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Two mechanisms are responsible for the swelling and migration of clays, surface hydration and osmotic swelling. Surface Hydration show little visible signs of swelling, however the pressure greater than 60,000 psi is required to desorb surface hydration moisture.
Swelling and softening of clays due to Osmotic differences is a bigger problem. This occurs when concentration of Ions (like Na+, Ca++, Cl-, etc) in the clay at the well bore walls is higher than that of the drilling fluid. Due to this difference in ion concentrations (aka osmotic pressure), water moves toward the clay surface causing swelling. The amount of swelling depends up on the concentration of salts in the clay relative to the salts in the fluid.
Hence the objective is to keep a sufficiently high ion concentration in the fluid to prevent swelling.
In 1973 O’Brien and Chenevert, researchers from Exxon, demonstrated the effectiveness of using Potassium Chloride as a Clay Stabilizer. Using KCl for this purpose is the norm in the drilling industry, and KCl is used as the standard of measurement for all new generation Clay Stabilizers.
Clay Stabilizers work on the principle of Cation Ion Exchange, similar to water softeners resins. Water softeners can be regenerated using Salt, KCl, and many other cations. Similarly, Clay’s can be stabilized using a variety of cations.
Capillary Suction Time (CST), Methylene Blue Capacity (MBC), Ensilin or Fluid Adsorption, Specific Surface Area, Gulf Swell-meter, X-Ray Diffraction and Atterburg Limit tests can be used to test effectiveness of Clay Stabilizers.
CST is a relatively simple test that can be performed on site, which is probably why it has gained popularity in the industry. However, CST results can be manipulated using different shear rates and times for sample preparation. Shear rates of Frac Fluids differ substantially as compared to the standard CST which is simulating a drilling operation. Also, data obtained from CST tests is not very reproducible and should be used qualitatively. CST in combination with MBC is a better approach, but in the fast paced business environment, increased testing is difficult.
Using sacks of KCl is a difficult approach, especially with the increased fluid volumes used in fracturing. Handling, mixing and disposal costs related to sacks of KCl are prohibitive. Herein, we will discuss a few potential Clay Stabilizers, compare their performance and economics.
Several options are available as KCl replacements or Clay Stabilizers:
1. TMAC 50% (Tetramethylammonium Chloride 50%): This cheap and easy to apply quat gives a lower performance than that of 2% KCl. However, TMAC is toxic. Hence its use is dwindling
2. Choline Chloride 75%: Also know as (2-hydroxyethyl) trimethylammonium chloride is very similar in structure to TMAC. It costs slightly more than TMAC, and its performance better than that TMAC but lower than that of 2% KCl. Its used in feed additives and vitamin pills, is safe & biodegradable. This is becoming the product of choice in the industry due to its safety features.
3. Choline Chloride 50%: Used in preference to Choline Chloride 75% due to easier handling. On a per unit of Choline the 50% is marginally more expensive; but the added expense is more than recovered in the better handling and dosing performance.
4. Clay Ste Adv™ is a blend of Choline Chloride, Cations and Conditioners. It is cheaper than all of the above, and performs similar to neat Choline Chloride 75% due to presence of various additional ions. The Tetramethylammonium and (2-hydroxyethyl) trimethylammonium are relatively large ions. Also, both these are monovalent. Clay Ste Adv™ contains other smaller sized monovalent, divalent and trivalent ions which help in a faster ion exchange and the conditioners help in preparing the surface of the clay for a better interaction with the cations present.
Comparison of CST Times for various Clay Stabilizers*
|Product||CST Filtration Time in secs|
|Clay Ste ADV™ - 2 gpt||220|
|50% Choline Chloride - 2 gpt||307|
|50% Choline Chloride - 2.8 gpt||219|
|75% Choline Chloride - 2 gpt||220|
|TMAC - 2 gpt||297|
Test Method: Solutions of the Clay Stabilizers were prepared in 100 ml DI Water and 10 grams of API Bentonite was added to it. These were mixed in a Waring Blender @ 7 speed for 5 minutes. Using a CST instrument, the time required for each solution to travel a fixed distance along a Whatman No. 17 chromatography filter paper was determined.
Clay Stabilizer STE Adv is extensively used in oil well drilling, fracturing or fracking.
Clay Ste Adv™ is a liquid product designed specifically for use as a replacement for solid potassium chloride (KCl). Clay Ste Adv™ is biodegradable.
Compatibility with brine, calcium chloride, KCl solutions as well as all known fracturing fluids, cross-linkers and breakers.
Please Click on the picture to Enlarge
Clay Ste™ P - Permanent Clay Stabilizer
Clay Ste P is a highly effective permanent clay stabilizer for use in fracturing and other well interventions. Clay Ste P works by a permanent ion exchange mechanism with various clays and shales.
Clay Ste P can be mixed on the fly and is compatible with all know kill, acidizing and fracturing additives. It prevents Clay Swelling and Fines Migration by permanently exchanging cations in Clay and Shales to reduce their susceptibility to absorb and react with water.TYPICAL PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
|Appearance||Clear, Amber-Straw Yellow Liquid|
|Specific Gravity||1.05 (8.75 lbs/ga)|
|Freeze Point||Less than 32 F|
DoT STATUS: Not Regulated
DOSAGE: 1 to 4 GPT in Frac Fluids. Refer mixing chart below for other fluids
AVAILABILITY: Global from Houston, TX-USA, Midland, TX-USA, Dubai, UAE, & Bombay, India2% KCl
|Gallons of Clay Ste P||Barrels of Water|
|1 ga||25 bbl|
|4 ga||100 bbl|
|14 ga||400 bbl|
|20 ga||500 bbl|
|Gallons of Clay Ste P||Barrels of Water|
|2 ga||25 bbl|
|8 ga||100 bbl|
|28 ga||400 bbl|
|40 ga||500 bbl|
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