Emulsification of heavy Omani crude oil
The process by which a liquid is dispersed in a second liquid that is immiscible is referred to as emulsification. The emulsion of crude oil is usually formed by dispersing it in water and using emulsifying agents to stabilize the composition. Detergents, soaps and other organic substances possessing a basic paraffin chain that terminates in polar groups are usually used as emulsifiers. The production of crude oil is a complex process. Heavy crude oil is infrequently produced unaccompanied. Usually water is commingled with crude oil for easy transportation. Water produced from this procedure is treated and disposed properly after being separated from crude oil.
Crude oils have a varied tendency of emulsifying. While some may not emulsify at all, others form stable emulsions that do not separate easily and others form emulsions that are loose that separate easily.
Oman is the leading producer of natural gas and oil in the Middle East. Her annual average production of oil had reached a high peak in 2000 and stabilized there up to date. This is all thanks to the use of enhanced recovery techniques. These new techniques of emulsification are ideal for extraction of the heavy crude oil produced by Oman. Emulsification is Oman oil fields is mainly done by injecting water, organic gases or water into the system. These decrease the viscosity of crude oil so that it flows with ease. Chemical substances used include caustic soda solutions, molecules that attract crude oil and special organic polymers. Natural gas, nitrogen, liquid petroleum gas and carbon dioxide are the injected gases used.
Emulsification techniques of the heavy crude oil of Oman include steam injection, polymer injection and miscible gas injection. Steam injection emulsification uses thermal properties of steam to reduce oil viscosity. Steam is injected in different ways and at different durations. Viscosity of the heavy crude oil is reduced, and it is freely dispersed in water. This emulsification procedure is mainly used to facilitate the flow of heavy oil into oil wells.
Polymer injection emulsification is mainly used for crude oil reservoirs that are made up of very heavy deposits. These high grade deposits restrict the flow of oil. Such type of oil does not emulsify in water and as such water simply floats on it instead of carrying the oil along. Polymer fluid is injected into the reservoirs. The polymer particles attract oil particles and surface tension is reduced, and viscosity is reduced. In miscible gas injection, toxic gases are pumped into the reservoirs. The gases dissolve in the oil reducing attraction between particles, and viscosity is reduced.