Archive for December 7th, 2009

Optimizing oil and gas

Monday, December 7th, 2009


“Lumbaziger Batz mit Bazillenrillen” artwork: Bellum Macchina

update 9.12.09: I just appended the above illustration to belows post and the post
in order to draw more attention to it.

In an article “Strahlender Abfall von Öl und Gas” by Juergen Doeschner of the public TV station WDR it was reported that the Oil and Gas industry kept quiet about the problem of nuclear waste occurring in oil and gas extraction. Here radioactive waste is due to naturally occurring radioactive materials which are surfaced from subsurface formations.

citation from the article: “Strahlender Abfall von Öl und Gas”

“Der Branchenverband begründet dieses Vorgehen mit der vermeintlichen Ungefährlichkeit der kontaminierten Rückstände. “Wir haben es hier mit natürlicher Radioaktivität in einem relativ geringen aktiven Bereich zu tun, der im Bereich der natürlichen Radioaktivität auch unserer Umgebung liegt”, sagt Verbandssprecher Pick.
[Hartmut Pick, Sprecher des Wirtschaftsverbandes Erdöl- und Erdgasgewinnung (WEG)].

Diese Aussage ist falsch und widerspricht den eigenen Angaben des Verbandes. Denn danach ist die durchschnittliche Belastung der radioaktiven Öl- und Gasabfälle fast 700 mal höher als die durchschnittliche Belastung des Erdbodens. Dem WDR liegt ein Papier der Firma Exxon vor, wonach die mittlere Belastung der Abfälle sogar 3000 mal höher ist.”

translation without guarantee: The business association justifies this approach with the putative innocuity of the contaminated residues. “We are dealing here with naturally occuring radioactivity which is in the range of naturally radioactivity as it occurs in our environment.”, says spokesman of the association Pick.
[Hartmut Pick, spokesman of the business association/Wirtschaftverband Erdöl- und Erdgasgewinnung (WEG)]

This statement is wrong and it is in contradiction to the information given by the association, according to the which the average contamination of radioactive waste from Oil and Gas is about 700 times bigger than the average contamination of the soil. WDR has a document from the company Exxon, according to which the average contamination is even 3000 times bigger.

For comparision a citation from of today:

In the oil and gas industry radium-226 and lead-210 are deposited as scale in pipes and equipment. If the scale has an activity of 30,000 Bq/kg it is ‘contaminated’ (Victorian regulations). This means that for Ra-226 scale (decay series of 9 progeny) the level of Ra-226 itself is 3300 Bq/kg. For Pb-210 scale (decay series of 3) the level is 10,000 Bq/kg. These figures refer to the scale, not the overall mass of pipes or other material (cf. Recycling, below). Published data (quoted in Cooper 2003) show radionuclide concentrations in scales up to 300,000 Bq/kg for Pb-210, 250,000 Bq/kg for Ra-226 and 100,000 Bq/kg for Ra-228. In Cooper 2005, the latter two maxima are 100,000 and 40,000 respectively.
->Cooper M.B. 2003, NORM in Australian Industries, report for Radiation Health & Safety Advisory Council.
->Cooper M.B. 2005, NORM in Australian Industries – Review of current inventories and future generation, report for Radiation Health & Safety Advisory Council of ARPANSA.

I understand (?) the citation from as that the australian threshold for contamination with Ra-226 is 3300 Bq/kg, the found value however 250,000 Bq/kg in the first cited report or 100,000 Bq/kg in the second cited report. That would mean that the values for radium 226 (which has a half-life of 1602 years) according to these reports in hard scale are roughly 75 times or roughly 30 times higher than they should be according to australian standards.

So alone by looking at the contamination with radium it seems there is a rather expensive nuclear waste problem in the oil and gas industry. Thus as the Strahlender Abfall von Öl und Gas”-article by Juergen Doeschner also reports the radioactivity threat from this kind of waste is in Kasachstan meanwhile bigger than the threat which stems from earlier nuclear bomb tests, furthermore in the US contaminated pipes where donated to preschools and Britain is spilling its corresponding problematic waste into the north sea.