Fast and Easy Onsite Measurement of Oil in Water and Hydrocarbons in Drilling Mud

Portable infrared (IR) analysers, such as InfraCal Analyzers from Wilks, have been used worldwide for measuring offshore oil in produced water for over 50 years. They have the advantage over other analytical instruments in that the measurement can be performed by non-technical users and it is relatively unaffected by composition changes in the effluent. They also provide offshore users with the necessary ruggedness and reliability that is a key requirement of such applications.

In addition to their use for measuring oil content in produced water on oil-drilling platforms, portable IR analysers are ideal for both onshore and offshore oil measurements in drill cuttings. There are limits on hydrocarbon levels depending whether on drill cuttings are to be disposed of overboard or via land applications.

While water samples typically have hydrocarbon levels in the part per million (ppm) range, drill cuttings can be in the 1% to 10% range. Both the InfraCal TOG/TPH Analyzer Model HATR-T2 and the new InfraCal 2 Model ATR-SP are configured with horizontal ATR sample stages. Hexane, pentane or cyclohexane is used as the extraction solvent for oil-in-water levels from the 0.3 ppm to 1,000 ppm range. The solvent is evaporated off and the infrared absorbance due to the residual oil film is measured.

The same InfraCal Analyzers with an ATR sample stage can be used for the higher 1% to 10% range found in drill cuttings. The sample is diluted by using a solvent that does not have an infrared absorbance at the hydrocarbon wavelength, such as tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene) or S-316 (dimer/trimer of chlorotrifluorethylene). This therefore does not require evaporation. The solvent dilution allows for high percent range measurements with the same ATR sample stage used to measure the ppm levels.

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