Successful Field Application of Novel, Nonsilicone Antifoam Chemistries for High-Foaming Heavy-Oil Storage Tanks in Northern Alberta
- Jonathan J. Wylde (Clariant Oil Services)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- February 2010
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 25 - 30
- 2010. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers
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- 676 since 2007
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Substantial foam formation was being experienced by two operators in several heavy-oil leases in northern Alberta. This 10 to 12°API crude had a large foaming potential and a unique foam-formation mechanism. Crude oil passed from the wellhead through a short flowline to a pair of hydrostatically balanced and heated storage tanks. The storage tanks heated the crude oil from approximately 50°C to 85°C. In doing so, it caused gas breakout and degassing, which resulted in the formation of a thick, persistent foam in the top of the tanks. The foam would enter the transportation trucks and end up at the local battery and create carry-over and separation problems in the process systems.
Silicone antifoam products were not acceptable because of their poor environmental profile and the influence these large molecules had at the refinery where the crude oil was shipped for (predominantly) asphalt manufacture.
A wide range of chemistries was tested including phosphate-based products, ethoxylated and propoxylated esters, polyethylene glycol esters and oleates, alcohols, fatty alcohols, and ethoxylated and propoxylated alcohols. One of the major challenges detailed in this paper is that all products had to be freeze protected to -40°C. This was significant because many antifreeze chemicals affect the efficacy of antifoam chemicals.
This paper details evolution of testing leading to the field application of this combined defoamer/antifoam chemistry. Initial laboratory screening is included, which describes a laboratory test method designed to mimic the foam-formation environment in the field more accurately. The paper also illustrates the field-trial evaluation, as well as the case histories of full field implementation of the highest-efficacy products.
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