Oil Mist and Vapour Concentrations from Drilling Fluids: Inter- and Intra-laboratory Comparison of Chemical Analyses

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Abstract

Objectives:

There are no recognized analytical methods for measuring oil mist and vapours arising from drilling fluids used in offshore petroleum drilling industry. To inform the future development of improved methods of analysis for oil mist and vapours this study assessed the inter- and intra-laboratory variability in oil mist and vapour analysis. In addition, sample losses during transportation and storage were assessed.

Methods:

Replicate samples for oil mist and vapour were collected using the 37-mm Millipore closed cassette and charcoal tube assembly. Sampling was conducted in a simulated shale shaker room, similar to that found offshore for processing drilling fluids. Samples were analysed at two different laboratories, one in Norway and one in the UK. Oil mist samples were analysed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), while oil vapour samples were analysed by gas chromatography (GC).

Results:

The comparison of replicate samples showed substantial within- and between-laboratory variability in reported oil mist concentrations. The variability in oil vapour results was considerably reduced compared to oil mist, provided that a common method of calibration and quantification was adopted. The study also showed that losses can occur during transportation and storage of samples.

Conclusions:

There is a need to develop a harmonized method for the quantification of oil mist on filter and oil vapour on charcoal supported by a suitable proficiency testing scheme for laboratories involved in the analysis of occupational hygiene samples for the petroleum industry. The uncertainties in oil mist and vapour measurement have substantial implications in relation to compliance with occupational exposure limits and also in the reliability of any exposure–response information reported in epidemiological studies.

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