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KBC to Address Mercury-related Risk in Upstream Oil and Gas Processing Via New Partnerships

With co-funding from the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC), KBC will collaborate with INPEX Corporation and Heriot-Watt University to generate new data for enhanced prediction of mercury solubility in oil and gas processing. The parties will utilize their industry-leading test and measurement facilities and techniques, rigorous thermodynamic modelling and process simulation software and deep industry know-how.

Mercury is naturally present in most reservoir fluids. It is highly corrosive and its accumulation in pipelines or operating units, such as heat exchangers or separators, can compromise their structural integrity. Consequently, overly conservative approaches in process facility design and construction are often taken, with excessive design margins that may lead to elevated project capital costs and operating expenditures.

Approximately five per cent of the total cost of oil and gas production facilities are attributable to mercury removal. Enhanced prediction of mercury accumulation across facilities would enable more effective selection and right-sizing of equipment within safety margins, as well as more efficient operation and maintenance without compromising the wellbeing of personnel and the environment.

"Mercury is a well-recognized yet under-researched challenge facing design, operations and maintenance teams across the upstream oil and gas sector," comments Andy Howell, CEO of KBC. "I'm confident that the breadth and depth of resources and capabilities of KBC, Heriot-Watt University and INPEX Corporation will yield valuable insights for addressing mercury-related issues across the industry."

The research project is expected to be completed by March 2020.

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