Carbon dioxide (CO2) injection is one of the most applied enhanced oil recovery methods in the hydrocarbon industry, since it has the potential to increase oil recovery significantly and can help reduce greenhouse gases through carbon storage in hydrocarbon reservoirs. Carbon dioxide injection has a severe drawback, however, since it induces asphaltene precipitation by disrupting the asphaltene stability in crude oil that bears even the slightest asphaltene concentration. This can result in severe operational problems, such as reservoir pore plugging and wellbore plugging. This research investigates some of the main factors that impact asphaltene stability in crude oil during CO2 injection. Initially, asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition were tested using visual tests without CO2 in order to evaluate the effect of oil viscosity and temperature on asphaltene stability and content in the crude oil. The results obtained from the visualization experiments were correlated to the Yen-Mullins asphaltene model and were used to select the proper chemical to alter the oil's viscosity without strongly affecting asphaltene stability. After performing the visual asphaltene tests, a specially designed filtration vessel was used to perform the oil filtration experiments using filter membranes with a micron and nanometer pore size. The effect of varying CO2 injection pressure, oil viscosity, filter membrane pore size, and filter membrane thickness on asphaltene stability in crude oil was investigated. The results were then correlated with the Yen-Mullins asphaltene model to characterize the asphaltene size within the oil as well. Results showed that as the oil viscosity increased, the asphaltene concentration in the oil also increased. Also, the asphaltene concentration and filter cake thickness increased with the decrease in filter membrane pore size, since the asphaltene particles either plugged up the smaller pores, or the asphaltene nanoaggregates were larger than the pore sizes, and thus the majority of them could not pass. This research studies asphaltene instability in crude oil during CO2 injection in different pore sizes, and correlates the results to the principle of the Yen—Mullins model for asphaltenes. The results from this research can help emphasize the factors that will impact asphaltene stability during CO2 injection in different pore sizes in order to help reduce asphaltene-related problems that arise during CO2 injection in hydrocarbon reservoirs.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for Research in Energy and Environment (CREE)

Keywords and Phrases

Asphaltene stability; Carbon dioxide injection; Unconventional shale oil reservoir

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2190-0558; 2190-0566

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2019 The Authors, All rights reserved.

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2020