Speciation of Mercury in Selected Areas of the Petroleum Value Chain.
Petroleum, natural gas, and natural gas condensate can contain low levels of mercury (Hg). The speciation of Hg can affect its behavior during processing, transport, and storage so efficient and safe management of Hg requires an understanding of its chemical form in oil, gas and byproducts. Here, X-ray absorption spectroscopy was used to determine the Hg speciation in samples of solid residues collected throughout the petroleum value chain including stabilized crude oil residues, sediments from separation tanks and condensate glycol dehydrators, distillation column pipe scale, and biosludge from wastewater treatment. In all samples except glycol dehydrators, metacinnabar (β-HgS) was the primary form of Hg. Electron microscopy on particles from a crude sediment showed nanosized (<100 nm) particles forming larger aggregates, and confirmed the colocalization of Hg and sulfur. In sediments from glycol dehydrators, organic Hg(SR)2
accounted for ∼60% of the Hg, with ∼20% present as β-HgS and/or Hg(SR)4
species. β-HgS was the predominant Hg species in refinery biosludge and pipe scale samples. However, the balance of Hg species present in these samples depended on the nature of the crude oil being processed, i.e. sweet (low sulfur crudes) vs sour (higher sulfur crudes). This information on Hg speciation in the petroleum value chain will inform development of better engineering controls and management practices for Hg.
Avellan, A; Stegemeier, JP; Gai, K; Dale, J; Hsu-Kim, H; Levard, C; O'Rear, D; Hoelen, TP; Lowry, GV
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