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World Heavy Oil Challenges


The increasing world energy demand has pushed the oil producing countries, including Kuwait, to start utilizing their existing heavy oil wells, which had been neglected or little used  and have increase heavy oil production activities. Currently, some heavyweight producers such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran produce large quantities of heavy sour crude with high sulfur content. 


Many countries seeing the consistent increasing year over year world oil demand are looking to grow it’s oil production not only the production capacity from existing production but must also must rely on heavy crude oil as a gap filler. Kuwait is expected to produce 900,000 BPD of heavy oil by the year 2020.  


These production trends are presenting new technological and operational challenges, including counteracting expected increased risk of corrosion and equipment failures during the production and refining of heavy crude oil.   Most refineries are build from alloys compatible with light crude. Heavy oil is a refinery’s worst nightmare contained within are the most damaging impurities such as organic chlorides, organic acids, and sulfur compounds, and undesirable metals. To make matters worse, many of the compounds are extremely unstable during refining operations and they break up into smaller components or combine with other constituents, concentrating corrodants in certain units, such as the breakdown of sulfur compounds and organic chlorides.


These current events facing the oil industry leave many decisions and obstacles not only regarding the methodologies of producing heavy oil, transportation and refining of heavy oil, but also evaluating the value and optimum utilization of this produced oil, including crude oil segregation, up-grading and blending approaches.