Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), in collaboration with OLI Systems Inc., has launched the first phase of the In Situ Measurement of Hydrogen Sulfide to Validate Thermodynamic Calculations Joint Industry Program (JIP) to more accurately model the environments in sour wells and, consequently, improve the qualifications of alloys used in those harsh operating conditions.
Deeper wells containing hydrogen sulfide, also known as sour wells, are being explored by the oil and gas industry. The combination of higher pressure and temperature as a result of the wells’ depth and acidity due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) make those wells particularly challenging when it comes to materials. As a result, the industry uses expensive corrosion resistant alloys during exploration and production. The alloys are qualified using combinations of documented field experience and laboratory testing, but a recent review of the chemistry of sour wells suggest that the environmental test conditions are harsher than required. The industry may save millions of dollars on the alloys used to withstand the well conditions.
“The aim of SwRI’s JIP is to create a new, more accurate model of the conditions of sour wells,” said SwRI Senior Research Engineer Florent Bocher, who is leading the project. “We will learn more about the chemistry of these wells at high pressure and temperatures. To accomplish this, we will use existing equipment at SwRI to make measurements of hydrogen sulfide in the gas and liquid phases at the pressures and temperatures that exist in sour wells.”
During the 1-year first phase of this JIP, an experimental matrix will be generated at the intersection of the industry needs, model limitations, and lack of data, and the in situ analytical techniques will be validated.
During the second phase, in situ H2S measurements will be performed over the experimental matrix. The results from those measurements will be implemented in the modeling software to offer a more accurate and reliable model of the conditions of sour wells. This will in turn be used to reduce the need for expensive materials.
While the first phase begins this month, the JIP is still accepting members. During this phase, Bocher will also collaborate with SwRI’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division to recreate the conditions of the sour wells in collaboration with OLI Systems Inc., who will contribute modeling expertise. Testing will begin in the second phase, with the project reaching completion in 2026.
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