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Original Title: Cold, Hot, Or Dilute - Modeling the Viscosity of Heavy Oil for in Situ Processes; H.W. Yarranton, 2013, Modified Walther Correlation

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Processes

H.W. Yarranton*, H. Motahhari, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary,

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

hyarrant@ucalgary.ca

M.A Satyro, Virtual Materials Group, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

S.D. Taylor, Schlumberger DBR Technology Center, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

J.J. van Dorp, Shell Chemical Americas, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Summary

Two methods (the Expanded Fluid model and the Modified Walther correlation) used for fitting and

predicting the viscosity of heavy oil and solvents were assessed on a dataset including the viscosity

and density of mixtures of bitumen and ethane, propane, butane, pentane, heptane, and carbon

dioxide. Both correlations were adapted to determine crude oil viscosity based on C30+ GC assays.

The methods provided order-of-magnitude viscosity estimates with no tuning and fit crude oil viscosity

data to within 30% after tuning to a single dead oil experimental data point. The correlations also

predicted the diluted bitumen viscosities to within 30% at temperatures from 20 to 180°C and pressures

up to 10 MPa.

Introduction

In situ processes for heavy oil recovery include cold production, thermal methods, solvent-based

processes, and solvent assisted steam processes. These processes encompass a broad range of

temperatures, pressures, and compositions in the reservoir and at the surface. Since viscosity

reduction is arguably the most important goal in any heavy oil process, it is critical to develop a

viscosity model that is suitable for this broad range of conditions.

The viscosity models which extend to the full phase diagram including liquid and vapour regions are

corresponding states methods (Pedersen and Fredenslund, 1987), Friction Theory (Quiñones-

Cisneros, 2001), and the Expanded Fluid (EF) model (Yarranton and Satyro, 2009). The Expanded

Fluid correlation was developed specifically to include heavy oil viscosities. This presentation

demonstrates how to use this correlation for a variety of heavy oil process conditions. The simpler

modified Walther correlation (Yarranton et al., 2012), which only applies in the liquid state, is also

examined.

Method

EF Model

This model (Yarranton and Satyro, 2009) relates viscosity to the density of the fluid as follows:

o 0.165 exp c2 1 (1)

1

(2)

* 0.65

exp s 1 1

where is the viscosity of the fluid (mPa.s), µo is the dilute gas viscosity, ρ is the fluid density, ρs* is the

density of the fluid in the compressed state and c2 is a fitting parameter specific for each fluid. The

compressed state of the fluid is, by definition, a hypothetical state of the fluid beyond which the fluid

cannot be compressed without incurring a solid-liquid phase transition. It is assumed that the viscosity

of the fluid approaches infinity as the fluid density approaches the compressed state density. The

compressed state density is a function of pressure as follows:

so

s* (3)

exp(c3 P)

where ρso is the compressed state density in vacuum, c3 is a fitting constant in kPa-1, and P is pressure

in kPa.

The model has three temperature independent parameters for each fluid: c2, c3 and ρso. The inputs to

the model are the measured fluid density, pressure, and the dilute gas viscosity. Note, the effect of

temperature on viscosity is introduced through the density and the dilute gas viscosity both of which are

temperature dependent. The model is only valid for Newtonian fluids.

The EF model treats a mixture as a single-fluid. The fluid-specific parameters of the mixture are

calculated with following mixing rules (Motahhari et al., 2012):

1

nc nc wi w j 1

1 ij

1

so,mix i 1 j 1 o o (4)

2 s ,i s , j

wi w j c2,i c2, j

1 ij

c2,mix

i 1 j 1

nc nc

(5)

o

s , mix 2 so,i so, j

1

nc w

c3,mix i 1 i (6)

c3,i

where nc is the number of components in the mixture, wi is the mass fraction of the component “i” in the

mixture, and βij is a binary interaction parameter with default value of zero. The binary interaction

parameter can be used to tune the model when experimental viscosity data for the mixture are

available. The following correlation was found to provide satisfactory results for diluted bitumen:

for ΔSGnorm <= 0.355: βsol-oil = 0 (7a)

where

(8)

where SG is specific gravity. Note, the SG of bitumen is near unity while the effective SG of liquid

solvents can be as low as 0.4; for example, for dissolved propane.

The original Walther (1931) correlation relates the kinematic viscosity of a liquid to temperature.

Mehrotra and Svrcek (1989) modified the correlation to relate the dynamic viscosity of heavy oil to

temperature. Yarranton et al. (2012) modified the correlation to account for both pressure and

temperature as follows:

(9)

(10)

where i° refers to the viscosity of a component (mPa.s) or a fluid mixture at a atmospheric pressure, T

is the temperature in K, and P is the deviation from atmospheric pressure in kPa. A, B, and are fluid

specific constants that were correlated to molecular weight for crude oil pseudo-components.

The correlation treats a mixture as a single-fluid and the parameters for the mixture are calculated as

follows:

(11)

(12)

(13)

Note that no interaction parameters were required for components with molecular weights above 44

g/mol (propane). The molecular weight of heavy oils and bitumens is in the order of 500 g/mol.

Examples

The different approaches were tested on a dataset including the viscosity and density of mixtures of

bitumen and ethane, propane, butane, pentane, heptane, and carbon dioxide as well as dead and live

oil viscosities of a range of conventional crude oils. Some examples are provided below.

Figure 1 shows how the EF model fits viscosity data for a bitumen over a range of temperature and

pressures. Figure 2(a) shows the EF model predictions for mixtures of propane diluted bitumen. Similar

results were obtained for other n-alkanes as well as CO2 over a broad range of conditions

(temperatures from 20 to 180°C, pressures up to 10 MPa, and solvent contents up to the onset of

asphaltene precipitation). In general, the model predicted the viscosities of mixtures with average

absolute relative deviations (AARD) less than 20%. Note that the viscosity predictions are sensitive to

the accuracy of the input densities.

1000000 1000000

data, 100 kPa

293 K

100000 EF model 100000

308 K

Viscosity (mPa.s)

Viscosity (mPa.s)

10000 10000

323 K

373 K

100 100 398 K

423 K

448 K

10 10

data

EF model

1 1

250 300 350 400 450 0 2500 5000 7500 10000 12500

Temperature (K) Pressure (kPa)

Figure 1: EF model fitted to viscosity of dead bitumen versus temperature (left) and pressure (right).

WC-B-B3+7.6wt% C3 WC-B-B3+7.6wt% C3

1,000 WC-B-B2+11wt% C3 1000

WC-B-B2+11wt% C3

WC-B-B2+15wt% C3 WC-B-B2+15wt% C3

WC-B-B3+16wt% C3

Viscosity (mPa.s)

Viscosity (mPa.s)

WC-B-B3+16wt% C3

EF Model

Modified Walther

100 100

10 10

(a) (b)

1 1

250 300 350 400 450 250 300 350 400 450

Temperature (K) Temperature (K)

Figure 2: Comparison of predicted and measured viscosity of propane diluted bitumen at 10 MPa: a) EF

model, the binary interaction parameter was calculated from Eq. 7; b) Modified Walther correlation.

Figure 3 shows the Modified Walther correlation fitted to viscosity data for a condensate, a heavy oil,

and some bitumens. Figure 2(b) shows viscosity of propane diluted bitumen predicted with the

correlation. The results with the Modified Walther correlation are comparable to those with the EF

model. In general, the Modified Walther predicted the viscosity of the same set of mixtures with average

absolute relative deviations (AARD) less than 30%. The Modified Walther correlation does not require a

density input but is only valid for liquids.

Both the EF model and the Modified Walther correlation were adapted to work with the pseudo-

component characterizations of crude oils used in equation of state models (Motahhari et al., 2013,

Yarranton et al., 2012). The oil characterizations were based on extrapolations of C30+ gas

chromatographic assays. The viscosities of a wide range of crude oils (including bitumen) were

predicted within a factor of 3 (Modified Walther) and 5 (EF) with no tuning. Single parameter tuning to a

dead oil viscosity data point allowed the viscosity data over a broad range of temperatures and

pressures to be fitted to within 30% (Modified Walther) and 20% (EF).

Figure 3: Modified Walther correlation fitted to viscosities of a condensate, a heavy oil, and three bitumen

samples.

Conclusions

The Expanded Fluid model fits pure component viscosity data and predicts mixture viscosities to within

30% over a wide range of conditions. The EF model is well suited for simulation applications where it is

required to calculate viscosities for gases, liquids, and fluids. However, an accurate density input is

required for good results. The Modified Walther correlation does not require a density input, provides

similar results, but is only applicable to liquids. Both correlations were adapted to determine crude oil

viscosity based on C30+ GC assays. The correlations provided order-of-magnitude viscosity estimates

with no tuning and could fit viscosity data to within 30% after tuning to a single dead oil data point.

Acknowledgements

We thank the sponsors of the NSERC Industrial Reseach Chair in Heavy Oil Properties and

Processing: NSERC, Petrobras, Schlumberger, and Shell.

References

Motahhari, H., Satyro, M.A., Yarranton, H.W., 2012, Viscosity Prediction for Natural Gas Processing Applications: Fluid Phase

Equilibria, 322-323, 56-65.

Motahhari, H., Satyro, M.A., Taylor, S.D., Yarranton, H.W., 2013, Extension of the Expanded Fluid Viscosity Model to

Characterized Oils: Energy Fuels, Just Accepted, January 10, 2013, DOI: 10.1021/ef301575n.

NIST Standard Reference Database; NIST/TRC Source Database; WinSource, Version 2008

Pedersen, K. S.; Fredenslund, Aa., 1987, An Improved Corresponding States Model for the Prediction of Oil and Gas

Viscosities and Thermal Conductivities: Chem. Eng. Sci. 42, 182-186.

Quiñones-Cisneros, S. E.; Zéberg -Mikkelsen, C. K.; Stenby, E. H., 2001, The Friction Theory for Viscosity Modeling:

Extension to Crude Oil Systems: Chem. Eng. Sci. 56, 7007-7015.

Walther, C. 1931. The Evaluation of Viscosity Data: Erdol Teer 7, 382-384.

Yarranton, H. W. and Satyro, M. A., 2009, Expanded Fluid-Based Viscosity Correlation for Hydrocarbons: Ind. Eng. Chem.

Res. 48, 3640–3648.

Yarranton, H.W., van Dorp, J.J., Verlaan, M.L., Lastovka, V., 2012, Wanted Dead or Live: Crude Cocktail Viscosity: A Pseudo-

Component Method to Predict the Viscosity of Dead Oils, Live Oils, and Mixtures: SPE Paper 160314, SPE Annual Technical

Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, 8-10 October.

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