We conducted a field study at Eugene Island 341-A to develop guidelines for the cost-effective prevention of NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials).

The specific objectives of this study are to:

  • determine the root cause of the NORM problem at this facility, using a wide variety of diagnostic techniques.

  • consider available engineering options to prevent NORM from forming.

  • determine the most cost-effective engineering solution.

An overall objective is to generalize the results and diagnostic techniques developed for Eugene Island 341-A to other production facilities, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.

This study shows that the NORM problem at Eugene Island 341-A stems from mixing incompatible produced waters at the surface. Wells completed in Sand Block A have a water with relatively high barium concentration, those in Sand Block B and C are high in sulfate. When these waters mix (starting in the production headers), barium sulfate forms. Radium that is present in the produced brines co-precipitates with the barium, thus creating a radioactive barium sulfate scale deposit (NORM).

The barium sulfate (and hence NORM) can be prevented by improving the current scale inhibition program. Keys to an effective program are the continual, reliable injection of ah appropriate scale inhibitor at an effective dosage, ahead of the point where scaling conditions begin.

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