Speaker at Oil, Gas and Petroleum Engineering 2022 - Adan Yovani León Bermúdez
Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia
Title : In-situ upgrading of Colombian heavy crude oils by catalytic aquathermolysis and its effect on API P110 steel corrosion


Catalytic aquathermolysis is an enhanced oil recovery technique that uses steam injection with a catalyst to produce upgraded crude oil with lower viscosity and higher commercial value, generating an additional increase on the oil recovery factor and a decrease in costs in the transport and refining stages. However, the corrosion behavior of steels in the presence of such an EOR process is unknown.

In the present research, aquathermolysis with iron naphthenate in three Colombian heavy crude oils and its effect on the corrosion of API P-110 carbon steel was evaluated. Corrosion was studied on steel coupons (10.27 cm2) in a batch reactor at steam injection conditions: 270°C, 880 psi, and 69 h. Aquathermolysis with iron naphthenate showed a viscosity reduction between 40 - 60%. Additionally, distillation curves (ASTM D7169) of the upgraded crude oils showed conversions of the 525°C+ heavy fractions between 4 and 8%. The addition of catalysts generates an effect in the changes of the SARA composition (saturates, aromatics, resins, asphaltenes). In addition, the decrease in the content of polyaromatic species improves the physicochemical properties of crude oils. The results allow establishing that the selectivity and reactivity depend on the nature of the crude oil.

Also, the corrosion rate without a catalyst in the gas phase was in the range of 0.02662 - 0.0503 mm/y, and the liquid phase was between 0.002567 - 0.02979 mm/y. However, the addition of iron naphthenate decreased the corrosion rate by 34 - 50% and 46 - 70% for the gas and liquid phase, respectively. Finally, the research indicates that the catalytic aquathermolysis method improves the physicochemical properties of the crude oil in the reservoir and the new compounds reduce the corrosion of API P-110 steel.

Audience take away:
• The audience will learn that adding in-situ catalyst precursors in the reservoir improves the physicochemical properties and quality of the crude oil, which could be used for heavy oil recovery under thermal.
• The application of catalysis has entered the oil sector providing multiple benefits for obtaining better quality products, which allows increasing the recovery factor of heavy crudes, thus understanding its importance in thermal recovery processes (EOR).


León-Bermúdez studied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia. Also Mr. studied PhD in Chemical Engineering and graduated in 2017, where he joined as a professor at the School of Petroleum Engineering at Universidad Industrial de Santander, UIS. Nowadays, he joined as a researcher in the Grupo de Investigación Recobro Mejorado (GRM) and Grupo de Investigaciones en Corrosión (GIC).