Scale Treatment Optimization in Geothermal Wells

Azari, Vahid (Heriot-Watt University) | Al Badi, Mohammed (Heriot-Watt University) | Vazquez, Oscar (Heriot-Watt University) | Al-Kalbani, Mandhr (Heriot-Watt University) | Mackay, Eric (Heriot-Watt University)


Abstract Geothermal energy refers to the heat stored in the subsurface that can be extracted by producing the hot fluids (water and/or steam) in contact with the hot formation. A major issue that may restrict the extraction of geothermal energy is precipitation of mineral scales which can occur within the reservoir, inside the wellbore, or surface facilities. The objective of this paper is to find the most efficient scale treatment strategy to prevent mineral scaling. Continuous injection of chemical scale inhibitor (SI) downhole in the production well, is the most common method to prevent mineral scale in geothermal plants. This method although effective does not protect the near-wellbore area, where the highest pressure drop is expected. To address this issue, two methods will be studied, bullheading the production well with SI, commonly known as squeeze treatment, and injecting SI in the injection well. Optimum designs for both methods were identified considering different levels of SI adsorption, and also permeability variation in fractured and non-fractured formations. As expected, the volume of SI required in continuous injection in producer was lower than the other two methods. However, in cases where the highest risk of precipitation is in the near-wellbore area or it is below the continuous injection point, it is necessary to apply one of the suggested methods. While the squeeze treatment protects only the formation around the producer well, treatments deployed in injector wells will protect the whole system and this extra protection may offset the extra volume of chemical necessary. The application of SI in injector well was studied in both continuous and batch mode with different injection frequencies. It was shown in continuous injection that even though less SI volume is used, the SI breakthrough time in producer can be so long that a series of squeeze treatments might be required to protect the well. The simulation results showed that in high adsorption formations, squeeze treatment is more efficient than deploying SI in the injector well. However, in cases of low adsorption and fractured reservoirs, the scenario commonly found in geothermal plants, SI injection at the injector is more optimal. Two different scale treatment methodologies were studied in geothermal wells, including squeeze treatment in producer and SI injection in the injector and the results were compared with the continuous SI injection in producer, which is the most current treatment in geothermal wells. It was illustrated in fractured geothermal reservoirs with relatively low levels of adsorption, that SI injection in the injector is the most optimum treatment that can effectively protect the whole plant from scaling.

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