Experimental Study of Crude Oil Emulsion Stability by Surfactant and Nanoparticles


Surfactants and nanoparticles are materials being widely used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Surfactants are mainly used to reduce the interfacial tension between oil and water which could form a stable film of emulsion between these two immiscible fluids. Also, nanotechnology is a potential candidate to offer another solution to improve oil recovery. Nanoparticles can form a solid layer at the droplet's interface and stand as resistant stabilizer under harsh reservoir conditions. This research investigates whether the combination of surfactants and nanoparticles can form a stable emulsion than surfactants only. Two parts of experimental study have been done in this research. First part was implemented using three types of surfactant: nonionic surfactant with no charge group on its head, an anionic type carrying negative charge, and, cationic surfactant carries positive charge on the hydrophilic portion of the molecules in water. Second part was conducted using combinations of same surfactants mentioned above with nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and silicon dioxide (SiO2). These two parts of experimental work were done using different ratios of water to oil from 1-9. Results showed that nonionic surfactant through water continuous phase could reach stability with heavy oils up to 40°C reservoir temperature while cationic surfactant through oil continuous phase could form stability reaching more than 60°C reservoir temperature. Meanwhile, anionic type could break the emulsion within a few hours. More emulsion stability could be achieved by adding Al2O3 and SiO2 nanoparticles to nonionic. Adding Al2O3 and SiO2 nanoparticles to anionic and cationic could form emulsion stability based on different water to oil ratio.

Meeting Name

SPE EOR Conference at Oil and Gas West Asia (2018: Mar. 26-28, Muscat, Oman)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Second Department

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Alumina; Aluminum Oxide; Cationic Surfactants; Crude Oil; Dyes; Emulsification; Emulsions; Heavy Oil Production; Nonionic Surfactants; Oil Well Flooding; Phase Interfaces; Silica Nanoparticles; Silicon Oxides; Stability; Crude Oil Emulsion; Emulsion Stability; Enhanced Oil Recovery; Improve Oil Recovery; Reservoir Conditions; Reservoir Temperatures; SiO2 Nanoparticles; Water-to-Oil Ratios; Enhanced Recovery

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2018 Society of Petroleum Engineers, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2018