School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Carboxylic acids and acidity in crude oils

Carboxylic acids and acidity in crude oils

Acidity in crude oils has huge economic consequences since it causes serious corrosion problems in the production, transportation and refining facilities, so high acid oils are thus much less valuable than low acid oils.

Project Leader: Dr Martin Jones
Sponsors: Oil Industry Consortium, Malaysian Government
University of Calgary
Start/end dates: 2008-2014

Project Details

The causes of and controls on acidity in oils are still poorly understood, although in-reservoir biodegradation, which results in the formation of naphthenic acids is one known cause high total acid number (TAN) oils.

However, conventionally measured naphthenic acids can often only account for a proportion of oil TAN.

The analysis of carboxylic acids in crude oils can also provide information on source, migration and alteration history of crude oils since they are released from the kerogen during oil generation, can be picked up during secondary migration through organic-rich rocks, as well as being produced during hydrocarbon biodegradation.

This project is aimed at elucidating the causes of and geochemical controls on acidity in crude oils.

Academic Staff

  • Dr Neil Gray
  • Professor Ian Head
  • Dr Martin Jones
  • Professor Stephen Larter
  • Dr Helen Talbot


  • Dr Carolyn Aitken