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Crude oil viscosity correlations: A novel approach for Upper Assam Basin

Conference Paper · January 2014


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Abhishek Bihani
University of Texas at Austin


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Crude oil viscosity correlations: A novel approach for Upper Assam

Deepak Jain, Abhishek D. Bihani
Oil India Limited, Geology & Reservoir Department, Duliajan, Assam, India - 786602

Presenting author, E-mail:

Crude oil viscosity being a critical parameter in petroleum industry assumes significance in analyzing flow
assurance problems, planning EOR methods and reservoir simulation. In many cases, accurate viscosity
values are not available or difficulties are faced in the measurements. Thus, viscosity correlations serve
as an effective alternative. However, the existing correlations in literature did not give accurate results for
crude oils of Upper Assam Basin.

Hence, non-linear regression was applied on a large set of experimental dead crude oil data at different
temperatures over a wide range of API and viscosity to obtain new correlations. Furthermore, two
separate correlations were designed for heavy and light crude oils for better prediction. Statistical and
graphical methods such as Root Mean-Square Error (RMSE) were used for comparative analysis of the
existing and new correlations. It was found that the new correlations provided better prediction of dead
crude oil viscosity over a wide range of parameters than existing correlations for Upper Assam Basin.

Viscosity is defined as the resistance to fluid flow. The evaluation of a crude oil’s viscosity is an important
step in the design of various stages of oilfield operations and in reservoir evaluation. There are numerous
operational and economical difficulties in acquiring reliable viscosity measurements, especially for live oil
which are obtained by either bottom-hole sampling or by recombination of reservoir fluids in the
laboratory. Hence, live oil viscosity is frequently predicted using correlations. In general, oil density and
temperature are utilized as variables to determine the crude oil viscosity for dead oil (stock-tank).
Thereafter, viscosity for live oil at bubble-point or at under-saturated conditions is calculated from dead oil
viscosity and the gas-oil ratio (GOR). (Bennison, T.G.)

The most popular correlations that are used for dead oil viscosity in petroleum engineering are those
developed by Beal (Beal, 1946), Beggs and Robinson (Beggs and Robinson, 1975), Glaso (Glaso, 1980),
Labedi (Labedi, 1992) and Kartoatmodjo and Schmidt (Kartoatmodjo and Schmidt, 1994). Beal's
correlation was obtained from Californian crude oils, Glaso’s correlation was developed from the North
Sea crude oils and Labedi’s correlation has been presented for African crudes. The viscosity of crude oil
varies according to its origin, type and the nature of its chemical composition. (Sattarin, M.) Hence, there
is a strong belief that the chemical composition of crude oil is an important factor while determining an
accurate viscosity correlation. This highlights the importance of the geographical location of the crude oil
samples employed in the correlation creation, which makes it virtually impossible to develop a single
comprehensive viscosity model to include the different oil-regions of the world.

Application of the above dead oil viscosity correlations to the crude oils from Upper Assam Basin resulted
in huge errors. These deviations were attributed to the difference in chemical composition of Assam’s
crude oils from the crudes used in the development of correlations in literature. The aim of this work was
to develop comprehensive dead oil viscosity correlations for the crude oils of Upper Assam Basin.
Experimental Details
A large reliable set of dynamic viscosities of dead crude oils from 162 wells was collected from nine
different oil-fields of Upper Assam Basin of Oil India Limited. The viscosity measurement of the crude oil
samples was performed using a rotational viscometer and the data covered a viscosity from 2 to 120 cp
and API gravity in the range of 18 to 43 °API. The measurement of the samples was carried out at
different temperatures of 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 39 °C under atmospheric pressure thus providing
information about the effect of temperature.

Regression Analysis
The analysis was conducted using IBM’s SPSS statistics software package. SPSS can be used for data
management, descriptive statistical analysis or for inferential and multivariate procedures such as
analysis of variance (ANOVA) and regression analysis.

In this study, the data of 486 samples was divided into two subsets, training data and test data in a
random manner, with the approximate ratio 60:40, respectively. The regression was carried out on the
training data and the correlation thus obtained was applied on the test data. This method was used to
validate the model and ensured that the developed correlation was not self-biased.

An initial multi-variable regression was conducted for viscosity by ordinary least squares method with
temperature and API as the independent variables. It was found that 39 of the data points were unreliable
and affected the correlation adversely; hence these outliers were discarded.

From the plot of the studentized residuals v/s predicted values (Figure 1), it was established that the
relation between the variables is non-linear. It also indicated that homoscedasticity was maintained i.e.
there existed homogeneity of variance. Multicollinearity was assessed (tolerance= 0.917) and it was seen
that the independent variables weren’t highly inter-correlated. Normal distribution of data was confirmed
from a histogram and P-P plot of residuals. The unbiasedness, efficiency and consistency of the variables
was thus established. However, the value of coefficient of determination (R2) was observed to be only
0.28 indicating a relatively weak correlation between the variables.

Therefore to increase the accuracy and to obtain a better fit, it was decided to apply regression on heavy
and light oils separately. The samples were thus divided into heavy oil (<23 °API) and light oil (>23 °API),

Post-regression, statistical and graphical methods were used for comparative analysis of the new and the
existing correlations. Root mean square error (RMSE) was initially calculated and was then normalized by
dividing it by the range. From this normalized root mean square error (NRMSE), it could be inferred that
the correlation having the minimum value is the most suitable. The graphical method utilized a scatter-plot
of experimental v/s predicted viscosity. Ideally, values should be on the unit slope i.e. 45° line and the
reliability of the correlation decreases with increasing deviation from the 45° line.

Light oil correlation

The 353 light oil data samples were divided into training and test data in the approximate ratio 60:40.
After various attempts, it was seen that the exponential model gave the best fit, by sequential multiple
regression using API and temperature with R2 =0.313. Viscosity was first regressed on API to derive the
following correlation:

Subsequently, coefficients A and B were regressed against temperature to obtain the following equations:
NRMSE for different correlations for both training and test data are shown in Table 1. It was seen that the
new light oil correlation gave the lowest value of NRMSE thus providing superior results.

This was further supported by scatter-plots shown in Figures 2-a and 2-b. It was observed from the
deviation of scatter points from the 45° line that the new light correlation was better than Labedi's
correlation which under-predicted the viscosity.

Heavy oil correlation

The 94 heavy oil data samples were divided into training and test data in the approximate ratio 60:40.
The viscosity data showed a strong function of temperature and API in the form of an exponent or
logarithm. On regression, the following equation gave the best fit (R2 =0.600):

The comparison of NRMSE (Table-2) showed that the lowest value is for the new heavy oil correlation.
The scatter-plots seen in Figures 3-a and 3-b indicate that the new heavy correlation shows a better fit
on the 45° line than Labedi's correlation.

Pour point correlation

In order to obtain a single correlation for the whole range of API, further studies were conducted. It was
observed from the data of 447 data samples that there existed a variation in the viscosity for the same
values of API and temperature. Since the crude oil viscosity samples are from a number of different fields
and reservoirs, there is a considerable diversity in the chemical composition. This was confirmed from the
Saturate, Aromatic, Resin and Asphaltene (SARA) analysis and the differences in the pour point

Pour point is the lowest temperature at which a crude oil flows and is related to its paraffin and
asphaltene composition. In 1990, Egbogah and Ng improved the Beggs and Robinson's correlation by
adding pour point temperature. In a similar manner, a third correlation was constructed which included
viscosity as a function of pour point, in addition to API and temperature. Incorporating pour point in the
correlation reflected the composition and significantly improved the value of the coefficient of
determination (R2 = 0.567) over the previous value without pour point (R2 =0.28). The equation obtained
by regression was of the form:

Statistical comparison (Table-3) showed NRMSE for this correlation was considerably lower for both
training and test data than the next best correlation which was Labedi. The same inference was drawn
from the scatter-plots shown in Figures 4-a and 4-b.

Thus it can be stated that this correlation incorporating pour-point is better suited for viscosity prediction
of dead crude oils of Upper Assam Basin than the correlations presently utilized. This correlation was also
tested on crude oils from 27 other fields world-wide whose assays were available in the public domain.
However, it was seen that the prediction by this correlation while satisfactory, was not the most suitable
for those fields.
A number of dead oil viscosity correlations were evaluated from a databank of nine different fields of
Upper Assam Basin. It was found that the existing correlations exhibited large errors, believed to be due
to dependence on oil nature, and so correlations were specifically developed for crude oils of this region.

Three correlations having a relatively simple mathematical format were developed, one for light oil,
another for heavy oil and also a common correlation taking into account the pour point. The proposed
correlations gave a better prediction as confirmed from the statistical and graphical analysis, and can
therefore be used for Upper Assam Basin.

We would like to thank Oil India Limited for supporting our work, especially Mr. Saloma Yomdo, Mr. Ranjit
Dutta and all our senior colleagues for guiding and encouraging us throughout the course of the work. We
are also grateful to Mr. B. P. Pegu for helping in compiling of data and to Mr. S. K. Jena and Dr. P.
Gopalakrishnan for reviewing the work in the draft stage.

We would also like to express our gratitude to Laerd Statistics and Ms. Rutha V. S. of University of Pune
for assistance in SPSS and statistical analysis.

1. Beal, C., Viscosity of air, water, natural gas, crude oil and its associated gases at oil field temperature
and pressures.,Trans. AIME 165, 1946, p.114–127.
2. Beggs, H.D. And Robinson, J.R., Estimating the Viscosity of Crude Oil Systems., JPT, 9, 1975,
3. Bennison, T. G., Prediction Of Heavy Oil Viscosity, Presented at the IBC Heavy Oil Field
Development Conference, London, 2-4 December 1998
4. Egbogah, E. O., Ng, J.T., An improved temperature-viscosity correlation for crude oil systems., J.
Pet. Sci. Eng. 5, 1990, p.197-200.
5. Glaso, Generalized Pressure-Volume-Temperature Correlation for Crude Oil System, JPT, 2, 1980, p.
6. Hemmati-Sarapardeh, A., Khishvand, M., Naseri, A.,, Toward reservoir oil viscosity correlation,
Chem. Eng. Sci. 90 (2013) p.53–68.
7. Kartoatmodjo, F., Schmidt, Z., Large Data Bank Improves Crude Physical Property Correlation; Oil &
Gas J. 4, 1994, p. 51-55.
8. Labedi, R., Improved correlations for predicting the viscosity of light crudes., 1992.,J. Pet. Sci. Eng. 8,
p. 221–234.
9. Naseri, A., Nikazar, M., Mousavi, D.S.A., A Correlation Approach for Prediction of Crude Oil
Viscosities, J. of Pet. Sci. Eng. 47, 2005, p.163-174.
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Oils, Petroleum & Coal 49 (2), 2007, p. 33-39.
11. Zhang, C., Zhao, H., A Simple Correlation for the Viscosity of Heavy Oils from Liaohe Basin, NE
China J. Canadian Pet. Tech., April 2007, Vol. 46, No. 4 p. 8-11.

GOR Gas oil ratio
API Oil API gravity
μ Dynamic viscosity of crude oil, cp
T Temperature of crude oil, °F
PP Pour-point temperature, °F
R2 Coefficient of Determination
RMSE Root mean square error
n = Number of samples
μexp = Experimental viscosity
μpred = Predicted viscosity
μmax = Maximum experimental viscosity
μmin = Minimum experimental viscosity

Table 1: Normalized root mean square error for light oil correlation
New light Kartoatmodjo & Beggs & Petrosky &
NRMSE Glaso Naseri Labedi
correlation Schmidt Robinson Farshad

Training data 0.23 0.30 0.29 0.32 0.71 0.32 0.32

Test data 0.28 0.32 0.32 0.34 1.17 0.35 0.35

Table 2: Normalized root mean square error for heavy oil correlation
New heavy Kartoatmodjo & Beggs & Petrosky &
NRMSE Glaso Naseri Labedi
correlation Schmidt Robinson Farshad

Training data 0.14 1.06 1.00 0.35 18.21 0.34 0.31

Test data 0.25 1.60 1.49 0.53 27.52 0.43 0.44

Table 3: Normalized root mean square error for new pour point correlation
New PP Kartoatmodjo & Beggs & Petrosky &
NRMSE Glaso Naseri Labedi
correlation Schmidt Robinson Farshad

Training data 0.21 0.36 0.35 0.38 1.14 0.38 0.39

Test data 0.22 0.48 0.46 0.34 7.32 0.34 0.35

Figure 1: Studentized residuals v/s Predicted values

Figure 2-a and 2-b: Scatter-plot for light oil correlation

Figure 3-a and 3-b: Scatter-plot for heavy oil correlation

Figure 4-a and 4-b: Scatter-plot for new pour point correlation

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