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Asphaltenes: What Do We Know So Far

[+] Author Affiliations
Abdulaziz S. Al-Qasim, Mohammed Alasker

Saudi Aramco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Paper No. OMAE2017-62366, pp. V008T11A019; 12 pages
  • ASME 2017 36th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
  • Volume 8: Polar and Arctic Sciences and Technology; Petroleum Technology
  • Trondheim, Norway, June 25–30, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5776-2
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Serious operational problems caused by asphaltene deposition during oil production have driven the ongoing effort to understand this phenomenon. Many studies have focused on related asphaltene precipitation flocculation and deposition in oil reservoirs and flow assurance in the wellbores. Experimental techniques and theoretical models have been developed trying to understand and predict asphaltene behavior. Nevertheless, some ambiguities still remain with regard to the characterization of asphaltene in crude oil and its stability during the primary, secondary, and tertiary recovery stages within the near-wellbore regions.

The paper will review asphaltene in crude oil systems: asphaltene properties and their impact on oil production, including the effects of pressure, temperature, and composition. Asphaltene content is an important factor in determining the properties of a crude oil. Three main methods are used to measure the asphaltene content in laboratory: the first method called SARA, which separates dead oil into saturates, aromatics, resins, and asphaltenes depending on their solubility and polarity. The second is aliphatic hydrocarbon titration using dead oil; in this method the asphaltene precipitation point is detected by the asphaltene precipitation detection unit (APDU). The third method is the depressurization of a live oil bottomhole sample, this method depends on monitoring the flocculation point due to light transmittance caused by the infrared laser [3].

Solubility and density parameters trends are proportional to the pressure depletion until the pressure reaches the bubble point. Below the bubble point pressure (Pb), the solubility and density are inversely proportional to the pressure. The solubility increases linearly with temperature until the reservoir temperature, after that, it decreases linearly as the temperature increases. These advanced measurements facilitate an understanding of petroleum heavy constituents. Anew research field called “Petroleomics” has started receiving more attention; it is based on integrating the different knowledge of chemical composition of petroleum to develop correlation studies and improve the prediction of asphaltene phase behavior.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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