Dual Treatment Regimen Shows Promise for Stripper Well Production

A new proprietary well treatment protocol shows promise for increasing oil production from stripper wells while substantially reducing the amounts of hydrogen sulfide, iron sulfide scales, bacteria and bacterial deposits in these wells.

Integrated Environmental Technologies Ltd.’s treatment regime, which combines its Excelyte and Catholyte Zero solutions, could be beneficial to the more than 140,000 stripper wells in the United States, including 140,000 wells in Texas alone, Chairman, President and CEO David LaVance told Rigzone in an interview. The original test of the dual treatment regime on five stripper wells in the Permian Basin in west Texas not only reduced hydrogen sulfide and bacteria and their deposits in the wells but boosted production by approximately 75 percent.

Rigzone in 2014 first reported on Excelyte, a chemical product originally designed to kill bacteria in hospitals, but found to be effective in treating hydraulic fracturing water. Excelyte is also used for well maintenance and treating residual water.

Catholyte is a product that the company has worked on for several years. Initially, the product was used as a degreaser in the carpet cleaning arena, LaVance said, and the company didn’t realize its potential for oil and gas. After seeing successful results in carpet cleaning, the company started looking at other industries that have greasy problems. After a series of experiments that started a year ago, the company found that the product breaks up oil and gas, making it more viscous and able to flow.

The company decided to investigate the potential of the dual treatment regime for stripper wells – which are wells that produce 10 barrels per day or less – after researching the problems these wells face, LaVance said. One problem is that, over time, stripper wells start to clog up with hydrocarbon deposits. Another issue that the biofilms from bacteria in these wells. The company also knew that Excelyte alone wouldn’t get rid of the paraffin and other hydrocarbon issues.

LaVance believes that the additional revenue that can be generated from stripper wells is of particular importance in the current low oil price environment. People outside of the oil and gas industry might assume that these wells would be shut in right now, but shutting in a well, and reopening a well for future production, is expensive. A well also would not likely be reopened except in the case of very high oil prices.

It may seem counterintuitive, but these companies may actually be able to make a profit, as their well expenses are fairly fixed at this point, LaVance noted.

Since Rigzone last spoke with the company, LaVance said they have really started focusing on the Uintah Basin, where they’ve had a nice pickup in customers and the product has gained a good reputation. By year-end 2014, the company had successfully treated a dozen oil wells. LaVance said that the company really started to see that one of the best attributes of the product was the dramatic reduction made in hydrogen sulfide, a deadly, corrosive gas. According to a company presentation, hydrogen sulfide costs operators more than $85 billion per year in terms of damage to pipelines and the creation of sour oil, which sells at a discount to sweet crude and must meet stringent pipeline specifications before oil can be accepted for transport. Hydrogen sulfide has also been linked to workplace fatalities. The extent of hydrogen sulfide well contamination is growing as bacteria in drilling and fracturing fluids exacerbate the propagation of hydrogen sulfide.

Last year, the company treated another 200 wells in the Uintah, the northwest Permian Basin and in Artesia, New Mexico, LaVance told Rigzone. The company also moved further into the southern Permian Basin with another production facility in Pecos, Texas. LaVance said the company plans to open another production facility in the Eagle Ford shale play at Pearsall, Texas.

LaVance said the company also sees potential for the dual treatment protocol in treating and cleaning midstream pipelines. A customer had approached the company about whether the dual treatment protocol could work on pipelines, but the money for testing that application dried up after oil prices dropped. The company decided to put those plans on hold and stick with its well maintenance activity.

The company currently is pursuing patent protection on its new dual treatment protocol.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com

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