Hydrate occurrence is synonymous in deep water wells, notably when the well experience significant reduction in fluid temperature during production. Hence, the operating philosophy must take into consideration the ability to maintain the well-fluid outside the hydrate or wax phase envelope and ensure the contingencies are in place to mitigate any plug, deposit or gel formation. This paper illustrates the characterization of hydrate and wax plug encountered and devise of innovative solution to remediate the blockage in two wells in Sabah waters which were plugged due to cooling of the wells during an unplanned shut down. The solution devised is to set precedence to manage temperature dependent blockages in similar Deepwater wells or facilities.
Hydrate and wax models were created to predict blockage severity and its location. Nodal analysis was used to model thermodynamic equilibrium at target location of the plug where the temperature is below the melting point and ultimately to predict the required heat to dissolve the blockages. A Thermo-chemical system was identified, selected, and customized and then injected into well to ensure the temperature generated at the location of the plug was above the melting point of hydrate and wax.
Thermo-chemical injection was identified as a viable method of In-situ Heat Generating Technique to generate heat at desired location. The chemical solution was injected via capillary tubing to transmit the heat via conduction and convection to melt the hydrate and paraffinic plug in these 2 wells. An arriving temperature of 40°C at the target zones was required to melt the plug. A positive pressure was maintained in the production tubing during chemical injection to avoid rapid pressure increase as the hydrate plugs dissolved. A temperature of 100 °C was recorded at the wellhead throughout the injection. The downhole gauge indicated positive response, suggesting the heat generated transmitted effectively. After a short duration of injection, communication was established. Hydrate inhibitor was injected to secure the well prior to unloading. The wells were successfully relieved and stabilized production of 1,200 bopd and 800 bopd respectively. The simulation was redesigned based on data collected from the operation to improve the model and to be used for future works.
The ability to integrate laboratory analysis, computer aided simulation and operational data was integral to this paper demonstrating an effective way to characterize temperature dependent blockages in production system. Design of experiments provided better insight to address the problem. Innovative use of novel chemistry to produce heat, in-situ heat solved hydrate and wax related issues in a most cost-effective manner. The process of customizing a chemical system based on laboratory and simulation results was effective in ensuring delivery of the results. The bull-heading operation to inject the chemical system proved to be a cost-effective remedial method to unlock the barrels and can be considered preventive or as a contingency measure in dealing with temperature dependent blockages or plugs in future.