Published: December 1980
The aim of this report is to study the manufacture of some of the most important chemicals useful in oil fields. As background for these chemicals, a general presentation is given in Section 3 of this report of various operations in the oil fields for the exploration and production of oil, and the chemicals used therein. This is followed by a discussion of the industry status (Section 4), in which the extent and prospective use of these chemicals are given. These sections, together with
Appendix B (a fairly comprehensive list of oil field chemicals mentioned in the patent literature),
Appendix C (some properties of surfactants for oil fields), and Appendix D (micelle flooding), give a bird's-eye view of the oil field chemicals.
Among the thousands of chemicals possibly used in the oil fields, more than one hundred are used commercially in significant quantities. Some, including the two with the largest volume, bentonite and barite, are minerals; cement is a structural commodity; some, like hydrochloric acid, caustic soda, and calcium chloride, are commodity chemicals. These obviously are not proper subjects for this study. On the other hand, specialty chemicals used in oil fields are numerous and, for each of them, the volume is not substantial. Therefore, the chemicals were screened and, as a result, four important chemicals were chosen to be the subjects of this study. They are petroleum sulfonate, polyacrylamide lignosulfonate and xanthan gum. Their manufacture is evaluated in Sections 5, 6, 7, and 8, respectively. In addition, cellulose ethers, polyacrylate, lignite, starch and derivatives, guar gum, polyamines and tannin are briefly discussed in Section 9. (The first two are the subject of PEP Report 130).
Appendix E gives an analysis of the costs of petroleum sulfonate and polyacrylamide, separated into energy-related, capital-related, and labor-related costs. These data provide a rationale for studying the economics of the use of these chemicals in oil recovery.