several Other Flow Assurance Elements (wax, asphaltene, scale, naphthenates)

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Flow assurance is a critical task during oil/gas production, especially in deep-water or cold weather conditions. It involves effectively handling many solid deposits, such as, hydrates, asphaltene, wax, scale, and naphthenates. Because these deposition elements can coexist, evaluating and addressing each problem in isolation may be inefficient and risky. Instead, a comprehensive approach needs to be sought to take into account the impact of one element on the others. In this work, experiments were conducted to systematically investigate how gas hydrates are related to other flow assurance factors and how these interactions could affect the performance of antiagglomerate hydrate inhibitors (AAHI). It was demonstrated that one type of solid precipitate can promote and exacerbate others. It was also shown that the elimination of one issue can alleviate other associated risks.
Flow assurance is a critical task during oil/gas production, especially in deep-water or cold weather conditions. It involves effectively handling many solid deposits, such as, hydrates, asphaltene, wax, scale, and naphthenates. Because these deposition elements can coexist, evaluating and addressing each problem in isolation may be inefficient and risky. Instead, a comprehensive approach needs to be sought to take into account the impact of one element on the others. In this work, experiments were conducted to systematically investigate how gas hydrates are related to other flow assurance factors and how these interactions could affect the performance of antiagglomerate hydrate inhibitors (AAHI). It was demonstrated that one type of solid precipitate can promote and exacerbate others. It was also shown that the elimination of one issue can alleviate other associated risks.

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Energy & Fuels is published by the American Chemical Society. 1155 SixteenthStreet N.W., Washington, DC 20036
Article
Investigation of Interactions between Gas Hydratesand Several Other Flow Assurance Elements
Shuqiang Gao
Energy Fuels 
,
2008
, 22 (5), 3150-3153 • DOI: 10.1021/ef800189k • Publication Date (Web): 12 July 2008
Downloaded from http://pubs.acs.org on January 3, 2009
More About This Article
Additional resources and features associated with this article are available within the HTML version:Supporting InformationAccess to high resolution figuresLinks to articles and content related to this articleCopyright permission to reproduce figures and/or text from this article
 
Investigation of Interactions between Gas Hydrates and SeveralOther Flow Assurance Elements
Shuqiang Gao*
Champion Technologies, Fresno, Texas 77545 Recei
V
ed March 17, 2008. Re
V
ised Manuscript Recei
V
ed May 15, 2008
Flow assurance is a critical task during oil/gas production, especially in deep-water or cold weather conditions.It involves effectively handling many solid deposits, such as, hydrates, asphaltene, wax, scale, and naphthenates.Because these deposition elements can coexist, evaluating and addressing each problem in isolation may beinefficient and risky. Instead, a comprehensive approach needs to be sought to take into account the impact of one element on the others. In this work, experiments were conducted to systematically investigate how gashydrates are related to other flow assurance factors and how these interactions could affect the performance of antiagglomerate hydrate inhibitors (AAHI). It was demonstrated that one type of solid precipitate can promoteand exacerbate others. It was also shown that the elimination of one issue can alleviate other associated risks.
Introduction
As hydrocarbon production moves into more hostile environ-ments, like deeper water
1
and arctic regions,
2
flow assuranceincreasingly becomes more difficult. Assuring the profitable flowof fluids from the well to the point of sale involves properlyhandling organic and inorganic deposits, such as gas hydrates,asphaltene, paraffin, scale, and napthenates.Gas hydrates
3
are non-stoichiometric crystalline compoundscomposed of nanoscale water clathrate cages that enclose guestmolecules that have appropriate diameters. The light alkanes(methane, ethane, propane, etc.) commonly encountered duringoil/gas exploration can form gas hydrates with the producedwater under appropriate temperature and pressure conditions,such as 40
°
F and 500 psi. The hydrate particles can agglomerateinto hydrate plugs that restrict or completely block the flow of produced fluids in flowlines, resulting in lost production andposing potential safety hazards for operational personnel. Gashydrates are a chief flow assurance concern for deep waterproduction because of the low temperatures (40
°
F) and highpressures (
>
1000 psi) that exist in such environments.Asphaltenes
4
are a collection of heavy polar components incrude oils that are soluble in aromatic solvents like toluene butinsoluble in alkanes such as heptane. The solubility of asphalt-enes in crude oils depends on fluid composition, pressure, andtemperature. Disturbance to these parameters during oil produc-tion can change the asphaltene solubility and cause asphalteneprecipitation. This is a flow assurance issue because they candeposit in production tubing and flowlines, thus decreasing theproduction capacity.Wax
5
is composed of high molecular weight, highly saturatedhydrocarbons that only contain hydrogen and carbon. Itssolubility in crude oil is strongly dependent on temperature andslightly influenced by pressure. Wax is stable under reservoirconditions where the temperature is above the wax appearancetemperature (WAT) of the crude. WAT can vary wildly fromcrude to crude, ranging from below 10
°
C to higher than 50
°
C. When the crude oil flows into the flowlines, the temperaturemay fall below the WAT, where solid wax starts to precipitateout of the oil phase. The wax crystals can deposit inside theflowlines and restrict the production stream. Therefore, wax isa serious flow assurance threat for offshore and cold weatherproductions.Scale
6
is defined as inorganic mineral constituents of waterthat precipitate from solution to form hard adherent deposits.Scale can form whenever the amounts of dissolved mineralsexceed their solubilities in water, which can be induced bychanges in pressure, temperature, or water chemistry. The mostcommon scales encountered in the oilfield are calcium carbonate(CaCO
3
), calcium sulfate (CaSO
4
), barium sulfate (BaSO
4
), andstrontium sulfate (SrSO
4
). A build-up of these scales in theflowlines can significantly restrain the flow of produced fluids.More and more fields produce crude oils with high concentra-tions of naphthenic acids, a term that refers to all the carboxylicacid components. The known challenge that naphthenic acidspose for flow assurance is that they can form naphthenates,
7
which can stabilize emulsions or create deposits.
7
When selecting treatments such as anti-agglomerate hydrateinhibitors (AAHI), the effect of each potential deposition issueon the AAHI performance needs to be considered. However,the interactions among the various flow assurance issues havenot been systematically studied and are not well understood.These interactions may impact the effectiveness of the flowassurance program and jeopardize production. In this work,
Phone: 281-710-9598. Fax: 281-431-3615. E-mail: shawn.gao@champ-tech.com.(1) Mehta, A.; Walsha, J.; Lorimerb, S.
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(7) Goldszal, A.; Hurtevent, C.; Rousseau, G. Presented at SPE OilfieldScale Symposium, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, 2002.
 Energy & Fuels
2008,
22,
3150–3153
3150
10.1021/ef800189k CCC: $40.75
2008 American Chemical SocietyPublished on Web 07/12/2008
 
interactions between several flow assurance risk factors wereinvestigated. It was demonstrated that failure to address oneparticular flow assurance problem can spawn other new produc-tion hazards. Results also showed that failure to consider theseinteractions can result in misleading laboratory performance datathat can in turn lead to costly design decisions.
Experimental Details
The experiments were performed on state of the art ChampionTechnologies Hydrate Rocking Cell (CTHRC) apparatus.
8
Itcontains pressure cells made of sapphire tubes, each of whichcontains a stainless steel ball inside. For each hydrate test, the cellsare charged with appropriate sample liquids prior to being placedon a rack. The rack is then immersed in a water bath, whose functionis to control the cell temperature. Once the cells are immersed inthe temperature bath they can be charged with a test gas to thedesired pressures. The rack is then rocked up and down so that theball in the cell moves back and forth to induce mixing betweendifferent fluid phases. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the RockingCell device.Unlike most of other rocking cells, CTHRC utilizes sensors tomonitor the ball movements within the cells, with one sensor placednear each end of the cell, a top sensor and a bottom sensor. Thetimes for the ball to travel from one end of the tube to the topsensor and the bottom sensor are automatically recorded to aterminal computer. Other recorded parameters are bath temperatureand individual cell pressures. A certain period of time is allowedfor the ball to travel under gravity from one end to the other. If thesensor at the receiving end does not detect the ball during this periodbecause of either very high fluid viscosity or the formation of solidagglomerates, it is considered a “failure”, indicating a potential flowassurance issue. Besides the ball travel time, another criterion for judging a test as “Pass” or “Fail” is by visually inspecting whethersolid agglomerates are present since the entire internal cell volumeallows visual observation. This double confirmation drasticallyreduces the possibility of misinterpreting the results.The following interactions were investigated in this work:hydrate/asphaltene, hydrate/wax, hydrate/scale, and hydrate/naph-thenic acids. The detailed experimental parameters and procedurefor each interaction study are described below. All of the hydrateinhibitor dosages in this paper were based on the volume of waterunless specified otherwise. Each test was run in at least duplicatesfor confirmation.
Hydrate/Asphaltene Interaction.
The goal of this experimentwas to evaluate whether asphaltene precipitation could compromisethe hydrate blockage prevention program. The fluid and chemicalsamples used for the tests were crude sample Oil-A (6.3%asphaltenes), synthetic brine Brine-A (3.5 wt % salinity), antiag-glomerant hydrate inhibitor AAHI-1, and asphaltene inhibitor AI-1. The test matrix is presented in Table 1.The Rocking Cell test procedure (Procedure #1) was as follows:1. Rock at 2000 psi (Green Canyon gas
8
) and 75
°
F for 2 h toallow the system to equilibrate.2. Cool from 75
°
F to 40
°
F in 3 h while rocking.3. Continue rocking at 40
°
F for 7 h.4. Stop rocking and shut in for 12 h at 40
°
F.5. Resume rocking for another 3
-
5 h to simulate cold start-up.
Hydrate/Wax Interaction.
The goal of this experiment was toevaluate whether the potential interaction between wax depositionand hydrate formation could put the flow assurance program at risk.The tested fluid and chemical samples were crude sample Oil-B(11.2 wt % C 16
+
paraffin, WAT 70
°
F), synthetic brine Brine-B(3.25 wt % salinity), an antiagglomerant hydrate inhibitor AAHI-2, and a paraffin inhibitor PI-1. The coldfinger paraffin depositiontest was first conducted to find the minimum effective dosage(MED) of PI-1 on Oil-B. Hydrate tests conducted on the RockingCell were summarized in Table 2.The Rocking Cell test procedure (Procedure #2) was as follows:1. Rock at 2000 psi (Green Canyon gas) and 80
°
F for 2 h toallow the system to equilibrate.2. Cool from 80
°
F to 40
°
F in 4 h while rocking.3. Continue rocking at 40
°
F for 12 h.4. Stop rocking and shut in for 24 h at 40
°
F.5. Resume rocking for another 2
-
4 h to simulate cold start-up.
Hydrate/Scale Interaction.
Rocking Cell testing for hydrate/ scale interaction was conducted with a scaling Brine-C (3.9 wt %salinity), a crude sample Oil-C, and an antiagglomerant hydrateinhibitor AAHI-3. Hydrate Procedure #1 was followed with thesame test gas, except that the system was pressurized to 3200 psiinstead of 2000 psi. Another brine sample, Brine-D, was preparedwith the scaling anions replaced with certain amount of chlorideso that the total ionic strength stayed the same and the hydratephase diagram remained unchanged. Brine D was used to performthe same test under the same conditions to evaluate the effect of scale formation on hydrate plugging. All the tests are summarizedin Table 3.
Hydrate/Naphthenic Acid Interaction.
Naphthenic acids areknown to interact with the calcium in the produced water to formcalcium naphthenates, which can cause emulsion and depositionproblems. The goal of this study was to investigate the interactionof naphthenic acids with the AAHI hydrate management program,since both of them have certain surface active features.
(8) Gao, S.; Chapman, W. G.; House, W.
Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.
2005
,
44
, 7373–7379
.
Figure 1.
Champion Technologies Hydrate Rocking Cell apparatus.
Table 1. Summary of the Hydrate/Asphaltene Interaction Testswith Oil-A and Brine-A
test # water cut, % AAHI-1, % AI-1, ppm
P
, psi results1 30 0 0 2000 fail2 30 2 200 2000 pass3 30 2 0 2000 fail4 0
a
0 2000 pass
a
The oil sample was dosed with AAHI so that it had the same AAHIconcentration as the oil phase in the tests with the water phase.
Table 2. Summary of the Hydrate/Wax Interaction Tests withOil-B and Brine-B
test # water cut, % AAHI-2, % PI-1, ppm
P
, psi results5 60 0 0 2000 fail6 60 2 0 2000 fail7 60 2 200 2000 pass8 60 2 0 ambient pass
Table 3. Summary of the Hydrate/Scale Interaction Tests withOil-C and Brine-C and Brine-D
test # water cut, % AAHI-3, % brine
P
, psi results9 30 3.0 Brine-C 3200 fail10 30 3.0 Brine-D 3200 pass11 30 3.0 Brine-C ambient pass
Gas Hydrate and Flow Assurance Element Interaction Energy & Fuels, Vol. 22, No. 5, 2008
3151

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