Almost anyone in the oil extraction industry you would be very familiar with paraffin wax and asphaltene build-up as well as its crippling effect on oil well production. As much as 85% of the world’s oil is prone to precipitate paraffin deposits which, over time, can reduce oil flow to such a degree that production ceases altogether.
Left untreated, paraffin build-up can drastically decrease the efficiency of the entire oil recovery and transfer system including flow lines, pipes, tubing and of course the oil well itself. Whilst these build-ups can become serious enough to cause complete failure of the oil recovery system, fortunately paraffin wax fouling can be relatively easy to remove.
There is a range of methods for removing paraffin wax build-ups in oil wells including:
- Coiled Tubing
- Hot Oiling
- Hot Water
- Chemical – Wax Solvents/Dispersants
- Combination Treatments
Chemical Removal of Paraffin Build-up from Oil Wells
Before choosing a chemical to remove paraffin deposits it is important to first consider the nature of wax build-ups. Oil wells that suffer from wax problems are, in fact, usually experiencing other fouling as well.
Almost any heavy organic deposit encountered in oil extraction is referred to as paraffin or wax. While paraffins are usually the major component in these deposits, it is most often actually a mixture of paraffins and asphaltenes. These types of paraffin / asphaltene deposits often also contain resins, silt, gums, salt crystals, scale, sand and clay. That is why it is important that any solvent used to remove these deposits is effective at removing more than just paraffin.
Many chemical treatments for paraffin in use today require heat in order to be most effective. The application of heat into the system requires additional equipment, energy usage and expense so it is preferable to find a solvent effective at low temperatures.
The final and most important consideration when selecting the best paraffin removal chemical is safety. Many chemical treatments require the use of caustic reagents which are hazardous to workers and can damage equipment. Many solvent based treatments contain toxic chemicals which increase risks to human health and the environment.