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Effect of polyglycols on hydrate formation during drilling operations

Tahir, Abbas N
The aim of this experimental study is to investigate the inhibitive properties of polyglycol and polyglycol+KCl aqueous solutions on hydrate formation, which causes serious fluid flow problems, especially during deepwater drilling operations. As the petroleum industry continues to search oil in deeper and deeper seas, the possibility of facing hydrate problems during drilling operations increases because of the suitable conditions for hydrate formation. The main goal of this study is to investigate the hydrate inhibition capacity (thermodynamic and/or kinetic inhibition) of polyglycol and KCl which are mainly used in drilling fluids for shale inhibition and wellbore stability. A high pressure hydrate forming reactor is used to form and dissociate methane hydrate from aqueous solutions of polyglycol and polyglycol+KCl. In total 10 experiments were carried out, 5 of them with 0%, 1%, 3%, 5% and 7 % by volume of polyglycol solutions (Group-A experiments). The remaining 5 experiments (Group-B) had 8% by weight of KCl in solution in addition to the same polyglycol concentrations of Group-A experiments. Among the two chemicals tested for their hydrate inhibiting potentials, polyglycol did not exhibit any thermodynamic inhibition capacity while KCl was observed to have the ability of hydrate inhibition thermodynamically. On the other hand, increase in polyglycol concentration at constant KCl concentration (Group-B) increases the hydrate formation depression capacity of KCl. Polyglycol inhibits methane hydrate formation kinetically. The higher the polyglycol concentration in aqueous solution, the lower is the initial rate of methane hydrate formation (corresponding to first 15 minutes of hydrate formation). On the other hand, there exists a slower change of methane hydrate formation rate as polyglycol concentration increases.