Investigation into the Synergistic Interaction of a Range of Generic Scale Inhibitors for Improved Sulphate Scale Control in North Sea Topside Processes

Jordan, Myles (Nalco Champion, An Ecolab Company) | Temple, Erin (Nalco Champion, An Ecolab Company) | Sham, Anita (Nalco Champion, An Ecolab Company) | Williams, Helen (Nalco Champion, An Ecolab Company) | McCallum, Catriona (Nalco Champion, An Ecolab Company)



Inorganic scale control of sulphate and carbonate scales with polymer, phosphonate and phosphate ester scale inhibitors is well established within the oilfield service industry. The environments in which these chemical work best have been published such as vinyl sulphonates are known to be very effective for sulphate scale control in low temperatures whereas phosphonates are much less effective under these same conditions but improve at higher temperatures. What is less well understood is the potential for synergistic interaction with blends of polymers/phosphonates/phosphate esters to give reduced treatment rates, lower chemical discharge volumes and potentially lower treatment cost.

In this paper evaluation of two North Sea produced waters will be outlined. Both produced brines have a high barium sulphate scale tendency but differ in the temperature at which the fluids arrive and depart the topside process one case with a temperature of 20C and the other at 90C. Static bottle test data will be presented to evaluate the crystal growth performance of single scale inhibitors and the improvements observed when blends of these same inhibitors are applied. Select dynamic tube blocking tests data to evaluate nucleation inhibition will also be presented so that mechanism of inhibition for the blended chemicals can clearly be highlighted.

The generic inhibitor evaluated included vinyl sulphonates co polymer, phosphate esters, poly aspartic acid. In the lower temperature environment, it was observed that a vinyl sulphonate/phosphate ester blend was more effective than either of the components by themselves. Poly aspartic acid blende with phosphate ester also give a synergistic interaction but the performance of this chemical required higher treatment rates than the vinyl sulphonate co polymer blend. At higher temperature the overall treatment rates were reduced as the sulphate scale saturation values were reduced and the synergistic effects of the polymers and phosphate ester blends were evident.

As well as classic static bottle tests performance tests were carried out in the presence of reservoir solids with stirring to further understand if the interaction of the generic chemicals within the blends with suspended solids would reduce the observed performance in the solids free test solutions.

The current regulatory challenges with REACH mean that the methods outlined in this study offer the potential to reduce chemical treatment rate, cost and environmental impact by evaluating the synergistic interaction of the current range of commercially available scale inhibitors so cutting out the very high registration costs/ time delays to the market associated with new molecule development.