Development of customized demulsifiers

A new application report on interfacial rheological measurements on crude oil emulsions

The costs of an oil recovery process not only lower the margin but are often also a decisive factor in whether it is worthwhile over all to extract the remainder from a reservoir. Surface chemical analysis aids in developing and optimally deploying effective auxiliary agents for secondary and tertiary recovery methods to increase the efficiency of oil recovery, thus decreasing the costs. We present an example of this in our new application report. The report summarizes a dissertation based on interfacial rheological measurements. The subject matter deals with experiments involving emulsion breakers (demulsifiers), which are used for the removal of troublesome water content in crude oil.

After its recovery, crude oil is generally emulsified with water. This increases its viscosity and therefore the pumping capacity required to transport the oil. Moreover, the saline content of the water that is also carried along during the processes can cause corrosion damage to the refinery. Therefore demulsifiers are used for dewatering. The action of these substances is based on breaking down the metastable interface films between the water drops and the surrounding oil phase of the water-in-oil emulsion.

The study cited presents how this destabilizing effect can be quantified by measuring the reduction of the storage modulus, an interfacial rheological quantity. From a series of demulsifiers, the one able to reduce the storage modulus to the greatest extent was determined and tested in field trials. It was demonstrated that the superior product in the laboratory experiment also resulted in considerably less pump energy being required and more effective dewatering when used in the reservoirs compared with the previously used demulsifiers.

Download the full application report on this topic here: AR276.

Moreover, you can also find an overview of the optimization of tertiary oil recovery aided by interfacial chemical analyses in our application brochure on Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). The topics we examine include measurements of extremely low interfacial tensions with our new Spinning Drop Tensiometer – SDT. Analyses such as these are useful for microemulsion formation during chemical flooding.