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Oil and Gas Exploration Chemicals Shipping and Logistics

Offshore Jack Up Drilling Rig Over The Production Platform in The Middle of The Sea

Oil and gas exploration and production involve many complex processes and phases. And at their core, oil exploration and production are expensive and destructive. Spillages could contaminate water bodies near the drilling sites. Mishandling of materials on the oilfield could be disastrous to the operators nearby. Heavy drilling could cause minor earthquakes around the drilling sites. The list of things that could go wrong goes on and on.

But with oil and gas exploration and production chemicals, the processes involved in extracting oil from the ground become more economical and less destructive. This article discusses different oil production chemicals and what they contribute to the production process. It also discusses how to ship these chemicals to the oilfield, the challenges that come with shipping them, and the solution to these challenges.

Different Chemicals Used in the Exploration and Production of Oil and Gas

Engineers set up a rescue tripod at the top of an abandoned oil well on the West Coast before sending workers into a confined space.

Here is a list of chemicals used in oil and gas exploration and production. These chemicals have various functions that make them crucial from the extraction of crude oil from the ground to refining it into different forms for public use.

1.    Acetic Acid

Acetic acid is involved in many oil and gas exploration and production applications. But one of the most widely used cases is in well stimulations. And its well stimulation applications are further divided into two. The first is hydraulic fracturing, and the other is matrix acidizing.

During hydraulic fracturing, drilling site operators inject drilling fluids containing the pungent-smelling acid at high pressure and in tight formations into wellbores. The drilling fluid cracks the oil reservoir at the bottom of the wellbore. But the acetic acid in the fluid makes the oil flow with ease during extraction.

Matrix acidizing, the other common application of acetic acid, involves the use of acetic acid to clear hindrances in the wellbore while keeping the reservoir intact. The acid is most effective when the hindrances are carbonates or limestone.

2.    Borates

Borates have applications across various phases of the exploration and production of oil and gas. The versatility of the chemical makes it one of the most relied upon chemicals in the oilfield. One area of application of borates in the oilfield is its use as a retardant for the cement used in supporting the wellbore after drilling. Another use that drilling site operators put borates to is the regulation of the viscosity in the drilling mud being injected into the wellbore.

Also, sodium perborate oxidizes hydrogen sulfide — a naturally occurring hazardous gas in the oil and gas industry — into less harmful sulfur or sulfate. And not only that, but it also attacks the bacteria that causes the natural formation of harmful hydrogen sulfide. Other uses of borates in oil and gas exploration and production include the regulation of pH and viscosity levels.

3.    Calcium Chloride

Just like the other chemicals on this list, calcium chlorides have functions that cut across different phases of oil and gas exploration and production. But its primary function is in maintaining and establishing the wellbores. It goes along with the drilling fluid mixture into the wellbores to lower the higher underground temperatures while also lubricating the drilling bits.

Calcium chloride also serves as a workover fluid to get rid of unwanted solids from the oil wells.  Other uses of calcium chloride in the oilfield include the acceleration of concrete formation time and helping to maintain pressure levels in the wellbore.

4.    Choline Chloride

When drilling a wellbore through clay soil, there is the need to stabilize the soil to stop it from swelling and destroying the oil well. That is what we use choline chloride for at the drilling site. And not only is it effective, but it is also inexpensive and safe.

There are other clay stabilizer alternatives, but oilfield operators often prefer choline chloride for many reasons. One of them is that the chemical remains useful even in the deeper levels of the oil well. It is also compatible with other chemicals used in the drilling fluid, including calcium chloride, cross-linkers, breakers, etc. Another reason choline chloride is the preferred clay stabilizer in many drilling sites is that it works in all drilling environments.

5.    Ethylene Glycol

Gas hydrates occur naturally during oil and gas production. They form when natural gas and free water meet at high pressure and low temperature. The problem with these hydrates is that they look like ice. And like ice, they can clog flow lines. Depending on the wellbore design, the drilling fluid composition, operating regime, and other factors, hydrate formation could be a massive problem in oil and gas production. But thanks to gas hydrate inhibitors like ethylene glycol, we have a solution to these hydrate formations. Ethylene glycol serves as an antifreeze agent which prevents the hydrates from clogging up the flow lines.

6.    Formic Acid

Formic acid is a common well stimulation treatment chemical. But unlike other well stimulation chemicals, such as hydrochloric acid, formic acid hinders the corrosion of metal pipes in wellbores with temperatures above 392°F. And when it corrodes steel pipes, it does so uniformly so that it reduces pitting.

7.    Guar Gum Powder and Slurry

Guar gum is basically the seed of a guar bean, while guar slurry is made from the guar bean itself. But their uses transcend the fields of agriculture into the oilfield. In oil and gas exploration and production, guar gum is used in various phases, including mud drilling, oil well fracturing, and oil well stimulation.

Oilfield operators add guar gum to drilling fluids to thicken the mixture before injecting it into the wellbore to fracture the oil reservoir. And one of its primary functions is to ease the drilling process while reducing fluid loss. Guar is also used as a suspending and stabilizing agent in drilling fluids. In addition, the viscosity of the drilling mud benefits from the regulating property of the guar.

Some reasons why guar gum powder is a favorite in many drilling sites are that it quickly hydrates in cold water, it is harmless, it is biodegradable, and environmentally friendly.

8.    Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric acid plays a crucial role in oil and gas exploration. After drilling has been done, hydrochloric acid and water are pumped into the wellbore to get rid of cement debris that was left from the previous drilling princess. The acid also contributes to the opening of fractures in underground oil reservoirs.

9.    Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric acid does not have a lot of direct functions in the oilfield, but we can make phosphate salts which are very useful in oil and gas exploration and production with it. Disodium pyrophosphate, for instance, is used as a dispersant in drilling fluids. Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is effective for degreasing. Sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) is used as a clay flocculant and also to treat cement contamination. And a lot of phosphates can be used to cause the precipitation of calcium in water-based drilling muds.

10.                   Potassium Hydroxide

Another name for potassium hydroxide is caustic potash. Caustic potash has uses on the oilfield that range from pH and alkalinity regulation in potassium-based water drilling muds to clay stabilization. But like many other oil and gas exploration and production chemicals, it requires adequate training and equipment to be handled. It releases heat when you dissolve it in water, making it hazardous and dangerous when mishandled.

11.                   Sodium Carbonate

Calcium is an element that is naturally present in many water formations. And it is bad news for drilling sites, as it can cause clay flocculation and drilling fluid loss. High filtrate calcium is another form of calcium that could cause calcium-sensitive additives in drilling muds to precipitate. A solution to this is the use of sodium carbonate or soda ash treatment.

Soda ash is effective in treating calcium ion contamination in seawater and freshwater muds, while sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is used to treat cement contamination in wellbores.

12.                   Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide (also caustic soda or Lye) regulates the alkalinity and pH in water drilling fluids. Other applications of caustic soda in oil and gas exploration and production are in the reduction of lime solubility and in the increase of how fast dispersed clays are hydrated.

Caustic soda, like caustic potash, releases heat when dissolved in water. As a result, it is hazardous and requires adequate training and equipment to handle.

Shipping Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Chemicals

The shipping of oil and gas chemicals is best left for liquid bulk tankers, which must be commandeered by experienced carriers. There are a lot of complex processes involved in transporting these chemicals. And because of the diverse natures of these chemicals, it would be disastrous to handle their shipping in a one-size-fits-all manner. For instance, some chemicals don’t like agitation, so the tanker that holds them must be the right size for the volume being transported. Some other chemicals are best transported at a controlled temperature, calling for the need for in-transit heat chemical tankers.

The Challenges of Shipping Oil Production Chemicals

Here are some challenges the come with the shipping of oil production and exploration chemicals

●      Some chemicals are hazardous materials (HAZMAT).

The first challenge with shipping oil and gas exploration and production chemicals is that many of these chemicals are hazardous materials. The United States does not joke about the transport of these hazardous materials, and rightly so. An accident involving a caustic chemical near a water body, for instance, could raise the temperature of the water and cook the fishes inside. An accident involving corrosive acids could further lower the chances of survival for the tanker carrier and anyone else closeby. These, and many other scenarios, are disasters that are peculiar to the transport of hazardous materials.

Reacting to the potential dangers that accompany the transport of these hazardous chemicals, the United States Department of Transport has a long list of regulations that must be adhered to. But to be honest, adhering to them can be inconvenient, especially for an inexperienced carrier.  And so, the hazardous nature of the chemicals becomes a headache during the shipping of the chemicals.

●      The remote locations of many oilfields.

The remote locations of many drilling sites is another challenge that the carriers of oil and gas production chemicals face. This is because most of these drilling sites have unforgiving terrains that are hard to maneuver around with thousands of gallons of possibly hazardous chemicals in your trailer. An inexperienced carrier could become even more confused if the drilling sites are not on Google Maps, and they are left to find their way themselves.

●      Unreliability of the logistics company.

The reliability of the logistics company you choose to ship your oil and gas production chemicals is as important as the chemicals themselves. Any logistics company serving the oil and gas industry has to be reliable and flexible enough to handle urgent shipments, miscommunications, and order cancellations. These situations are common on this side of the world. But the absence of reliable logistics partners could affect operations at the drilling site.

How Total Connection Eases the Shipping of Production Chemicals for the Oil and Gas Industry

As many challenges as there are with shipping oil and gas exploration and production chemicals, a chemical shipping company can solve most of them. Now, we aren’t just talking about any kind of chemical logistics company, but one with enough experience and expertise to get the job done. A perfect example is Total Connection oil and gas chemical shipping company.

Total Connection is one of the best in the business of shipping oil and gas chemicals. The company relies on almost three decades of experience and expertise to mitigate all unnecessary risks and expenses that accompany oilfield chemicals shipping. It is robust enough to handle all your oilfield chemical needs, yet flexible enough to handle unforeseen circumstances without hitches. And with crucial partnerships with major oilfield chemical manufacturers, Total Connection can cut the excesses out of the supply chain and offers you chemical transportation at the lowest reasonable rates.

You too can find out why you should join many other oil companies in trusting us with your chemical shipping when you fill out the quote form below. Our kind experts will get back to you in no time.


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