Albany, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/10/2018 -- The deposition of solids, organic and inorganic, is responsible for clogging production flow paths and affecting hydrocarbon production in various oil wells world over. Over the past few years, the deposition of various organic compounds, mainly consisting of wax and asphaltene, has soared in concern in causing flow assurance problems, mainly due to plugging of perforations. Of these, the precipitation and deposition of asphaltene is by far the most complex affecting petroleum productions. This is attributed to the fact that compared to other hydrocarbons compounds, these are the heaviest and most polar constituent. This has complicated remediation processes and removal of asphaltene deposits using different asphaltene dispersants and inhibitors. A variety of mechanical and biological methods and the use of various predictive models have been explored for controlling and preventing their production. However, the efficacy of such prevention methods remain limited due to the presence of different process conditions. In recent years, asphaltene dispersants have emerged as a popular class of chemical additives used to control the deposition. They function by reducing the size of flocculated asphaltene compounds keeping them suspended in the oil. Asphaltene dispersant typically consists of a polar and alkyl group. These help keep the aggregated nanoparticles of asphaltenes dispersed in oil and prevents their adhesion. However, an increase in the dosage of these compounds may lead to self-association of surfactants, thereby proving counter-productive. The selection of a proper carrier fluid is also essential for injection of these dispersants.
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Deposition of heavy organic waxy compounds in the process of petroleum production and its remediation has been a costly process which resulted in the hampering of the petroleum production operations around the globe. Many processes have been under the experimental phase for the removal of asphaltene with in the oil reservoir and production tubing. Major deposits inside the production tubing include heavy organic asphaltene, resin, and paraffin wax deposits. Asphaltene is one of the key compounds responsible for blockages in production pipelines and tubings in the petroleum industry in oil production and transportation activities and processes. Asphaltene also interacts with other heavy organic compounds to form a thick and insoluble layer of wax inside the production tubing. Asphaltene deposits occur inside production piping due to the micelle formation and flocculation, which causes arterial blockage inside the production pipeline. Asphaltene deposition in production pipelines is one of the prominent challenges faced by the petroleum industry, especially in regions with low temperature.
Many heavy organics compounds such as resin, paraffin wax, asphaltene, organometallic, diamondoid, and mercaptans compounds may naturally exist in crude oil in variable forms and quantities. These heavy compounds precipitate inside the production pipeline and tubing during the low temperature through various natural forces such as flocculation and missile formation. Low temperature profile inside the production tubing and pipelines accelerates the process of wax and asphaltene deposition inside the crude oil, thereby causing blockage in wells, oil reservoirs, oil production and processing facilities, and pipelines. During the formation of asphaltene in crude oil inside the oil reservoir, most of the solid particles that are suspended in crude oil stick to the walls of the reservoirs and conduits. Asphaltene deposition inside the oil reservoir is tough in nature and difficult to treat even if asphaltene solids are present in minute quantities. Asphaltene particles are highly polar compounds and generally act as mortar or glue which hardens the deposits on the inner surface of the pipeline and production tubing. These cause difficulty in the flow of crude oil inside the reservoir.
Various factors are responsible for asphaltene deposition in production pipeline and reservoir walls such as pressure, variation of temperature, flow regime, composition, and electro kinetic effect. When various kinds of heavy organic and waxy compounds are present in a crude oil, their mutual interactive effects and flocculation rate must be considered in order to understand the deposition mechanisms of asphaltene. In order to control the asphaltene deposits inside the crude oil and reservoir asphaltene dispersants proves to be an excellent option. Asphaltene dispersants do not allow the flocculation of heavy waxy suspended particles inside the reservoir and pipelines. Thus, these dispersants prevent the deposition of asphaltene and allow free flow of the crude oil in production tubing and pipelines. Usage of asphaltene dispersants is important, especially when one of the flocculating heavy organic compounds is itself asphaltene in crude oil reservoir or pipeline. Reservoir monitoring for asphaltene deposits and identification of the flocculating agents inside the reservoir would help in selecting the type of asphaltene dispersant for prevention of deposition inside the reservoir. Polyolefin esters is widely used as an asphaltene dispersant to prevent deposition inside production tubing. It is employed extensively in oil and gas operations around the world.
Asphaltene dispersants are used in various applications in mature oil & gas fields, production, injection, and disposal wells. Asphaltene dispersants offer numerous benefits and special features. For instance, these dispersants help increase production efficiency, raise production rates, decrease operating costs, extend production lifetime, improve cash flow, and provide tubing and flow line cleanup. Asphaltene dispersants also help lower maintenance costs and risk of well damage. They maximize the return on investment.
Rise in application of asphaltene dispersants in waxy crude oil reservoir and refinery pipelines, storage tanks, and pipeline pigging operations is likely to drive the market for asphaltene dispersants in upstream and downstream sectors of the oil & gas industry. Middle East & Africa accounted for significant share of the asphaltene dispersant market, followed by Europe and North America, in 2016. Availability of cheaper dispersant compounds, cost effective manufacturing, and customization of dispersants according to the sub-surface conditions are expected to drive the asphaltene dispersant market around the globe. Decreasing cost of crude oil and reduction in production activities around the globe are estimated to restrain the market for asphaltene dispersants.
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Key global players producing Asphaltene dispersants are Cristol, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Kao Chemicals, and Innospec Inc. Application of asphaltene dispersants in downstream and midstream oil and gas logistic operations is projected to boost the demand for asphaltene dispersants in the near future. Demand for asphaltene dispersants is also anticipated to rise, led by the growth in the global oil & gas production, logistics, and midstream sector.