Mercury services

mercury-drops-transQa3 has extensive experience in the determination of mercury, especially in oil industry samples and is one of the leading authorities for this type of specialised service. This experience extends to the preparation of sampling equipment, on-site sampling from process streams and analysis of gases, liquids and solids for both organic and inorganic mercury species. Sample analysis is normally carried out in the field and Qa3 regularly supply personnel for this specific service.

  • Mercury in the Oil and Gas Industry
  • Mercury During Exploration and Appraisal Well Testing
  • Mercury In Gas and Oil Processing and Refining
  • Mercury Speciation

Mercury in the Oil and Gas Industry

Mercury is a naturaly occurring element found in trace amounts throughout the environment. Concentrations in crude oils vary globally but can range from < 1 ppb (µg/kg) to 10’s ppm (mg/kg).
The origins of mercury in the oil and gas are not fully understood but likely to originate via secondary geological sources.
In its pure form, mercury is a heavy silver coloured metal, has a melting point of -38.8oC, is liquid at room temperature and known as ‘elemental’ or ‘metallic’ mercury (Hg0). Although mercury has a boiling point of 356.9oC, mercury emits vapour at room temperature at significant concentrations.
Mercury can be oxidised to form mercurous (Hg(I)) or mercuric (Hg(II) or Hg2+) salts. Most of the mercury in the environment occurs as inorganic mercuric salts, although small quantities of organic mercury compounds, also called organomercurials, exist.
In oil and gas the predominant forms are as follows:


Mercury is particularly problematic to the oil and gas industry for several reasons:

    • Processing Plant and Pipeline Specification
      • High mercury concentrations can lead to pipeline entry restrictions
      • Fiscal penalties are often imposed by processing plants and refineries for feedstock with high mercury concentrations
    • Corrosion of plant
      • Chemisorption on steel processing equipment
      • Amalgam corrosion
      • Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME)
    • Precipitation (HgS):
      • Fouling
      • Plugging of equipment
    • Catalytic poisoning
    • Environmental and Health Issues
    • Reduce final product quality and value
    • Trace mercury contamination can lead to both fiscal penalty and intermediate feedstock specification failure (e.g. off spec butane feedstock for butadiene plant)

Due to the challenging nature of mercury determination in the oil and gas sector samples, it is often prudent to monitor concentrations on an ongoing basis. Qa3 has vast experience in the determination of mercury in samples originating upstream through midstream to downstream processing and in the final refined products.

Mercury During Exploration, Appraisal Well Testing and Early Production Systems

Qa3 has extensive experience providing mercury chemistry services to the upstream oil and gas sector during exploration and appraisal well testing worldwide.
Qa3 provide experience chemists to quantify mercury in:

    • Stabilised oil / condensate
    • Pressurised oil / condensate
    • Produced gas
    • Produced water
    • Process Chemicals (e.g. amine, glycol)
    • Solids
    • Drilling muds and brines

Mercury In Gas and Oil Processing and Refining

oil-rig-nightQa3 has extensive experience providing mercury chemistry services to the downstream oil and gas sector onshore and offshore worldwide.
Qa3 provide experienced chemists to quantify mercury in all process samples and chemicals. A common requirement of downstream clients it to obtain a better understanding of mercury distribution across their process. Qa3 are able to provide a mercury mass balance survey across a facility to give process operators a clear picture of mercury partitioning within the process. It is important for clients to understand where in the process mercury may be accumulating or being removed.
If installed Qa3 can monitor mercury across a removal bed to check bed efficiency and potentially bed life.
If mercury is present in a process it can often be critical to conduct mercury monitoring during plant shutdowns to ensure workers are not exposed to mercury vapour in the air released from process equipment after breaking of containment. Qa3 consultants have carried out monitoring of workplace air for clients ensuring compliance with occupational exposure limits for mercury.

Mercury Speciation

Sometimes it is necessary to understand the form of mercury in order to evaluate likely partition routes and also to decide what technology to select for removal of mercury. Qa3 can conduct a variety of speciation analyses from onsite speciation analysis using the physical and chemical properties of the mercury species to laboratory analysis determining molecular mercury species. Please contact us for more details on our mercury speciation service.