MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: what is the difference between light crude and sweet crude?

Date: Fri Nov 12 08:48:54 2004
Posted By: Leslie Allen, Staff, Laboratory Chemist, Valero Refining Company
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1092708717.Ch


The crude oils properties, light and sweet, refers to their physical properties. Light crude has a higher API gravity while heavy crude has a lower gravity. They are actually thin and thick fluids. The term “sweet” refers to the lower amount of sulfur in the crude. Many US refineries seek sweet crude due to the refineries processing ability to handle sulfur. Gasoline and diesel fuel sulfur levels have been moving toward lower sulfur content, requiring more treatment at the refinery. Refineries that handle sour crude do so at an elevated cost. The sour crude oils are sold at a discount versus the sweet crude oils.

Kuwait borders southern Iraq. The large Rumailah oil field extends into Kuwait. Therefore the Iraq crude would essentially be similar to the Kuwait crude.

I understand the internet has vast amounts of information, however, not all the information is factual. Therefore, the following articles may or may not contain factual information.

According to an article at, “In 1990, however, relations with Iraq worsened. Iraq accused Kuwait of exceeding OPEC production quotas for oil and “stealing” more than $2 billion in oil from a contested reserve that lay beneath both countries. Iraq also demanded Kuwait cancel the debt Iraq owed from the Iran-Iraq War. When Saddam Hussein mobilized Iraqi troops on the border in late July, Kuwait had neither the military might nor the external protection to prevent an invasion. On August 2 Iraq invaded Kuwait and quickly overwhelmed Kuwaiti forces. An international force assembled in neighboring Saudi Arabia evicted Iraq from Kuwait after six weeks of fighting in early 1991 (see Persian Gulf War).“

According to an article at, …Iraq shared Baghdad's accusation concerns a large oil-field Rumailah, whose southern tip nudges over the border into Kuwait, where it is called Rutqa. Kuwait pumped 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the field in the 1980s. Iraq says Kuwait is now tapping oil from Iraqi territory by drilling at an angle under the boundary, something Iraq says Kuwait also did in the 1980s. Kuwait denies all charges.

Lawyer Rodman Bundy, a Paris-based expert on boundary disputes, said that if a country performed horizontal drilling across a border without the agreement of its neighbor then it would have serious questions to answer in international law.

But vertical drilling by a country on its own land would pose no such difficulty. Kuwait says this is what it is doing.

Iraq has nursed a fresh sense of grievance about the area since the UN commission responsible for the 1993 demarcation transferred a total of 11 former Iraqi oil wells to Kuwait.

The demarcation commission, in effect, found that it was Iraq that had gone beyond its borders in its oil operations.

Although the UN demarcation runs both northeast and south of an informal boundary used pre-war, the commission was careful to say it had not set a new boundary or reallocated land.

And finally, a contradiction from articles I read on the internet. A study by the US embassy in Kuwait in 1995 argued that the geology of Rumailah/Rutqa made it unlikely Kuwait had drained Iraqi oil. Any attempt by Kuwait to boost production in that way would have flooded its own wells with water, it said. -Reuters

But according to an article at, …( Rumailah )oil field, the larger part of which was in Iraq. However, the slope towards Kuwait and the sea meant a flow pressure in that direction. The Kuwaiti rulers, taking advantage of the war, were pumping out more than their agreed upon share of crude oil. Iraq after the disengagement with Iran focused on this issue and asked Kuwait to stay within agreed upon norms or face the consequences.

It’s difficult to say who’s right or wrong, conflicts arise when vast amounts of monies are in the formula!

Have a nice day.

Current Queue | Current Queue for Chemistry | Chemistry archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Chemistry.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2004. All rights reserved.