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SPE 5434

Ijpt forum
Estimating the Viscosity of Crude Oil Systems
Viscosity values of crude oils and crude oils containing
dissolved natural gas are required in various petroleum
engineering calculations. In evaluation of fluid flow in a
reservoir, the viscosity of the liquid is required at various
values of reservoir pressure and at reservoir temperature.
This information can be obtained from a standard labora-
tory PVT analysis that is run at reservoir temperature.
There are cases, however, when the viscosity is needed at
other temperatures. The most common situation requiring
viscosities at various pressures and temperatures occurs in
the calculation of two-phase, gas-liquid flowing pressure
traverses. These pressure traverses are required in
tubing-string design, gas-lift design, and pipeline design.
Calculation of these pressure traverses involves dividing
the flow string into a number of length increments and
calculating the pressure gradient at average conditions of
pressure and temperature in the increment. Calculation of
pressure gradients requires knowledge of oil viscosity. In
many cases, the only information available on the fluid
properties are the separator gas gravity and stock-tank oil
gravity; therefore, correlations requiring a knowledge of
crude oil composition are not applicable.
The most popular methods presently used for predicting
oil viscosity are those of Beall for dead oil and Chew and
Connally2 for live or saturated oil. Beal correlated dead oil
viscosity as a function of API gravity and temperature.
Chew and Connally presented a correlation for the effect
of dissolved gas on the oil viscosity. The dead oil viscosity
and the amount of dissolved gas at the temperature and
pressure of interest must be known.
When these correlations were applied to data collected
for a study of dissolved gas and formation volume factor,
considerable errors and scatter were observed. These
data, therefore, were used to develop new empirical corre-
lations for dead or gas-free crude oil as a function of API
gravity and temperature, and for live oil viscosity as a
function of dissolved gas and dead oil viscosity. A de-
scription of the data used, which were obtained from Core
Laboratories, Inc., is given in Table 1.
The correlation for dead oil viscosity was developed by
plotting IOglo (T) vs loglo log 10 (/LaD + 1) on cartesian
coordinates. The plots revealed a series of straight lines of
constant slope. It was found that each line represented oils
of a API gravity. The equati9n developed is
/LaD = lOx - 1, . . .(1)
x =Y T-l.l63
Y = 10
Z = 3.0324 - 0.02023 'Yo.
The correction of the dead oil viscosity for dissolved
gas was developed by taking advantage of the fact that a
linear relationship exists between IOglO /LaD and IOglOJ.L for
a particular value of dissolved gas, R
. Live oil viscosity
may be calculated from
J.L = A /LaD
, (2)
Variable Range
Solution GOR, scf/STB 20 to 2,070
Oil gravity, API 16 to 58
Pressure, psig to 5,250
Temperature, OF 70 to 295
Number of oil systems = 600
Number of dead oil observations = 460
Number of live oil observations = 2,073
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Average Error Standard Deviation
(percent) of Percent Errors
Development of these correlations neglects the depen-
dence of oil viscosity on composition, since oils of widely
varying compositions can have the same gravity. Viscos-
ity does depend on composition, and if the composition is
available other correlations
exist that should be used for
greater accuracy. However, the correlations presented
here are easy to use and give fair accuracy and precision
over a wide range of oil gravity, temperature, and dis-
solved gas. As is the case with any empirical study,
extrapolation outside the range of the data used to develop
the correlations should be done with caution. Table 2
A = 10.715 (R
+ 100)-0.515
B = 5.44 (R
+ 150)-0.338
Dead oil data used to
develop this correlation
This study
Dead oil data
collected from
literature (93 cases)
This study
Live oil data used to
develop this correlation
Chew and Connally
This study
- 0.64
- 1.83
presents a statistical comparison of the correlations
of Beal, Chew and Connally, and our findings.
= dissolved GOR, scf/STB
T = temperature, OF
ILoD = viscosity of gas-free oil at T, cp
J.L = viscosity of gas-saturated oil at T, cp
'Yo = oil gravity, API
1. Beal, C.: "Viscosity of Air, Water, Natural Gas, Crude Oil and Its
Associated Gases at Oil-Field Temperatures and Pressures, " Trans.,
AIME (1946) 165, 94-115.
2. Chew, J. and Connally, C. A.: "A Viscosity Correlation for Gas-
Saturated Crude Oils," Trans., AIME (1959) 216, 23-25.
3. Lohrenz, J., Bray, B. G., and Clark, C. R.: "Calculating Viscosities
of Reservoir Fluids From Their Compositions," J. Pet. Tech. (Oct.
1964) 1171-1176; Trans., AIME, 231. .
4. Houpeurt, A. H. and Thelliez, M. B.: "Predicting the Viscosity of
Hydrocarbon Liquid Phases From Their Composition," paper SPE
5057 presented at the SPE-AIME 49th Annual Fall Meeting, Hous-
ton, Oct. 6-9, 1974.
5. Little, J. E. and Kennedy, H. T.: "A Correlation of the Viscosity of
Hydrocarbon Systems With Pressure, Temperature and Composi-
tion," Soc. Pet. Eng. J. (June 1968) 157-162; Trans., AIME,243.
H. D. Beggs, SPE-AIME
J. R. Robinson, *SPE-AIME
U. of Tulsa
Tulsa, Okla.
*Now with Marathon Oil Co., Littleton, Colo.
SEPTEMBER,1975 1141