Impact of Temperature on Scale Formation in Chalk Reservoirs

Ishkov, Oleg (Heriot-Watt University) | Guarnieri, Roberta (Total TEPDK, Denmark) | Jordan, Myles Martin (Nalco Champion) | Mackay, Eric (Heriot-Watt University)



Operators are collecting abundant produced-water data that are often underused. Produced-water-composition data provide clues related to the geochemical reactions that are occurring in the subsurface. This information can be useful for monitoring interwell connectivity and predicting and managing oilfield scale resulting from brine supersaturation. Coupling thermodynamic calculations with produced-water analysis helps to identify geochemical effects that could affect oil recovery.

This work addresses the difference that reservoir temperature has on geochemical reactions in carbonate reservoirs by comparing data from two offshore fields and identifying the rock/brine and brine/brine reactions that will affect scale management.

Two seawater-flooded chalk fields located near each other were selected as candidates for comparison. The temperature of one field is 130°C, whereas for the other field, it is 90°C. Produced-water samples (a total of 6,800) from these two fields were analyzed, and the compositional trends were plotted to identify the deviation from conservative (nonreacting) behavior. The compositional trends were then grouped to identify if there were common features between wells. This analysis was complemented by 1D reactive-transport modeling to identify the reactions that would be consistent with the observed trends.

Two groups of wells were identified within each reservoir on the basis of the produced-brine compositional behavior. Each well group exhibits a distinct ion-trend behavior, especially with respect to barium, calcium, strontium, and magnesium concentrations—because these are divalent cations that are abundant in the formation brines. The breakthrough of sulfate, a component primarily introduced during seawater flooding, varies very significantly between the two groups in each case. In one grouping, the sulfate is barely retarded, and it breaks through at seawater fractions lower than 10%. In the other grouping, however, sulfate does not break through until the seawater fraction in the produced brine exceeds 75%. This retardation of sulfate occurs most strongly in the hotter reservoir, and this might be attributed to the lower solubility of the calcium sulfate mineral anhydrite at a higher temperature. The retardation of sulfate then means that barium is produced at higher concentrations because barite precipitation in the reservoir is thus restricted, caused by sulfate being the limiting ion. However, some sulfate stripping does occur in the cooler reservoir, despite the higher solubility of anhydrite. Furthermore, in all cases, magnesium is retarded, with some groupings exhibiting the complete stripping of magnesium from the injected seawater.

The magnesium-stripping behavior is reproduced in the reactive-transport models when calcium- and magnesium-replacement reactions are allowed. This phenomenon has been observed elsewhere in coreflood experiments, and it also contributes to the sulfate stripping through the promotion of anhydrite precipitation within the rock. This process, which is beneficial in terms of reducing the scale risk, is more pronounced at higher temperatures. Therefore, higher-temperature chalk reservoirs might act as natural sulfate-reduction plants, reducing scaling, souring risks and, thus, operating costs of the fields.