Physical and Chemical Properties of Oil and Gas Under Reservoir and Deep-Sea Conditions

  • Thomas B. P. OldenburgEmail author
  • Philip Jaeger
  • Jonas GrosEmail author
  • Scott A. Socolofsky
  • Simeon Pesch
  • Jagoš R. Radović
  • Aprami Jaggi


Petroleum is one of the most complex naturally occurring organic mixtures. The physical and chemical properties of petroleum in a reservoir depend on its molecular composition and the reservoir conditions (temperature, pressure). The composition of petroleum varies greatly, ranging from the simplest gas (methane), condensates, conventional crude oil to heavy oil and oil sands bitumen with complex molecules having molecular weights in excess of 1000 daltons (Da). The distribution of petroleum constituents in a reservoir largely depends on source facies (original organic material buried), age (evolution of organisms), depositional environment (dysoxic versus anoxic), maturity of the source rock (kerogen) at time of expulsion, primary/secondary migration, and in-reservoir alteration such as biodegradation, gas washing, water washing, segregation, and/or mixing from different oil charges. These geochemical aspects define the physical characteristics of a petroleum in the reservoir, including its density and viscosity. When the petroleum is released from the reservoir through an oil exploration accident like in the case of the Deepwater Horizon event, several processes are affecting the physical and chemical properties of the petroleum from the well head into the deep sea. A better understanding of these properties is crucial for the development of near-field oil spill models, oil droplet and gas bubble calculations, and partitioning behavior of oil components in the water. Section 3.1 introduces general aspects of the origin of petroleum, the impact of geochemical processes on the composition of a petroleum, and some molecular compositional and physicochemical background information of the Macondo well oil. Section 3.2 gives an overview over experimental determination of all relevant physicochemical properties of petroleum, especially of petroleum under reservoir conditions. Based on the phase equilibrium modeling using equations of state (EOS), a number of these properties can be predicted which is presented in Sect. 3.3 along with a comparison to experimental data obtained with methods described in Sect. 3.2.


Physicochemical oil properties Molecular oil composition Deep sea Petroleum reservoir Phase equilibria modeling 



This research was made possible by a from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/C-IMAGE. Data are publicly available through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) at (DOI: 10.7266/n7-xpgb-g817, DOI: 10.7266/N7DF6PQK, DOI: 10.7266/N7HX19QW, DOI: 10.7266/N7J38R2F) and at


  1. Abdelrahim MA, Rao DN (2014) Measurement of interfacial tension in hydrocarbon/water/dispersant systems at deepwater conditions. Oil Spill Remediat. Wiley Online Books. Scholar
  2. Aeppli C, Reddy CM, Nelson RK, Kellermann MY, Valentine DL (2013) Recurrent oil sheens at the Deepwater Horizon disaster site fingerprinted with synthetic hydrocarbon drilling fluids. Environ Sci Technol 47:8211–8219. Scholar
  3. Ahmed T (2010) Reservoir Engineering Handbook, 4th edn. Elsevier, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  4. Aucejo A, Burguet MC, Munoz R, Marques JL (1995) Densities, viscosities, and refractive indices of some n-alkane binary liquid systems at 298.15K. J Chem Eng Data 40:141–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartha A, De Nicolais N, Sharma V, Roy SK, Srivastava R, Pomerantz AE, Sanclemente M, Perez W, Nelson RK, Reddy CM, Gros J, Arey JS, Lelijveld J, Dubey S, Tortella D, Hantschel T, Peters KE, Mullins OC (2015) Combined petroleum system modeling and comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography to improve understanding of the crude oil chemistry in the llanos basin, Colombia. Energy Fuel 29:4755–4767. Scholar
  6. Bauget F, Lenormand R (2002) Mechanisms of bubble formation by pressure decline in porous media SPE 77457Google Scholar
  7. Bashford FB, Adams JC (1883) An attempt to test the theories on capillary action. University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Blander M, Katz JL (1975) Bubble nucleation in liquids. AICHE J 21(5):833–848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bennett B, Adams JJ, Gray ND, Sherry A, Oldenburg TBP, Huang H, Larter SR, Head IM (2013) The controls on the composition of biodegraded oils in the deep subsurface – part 3. The impact of microorganism distribution on petroleum geochemical gradients in biodegraded petroleum reservoirs. J Org Geochem 56:94–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chevalier JLE, Petrino PJ, Gaston-Bonhomme YH (1990) Viscosity and density of some aliphatic, cyclic, and aromatic hydrocarbons binary liquid mixtures. J Chem Eng Data 35:206–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crank J (1975) The mathematics of diffusion, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 44–89Google Scholar
  12. Daling PS, Leirvik F, Almas IK, Brandvik PJ, Hansen AL, Reed M (2014) Surface weathering and dispersibility of Macondo crude oil. Mar Pollut Bull 87:300–310. Scholar
  13. Danesh A (1998) PVT and phase behaviour of petroleum reservoir fluids. Elsevier. ed, Developments in Petroleum Science, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  14. Eggers R (ed) (2012) High pressure applications in enhanced crude oil recovery, high pressure processes. Wiley. Chapter 3.2Google Scholar
  15. Firoozabadi A, Ramey HJ (1988) Surface tension of water-hydrocarbon systems at reservoir conditions. J Can Pet Technol 27:41–48. Scholar
  16. Gros J, Nabi D, Würz B, Wick LY, Brussaard CPD, Huisman J, van der Meer JR, Reddy CM, Arey JS (2014) First day of an oil spill on the open sea: early mass transfers of hydrocarbons to air and water. Environ Sci Technol 48:9400–9411. Scholar
  17. Gros J, Reddy CM, Nelson RK, Socolofsky SA, Arey JS (2016) Simulating gas−liquid−water partitioning and fluid properties of petroleum under pressure: implications for deep-sea blowouts. Environ Sci Technol 50:7397–7408. Scholar
  18. Gros J, Socolofsky SA, Dissanayake AL, Jun I, Zhao L, Boufadel MC, Reddy CM, Arey JS (2017) Petroleum dynamics in the sea and influence of subsea dispersant injection during Deepwater Horizon. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:201612518. Scholar
  19. Hayduk W, Laudie H (1974) Prediction of diffusion coefficients for nonelectrolytes in dilute aqueous solutions. AICHE J 20:611–615. Scholar
  20. Head IM, Jones DM, Larter SR (2003) Biological activity in the deep subsurface and the origin of heavy oil. Nature 426:344–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jaeger P, Alotaibi M, Nasr-El-Din H (2010) Influence of compressed carbon dioxide on the capillarity of the gas-crude oil-reservoir water system. J Eng Data 55:5246–5251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jaggi A, Snowdon RW, Stopford A, Radovic JR, Oldenburg TBP, Larter SR (2017) Experimental simulation of crude oil-water partitioning behavior of BTEX compounds during a deep submarine oil spill. Org Geochem 108:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kalikmanov VI (2013) Nucleation theory. Lecture notes in physics. Springer, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Knauer S, Schenk M, Köddermann T, Reith D, Jaeger P (2017) Interfacial tension and related properties of ionic liquids in CH4 and CO2 at elevated pressures: experimental data and molecular dynamics simulation. JCED J Eng Data 62(8):2234–2243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lehr W, Jones R, Evans M, Simecek-Beatty D, Overstreet R (2002) Revisions of the ADIOS oil spill model. Environ Model Softw 17:189–197. Scholar
  26. Lin H, Duan Y-Y (2005) Empirical correction to the Peng–Robinson equation of state for the saturated region. Fluid Phase Equilib 233:194–203. Scholar
  27. McCain WD (1990) The properties of petroleum fluids. PennWell BooksGoogle Scholar
  28. McGinnis DF, Greinert J, Artemov Y, Beaubien SE, Wüest A (2006) Fate of rising methane bubbles in stratified waters: how much methane reaches the atmosphere? J Geophys Res Oceans 111:C09007. Scholar
  29. McKenna AM, Nelson RK, Reddy CM, Savory JT, Kaiser NK, Fitzsimmons JE, Marshall AG, Rodgers RP (2013) Expansion of the analytical window for oil spill characterization by ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry: beyond gas chromatography. Environ Sci Technol 47:7530–7539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Michelsen ML, Mollerup JM (2007) Thermodynamic models: fundamentals & computational aspects, 2nd edn. Tie-Line Publications, HolteGoogle Scholar
  31. Oldenburg TBP, Brown M, Bennett B, Larter SR (2014) The impact of thermal maturity level on the composition of crude oils, assessed using ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry. Org Geochem 75:151–168. Scholar
  32. Oldenburg TBP, Jones M, Huang H, Bennett B, Shafiee NS, Head I, Larter SR (2017) The controls on the composition of biodegraded oils in the deep subsurface- part 4. Degradation and production of high molecular weight aromatic and polar species during in-reservoir biodegradation. Org Geochem 114:57–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Péneloux A, Rauzy E, Fréze R (1982) A consistent correction for Redlich-Kwong-soave volumes. Fluid Phase Equilib 8:7–23. Scholar
  34. Pesch S, Jaeger P, Jaggi A, Malone K, Hoffmann M, Krause D, Oldenburg TBP, Schlüter M (2018) Rise velocity of live-oil droplets in deep-sea oil spills. Environ Eng Sci 35:289–299. Scholar
  35. Peters KE, Walters CC, Moldowan JM (2005) The biomarker guide, volume 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  36. Reddy CM, Arey JS, Seewald JS, Sylva SP, Lemkau KL, Nelson RK, Carmichael CA, McIntyre CP, Fenwick J, Ventura GT, Van Mooy BAS, Camilli R (2012) Composition and fate of gas and oil released to the water column during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:20229–20234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Riazi MR (2005) Characterization and properties of petroleum fractions. ASTM International, West ConshohockenGoogle Scholar
  38. Ryerson TB, Camilli R, Kessler JD, Kujawinski EB, Reddy CM, Valentine DL, Atlas E, Blake DR, de Gouw J, Meinardi S, Parrish DD, Peischl J, Seewald JS, Warneke C (2012) Chemical data quantify Deepwater Horizon hydrocarbon flow rate and environmental distribution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:20246–20253. Scholar
  39. Schou Pedersen K, Kristensen PL, Azeem Shaikh J (2006) Phase behavior of petroleum reservoir fluids. CRC Press, Boca RatonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schwarzenbach RP, Gschwend PM, Imboden DM (2003) Environmental organic chemistry, 2nd edn. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  41. Sebastião P, Guedes Soares C (1995) Modeling the fate of oil spills at sea. Spill Sci Technol Bull 2:121–131. Scholar
  42. Sharqawy MH, Lienhard JH, Zubair SM (2010) Thermophysical properties of seawater: a review of existing correlations and data. Desalination Water Treat 16:354–380. Scholar
  43. Tissot BP, Welte DH (1984) Petroleum formation and occurrence. Springer, HeidelbergCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Valentine DL, Kessler JD, Redmond MC, Mendes SD, Heintz MB, Farwell C, Hu L, Sinnaman FS, Yvon-Lewis S, Du M, Chan EW, Tigreros FG, Villanueva CJ (2010) Propane respiration jump-starts microbial response to a deep oil spill. Science 330:208–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Venkataraman P, Tang J, Frenkel E, McPherson GL, He J, Raghavan SR, Kolesnichenko V, Bose A, John VT (2013) Attachment of a Hydrophobically modified biopolymer at the oil–water Interface in the treatment of oil spills. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 5:3572–3580. Scholar
  46. Wardlaw GD, Arey JS, Reddy CM, Nelson RK, Ventura GT, Valentine DL (2008) Disentangling oil weathering at a marine seep using GC×GC: broad metabolic specificity accompanies subsurface petroleum biodegradation. Environ Sci Technol 42:7166–7173. Scholar
  47. Zick AA (2013) Equation-of-state fluid characterization and analysis of the Macondo reservoir fluids. (Expert report prepared on behalf of the United States No. TREX-011490R)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas B. P. Oldenburg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip Jaeger
    • 2
  • Jonas Gros
    • 3
    Email author
  • Scott A. Socolofsky
    • 4
  • Simeon Pesch
    • 5
  • Jagoš R. Radović
    • 1
  • Aprami Jaggi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeoscienceUniversity of Calgary, PRGCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Eurotechnica GmbHBargteheideGermany
  3. 3.GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung KielKielGermany
  4. 4.Zachry Department of Civil EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  5. 5.Hamburg University of Technology, Institute of Multiphase FlowsHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations