Laboratory Testing

While it is generally accepted that new products should go through laboratory testing prior to implementation in the field it is often found that these tests are often providing inconclusive results. The reason for using “inconclusive”, rather than “failed”, is because field results often provide a different story. A classic example of this being the Gulf of Mexico project conducted on a pipeline where flow was rapidly depleting due to the precipitation of paraffin building up in the pipeline.

The pipeline in question had been building up paraffin precipitation and restricting flow for many years but the problem became much worse just prior to the FloWell application. It was a last-ditch attempt by the asset holder to resolve the problem and there was much resistance initially by the platform operators’ key personnel because they felt that this problem was insurmountable and that FloWell was unable to provide satisfactory references as to its capabilities.

The problem was so great that the platform owner decided that there was nothing to lose as every other avenue of treatment had been tested each and every one resulting in failure. At the time the operator was using a DRA product, which although slowed the rate of decline, did nothing to prevent the paraffin precipitation.

The application began and for the first week or so there was no change whatsoever in the decline. By pure chance one of the FloWell management team asked a very pertinent question. Is the client still using the DRA? The answer was “YES” and this led to a request that was regarded first as horrendous. The request was to stop using the DRA. This was met with resistance but we did say that if there were no conclusive results than the FloWell application would stop and the DRA be reinstated.

This is where FloWell astonished everyone. Immediately the flow stabilised, not only stabilised but started to show a marginal increase. To everybody’s delight the marginal increase became a rapid rise in the flow. This continued for a number of days and upon analysis it was found that 100 days lost production in reduced flow was returned in 10 days. This continued for a further few days and then the flow reduced to a few barrels a day increase but it always increased.

Prior to this project FloWell was always beset with inconclusive results in laboratory testing yet this project proved that not only did FloWell eliminate the paraffin precipitation it continued on by attacking the already present build-up and contamination in the pipeline and releasing that precipitation build-up increasing the bore size hence the continued increase in flow for the rest of the project.

This brought up a lot of questions regarding laboratory testing. How could a product continuously prove inconclusive in laboratory testing yet when it is applied in an application there were magnificent results? It is incredible that something that would fail so often in the testing should provide these incredible results. It casts a great shadow of doubt on some of the practices employed in laboratory testing.

It implied that when testing the product in the laboratory something was missing, or something was present that should not be there and was having an effect on the FloWell solution. It has been identified that “others” products have an adverse effect and even a neutralising effect on the FloWell solution. It is quite obvious that the Gulf of Mexico application, where removing the DRA allowed the FloWell solution to do its job, provided a huge pointer to this being a fact as opposed to a theory.

Another incident, which unfortunately can be referred to but not documented, was when a visit was made to a client in an Asian country and the agent for FloWell obtained a sample directly from the wellhead for a private bench test to be done prior to approaching the client. The results were staggering. The oil sample would normally be like shoe polish at ambient temperature, however the sample was sealed and only opened minutes prior to the application of FloWell and mixed in was a dose of 300 PPM of the FloWell solution.

The product was allowed to cool, now bear in mind that at room temperature (30° C) the product would be solid. What was found was that product could be stirred. It was still a relatively high viscosity but it was able to be poured. The following day at a presentation this sample was on the desk in the room of which the temperature was approximately 25° C. The room was cooled by a number of air conditioning units during the period of the presentation. During this time the product in the container stayed fluid sufficiently to pour much to the delight of the attendees.

However, company policy dictated that the product must be tested in their laboratory to ensure that they can reproduce the same results. Guess what? The testing provided inconclusive results. A request was made for a fresh sample to be brought from the wellhead and lo and behold the same inconclusive results. Why would one sample provide incredible results yet another sample provide inconclusive results.

What was identified at a much later date was that the sample collected for the laboratory was from flow that was already being treated by “others” products, whereas the initial sample was collected much closer to the wellhead prior to any treatment. Unfortunately, too much time had passed before this was identified and the FloWell product was not adopted. Steps are being taken at present to re-approach this client with the new findings and hopefully all will be resolved.

Now we come to results obtained by a client in India who submitted a sample of the FloWell product to the laboratory for testing. The results obtained were incredible. The laboratory reported results of 90% efficiency. This raises the question about recent test results providing efficiencies of less than 50%. One could say that maybe these are the results of two different FloWell samples but they were from the same batch provided to the same agent and supplied to 2 different separate clients. There must be something different between the testing methodology used, or another factor.

In recently received emails it appears that maybe there is a clue. A product that was tested at the same time as FloWell and identified as regular flow improver product was not only used as a comparison sample but the email indicates that it is already in use by the client to improve oil flow. The report indicates the point of the “branch line inlet” as being the point where the sample of the crude oil was obtained. When you combine the two pieces of information it is quite obvious that if the “inlet” was the point of sample recovery it is unlikely that the RFI was being introduced into the flow after this point and everything indicates, because it is in use, that it is in the crude oil prior to the sample being obtained. It is unlikely that the RFI treatment was suspended when obtaining the crude oil sample.

We would respectfully suggest that the client to investigate this scenario because we feel that we may have been subjected to test parameters that would not allow FloWell to show its true colours.

From all of our experiences with testing and successful applications we have found that it is imperative that FloWell, if it is to be tested in the laboratory, must be done on a “virgin” oil sample that is taken directly from source (wellhead), securely sealed in an airtight container and should not be subjected to any additional treatment whatsoever prior to testing.

Because of all the previous it is FloWell’s policy to recommend that the testing of FloWell is done on the basis of examination to ensure unwanted results will not occur on its application use. Testing the efficacy of FloWell to prove its capability of working on paraffin as described without testing it in the environment where it works the best is like “testing a new painkilling tablet by taping it to the test subject’s forehead instead of them ingesting it as it is designed to be applied”

To quote a paragraph that was published in a White Paper by world’s leading authorities on paraffin problems in the oil and gas industry it stated (“Wax inhibitors are sometimes used to reduce the rate of wax deposition in pipelines. The efficiency of the inhibitors depends on several factors such as the right chemistry, injection or introduction at the correct location, targeting the right operating conditions and testing appropriately. It is known that bench top tests such as cold finger tests, while useful to qualitatively gauge chemical performance, are not useful to quantitatively predict the performance of a chemical under field operating conditions. This is because the operating parameters such as the temperature difference, heat flux, and shear rates experienced in the field cannot be reproduced in such bench top devices simultaneously”)

Regardless of laboratory test results, FloWell has never failed in a field application. Following is a list of successes that indicate the power of FloWell;

Gulf of Mexico: paraffin precipitation eliminated and pipeline contamination removed, losses of oil flow returned;

Kazakhstan: slug-catcher and condensate pipeline paraffin precipitation eliminated and pipeline contamination removed;

Ukraine: pipeline cleaned of paraffin precipitation contamination; oil well declared dead brought back to life;

Gulf of Mexico: gas lift well of paraffin precipitation contamination cleared, BS & W reduced by 30% and oil flow improved pro rata.

Above are just a few of the many. To add to this is the comment made by the supervising engineer of the client for the Gulf of Mexico pipeline project and is produced here, verbatim;

“I was the worst of all sceptics, but this is truly a miracle product”

It is recommended that laboratory tests are conducted to prove that there are no unwanted consequences from the use of the FloWell solution rather than try and replicate in the laboratory the amazing capability of the FloWell solution when injected into a crude oil flow at the oil well. This should then be followed with a practical application on a live oil well to show the true capabilities of the FloWell solution.