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Why are Demulsifiers used in an Oilfield?

Emulsions of oil and water are the most common problems encountered during the oil production processes in an oilfield. Nearly two-thirds of the total oil produced in the oilfield is of the water-in-oil emulsion form, which means that the water droplets are relatively distributed or dispersed in the immiscible liquid, oil. The presence of water in oil can hinder the production and quality of oil produced at the oilfield, can interfere in the oil refining processes, cause corrosion of the production equipment and pipelines and can hinder their handling capacity as well. These emulsions can increase the capital and operation costs at the oilfield. Therefore in order to make the oil free of water, demulsifiers are used.

Demulsifiers or water-in-oil emulsion breakers used in oilfield are the substances which can break the water-oil emulsions at an oilfield. The demulsifiers are specifically formulated to meet the requirements of water-oil separation as demanded at an oil production zone. The water-in-oil emulsions are mainly formed because of interfacial barrier that acts between the oil and water preventing coalescence of the dispersed water droplets. The presence of polar compounds such as aphaltenes and resins is one of the reasons for stability of these emulsions. The demulsifiers can act to disrupt this interfacial barrier and destabilize the emulsion thereby breaking it to give oil free of water. Demulsifiers used in oil production processes are usually the polymeric surfactants formulated in solvents such as short-chain alcohols, aromatics and various other builders. They work to act on the water-oil interface causing the water droplets to disperse. There are essentially two types of demulsifiers used in oilfied processes – water soluble demulsifiers and oil soluble demulsifiers.

The water soluble demulsifier is soluble in oil, water, and could be mixed with water in any ratio, forming into emulsion when meeting with water. The oil soluble demulsifier is soluble in crude oil and organic solvents such as ethanol, benzene, methylbenzene etc instead of water.

The speed of the emulsion breaking process in an oilfield is largely dependent on the chemicals used in the formulation of demusifiers used in demulsification of water-in-oil emulsions in oilfield. The quality of demulsifiers used depends on the type of chemicals used in their formulation.

Rimpro-India is a leading manufacturer of oilfield chemicals in India offering high quality demulsifiers for efficient oil production processes at the oilfield.


Therefore with the use of appropriate demulsifiers, the quality of extracted oil can be enhanced in an oilfield while reducing the wastage. The production costs can be minimized and further processes like refining can be simplified.

This article educates reader about the role of demuslifiers in an oilfield or why are demuslifiers used in an oilfield production processes.

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