Oil well flow assurance through static electric potential: An experimental investigation

  • Muhammad Ihtsham Asmat Hashmi

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Flow assurance technology deals with the deposition of organic and inorganic solids in the oil flow path, which results in constriction of the production tubing and surface flow lines and drastically reduces the kinetic energy of the fluid. The major contributors to this flow restriction are inorganic scales, asphaltene, wax and gas hydrates, in addition to minor contribution from formation fines and corrosion products. Some of these materials (particularly asphaltene and inorganic scales) carry surface charges on their nuclei and seen to be attracted by electrode having opposite charge. The focus of the present research is to find the possibilities of inhibiting the deposition of asphaltene and inorganic scales in the production tubing by applying static electrical potential. With this objective, two flow set ups were made; one for asphaltene and the other for scale deposition studies, attached with precision pumps, pressure recording system and DC power supply. In each set up there were two flow loops, one was converted as Anode and the other as Cathode. A series of flow studies were conducted using the flow set ups, in which oil-dilution ratio, temperature and most importantly DC potential difference was varied and the deposition behavior of the asphaltene aggregates and calcium carbonate scale to the walls of the test loops were observed through rise of differential pressure across the loop due to possible deposition and constriction of the flow path. Two different sets of flow studies; one without oil dilution and other with the diluted oil (with n-heptane), were performed. Both experiments were investigated under the influence of static potential applied across the two test loops. Experimental results indicated that asphaltene deposition in the cathode can be retarded or stopped by applying a suitable negative potential; an increase in the static potential resulted in enhanced control over the asphaltene aggregation and hence the deposition. In the second study, scale deposition and retardation through static potential is studied through a series of flow experiments. Under the influence of static potential, scale deposition at the room temperature showed an increase in the deposition rates, whereas, at the elevated temperatures, scale deposition rates were observed to be retarded and delayed. Beyond a certain value of the static potential, this decreasing trend in deposition rates become directly proportional to the applied static potential. Results showed that the scale deposition may be controlled if not completely stopped, in the anode, if a suitable positive potential can be applied to it. The overall conclusion of this study is as follows: • Asphaltene deposition can be arrested almost completely by converting the production well into a cathode. • Scale deposition can be retarded or deposition rate can be much delayed by converting the production well into an anode.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageAmerican English
    SupervisorBisweswar Ghosh (Supervisor)


    • Applied sciences
    • Oil wells
    • Static electrical potential
    • Petroleum engineering
    • Energy
    • 0765:Petroleum engineering
    • 0791:Energy

    Cite this