A surfactant, water, hydrocarbon diluent system designed to produce heavy crude by forming an oil-in-water emulsion has been successfully field-tested. The new process significantly lowers the production costs for viscous crude by reducing the hydrocarbon diluent usage.
The production of a viscous, low API gravity crude oil often requires the use of a low viscosity hydrocarbon diluent to significantly reduce the native viscosity of the produced fluids in the tubing and flow lines. This diluent is expensive and significantly increases the oil's lifting cost.
This paper presents results from a ten-well pilot which shows that the hydrocarbon diluent usage can be significantly reduced with a surfactant and water mixture. Use of the surfactant system can decrease the hydrocarbon diluent cost by = 75 percent. This system can be implemented with very little capital expenditures and/or additional operating problems.
The field test was performed in the Cat Canyon Field which is located in the State of California, approximately 75 miles (121 Km) northwest of the city of Ventura or about 15 miles (24 Km) southeast of the city of Santa Maria (Figure 1). Conoco operated seven leases in this field through the mid 1980's.
Kerosene Distillate (KD) Mode of Operations
The crude oil produced in this area is a viscous, asphaltic crude oil with a native API gravity that ranges between 60 (1.03 g/cm) and 11 (0.99g/cm) API at standard conditions.