The so-called "asphaltene problem" manifests itself in almost all the facets of production, processing, and transportation of petroleum. Due to the multiplicity of the engineering disciplines involved in the above processes an interdisciplinary approach is best suited for seeking fundamental understanding of and solutions to the problem.

This paper gives a detailed description of how the asphaltene problem manifests itself in the field. It discusses in-situ formation damage deep in the reservoir matrix and near the wellbore, subsurface and surface production facilities problems, and refining, blending, and transportation problems due to asphaltene flocculation and deposition. The molecular and colloidal asphaltene models are described and recommendations are made as to the preferred physical model. Existing, published analytical asphaltene models based on either molecular or colloidal nature of asphaltenes are presented and analyzed. A preferred modeling approach based on the colloidal physical model is recommended. The colloidal model permits and supports calculations based on both reversible equilibrium thermodynamics and irreversible colloidal flocculation as well.

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