Piezoelectric Axial Vibrator (PAV) - The study of rheological properties of heavy oils at reservoir conditions

M. Sultan1, M. Milhet1 and A. Graciaa1

1Laboratoire des Fluides Complexes et leurs Réservoirs (UMR TOTAL CNRS 5150), Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, Pau Cedex France

Keywords: rheology, HT-HP
property: complex viscosity, complex modulus, shear modulus
material: petroleum fluids, complex fluids

Heavy oil development is becoming increasingly important due to the continuous decline in conventional oil production [1]. Heavy oil properties strongly differ from conventional oil mainly by a high degree of alteration. This alteration, through biodegradation, water washing and oxidation has resulted in severe loss of the light end of the petroleum and subsequent relative enrichment of the heavy molecules such as resins and asphaltenes [2], leading to increased density and viscosity.  Identification of the rheological behavior of crude oils is needed for proper design of pipelines, storage and handling [3].  A number of discoveries of oil and gas fields under severe conditions of temperature (above 150°C) or pressure (in excess of 50 MPa) have been made in various regions of the world [4]. This brings with it important challenges for predicting the properties of reservoir fluids, both from an experimental and a theoretical standpoint.

In order to better understand the behavior of these heavy oils, the laboratory developed a new rheometer based on piezoelectric sensors which provides information on viscoelastic properties in a wide range of frequency. It measures rheological properties of heavy oils at atmospheric pressure and for the temperature range of 5 to 150°C. In the next step, this atmospheric pressure device is adapted to fit in a high pressure cell. This high pressure device will work in the same frequency and temperature ranges as the atmospheric pressure one, but allows the study of pressurized samples up to 50 MPa.  The major aim of this device will be to study the transport properties of live crude oils and the effect of the influence of CO2 injection on their behavior. 

  1. J. Wang, SPE, M. Dong, SPE and K. Asghari, SPE, U. of Regina. Effect of Oil Viscosity on Heavy-Oil/Water Relative Permeability Curves. SPE 99763.

  2. A. Hinkle and M. Batzle, The Leading Edge, Vol. 25 No.6 (June 2006), p.742-749.

  3. M. Hemeida and N.J. Musaed, Al-Awad. Journal of Engineering, vol. 9. No. 3 (1999) 51-60.

  4. P. Ungerer, C. Batut, G. Moracchini and J. Sanchez. Revue de l’institut Français du Pétrole vol. 53. N° 3, Mai-Juin 1998.

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