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Oil and Gas: The Importance of Testing for Increased Mercury Levels

Annie Reedy

By Engaged Expert

Annie Reedy

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Annie is a highly experienced environmental testing specialist serving Oil Refinery and Chemical Plant Operators.

While documented, it may not be widely known that Mercury is naturally occurring in certain oil & gas reservoirs. This presence of mercury may lead to corrosion of production equipment, as well as being a concern to worker safety and the environment.

Many corrosion resistant materials, such as stainless steel, contain a chromium oxide film or plating. An amalgam is an alloy of mercury with another metal. Nearly all metals can form amalgams with mercury, which may cause them to lose their distinct properties, such as corrosion resistance. When mercury forms an amalgam with stainless steel, it causes an interference in the chromium coating-plating of the material, which then allows for and accelerates corrosion.

Case Study: Mercury Level Testing for Offshore Platforms 

Element has gained unique experience by providing analytical support to a major oil company for one of the first full scale mercury projects in the offshore Gulf of Mexico region, where a production platform was abandoned, decommissioned and remediated for mercury prior to final disposition of the platform and components.

offshore drilling site

Over a two year period, Element analyzed more than 12,000 mercury wipe samples with 99% On Time Delivery of results and 100% in First Time Right reporting.

Oil & gas wells with high temperature, high pressure and the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) may be most likely to have a mercury concern. And, in this reducing environment, mercury has the greatest effect on the materials of contact.

Proper assessment of this mercury risk can provide critical information during the acquisition of producing oil and gas properties, as well as during normal operations and end of life cycle.

Results are just a wipe away

Element can provide complete sample kits to obtain wipe samples, of a measured area of a material, and then test the wipe samples for mercury content.

Trust Element to provide the testing you need to keep your business, your workers, and the environment safe from harmful mercury levels. 

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