FEATURE ARTICLE

Chemistry in the Oil Industry XV

Published: November 13, 2017

Henry Craddock reports from the biannual Oilfield Chemical conference, Chemistry in the Oil Industry, which was held in Manchester, UK from 6th to 8th November 2017.

This conference is sponsored by the Royal society of Chemistry and the European Oilfield Speciality Chemicals Association, and this is the 15th such conference going back over thirty plus years. Over 150 people attended to hear presentations on a range of oilfield chemistry topics around the theme of “Enabling Efficient Technologies”, and many of the speakers concentrated on the new reality of a relatively low oil price in the near to medium future. The North Sea Oil and gas industry is still coming to terms with the effects of the “downturn” and the emphasis is on how chemistry can help improve efficiency to enhance the development of new field and extend the life of mature ones.


Pelumi Adeleke from Dow gave the welcome address

There was general feeling that at least globally the industry was coming out of the “downturn” and the future looked brighter in particular it was considered that unconventional hydrocarbons and in particular shale gas fracturing would have a significant impact in the next decade. As well as looking to cost efficiencies which was generally expressed across the attendees and illustrated by a number of speakers. Scale and Corrosion control alongside enhanced oil recovery were topics to the fore. To this end over the two main conference days a number of key themes were developed. The conference was opened by Dow Chemical who were the leading sponsors.

Scale and Corrosion – Saving Money

In her keynote address Professor Anne Neville of the University of Leeds illustrated the need for better understanding of how scale and corrosion process interact in oilfield production and transport processes. In her presentation, she illustrated her groups highly innovative work in attempting to understand the complex surface interactions of scale and corrosion mechanisms at metal surfaces. In using statistical experimental design, she persuasively argued that testing inhibitor chemistries in combination and simultaneously leads to considerable differing results that conventional iterative formulation testing and that sulphur synergist products in such formulations are highly important to overall performance.


Professor Anne Neville from the University of Leeds gave the keynote address

A number of presenters focused on the growing appearance of highly insoluble sulphide scales and particularly their identification and understanding of their formation in oilfield conditions through cation exchange. It would seem that the best chemical treatment approach for mitigation of such insoluble scales may be through application of dispersants which has required the evaluation of some new test methods.

The cost saving theme was usefully illustrated in the use of a mini squeeze approach, presented by Prof Myles Jordan (Nalco Champion) to mitigate against barium sulphate scaling with additional oil recovery more than compensating for chemical costs. Work was also described in cost saving for kinetic hydrate inhibition from Baker Hughes

Laurence Cowie of many years’ service with BP delivered the second of three key note addresses with a general overview of the Production Chemistry area of the oilfield over the last 4 decades using many examples from his wide personal experience. He defined a number of chemical opportunities but was cautionary about our ability as an industry in knowledge and experience retention in that lessons are not being adequately learned. He ended with a challenge for the future “not only to deliver more with less but to grasp the opportunity to define the type of industry we will become”

Enhanced Oil Recovery

The second theme of the conference was enhanced oil recovery and its implication in production processing with Dr Christine Dalmazzone, of IFP Energies Novellas, France. Over the last two decades IFP has developed a number of critical test methods to quantify the effects of EOR of separation issues in the product process as th e chemicals used in EOR such polymers and surfactants can have serious implication on these process and effect other chemicals such a demulsifiers

Dr Steve Heath of Baker Hughes continued in this theme by illustrating that polyacrylamides used in EOR can degrade to form a type of pseudo-scale which ends up as a gunk fowling the process plant heat exchangers

Work was also presented to show that EOR polymer emulsions which are often used require care and consideration as to their storage conditions particularly in the confines of an offshore platform or FPSO.

Regulatory impacts

A regular topic in this conference over many years has been the veer change regulatory landscape and this conference was no exception with three presentations from industry and government being delivered.

A cautionary highlight was that the continued harmonisation of OSPARs mandatory chemical control sham, in particular the requirement for CHARM (Chemical Hazard and Risk management) assessments to REACH could lead to a reassessment of a large number of chemical products which may lead to their hazard reclassification, giving them a greater hazard quotient.

An update was given on the UKs Risk based approach to produced water discharges, and Cefas (Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) presented on their work discounting any significant effects of temperature as a pollution additive in terms of chemical discharge in the North Sea, although made overtures that temperature could have a significant impact in arctic waters.

New Chemistries

A number of industry participants presented new chemistries and novel applications. Dr Larisa Reyes of the Dow Chemical Company showed the development of a number of thermally stable scale inhibitors based on acrylic sulphonated copolymers. Such materials showed excellent performance at temperatures well over 200oC and therefore highly suited for use in high temperature- high pressure wells.

The SI group of the USA described their new Calixarene products and particularly their tailored and highly oil soluble demulsifier range. They have developed a new manufacturing process to improve the solubilisation characteristics of these materials improving their formulation compatibility and overall performance characteristics.

BASF SE presented on a new reactive resin for application in well completion, particularly as a fluid loss control additive. These reactive resins are based on polysuccinides which are controlled by catalytic curing to block small fractures in the well and maintain drilling fluid circulation and minimise fluid losses.

Dr Rachel Cole of Schlumberger Production Technologies, gave a highly imaginative presentation on their work concerning the application of dendrimer polymeric structures. They have developed a number of suitable structures for application as asphaltene dispersants and illustrated their performance on both model systems and field crude oils

asol Germany, delivered a new approach to building “comb” polymers based on styrene- maleic anhydride copolymers and various long chain alcohols. These materials were shown in simulated waxy crudes to have excellent pour point depressant properties. They are ready for field trails!

Around the conference

As well as the technical and other papers described the conference also hosted a number of poster presentations on a variety of technical topics and small exhibition from companies such as Croda, Dow Chemical, BASF, BYK Additives and Instruments, Chemoxy International, Ashland, Lakeland Labs, Anton Parr (UK) etc. These were in the same facility as the main lecture room and therefore delegates had adequate time to view the posters and exhibition as well as networking over refreshment breaks and lunches.

On the first evening, there was the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Graham Payne for his long and outstanding service and contribution to the industry.

The conference is held every two years usually in the first week of November and the next is scheduled for November 2019. More information and access to the full conference papers is available at the main RSC SCS website http://www.rscspecialitychemicals.org.uk or you can follow them on Twitter @RSC_SCS_CITOI.

For more information, contact Tricia Francis, CITOI Conference Secretariat at tricia.francis@rscspecialitychemicals.org.uk.


Symposium dinner

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