The main component of petroleum wax is paraffin with a melting point of 30℃~35℃. It is mainly used as moisture-proof and waterproof packaging material for food and other commodities. It can also be used as a raw material for cosmetics. Petroleum wax is a solid hydrocarbon, and the main component is paraffin. It exists in crude oil, fractionated oil, and residual oil and has a wax-like molecular structure with a melting point of 30℃~35℃.
Crude oil contains wax and has been a headache for the petroleum industry since humans began extracting oil. Accumulation of wax in oil pipelines is a major problem. According to incomplete statistics in the late 1980s, the cost of removing wax from oil wells in the US alone was as high as 6 million dollars per year. Therefore, wax has been a long-term topic of discussion for petroleum technology workers.
Before oil fields are developed, crude oil is buried underground and exists mainly as a single-phase liquid under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions. Wax is completely dissolved in the crude oil. During the development of oil fields, when crude oil flows from the oil reservoir to the bottom of the well and is lifted to the surface along the wellbore, the wax separates from the crude oil due to a reduction in pressure and temperature, and forms crystal particles, which accumulate and adhere to the wall of the pipeline under certain conditions, known as wax deposition.
Scientists have investigated the world’s discovered oil fields and found an interesting phenomenon. High-wax crude oil is rarely produced in the world’s richest oil-producing areas, such as the Middle East, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, and Texas in the United States. However, specific regions of all continents on earth, including the third series of oil fields in China, have a high wax content in their crude oil.
It is now recognized that high-wax crude oil reflects the influence of a certain type of hydrocarbon-generating material, which is mainly produced in fresh water, low-salt water bodies, and coastal sedimentary environments. For example, most oil fields in eastern China are formed in this type of sedimentary environment, so most of them have a high wax content. High-wax crude oil is almost not produced in normal marine sedimentary rocks in vast oceans. This has also been verified in low-level oil reservoirs in the Paleozoic era in northwest China.
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