Measuring sour crude oil for transportation safety

Transporting and storing sour crude oil and condensate in trucks, trains (rails), pipelines and vessels presents problems from a safety standpoint. Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is a toxic and deadly gas that is often present in crude oil (sour crude) and condensate. Even small amounts of H2S presents a health risk to personnel transporting the sour crude oil and condensate as well as pedestrians in case of accidents. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns H2S is an irritant and a chemical asphyxiant that can alter both oxygen utilization and the central nervous system. Death can result from exposure to sulfide gas vapors at levels of just 100 ppm.

Hydrogen Sulfide is highly corrosive. Over time H2S can corrode rail cars, trucks and other transport vessels that deliver crude oil which could lead to deadly accidents. H2S is also highly flammable which can lead to explosions should accidents occur during the transport of sour crude oil and condensate. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently issued a safety alert on January 2, 2014 following the recent rail derailments that caught fire west of Fargo, ND, and Lac-Megnatic, Quebec, indicating crude oil being transported from the Bakken region “may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil.”

Most rail, truck and pipeline facilities are now requiring low H2S content in crude oil and condensate. Some institutions and companies have implemented policies to turn away crude oil with more than 5 ppm H2S content. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is standing behind Enbridge Energy Partners by ruling that Enbridge reserves the right to reject crude that does not contain a hydrogen sulfide content of 5 parts per million (ppm) or less.” The rule went into effect in May of 2013. The FERC also approved a 5 ppm H2S limit by Tesoro Corp. effective Jan. 1 2014 and True companies at 10 ppm H2S limit effective April 1 of 2014. OSHA has set the maximum exposure limits of hydrogen sulfide “at either 10 or 20 ppm…with an absolute prohibition of exposure above 50 ppm.”

The Solution

Before transportation of crude oil or condensate takes place, transporters should know how much H2S content is in the crude oil or condensate in order to make informed safety decisions. Analytical Systems International has developed an exclusive system to meet the demands of transporters by measuring H2S directly in the crude oil or condensate in a closed-loop system, eliminating the risk of H2S exposure to personnel.

The 205 H2S in Crude Oil Analyzer is a field-proven and cost-effective analyzer capable of measuring a wide range of H2S concentrations. The 205 has been awarded many technical and commercial certificates from major oil and gas producers including Saudi Aramco and Chevron and are successfully operating around the world.

Key Features

-The 205 is the only safe and proven system available for measuring H2S in crude oil and condensate

-Measure the H2S in a closed system continuously or on an “as needed” basis

-The analyzer is the only system specific to H2S with no known interference from other compounds. This eliminates costly ‘false high readings’ of H2S

-The analyzer is cost-effective and can pay for itself in only weeks. This allows implementation of multiple analyzers across the process

-The analyzer has few moving parts resulting in very high up-time and very minimal maintenance

-The analyzer is very easy to operate, with no formal training required

-No calibrations are required

Typical Applications

Truck loading/off-loading | Before crude oil or condensate is loaded onto trucks for transportation, it is important to know the hydrogen sulfide content for the safety of the truck operator as well as other motorists on the road. The online 205 H2S in Crude Oil Analyzer can measure the sour crude oil or condensate continuously as the crude oil or condensate is being loaded on the truck. The portable and laboratory version 205L can measure spot samples of crude oil or condensate for H2S quickly before loading of the crude oil on the truck takes place.

Rail facility loading/off-loading | Rail facilities that transport products such as crude oil and condensate have been designed on the basis of very low H2S content. H2S content can increase without warning even on normally “sweet” crude oil wells. Measurement of the H2S content is critical for the safety of the operators and handlers.

Pipeline transport & storage of Crude Oil | Due to the toxicity of H2S, corrosion of pipelines, tanks, FPSO and others can occur over time if transporters are not aware of H2S content. The model 205 H2S in Crude Oil Analyzer will accurately measure H2S levels and allows records of historical data.

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