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SPE-172833-MS

Black Oil Property Correlations - State of the Art


Muhammad Ali Al-Marhoun, Reservoir Technologies, Saudi Arabia

Copyright 2015, Society of Petroleum Engineers


This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference held in Manama, Bahrain, 8 11 March 2015.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
of the paper have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect
any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written
consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may
not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract
This paper presents correlations to determine black oil properties from normally available or easily
obtainable field data. The best available correlations were selected on the basis of statistical error analysis
with a database of hundreds of reservoir-fluid studies of black oil samples representing all areas of the
world producing black oils.

Introduction
Reservoir fluid properties data are very important in reservoir engineering computations such as material
balance calculations, well testing, reserve estimates, design of fluid handling equipment and numerical
reservoir simulations. Ideally, those data should be obtained experimentally. On some occasions, these
data are not available or reliable; then, empirically derived correlations are used to predict PVT properties
from normally available or easily obtainable field data.
Hundreds of reservoir-fluid studies of black oil samples representing all areas of the world producing
black oils were gathered from different published and unpublished sources. All black oil property
correlations available in the petroleum literature were compared with this world wide database. This paper
gives the best correlations to estimate black oil properties based on statistical accuracy and physical
behavior.

Identification of Black Oil Reservoirs


Black oil reservoirs consist of large, heavy, nonvolatile hydrocarbon molecules and the fluid is a liquid
at reservoir conditions. They are roughly identified as having

Initial solution gas oil ratio of less than 2,000 scf/STB


Very dark green or brown to black in color
Stock-tank oil gravities below 45 API
C7 composition greater than 20 mole percent
Oil formation volume factor of less than 2.00 bbl/STB

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Black Oil Properties


The black oil physical properties discussed next are bubblepoint pressure, solution gas-oil ratio, oil
formation volume factor (FVF), oil relative density, oil compressibility, and oil viscosity. The adjustment
of differential liberation data to separator conditions is also presented.

Bubblepoint Pressure, pb
Bubblepoint Pressure is the pressure at which first gas bubble comes out of solution. Sometimes used
synonymously with saturation pressure. The oil bubblepoint pressure at reservoir conditions can be
estimated to an accuracy of 10% with1
(1)
where
a1 5.38088 x 103
a2 0.715082
a3 -1.87784
a4 3.1437
a5 1.32657

Solution Gas Oil Ratio, Rs


Solution gas oil ratio is the ratio of the volume of the liberated gas from solution to the volume of the
remaining stock tank oil both volume corrected to 14.7 psi and 60F. It is usually expressed as scf/STB.
Typical relationship of solution gas oil ratio for pressures above and below bubblepoint is shown in Fig.
1.

Figure 1Typical Solution Gas Oil Ratio Curve.

For undersaturated black oil reservoirs the initial producing gas oil ratio is equal to the solution gas oil
ratio for pressures equal to or above bubblepoint pressure. The solution gas oil ratio can be estimated to
an accuracy of 10% with1
(2)
where
a1 1.4903 x103

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a2
a3
a4
a5

2.626
1.3984
-4.3963
-1.86

For pressures below original bubblepoint pressure, the solution is saturated and Eq. 2 is also valid to
estimate solution gas oil ratio provided that all input properties are taken at pressure of interest.

Oil Formation Volume Factor, Bo


Oil formation volume factor is the volume of the reservoir liquid at conditions under consideration per unit
volume of stock tank oil at 14.7 psi and 60F. It is usually expressed as bbl/STB. Typical relationship of
oil formation volume factor for pressures above and below bubblepoint is shown in Fig. 2.

Figure 2Typical Oil Formation Volume Factor Curve.

The oil formation volume factor at bubblepoint pressure can be estimated to an accuracy of 1% with2
(3)
where
a1 0.177342
a2 0.220163
a3 4.292580
a4 0.528707

x103
x103
x106
x103

For pressures below the original bubblepoint pressure, Eq. 3 is also valid to estimate oil FVF provided
that all input properties are taken at pressure of interest.
At pressures above the original bubblepoint pressure, the oil FVF is calcu1ated with
(4)
where Bob, the oil FVF at the bubblepoint is estimated as discussed above. Correlation for calculating
average oil compressibility, , at various conditions is presented later.

Oil Density at Reservoir Conditions, o


The oil density is defined as the mass per unit volume at a specified pressure and temperature. It is usually
expressed as lb/ft3.

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(5)
The oil relative density or specific gravity of oil is defined as the ratio of density of the oil to that of
water both at the same specified pressure and temperature.
(6)
Typical relationship of oil relative density for pressures above and below bubblepoint is shown in
Fig.3.

Figure 3Typical Oil Relative Density Curve.

In the petroleum industry, it is common to express oil relative density in terms of oil API gravity as:
(7)
An equation for oil relative density at bubblepoint pressure is expressed as
(8)
The term, o, is the relative density or specific gravity of oil at stock tank of 14.7 psi and 60F.
For pressures above or below the original bubblepoint pressure, Eq. 8 is also valid to estimate oil
density provided that all input properties are taken at pressure and temperature of interest. The accuracy
of Eq. 8 depends on the accuracy of input properties because it is a material balance equation.
Above bubblepoint pressure, increased pressure will compress the liquid and increase its density. For
the case of the pressure greater than bubblepoint pressure, p pb, the oil relative density at a given
pressure, p, is calculated from
(9)
where ob, the oil relative density at the bubblepoint is estimated as discussed above. Correlation for
calculating average oil compressibility, , at various conditions is presented later.

Coefficient of Isothermal Compressibility of Oil, Co


By definition, the single phase isothermal compressibility or the reciprocal bulk modulus of elasticity is
defined as the unit change in volume with pressure. It is usually expressed as 1/psi.

SPE-172833-MS

The definition is valid if and only if the single phase composition is constant. The compressibility can
be calculated from the slope of relative volume versus pressure of a single phase liquid or from
differentiation of a fitted equation to the relative volume curve. In equation form, the point function oil
compressibility, co, is defined as:
(10)

Correlations of Co above Bubblepoint


Typical relationship of isothermal oil compressibility, co, with pressure above the bubblepoint is shown
in Fig. 4.

Figure 4 Typical Oil Compressibility Curve above Bubblepoint.

The isothermal oil compressibility factor above bubblepoint pressure can be estimated to an accuracy
of 5% with3,4
(11)
where
a1 -14.1042
a2 2.7314
a3 - 56.0605 x 106
a4 -580.8778
Above bubblepoint pressure, when the average oil compressibility is used in the calculation of
undersaturated oil density or oil FVF, the following equation is applied:
(12)
To avoid the calculation involved in the equation above, the average oil compressibility between the
two pressures can be calculated from the point function or instantaneous oil compressibility at an average
pressure of (ppb)/2 as follows:
(13)

SPE-172833-MS

Correlations of Co below Bubblepoint5


Below the original bubblepoint pressure, the oil composition is changing as pressure changes. As
mentioned earlier, the definition of oil compressibility is valid if and only if the single phase composition
is constant. Therefore the oil compressibility, co, below the original bubblepoint cannot be calculated as
a continuous function.
Fortunately, the limit of volume derivative with respect to pressure as pressure approaches bubblepoint
pressure is defined. Therefore, the oil compressibility at bubblepoint pressure could be estimated. Since
every point below the original bubblepoint is a bubblepoint for a new fluid with new composition,
therefore the locus of co below the original Pb could be estimated.
All points of co below the original Pb are defined as the limit of co as pressure approaches the new Pb.
Equation 2 is valid for single phase oil liquid above Pb as well as below Pb. The only condition required
is that oil volume, density or formation volume factor and their derivatives with respect to pressure have
to be taken along constant composition curve. Above bubblepoint pressure, the curve of constant
composition is obvious. Below bubblepoint pressure, the curve of constant composition is not clear and
it is not even drawn.
Figure 5 shows several new bubblepoints for new fluids of different composition below the original
bubblepoint. Figure 5 could be obtained experimentally if a composite liberation test as described by
Dodson, et al.6 is performed. Therefore the oil volume, density, and formation volume factor versus
pressure curves are the locus of these properties at saturation pressures for changing oil compositions.

Figure 5Locus of bubblepoint oil formation volume factor Green curve.

The oil compressibility at any bubblepoint pressure below the original Pb is the extrapolation of co
curve of pressures above that particular saturation or bubblepoint pressure. Therefore, the locus of co
below original bubblepoint corresponds to the locus of co at saturation pressures corresponding to the
pressure curve for the oil formation volume factor below original Pb as shown in Fig. 6.

SPE-172833-MS

Figure 6 Locus of oil compressibility below the original bubblepoint pressure Green curve.

Estimation of Saturated Oil Compressibility


Equation 11 can be used for single point estimation of co at saturation pressure with the observation of
the correct evaluation of the oil relative density at the saturation pressure of interest as follows:
(14)
In general for any pressure, p, below original bubblepoint pressure, cop is estimated by
(15)
Where
(16)
Since any point below the original bubblepoint is a new bubblepoint for a new fluid, the term (p- pb)
in Eq. 16 is equal to zero for any pressure below the original bubblepoint pressure. Equation 16 is
rewritten as
(17)
The oil relative density, solution gas oil ratio and oil formation volume factor are calculated at the
pressure where co is to be evaluated. Equation 15 is valid for differential data obtained as a function of
pressure. For constant composition expansion test data where the two phases are present, the same
equation could be used only at the original bubblepoint pressure. By combining equations 14 and 15, the
co at any pressure below the original bubblepoint pressure can be calculated in term of co at the original
bubblepoint pressure and live relative oil densities at pressure of interest and the original bubblepoint
pressure as follows5:
(18)
The accuracy of eq. 18 is that of the original oil compressibility above bubblepoint, Eq. 11, i.e. 5%.
Then the typical relationship of oil compressibility for pressures above and below bubblepoint can be
shown in Fig. 7.

SPE-172833-MS

Figure 7Typical Oil Compressibility Curve.

Figure 7 clearly shows that the oil compressibility above and below bubblepoint according to the new
definition is continuous and differentiable except at original bubblepoint pressure cusp.

Oil Viscosity, o
The oil viscosity measures the oils resistance to flow. It is defined as the ratio of shear stress to shear rate
induced in the oil by the stress. It is usually measured in centipoises. Typical relationship of oil viscosity
for pressures above and below bubblepoint is shown in Fig. 8.

Figure 8 Typical Oil Viscosity Curve.

Oil Viscosity at Bubblepoint Pressure, ob


Oil viscosity at bubblepoint pressure measures the oils resistance to flow at bubblepoint. The bubblepoint
viscosity can be estimated to an accuracy of 30% with7
(19)
where

SPE-172833-MS

and
a1
a2
a3
a4
a5
a6

10.715
100
-0.515
5.44
150
-0.338

Oil viscosity above bubblepoint pressure


For undersaturated black oil reservoirs, the oil viscosity above bubblepoint pressure can be estimated to
an accuracy of 2% with8
(20)
where
ob is obtained by Eq. 8 and

Dead oil viscosity, od


Dead oil viscosity measures the oils resistance to flow at atmospheric pressure. The dead oil viscosity can
be estimated to an accuracy of 35% with9
(21)
where
a1 54.56805426
a2 -7.179530398
a3 -36.447
a4 4.478878992
Adjustment of Differential Liberation Data to Separator Conditions
The solution gas-oil ratio and oil formation volume factor are normally obtained from differential or flash
liberation tests. However, neither the differential liberation process nor the flash liberation process can
represent the fluid flow in petroleum reservoirs. Generally, petroleum engineers consider that the gas
liberation process in the reservoir can be represented by the differential liberation process10, 11. The fluid
produced from the reservoir to the surface is considered to undergo a flash process. Therefore, data
obtained from differential liberation test is adjusted to separator conditions.
The adjusted differential solution gas-oil ratios at pressures below bubblepoint are evaluated from the
following equation12:
(22)
The adjusted differential oil formation volume factor at pressures below bubblepoint pressure are
evaluated from the following equation:
(23)

10

SPE-172833-MS

If Eq. 23 yields a value for Boi at atmospheric pressure 1, then Boi for all pressures are calculated
by
(24)

Conclusions
The following conclusions were drawn from this evaluation study:
1. The bubblepoint pressure and solution gas oil ratio exhibited high errors with original coefficients,
but when new coefficients are recalculated an improvement occurred.
2. All correlations available in literature to estimate the oil formation volume factor at bubblepoint
pressure show low errors and a good degree of harmony towards the data used.
3. The selected correlation of isothermal oil compressibility gives an accurate and unique value
independent of different separator tests or consistent field data.
4. Bubblepoint oil viscosity and dead oil viscosity correlations exhibited very high errors for all
correlations available in literature. Therefore more research is needed in this area.
5. The performance of most of the correlations for viscosity above bubblepoint pressure are adequate.
6. The adjustment of differential liberation data to separator conditions successfully gives the
expected values for all the PVT properties at both bubble point and atmospheric pressures.
Nomenclature
ith coefficient of equations
ai
, coefficient of viscosity equations
api
stock-tank oil gravity, API
oil FVF at given pressure, bbl / STB (m3 / m3)
Bo
oil FVF at bubblepoint pressure, bbl / STB (m3 / m3)
Bob
oil compressibility, psi-1 (kPa-1)
co
oil compressibility at bubblepoint pressure, psi-1 (kPa-1)
cob
oil compressibility at given pressure, psi-1 (kPa-1)
cop

average oil compressibility, psi-1 (kPa-1)


average absolute percent relative error
Ea
percent relative error
Ei
average percent relative error
Er
oil volume, lb (kg)
mo
n
number of data points
p
pressure, psi (kPa)
bubblepoint pressure, psi (kPa)
pb
solution gas / oil ratio, scf / STB (m3 / m3)
Rs
s
standard deviation
T
temperature, F (K)
oil volume, ft3 (m3)
vo
X
variable representing a PVT parameter
api stock tank oil gravity API
g
gas relative density at standard condition (air 1)
o
oil relative density at standard condition (water 1)
ob
bubblepoint oil relative density (water 1)
op
oil relative density at given pressure (water 1)
o
undersaturated oil viscosity, cp

SPE-172833-MS

ob
od
o
w

11

gas-saturated oil viscosity, cp


dead oil viscosity, cp
oil density, lb/ft3 (kg/m3)
water density, lb/ft3 (kg/m3)

Nomenclature
b
d
f
i

bubblepoint
differential
flash
ith data point

References
1. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: PVT Correlations for Middle East Crude Oils, Journal of Petroleum
Technology, Vol.40, No.5, May 1988, 650 666, Trans., AIME, 285.
2. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: New Correlations for Formation Volume Factors of Oil and Gas Mixtures,
The Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, Vol. 31, No.3, March 1992, 2226.
3. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: The Coefficient of Isothermal Compressibility of Black Oils, paper SPE
81432 presented at 13th SPE Middle East Oil Show & Conference, Bahrain, 9-12 June 2003.
4. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: A New Correlation for Undersaturated Isothermal Oil Compressibility,
paper SPE 81432-SUM, SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering Online, Volume 9, Number 4,
August 2006.
5. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: The Oil Compressibility below Bubblepoint Pressure Revisited Formulations and Estimations, paper SPE 120047 presented at 16th SPE Middle East Oil Show &
Conference, Bahrain, 15 18 March 2009.
6. Dodson, C.R., Goodwill, D., and Mayer, E.H.: Application of Laboratory PVT Data to Reservoir
Engineering Problems, Trans., AIME (1953) 198, 287298.
7. Beggs, H.D. and Robinson, J.R.: Estimating the Viscosity of Crude Oil Systems, JPT (Sept.
1975) 1140 1141.
8. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: Evaluation of empirically derived PVT properties for Middle East crude
oils, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 42 (2004) 209 221.
9. Glaso, O.: Generalized Pressure Volume-Temperature Correlations, JPT (May 1980) 785795.
10. Standing, M. B.: Volumetric and Phase Behavior of Oil Field Hydrocarbon Systems, Millet Print
Inc., Dallas, Texas, 81, (1977).
11. McCain, W.D. Jr.: The Properties of Petroleum Fluids, PennWell, 2nd ed., Tulsa, Oklahoma, 283,
(1990).
12. Al-Marhoun, M.A.: Adjustment of Differential Liberation Data to Separator Conditions, SPE
Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering, June 2003, 142146.

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SPE-172833-MS

SI METRIC CONVERSION FACTORS

API
atm
bbl
ft3
cp
lb/ft3
F
C
psi
R
scf/STB

X
X
X
X
X

X
/
X

141.5/(131.5APl)
1.013 250* E05
0.158 987 3
2.831 685 E-02
1*
1.601 846 E01
(F 40)/1.8 - 40
(C 40) 1.8 - 40
6.894 757
1.8*
0.178 107 078

* conversion factor is exact

g/cm3
Pa
m3
m3
mPa.s
kg/m3
C
F
kPa
K
std m3/m3