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Heavy Oil and Important Aspects for FSM (B-FSM-187)

What is Heavy Oil?

  • From SPE PetroWiki heavy oil is defined as that with >200 cP viscosity at reservoir conditions.
  • It can also be classified as oil <22 API gravity (>920 kg/m³ density).
  • Bitumen, tar sand, and oil sand often fall into this category as well.

While heavy oil has high density – as indicated by the name – the key aspect of concern is viscosity.

Physical Properties

  • Density – heavy oil has density near water
    • 920-1000 kg/m³, oil-water separation more difficult
    • small effect with oil-sand separation (sand at 2650 kg/m³)
  • Surface Tension – IFT ∝ API gravity
  • Viscosity – governs productivity
    • Range: 100-1,000 cP for heavy oil

Chemical Properties

  • High molecular weight (MW) compounds
    • >C15Hn
    • Sulfur up to 10%
    • Heavy metals: Ni and V
  • Viscosity is a function of asphaltene + resin weight %


Important Aspects for Facilities Sand Management


  1. Rawlins, C.H. 2019. “Enhanced Production Through Surface Facilities Sand Management.” SPE Distinguished Lecturer presentation. Link here

Next week I will discuss other viscous fluids encountered during

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