A Simple Expression to Predict Heavy Oil Viscosities at Elevated Temperatures and Pressures


A Simple Expression to Predict Heavy Oil Viscosities at Elevated Temperatures and Pressures

CETI 14-046

Authors: P. Fletcher, E3T Consulting; G. Bolton, Pi-Cubed Process Systems Ltd.

Volume 2, Number 2

The Newtonian viscosity of a liquid hydrocarbon can be reduced by 10% with a 1°C increase in temperature and can halve if the temperature is increased by 6°C. This level of sensitivity creates uncertainty in technological projections, such as heat transfer calculations, pressure drops in transport pipelines, and EOR design, etc. To facilitate improved viscosity estimates for the aforementioned applications, a semi-empirical equation has been developed to predict the Newtonian viscosity of a crude oil at elevated temperatures, pressures and increased water contents. The prediction methodology requires the provision of a value for the dead oil viscosity under reference conditions, along with a number of parameters that facilitate the appropriate corrections.

The expression has been tested with a number of heavy oils and diluted blends in the temperature range 5°C to 275°C, the pressure range 14.7 psi to 5,000 psi and the viscosity range 1 mPa·s to 80 million mPa·s. Typical errors in viscosity prediction fall between ±5% and ±11%, with maximum errors rarely exceeding 15%.

A generalized high temperature, high pressure expression has been optimized with oils found in Canada in mind, including bitumen. However, it may be applied to oils from other geographic locations, in any API range, subject to appropriate evaluation of the necessary parameters. 

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© 2012 Canadian Energy Technology & Innovation (CETI) Group
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For further information, please contact:
Nancy Hawthorne
Canadian Energy Technology & Innovation (CETI) Group

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