The continuous pursuit to discover new hydrocarbon reserves is driving oil and gas exploration companies to explore in more challenging environments, such as in deep water. One of the major challenges in these environments is to understand the characteristics of hydrocarbon solids deposition and its potential for production disruption. Asphaltenes are one of the hydrocarbon solid materials that have the potential to form, flocculate, and deposit in the production circuits. This process can come about as a result of changes in pressure, temperature, and/or composition.

In this paper, we present a systematic approach to characterize asphaltene materials using state-of-the-art technologies. In summary, a fixed-wavelength near-infrared light-scattering technique (NIR) is used to prescreen the thermodynamic onset of asphaltene flocculation. Subsequently, a variable-wavelength spectral analysis system (SAS) is used to estimate the asphaltene particle size and the growth kinetics. Finally, a high-pressure microscopy (HPM) technique is used to better understand the morphological behavior of the asphaltene materials.

These laboratory techniques can greatly enhance the understanding of asphaltene flocculation and the risk of potential deposition at the beginning of field development. As a result, operators may have the option to proactively prevent deposition or design remediation methods during the planning phase of the deepwater development that will reduce the risk of flow disruption.

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