Nearly all crude oils and some heavier refined products form stable water-in-oil (w/o) emulsions when spilled and weathered at sea. Breaking these emulsions and discarding the separated water allow more oil to be recovered and stored by OSRVs (Oil Spill Recovery Vessels) and make the handling of oily waste easier due to viscosity reduction. This study was conducted to determine whether a combination of heat and emulsion breaker is more effective than either technique used alone. The results will be used to prepare guidelines for treatment of w/o emulsions and planning of large-scale tests. A bench-scale laboratory study was carried out using emulsions prepared from different crude oil residues (BCF-17, Alaskan North Slope and Bonny Light) and a Bunker C fuel oil/gas oil blend (IF-80). Tubes containing w/o emulsions, with or without emulsion breaker added, were partially submerged in a water bath at different temperatures to simulate the heating system of the recovered oil tanks onboard the OSRVs. The effectiveness of the emulsion breaking was measured by recording settled water over a 24 h period. The results showed that: The stability of a w/o emulsion and its response to heat and emulsion breaker is highly dependent on different characteristics of the oil from which it is formed. Stable w/o emulsions that can be slowly broken by heat alone were, in general, broken much more rapidly if emulsion breaker was added in addition to heat. The w/o emulsions formed from relatively paraffinic crude oil (e.g. ANS) exhibit faster breaking rates than w/o emulsions formed from crude oils with high asphaltene content, such as BCF-17. All w/o emulsions formed from the crude oil residues could be broken by the application of moderate amounts of heat. W/o emulsions produced from Bunker C/Diesel oil blend were not broken at all by relatively high heat inputs (up to 100 degrees C) and required both the addition off heat and emulsion breaker to obtain partially breaking. Copyright (C) 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.