Asphaltene deposition is a serious concern for operators, particularly in deepwater subsea systems, due to the immense capital costs of these developments; expense and challenges in performing remediation operations; and the potential for staggering amounts of lost or deferred production. Consequently, it is imperative that asphaltene concerns are evaluated thoroughly for new deepwater subsea systems, prior to field development. If deposition concerns exist, effective asphaltene management programs must be developed and maintained.
Onshore, the situation is much different, because costs for drilling and completing wells, and for performing remediation operations, are dramatically lower. However, significant costs and losses for dealing with asphaltene deposition can still exist. Furthermore, in certain applications, such as CO2 flood operations, the occurence of asphaltene deposition is almost assured. Thus, effective asphaltene management programs are also important onshore.
Asphaltene management programs can focus on prevention and/or remediation. For deepwater subsea operations, prevention is the primary focus. Remediation is very expensive, both in terms of cost and deferred production incurred. Onshore, production rates are generally much lower, and remediation is easier and less costly. Thus, in some cases, remediation may be an acceptable or preferred option onshore for asphaltene management. However, if effective economical methods exist, prevention will be favored.