Asphaltene deposition in oil sector: A comprehensive review

Alkhatab Bani Saad, Lande Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Asphaltene science is important in petroleum industry due to its effect on flow assurance and downstream facility equipment. Asphaltene is defined operationally and not as class compounds. It is defined according to its solubility as a substance that is soluble in aromatics and is insoluble in normal alkanes (the precipitants). The term asphaltene was first coined by the French chemist Boussingault. Asphaltene is the most polar component of crude oil and has different molecular weights reported in literature. However, the average molecular weight of asphaltene was found to be 750 g mol–1 and this value is widely used. Another area of contradiction in asphaltene field science is the structure of asphaltene. There are two theories explaining its structure including the island and the archipelago structure. Asphaltene precipitation results from altering thermodynamic conditions or composition. Temperature was found to decrease asphaltene precipitation; however, it increases deposition rate. Pressure was found to have inverse relationship with asphaltene precipitation. Precipitant molecular weight is inversely related to the amount of asphaltene precipitated. Moreover, increasing precipitant concentration will increase the amount of asphaltene precipitated. Additionally, factors such as injection of gases and chemicals during enhanced oil recovery (EOR) will induce asphaltene precipitation. Also, the methods and techniques available to manage asphaltene deposition including inhibitors and physical treatment will be discussed in this review. In addition, a brief economic review is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in Chemical Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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