Out with the Old: Developing a New Test Methodology for Paraffin Wax Dispersion and Inhibition Testing

Miller, Amanda (Clariant) | Smith, Rashod (Clariant) | Dufresne, Brad (Clariant) | Mahmoudkhani, Amir (Clariant)



Traditional test methods to evaluate dispersion and inhibition of paraffin wax, which are mainly based on wax gelation and deposition, often fail to distinguish and differentiate between classes of chemistries at a reasonable resolution. Recommended products based on such lab screenings sometimes have a difficult time proving success in the field. The rush for oil production from unconventional shale plays in North America create a need for quick and elaborate testing to effectively evaluate new products for prevention and remediation of known paraffin wax issues. This paper will present a progress made in this area.

For our studies a model oil system was used, which consists of field wax deposit dissolved in kerosene. Testing with a model oil allowed us to focus on the chemistries that are effective against paraffin chains known to cause issues. Several different testing conditions were used to push the ability of the chemistries to function. Light scattering was used to monitor transition from turbidity to sedimentation of paraffin wax from bulk solution under static or dynamic conditions. A total of twelve compounds from three classes of polymers and three classes of surfactants were used in treatment of these oil systems.

With this new lab testing methodology, we have been able to discover new insights on the chemistries used for paraffin wax dispersion and inhibition. In contrast to methods which only measure the end point, light scattering and transmission methodology provides system details at time intervals of 30 sec or higher. The method also allowed us to differentiate chemistries based on their impact on the separation index and sedimentation rate of targeted paraffin chains under stressed conditions by forced precipitation. It was found that certain classes of chemistries are more suited for dispersion and inhibition of waxy condensates once system passed the critical point, while others fail over time. This new approach is fast and versatile and must be used as part of a suite of lab and field screenings for product development and recommendation.

New methodology based on light scattering and transmission of oil systems can provide details not seen before on colloidal stability or instability of waxy crudes under stressed conditions. The method gives an even greater insight to how different chemistries function to mitigate known paraffin issues. Quantitative and reproducible data are obtained allowing faster screening of various chemistries and enhancing product development for new and aging fields.