Experimental investigation of the effects of various parameters on viscosity reduction of heavy crude by oil–water emulsion

Talal Al-Wahaibi*, Yahya Al-Wahaibi, Abdul Aziz R. Al-Hashmi, Farouq S. Mjalli, Safiya Al-Hatmi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of water content, shear rate, temperature, and solid particle concentration on viscosity reduction (VR) caused by forming stable emulsions were investigated using Omani heavy crude oil. The viscosity of the crude oil was initially measured with respect to shear rates at different temperatures from 20 to 70 °C. The crude oil exhibited a shear thinning behavior at all the temperatures. The strongest shear thinning was observed at 20 °C. A non-ionic water soluble surfactant (Triton X-100) was used to form and stabilize crude oil emulsions. The emulsification process has significantly reduced the crude oil viscosity. The degree of VR was found to increase with an increase in water content and reach its maximum value at 50 % water content. The phase inversion from oil-in-water emulsion to water-in-oil emulsion occurred at 30 % water content. The results indicated that the VR was inversely proportional to temperature and concentration of silica nanoparticles. For water-in-oil emulsions, VR increased with shear rate and eventually reached a plateau at a shear rate of around 350 s−1. This was attributed to the thinning behavior of the continuous phase. The VR of oil-in-water emulsions remained almost constant as the shear rate increased due to the Newtonian behavior of water, the continuous phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalPetroleum Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Heavy crude oil
  • Non-newtonian fluid
  • Oil-in-water emulsions
  • Phase inversion
  • Viscosity reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geophysics
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental investigation of the effects of various parameters on viscosity reduction of heavy crude by oil–water emulsion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this