Those in the industry of oil extraction understand how asphaltene and paraffin wax build up could have crippling effects on well production. Waxy build-up of organic materials is referred to using the term paraffin. Mostly, paraffin solution is contained in crude oils. When these solutions cool down, they clump together and crystalize. The crystals that have clumped together accumulate on production equipment, making downhole paraffin removal important.
More than 85 percent of the oil in the world is prone to crystalized paraffin deposits. When these crystals are left for a long period of time without being treated, they eventually stop the flow of oil by plugging flow lines and tubing completely. The plugging is not limited to tubing and flow lines, but also extends to the well itself and all pipes involved in the production. This process usually happens gradually over a long period of time.
It is for this reason that prior to starting oil extraction processes, a strategy for handling the issue of wax accumulation should be developed in advance. Removal of the wax is comparatively easy even though it can be a stumbling block to production. Over time, there have been several inventions of ways of eliminating wax accumulation. Hot water utility, chemicals, hot oiling, coiled tubing, scraping, thermal treatment and mechanical ways are all examples of methods developed over time.
In some cases, a combination of methods may be used to deal with the problem more effectively. Advancements in technology have made it possible to predict when the crystallization of wax will happen to a point that oil flow will be stopped completely. Gas chromatograph is one of the methods used in the prediction.
It is critical to research and establish the nature of the deposits prior to settling for a removal method. Wax or paraffins are not the sole components found in the deposits, even though they account for the biggest part of the organic deposits. They often contain asphaltenes and paraffins combined. Other components like salt crystals, sand, gums, resins, scale and clay also exist in the deposits apart from asphaltenes and paraffins.
This means that supposing one chooses to use chemicals in removing the deposits, the selected chemical should be capable of removing more than paraffin alone. Nowadays, many chemicals that are used in the process often need to be used alongside heat for them to work properly. The amount of heat required is determined by the kind of chemical in use.
Additional expenses in form of energy consumption, labor and additional equipment are required when heat is added in the process. When chemical solvents that are able to work under low temperatures are used, then it is possible to reduce the expenses. High efficiency levels can be achieved with the use of the various low-temperature solvents that have been developed over the years.
Last but not least, it is critical to consider safety. Chemical treatments often demand the use of caustic agents in most instances. These reagents can be hazardous to both the pieces of equipment being used as well as the laborers. Additionally, they are often harsh to human health and even the environment because they contain poisonous chemicals.
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