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Journal of Chemistry
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5471376, 11 pages
Research Article

Influence of Surfactant Structure on the Stability of Water-in-Oil Emulsions under High-Temperature High-Salinity Conditions

1Petroleum Engineering Department, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA
2Petroleum Engineering Department and Center for Petroleum & Minerals, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
3Gas Processing Center, College of Engineering, Qatar University, P.O. Box 2713, Doha, Qatar
4EXPEC Advanced Research Center, Saudi Aramco, P.O. Box 62, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence should be addressed to Abdullah S. Sultan

Received 6 April 2017; Accepted 30 August 2017; Published 15 October 2017

Academic Editor: Francisco Javier Deive

Copyright © 2017 Abdelhalim I. A. Mohamed et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Emulsified water-in-oil (W/O) systems are extensively used in the oil industry for water control and acid stimulation. Emulsifiers are commonly utilized to emulsify a water-soluble material to form W/O emulsion. The selection of a particular surfactant for such jobs is critical and certainly expensive. In this work, the impact of surfactant structure on the stability of W/O emulsions is investigated using the hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB) of the surfactant. Different commercial surfactants were evaluated for use as emulsifiers for W/O systems at high-temperature (up to 120°C) high-salinity (221,673 ppm) HTHS conditions. Diverse surfactants were examined including ethoxylates, polyethylene glycols, fluorinated surfactants, and amides. Both commercial Diesel and waste oil are used for the oleic phase to prepare the emulsified system. Waste oil has shown higher stability (less separation) in comparison with Diesel. This work has successfully identified stable emulsified W/O systems that can tolerate HTHS environments using HLB approach. Amine Acetate family shows higher stability in comparison with Glycol Ether family and at even lower concentration. New insights into structure-surfactant stability relationship, beyond the HLB approach, are provided for surfactant selection.