Several scale control solutions are being highlighted: a) existing Kemira KemGuard scale control product line, based on low toxicity, benign low Mw polymer technology; b) KemEguard technology with improved biodegradability; c) KemGuard technology with improved capability for easy detection. Kemira produces & markets scale control technology based on low molecular weight polymer chemistry.
KemGuard, KemEguard, scale control, biodegradable, oil, gas, phosophorous based chemistry, north sea, yellow banded, inhibition of sulphate scale, ospar regulations,
Several scale control solutions are being highlighted: a) existing Kemira KemGuard scale control product line, based on low toxicity, benign low Mw polymer technology; b) KemEguard technology with improved biodegradability; c) KemGuard technology with improved capability for easy detection. Kemira produces & markets scale control technology based on low molecular weight polymer chemistry. Low molecular weight polymers based on the monomers conventionally incorporated for scale inhibition such as acrylic acid or maleic anhydride to name just a couple, are generally benign, non-toxic, not damaging to the environment. Phosphorous based chemistry is generally regarded as more toxic to the environment and more damaging to the formation. Standard phosphonates, due to their less favorable environmental profile, have been banded red in the Norway sector of the North Sea. A number of polymeric based scale inhibitors are banded yellow, including Kemira’s well-recognized KemGuard 269 technology used for inhibition of sulfate scales. Kemira’s added innovation involved enhancing this existing chemistry to enable significant improvement in biodegradability of the product. Typical biodegradability achieved with the novel KemEguard 2593 product, based on KemGuard 269 chemistry, is 62% by Marin Bodis 28-day test. The improvement in biodegradability can be achieved without compromising the very good performance of KemGuard 269. Another innovation was to incorporate tags into the polymer chain of this chemistry in order to allow for effective detection of the chemistry in field use, thus allowing the user to optimize chemical dosage.
KemEguard 2593 product innovation with enhanced biodegradability was specifically targeted for the North Sea oilfield region where product selection is dictated by marine life toxicity, accumulation in the environment, and biodegradability, in addition to performance. However, as the need for environmental compliance becomes heightened in all global regions, this solution is quite applicable to a number of regions where Kemira has presence, including North America, South America and APAC. Similarly the need for optimized dosage with ability to detect scale control agents will be required globally, although the most significant targets now are for off-shore oilfield deployment (North Sea, GoM, Brazil). Kemira’s mature KemGuard product line consists of the KemGuard 269 chemistry plus other polymeric based inhibitors used in oilfield operations globally. The current active regions are North Sea, West Africa, Gulf of Mexico, mainland US and Canada and on-shore as well as off-shore Brazil. Additional targets are China for oilfield. Additionally, Kemira is also targeting mineral processing operations, with specific regional targets of Canada, US, Latin America, Australia, Russia and Africa.
Who had initiated the project? What were the stakeholders’ drivers? Existing KemGuard 269 technology has been tested to determine its environmental profile and has been used in the UK and Norway sectors of the North Sea since mid-80’s. The project to develop biodegradable variant of this chemistry was completed in mid 2000’s as an answer to the preference of the Norway sector of the North Sea to utilize products that are highly biodegradable (ideal target is 60% marine biodegradability in 28-days as per the OECD 306 or Marine Bodis test; 20% or above for the UK sector per the same testing methods). Also, US is in process of outlining its agenda for environmental footprint. Environmentally friendly, non-toxic chemistry with improvement in biodegradable profile will be a good fit to meet US market needs. Additionally, China chemical sector has recently been under scrutiny and there will be a push for more environmentally friendly solutions.
The tagged project was initiated in early 2000 to respond to the oilfield industry needs for detectable scale inhibitors. The concept was to be able to easily detect how much of the scale inhibitor is coming from a production well. Additionally, the need for multiple tags also arose directly from industry desire to squeeze one type of chemistry into multiple production zones or horizontal areas in order to optimize production and at the same time be able to detect how much inhibitor is left in each production zone once sampled from a comingled stream.
Which actors proved strategic in the implementation? R&D, Product Management, sales management, regulatory support, plant support, procurement support…. Essentially all key functions that touch product development, introduction and commercialization were involved.
At what stage were they brought in? R&D has worked with Kemira’s commercial side closely from the start of product development stage to understand the market needs, performance needs and product value. Product management worked closely with sales to progress getting an environmental profile on the chemistry by utilizing an independent certified laboratory. Similarly for the tagged technology, involved by all functions early on was essential.
Who has ensured follow-up of the solution at the local level? Product & project manager – once the biodegradable product was developed, product management worked closely with the independent laboratory to develop the toxicological profile needed to get the product registered in Norway and UK. Following obtaining this data, product management worked with add energy and CEFAS to profile the necessary information on the HOCNF forms to get the products registered. For tagged polymeric scale inhibitors, sales, R&D and product management were involved.
The first solution describes commercial products which have been used in the North Sea since mid-80;s for effective control of barium sulfate scale. Variants of this technology have been developed. One set of variants are ‘tagged inhibitors’, whereby recently two distinctive tags have been introduced. The tagged technology aims at better detectability and optimized dosing of the scale inhibitors injected downhole and into the formation. With the benefit of this detectability, the scale inhibitor usage can be optimized and thus chemical dosing into the environment minimized. Our key partner in commercializing of this technology has field tested the tagged technology with positive results. Related to the biodegradable variant of the widely accepted KemGuard 269 technology in the North Sea, the technology was introduced for production in the last couple of years and is available in US and UK. We are slowly gaining market interest with this technology. Additionally, biodegradable products based on other polycarboxylic chemistry have been introduced for production in Kemira US facility recently. We do not have commercial sales of these products yet.
The question is: ‘How can impact on the environment be minimized with the inevitable need of scale control chemistry use to prevent mineral scale formation and deposition?’. It is a fact that for efficient production in water loving environment, whether it is production of oil or gas, mining or mineral processing operations or other industries, scale control agents will have to continue to be used to maximize throughput, ensure that equipment remains functional, often prevent stoppage or deference of production, and provide flow assurance of various steams in the process. The question is how to ensure that the most benign chemistry is used. Kemira is saying that there are worse and better options. The better options have been presented here. There are polymeric based scale inhibitors. Advanced development of these chemistries related to tagged chemistry and biodegradable chemistry allows for further optimization of the chemical usage and provides a step wise improvement in form of improved biodegradability.
Less toxic polymer based product options to phosphonate-based scale inhibitors
Optimized & minimized chemical application by tagging of the benign polymer chemistry
Improved biodegradability of the polymeric based scale inhibitors – creating an added value to the already low toxicity products.
Basic Polymeric Chemistry – qualitative – lower impact on the environment
Tagged polymeric scale inhibitors – quantitative – lower annual consumption due to dosage optimization
Biodegradable polymeric scale inhibitors – qualitative and quantitative – lower impact on environment & biodegradability data of the product
Any industry & application needing a scale inhibitor to prevent mineral scale formation would benefit from the use of polymeric scale inhibitors as compared to their more toxic functional offsets, i.e. phosphorous based. The industries with heavy use of scale inhibitors are municipal and industrial water treatment, oilfield operations (production, stimulation, refining), mining, mineral processing, pulp and paper. The same industries would benefit from biodegradable scale inhibitors, as the scale inhibitors are not an additive integral to the final product in these industries – thus, it is OK for them to biodegrade.
Tagged scale inhibitors for dosage optimization are especially needed in oilfield operations where product is deployed through squeeze treatments and it is necessary to know when the product needs to be re-squeezed to optimize product usage. Additionally, in oilfield operations, detectability is gaining interest in other operations such as stimulation activities and refining where it is of interest to know the location and flow of the scale inhibitor to ensure that it is functioning properly.
Variety of industrial and municipal applications also utilizes detectable scale inhibitors.
Those using scale inhibitors generally know how to apply them, even if deployement is not trivial as is the case in oilfield squeeze deployment. In this case, the recommendation to the service company is to utilize their existing know-how in application of polymeric scale inhibitors in order to obtain the desired result. In industries where expertise in scale inhibition is limited, Kemira works with the customer to recommend best dosing points, monitoring equipment, and total solution for water quality improvement. In any application, the target needs to be to use the lowest possible dosage to get the job done.