Speaker at Oil, Gas and Petroleum Engineering 2022 - Luis Miguel Salas-Chia
Grupo de Investigación Recobro Mejorado, Colombia
Title : Effect of the variation in the concentration of the catalytic agent on the physicochemical properties of a heavy colombian crude oil subjected to a steam injection process under laboratory conditions


During the last few years, heavy crude oil production in Colombia has been increasing, becoming an important part of the national hydrocarbon supply basket. Therefore, the recovery of this type of crude oil represents important challenges for the industry, mainly associated to its high viscosity and low mobility in the reservoir. As a solution to this problem, this work studied the influence of the thermal process of steam injection in the presence of iron and molybdenum catalysts (metal sulfides) in a Colombian heavy crude oil with a viscosity of 9670 cp @ 35 °C. The catalytic aquathermolysis tests were carried out in a batch reactor at 270 °C and 800 psi, during 66 hours of reaction. Iron naphthenate and molybdenum with concentrations of the active metal in the range of 0.005 to 0.03 g/l were used as precursors in the process. The aquathermolysis process in the presence of the iron and molybdenum catalysts presented significant effects on viscosity reduction around 55 and 35 %. On the other hand, the distillation curves (ASTM D7169) of the improved crudes showed a significant decrease in the complex fractions with boiling points above 525 °C+, for which conversions of more than 7 % were evidenced. In this study, it was determined that the iron naphthenate precursor with 0.01 g/l of active metal shows better results on viscosity reduction with respect to the molybdenum precursor within the established concentration range. During the application of this recovery method, it can be established that the selectivity and reactivity of each catalyst is different. Additionally, the improvement of the physicochemical properties of the crude oil in the reservoir can be consolidated as a complementary recovery mechanism to the conventional process.

Audience take away:  

  • Understand the effect over physiochemical properties of heavy oil under different catalyst concentration
  • Observe the influences of different metal ions over oil properties
  • Knowing about aquathermolysis reactions


Luis Miguel Salas-Chia is a student in Hydrocarbon Engineering Master student at the Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS), Colombia and graduated as Petroleum Engineer in 2020. He’s an active member of Grupo de Investigación Recobro Mejorado (GRM-UIS) with a research background related to enhanced recovery methods as thermal and hybrids techniques.