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During the last 5 years, an exploration program was carried out in the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, located in eastern Venezuela. Over 600 wells were drilled and evaluated in order to quantify the reserves and to obtain information about the crudes accumulated in the 54,000 km2 (20,850 mi2) area of the belt.

Physical and chemical properties of more than 300 crudes were determined. Analysis of these data shows that crudes in the eastern part are different from those in the western part of the belt. Kinematic viscosity is dependent on API gravity in the eastern part, to the extent that a variation of 1° could correspond to up to one order of magnitude change in viscosity. The rest of the properties are interrelated, except gross oil composition; this is attributed to the severe alteration that affects most of the oils in the area. There is no clear-cut dependence among the properties of crudes from the western part owing to the low gravities involved <10°API). These crudes, however, present less alteration.

A set of 13 properties was correlated, but it was found that only five were required to describe the quality of the crudes: API gravity, viscosity, vanadium, sulfur, and asphaltenes content. Thus, representative crudes for the area can be defined.

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