Review of asphaltene properties and precipitation modeling
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Asphaltenes are of special interest to the petroleum industry due to their complex, non-linear phase behavior and tendency to deposit in reservoir and production equipment that drives up production and remedial costs associated with oil recovery processes. Precipitated asphaltenes impart high viscosity to residual oil, plug pore throats, alter wettability and reduce hydrocarbon mobility. They are hard to characterize and pose problems even at higher temperatures and for light oils. Thus, the ability to predict transport and thermodynamic behavior of asphaltenic systems is crucial to ensure economic recovery of oil and reduce flow assurance issues. This work summarizes a detailed literature review of the current state of asphaltene science covering critical asphaltene properties such as molecular structure, chemical composition, asphaltenecrude oil phase behavior, transport properties and solubility parameters. The various theoretical approaches such as thermodynamic, scaling and artificial intelligence-based models to predict asphaltene precipitation have been described in detail and compared. This critical review encapsulates merits and demerits of the most prominent approaches and identifies further scope for improvement. The findings of this work are expected to form the basis of building a fully compositional simulator to predict asphaltene precipitation, flocculation and deposition that is in agreement with the experimentally obtained asphaltene properties.
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