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Oil fluid properties

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Ideally, fluid properties such as bubblepoint pressure, solution gas/oil ratio, formation volume factor and others are determined from laboratory studies designed to duplicate the conditions of interest. However, experimental data are quite often unavailable because representative samples cannot be obtained or the producing horizon does not warrant the expense of an in-depth reservoir fluid study. In these cases, pressure-volume-temperature (PVT) properties must be determined by analogy or through the use of empirically derived correlations. This page introduces these correlations and provides links to more in-depth calculations.

Oil properties

The calculation of reserves in an oil reservoir or the determination of its performance requires knowledge of the fluid’s physical properties at elevated pressure and temperature. Of primary importance are bubblepoint pressure, solution gas-oil ratio (GOR), and formation volume factor (FVF). In addition, viscosity and interfacial or surface tension must be determined for calculations involving the flow of oil through pipe or porous media.

The key oil properties that are generally needed for understanding a reservoir and its producability are:

Table 1[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28] summarizes the recommended methods for general use determination of each property. These recommendations are based on the correlation performance derived from a common data set or the author’s experiences drawn from using various correlations for a number of years.

In selecting the appropriate methods for performing calculations for a specific reservoir it is important to consider the characteristics of the crude oil itself -- its gravity, asphaltene or paraffin content, etc. See Crude oil characterization along with the caveats discussed in conjunction with discussion of each property.


  1. Lasater, J.A. 1958. Bubble Point Pressure Correlations. J Pet Technol 10 (5): 65–67. SPE-957-G.
  2. Al-Shammasi, A.A. 2001. A Review of Bubblepoint Pressure and Oil Formation Volume Factor Correlations. SPE Res Eval & Eng 4 (2): 146-160. SPE-71302-PA.
  3. Velarde, J., Blasingame, T.A., and McCain Jr., W.D. 1997. Correlation of Black Oil Properties At Pressures Below Bubble Point Pressure - A New Approach. Presented at the Annual Technical Meeting of CIM, Calgary, Alberta, 8–11 June. PETSOC-97-93.
  4. Al-Marhoun, M.A. 1992. New Correlations For Formation Volume Factors Of Oil And Gas Mixtures. J Can Pet Technol 31 (3): 22. PETSOC-92-03-02.
  5. Frashad, F., LeBlanc, J.L., Garber, J.D. et al. 1996. Empirical PVT Correlations For Colombian Crude Oils. Presented at the SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 23–26 April. SPE-36105-MS.
  6. Kartoatmodjo, R.S.T. 1990. New Correlations for Estimating Hydrocarbon Liquid Properties. MS thesis, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  7. Kartoatmodjo, T.R.S. and Schmidt, Z. 1991. New Correlations for Crude Oil Physical Properties, Society of Petroleum Engineers, unsolicited paper 23556-MS.
  8. Kartoatmodjo, T. and Z., S. 1994. Large Data Bank Improves Crude Physical Property Correlations. Oil Gas J. 92 (27): 51–55.
  9. Dindoruk, B. and Christman, P.G. 2001. PVT Properties and Viscosity Correlations for Gulf of Mexico Oils. Presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, 30 September-3 October. SPE-71633-MS.
  10. Petrosky, G.E. Jr. 1990. PVT Correlations for Gulf of Mexico Crude Oils. MS thesis. 1990. . MS thesis, University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, Louisiana.
  11. Petrosky, G.E. Jr. and Farshad, F. 1998. Pressure-Volume-Temperature Correlations for Gulf of Mexico Crude Oils. SPE Res Eval & Eng 1 (5): 416-420. SPE-51395-PA.
  12. Glasø, Ø. 1980. Generalized Pressure-Volume-Temperature Correlations. J Pet Technol 32 (5): 785-795. SPE-8016-PA.
  13. Whitson, C.H. and Brulé, M.R. 2000. Phase Behavior, No. 20, Chap. 3. Richardson, Texas: Henry L. Doherty Monograph Series, Society of Petroleum Engineers.
  14. Bergman, D.F. 2004. Don’t Forget Viscosity. Presented at the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council 2nd Annual Reservoir Engineering Symposium, Lafayette, Louisiana, 28 July.
  15. Fitzgerald, D.J. 1994. A Predictive Method for Estimating the Viscosity of Undefined Hydrocarbon Liquid Mixtures. MS thesis, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania.
  16. Daubert, T.E. and Danner, R.P. 1997. API Technical Data Book—Petroleum Refining, 6th edition, Chap. 11. Washington, DC: American Petroleum Institute (API).
  17. Chew, J. and Connally, C.A. Jr. 1959. A Viscosity Correlation for Gas-Saturated Crude Oils. In Transactions of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Vol. 216, 23. Dallas, Texas: Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME.
  18. Aziz, K. and Govier, G.W. 1972. Pressure Drop in Wells Producing Oil and Gas. J Can Pet Technol 11 (3): 38. PETSOC-72-03-04.
  19. Beggs, H.D. and Robinson, J.R. 1975. Estimating the Viscosity of Crude Oil Systems. J Pet Technol 27 (9): 1140-1141. SPE-5434-PA.
  20. Beal, C. 1970. The Viscosity of Air, Water, Natural Gas, Crude Oil and Its Associated Gases at Oil Field Temperatures and Pressures, No. 3, 114–127. Richardson, Texas: Reprint Series (Oil and Gas Property Evaluation and Reserve Estimates), SPE.
  21. Standing, M.B. 1981. Volumetric and Phase Behavior of Oil Field Hydrocarbon Systems, ninth edition. Richardson, Texas: Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME
  22. Kouzel, B. 1965. How Pressure Affects Liquid Viscosity. Hydrocarb. Process. (March 1965): 120.
  23. Vazquez, M.E. 1976. Correlations for Fluid Physical Property Prediction. MS thesis, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  24. Vazquez, M. and Beggs, H.D. 1980. Correlations for Fluid Physical Property Prediction. J Pet Technol 32 (6): 968-970. SPE-6719-PA.
  25. Abdul-Majeed, G.H. and Abu Al-Soof, N.B. 2000. Estimation of gas–oil surface tension. J. Pet. Sci. Eng. 27 (3–4): 197-200.
  26. Baker, O. and Swerdloff, W. 1955. Calculation of Surface Tension 3—Calculating parachor Values. Oil Gas J. (5 December 1955): 141.
  27. Baker, O. and Swerdloff, W. 1956. Calculation of Surface Tension 6—Finding Surface Tension of Hydrocarbon Liquids. Oil Gas J. (2 January 1956): 125.
  28. Firoozabadi, A. and Ramey Jr., H.J. 1988. Surface Tension of Water-Hydrocarbon Systems at Reservoir Conditions. J Can Pet Technol 27 (May–June): 41–48.

Noteworthy papers in OnePetro

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External links

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See also

Calculating PVT properties

Crude oil characterization