What is Hot Oil?

Heavy crude oil (or extra heavy crude oil) is highly-viscous oil that cannot easily flow to production wells under normal reservoir conditions.

It is referred to as “heavy” because its density or specific gravity is higher than that of light crude oil. Heavy crude oil has been defined as any liquid petroleum with an API gravity less than 20°. Physical properties that differ between heavy crude oils and lighter grades include higher viscosity and specific gravity, as well as heavier molecular composition. In 2010, the World Energy Council defined extra heavy oil as crude oil having a gravity of less than 10° and a reservoir viscosity of no more than 10,000 centipoises. When reservoir viscosity measurements are not available, extra-heavy oil is considered by the WEC to have a lower limit of 4° °API. In other words, oil with a density greater than 1000 kg/m3 or, equivalently, and a specific gravity greater than 1 and a reservoir viscosity of no more than 10,000 centipoises. Heavy oils and asphalt are dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs). They have a “low solubility and are with viscosity lower and density higher than water. Large spills of DNAPL will quickly penetrate the full depth of the aquifer and accumulate on its bottom.”

Heavy crude oil is heated and converted into hot oil with the help of hot oilers. These are generally truck mounted or skid mounted units whose primary purpose is to heat heavy crude oil or any treatment fluid. Hot oilers are very much helpful in routinely removal of wax deposits from the upper wellbore sections of wells in cold climates where low wellhead temperatures increase the susceptibility of heavy crude oil and wax precipitation. A hot oil unit is designed to clear these blockages by circulating the heated fluid into piping, tubing, casing or tanks. High-pressure units remove paraffin from well tubing & pipelines.

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