Physical Characteristics of Natural Films Formed at Crude Oil-Water Interfaces
- O.K. Kimbler (Louisiana State U. Baton Rouge, La) | R.L. Reed (Drexel Institute Of Technology, Philadelphia, Pa) | I.H. Silberberg (TPRC, The U. Of Texas, Austin, Tex.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- June 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 153 - 165
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 4.3.3 Aspaltenes, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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Interfacial films have frequently been observed at interfaces between certain crude oils and water. Several investigators have postulated that the presence of these films should influence the efficiency of oil recovery in water drive or waterflood operations. They may also influence the stability of emulsions which are sometimes a problem in petroleum production, and may be a factor in the formation of paraffin deposits in oil well tubing and flow lines.
This paper presents a technique with which a modified Langmuir film balance may be used to study the compressibility and collapse pressure of these natural interfacial films. Experimental data are presented for several crude oil-water systems. Data developed are used to infer the phase state of the film as a function of such variables as rate of reduction of interfacial area, ionic composition of the subtrate and pH of the subtrate. A film of known physical characteristics is shown to have a significant effect on oil recovery from an unconsolidated sand pack. Possible applications of these results to petroleum production are discussed.
The use of water to displace petroleum from reservoir rocks is of major importance both as a primary and a secondary recovery process. As water invades the rock, oil is completely displaced from some pores and left as a discontinuous phase in other pores. The manner in which water moves from pore to pore is strongly influenced by capillary forces.
In view of the complexity of reservoir fluid systems, there can be little doubt that complicated interactions take place at both the liquid-solid and oil-water interfaces. One of the more interesting, and least understood, of the phenomena which take place at the oil-water interface is the formation of interfacial films. These films are believed to result from the adsorption of high molecular weight polar molecules at the interface. 1,2 Presence of such molecules may cause a striking alteration in interfacial tension. When the oil-water interfacial area of certain crudes is rapidly reduced, a thin region (film) about the interface assumes the appearance of a solid membrane, and striations, wrinkles and gross distortions may occur. If such a film is solid, it should greatly alter the interfacial tension normally assumed to exist between the oil and water phases. If the membrane is continuous, a solid phase would separate the oil and water.
Interfacial films between crude oil and water were observed in 1949 by Bartell and Niederhauser3 who commented upon the apparent rigidity of the films and their possible importance in the petroleum industry. Morrell and Egloff4 had earlier attributed the extreme stability of emulsions of sea water in fuel oil to very stable asphaltic films. Numerous investigators have observed rigid films in the course of crude oil-water interfacial tension determinations by the pendent drop method.
Several investigators5,6,2 have separated interfacially active materials from crudes and attempted to characterize them chemically. Reisberg and Doscher,2 using Ventura crude, showed the interfacial tension against water (as measured by the pendent drop method) to be affected by aging, contraction and expansion of the interface, and the pH of the water. These investigators attributed the adhesion of oil to a water-wetted surface and the distortions of flow paths in glass capillaries to the presence of rigid films. Dodd7 has studied the interfacial viscosity of adsorbed films and found them to be non-Newtonian in behavior. Craighead and Harvey8 reported a series of displacements in tubes packed with 60 mesh glass beads. They interpreted the results as indicating an effect of stearic acid films on waterflood recovery and imply that natural films may produce similar results.
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