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Produce, Store and Transport Quality Oil Products Using Demulsifier and Corrosion Inhibitors

Demulsifiers and corrosion inhibitors are some of the chemicals used in the processing of crude oil. Water in fuel degrades the quality of crude and also corrodes oil containers and pipes.

Mode of action for demulsifiers

  • Demulsification is also referred to as the emulsion breaking process. Crude oil and other petroleum products are comprised of water–oil emulsion which degrades the quality of the crude and causes many operational problems. Water in crude emulsions is very stable due to the polar compounds such as resins and aphaltenes. The interfacial barrier prevents the dispersed water particles from coalescing.

  • Emulsifying agents break up or destabilize the interfacial film between water droplets. This speeds up the emulsion breaking process. Though there are many methods of breaking up this film, chemical methods are easily applied and don’t necessitate the addition of new equipments.

  • Typical demulsifiers are manufactured from polymeric and amine surfactants made from ethylene oxides, ethoxylated phenols and alcohols. The polymeric group is more effective as compared to the amine group and is therefore more preferred in the extraction process. 

Use of Demulsifiers in Enhancing the Quality of Oil Products 

  • The presence of water emulsion lowers the quality of crude and this has a direct effect on its cost and performance. Reducing water emulsion raises oil quality and cost.  

  • Presence of water in petroleum increases the processing time and costs. Water mined with crude occupies space and increases the volume of crude. Pumps, processing equipments and containers must handle this water and this increases the mining and processing capital cost.

Use of Corrosion Inhibitors in Storage and Transportation of Oil Products

  • Corrosion inhibitors are widely used in conjunction with demulsifiers and other chemicals in processing crude oil and its products.

  • Corrosion occurs when steel based oil containers and pipes come into contact with oxygen and water causing it to rust. A combination of acids in aqueous form also reacts with steel and degrades the structural integrity of the vessel.

  • Crude has many corrosive agents such as water emulsions, acidic gases and biological materials which cause serious damage on pipes and processing equipments.

  • Different inhibitors have varying mode of action and are used for specific corrosion chemicals. Inhibitors work through passivation, formation of vapor phase, anode and cathode corrosion prevention methods, film forming process, neutralization and many others.

  • Amine inhibitors form a protective film on containers and pipes and this prevents further corrosion caused by oilfield corrosion agents. Hydrazine converts oxygen into water preventing corrosive activity on pipes.

Current trends in the use of demulsifiers and corrosion inhibitors in the oil industry

The use of demulsifiers and corrosion inhibitors has increased in the recent years. Surfactant, amines and other chemicals are being used as they are cheap and don’t require additional machinery and equipment and energy to remove the impurities.


Corrosion inhibitors save oil companies billions of dollars which could have been spent on replacing corroded pipes and steel containers. Demulsifiers improve the quality of crude by demulsifying and eliminating water from crude. This process enhances the quality of oil and increases its costs and performance.

This article has been written by .