emulsion | Energy Glossary

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1. n. []

A dispersion of one immiscible liquid into another through the use of a chemical that reduces the interfacial tension between the two liquids to achieve stability.

Two emulsion types are used as muds:

The former is classified as a water-base mud and the latter as an oil-base mud.

See: amidesaminescalcium chloridecoalescencecolloidcreamingdemulsifierelectrical stability testemulsion mudexternal phaseformation damageHLB numberhydrophile-lipophile balance numberinternal phaseinvert-emulsion oil mudinvert-emulsion oil mudoil-mud emulsifieroil/water ratiosurface tensionwater-based mudwater-in-oil emulsionwater-mud emulsifier

2. n. []

A type of damage in which there is a combination of two or more immiscible fluids, including gas, that will not separate into individual components. Emulsions can form when fluid filtrates or injected fluids and reservoir fluids (for example oil or brine) mix, or when the pH of the producing fluid changes, such as after an acidizing treatment. Acidizing might change the pH from 6 or 7 to less than 4. Emulsions are normally found in gravel packs and perforations, or inside the formation. Most emulsions break easily when the source of the mixing energy is removed.

However, some natural and artificial stabilizing agents, such as surfactants and small particle solids, keep fluids emulsified. Natural surfactants, created by bacteria or during the oil generation process, can be found in many waters and crude oils, while artificial surfactants are part of many drilling, completion, or stimulation fluids. Among the most common solids that stabilize emulsions are iron sulfide, paraffin, sand, silt, clay, asphalt, scale, and corrosion products. Emulsions are typically treated using mutual solvents.

See: asphaltenesdamagefines migration

3. n. []

A dispersion of droplets of one liquid in another liquid with which it is incompletely miscible. Emulsions can form in heavy oils that contain a significant amount of asphaltenes. The asphaltenes act as surfactants with treatment or formation water. The resulting emulsion droplets have high-energy bonds creating a very tight dispersion of droplets that is not easily separated. These surface-acting forces can create oil-in-water emulsions, water-in-oil emulsions, or both. Such emulsions require temperature and chemical treating in surface equipment to separate.

See: heavy oiloil-in-water emulsionsurfactantwater-in-oil emulsion