New Methods Analyze Asphaltene Deposition and Fouling in Reservoirs

Topics: Formation damage
Fig. 1—(a) Deposition profile from micromodel experiment. (b) Deposition profile from simulation.

Asphaltene precipitation and deposition in production tubing and surface facilities are well-documented issues, and different methods are available to manage them. However, the problems that asphaltenes may cause in the reservoir, especially in the near-wellbore region, are much less understood. This project aimed to develop experimental procedures and modeling methods to establish whether impairment caused by asphaltene deposition in reservoirs is a real problem and to develop an understanding of the mechanisms by which asphaltene precipitates, alters wettability, and obstructs flow by potentially depositing in the formation.


Asphaltenes are a polydisperse mixture of the heaviest and most polarizable fractions of crude oil. Understanding the ­asphaltene-deposition problem and the factors affecting it is of great importance to the oil industry because of the costs associated with production loss and remediation activities, such as solvent wash and removal of deposited asphaltenes.

Several modeling approaches in the literature are used to model asphaltene deposition in porous media. Different mechanisms, such as adsorption, surface deposition, entrainment of deposits, pore-throat plugging, and pore-throat opening, have been considered in these approaches. However, which mechanisms play the most significant role and which mechanisms can be neglected in modeling asphaltene deposition inside porous reservoir rocks remains unclear.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper OTC 27933, “Asphaltene Deposition and Fouling in Reservoirs,” by Mohammad Tavakkoli, Peng He, Pei-Hsuan Lin, Sara Rezaee, Maura Puerto, Rocio Doherty, Jefferson Creek, SPE, Walter Chapman, Sibani Lisa Biswal, and Francisco M. Vargas, Rice University; Jianxin Wang, SPE, and Greg Kusinski, SPE, Chevron; and Joseph Gomes, Deepstar, prepared for the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 1–4 May. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2017 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
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New Methods Analyze Asphaltene Deposition and Fouling in Reservoirs

01 September 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 9