This paper sets out to demonstrate, at lab scale, the feasibility of the two main phases of the process, namely the emulsification of a heavy Venezuelan acidic crude oil (ZUATA), and the subsequent breaking of the oil-in-water emulsion.

The heavy ZUATA crude can be emulsified directly by making use of the surfactants naturally present in this rich acid oil. These potential surfactants, mainly represented by naphthenic acids, become effective emulsifiers when salified into naphthenate anions by the addition of bases (soda, ammonia).

Stable oil-in-water emulsions, typically with 60 to 65% oil, are obtained by using these two bases. There are a number of advantages to be gained in using ammonia to form the oil-in- water emulsions as opposed to other bases (soda for example) for emulsion breaking and phase separation.

The paper demonstrates that it suffices to heat the emulsion to break it. It describes the conditions required for ammonia removal and recovery, and the resulting emulsion breaking.

An industrial process for achieving the separation is then proposed.

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