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Crude Oil Emulsions: Occurrence and Chemical Destabilization

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Course Credit: 0.1 CEU, 1 PDH

Water-in-crude oil emulsions are practically unavoidable during crude oil production and transportation. Mechanical energy imposed by pumps, elbows and pipe reductions facilitates dispersions of water (brine) in liquid hydrocarbons. The presence of natural emulsifiers (e.g., asphaltenes, acids, inorganic solids, waxes) significantly increases the stability of the formed emulsions and thus the associated problems, such as high viscosity, corrosion of pipes/equipment, and quality reduction of the produced crude oil.

Separation of crude oil emulsions (known as dehydration) involves mechanical and chemical methods, whose main goal is to destabilize the interfacial film that prevents/delays the coalescence of water droplets. Many families of surfactants have been used as crude oil demulsifiers over the last century, with trial-and-error criteria as the basis of their selection. The application of the physicochemical formulation of Surfactant-Oil-Water (SOW) systems represents a systematic way to quantify the main variables involves in the breaking of water-in-crude oil emulsions and allows to reduce the uncertainty in selecting the proper demulsifier. The ideal situation for crude oil demulsification is attained when the demulsifier affinity for both oil and water is balanced. In this condition, known as optimum formulation, emulsion stability reaches a minimum and water can be separated in a relatively short period of time. This webinar provides a general overview of the main crude oil dehydration processes, with emphasis in the use of the optimum formulation concept as a tool to optimize the demulsifier selection.

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Course Chapters

  • 1Crude Oil Emulsions: Occurrence and Chemical Destabilization - Chapter 1
    Media Type: Video


Earn credits by completing this course0.1 CEU credit1 PDH credit


Dr. Jose Delgado
Nikhil Joshi