InnovOil presents highlights from the RSC’s Chemistry in the Oil Industry (CITOI) event in Manchester
Despite an almost impenetrable fog, November saw delegates brave the journey to Manchester for the biennial Chemistry in the Oil Industry (CITOI) symposium. Organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Speciality Chemical Sector and the European Oilfield Speciality Chemicals Association (EOSCA), the sector’s international companies, engineers and researchers met to hear some of the latest formulations, techniques and policies at work
within the oil and gas industry, under the event’s banner of “Challenges and Responsibilities.”
The event opened unconventionally, with a keynote lecture delivered by Cuadrilla Resources’ Nick Mace on the company’s experience of environmental permitting as it works to test and bring on line some of the UK’s first onshore wells using hydraulic fracturing. Mace’s presentation highlighted the problematic effects of policy which requires the full disclosure of oilfield chemicals used in their operations. While submitting these to UK regulators is necessary for transparency, it also leaves chemical formulations and IP subject to Freedom of Information requests – a troubling prospect for firms who apply considerable resources to devising competitive and effective products.
In response, Mace said that the UK Onshore Oil and Gas Group (UKOOG) had created a working group involving operators, chemical suppliers and the Environment Agency (EA), with a view to establishing a list of pre-approved and assessed substances for use downhole, similar to the Chemical Hazard and Risk Management (CHARM) model used for offshore chemicals. Bookending this, the EA’s Ian Davey offered the regulator’s perspective on its methodologies for assessing the risks of drilling activities to onshore groundwater.
Stratigraphic services provider Chemostrat followed later in the day, with a presentation on total organic carbon (TOC) correlation trends using trace elements. Using case study samples from the Lower Permian, the team suggested that relying on the common approach which uses molybdenum and uranium to provide TOC correlation data could be misleading or inaccurate. Their methodology shows that in some areas, other trace elements – in this case nickel – can offer more accurate proxies for TOC and allow operators to build a better understanding of the reservoir.
Stephanie Edmunds of Solvay also presented on the group’s latest biocide formulations for use in frack fluids. These fourth-generation formulations of Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl Phosphonium Sulphate (THPS) offer a faster bacteria kill-rate and are less detrimental to the performance of other additives such as biopolymers and friction reducers, illustrating the incremental performance gains that are still achievable by the chemical sector.
From the conference sessions to the exhibition floor, it was great to see so many of the sector’s big players – from AkzoNobel, Baker Hughes and Nalco Champion to Dow Chemical and BASF – contributing and conversing. Despite the sector’s extensive reach into many aspects of oil and gas, the network of personnel remains remarkably intimate.
Another keynote lecture delivered by Shell Global Solutions’ Julian Barnes covered the opportunities and challenges of surfactant manufacturing for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. Barnes explained the full procedure from molecular design and formulation – surfactants are usually designed to perform at individual reservoir conditions – and tracked the manufacturing process from pilot schemes to full-scale implementation. This also illustrated to delegates areas in which future work will be needed, such as in improving supply logistics for large-scale projects and reducing the risks and time taken to mix surfactants once at the field.
Rest assured that InnovOil will keep you informed of all the latest developments in the oilfield chemical sector, not least as part of our upcoming Drilling & Fluids supplement in September 2016.