Asphaltene Inhibitor

Definition - What does Asphaltene Inhibitor mean?

An asphaltene inhibitor is a chemical used in the oil and gas industry to remove asphaltenes from crude oil. Asphaltenes are the impurities found in crude oil that if not removed can choke refining equipment. Heavy crude oil contains solid ashpaltene deposits during the production stage.

Generally, asphaltenes are a class of insoluble compounds that develop at high temperatures greater than 530°C (986°F). Some other compounds that asphaltene inhibitors address include heavy oils, resins and high molecular weight waxes.

Corrosionpedia explains Asphaltene Inhibitor

Asphaltenes are the insoluble compounds that are always present in crude oil and must be removed before and during the processing phase in a refinery. In the petroleum industry, asphaltenes can cause significant damage to machinery as they tend to clog highly capitalized infrastructure such as well tubulars, crude oil pipelines and subsurface equipment such as pumps and compressors. This clogging can eventually halt the crude oil refining process.

There are two categories of crude oil:

  • Light crude oil
  • Heavy crude oil

Both types of crude oil contain asphaltenes. The asphaltene concentration is higher in heavy crude oil, but this concentration usually remains stable during heavy crude oil production and therefore does not lead to well clogging.

However, the chances of well clogging are very high for light crude oil production because it has varying amounts of asphaltene, which may become deposited in the production tubular.

During the crude processing, asphaltene is produced in the form of asphalt and is considered to be a waste material or byproduct.

An asphaltene inhibitor helps to remove the insoluble solid compounds from the crude oil and the petroleum production streams.

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