Mercury has been identified as a major health hazard in the oil & gas industry. The reason is on the one side the presence of mercury and on the other side its neurotoxicity and its ability to accumulate. Mercury may be found in crude oil and natural gas condensate and follows the production flow in different chemical forms. Reservoirs with sweet crude oil and high temperature/pressure seem to experience the highest content of mercury.

To help the Norwegian petroleum industry to control the risk of mercury exposure, a guideline has been developed. The experience and needs of the different actors in the industry have been collected, shared and discussed to compile this guideline. The objective of this work has been to control the health risk associated with handling and processing crude oils and natural gas condensates that contain mercury.

The guideline has been developed, tested and implemented in the industry. It has in some instances been an eye opener to reveal a hidden hazard, in other case it has been an effective transfer of good practice between companies. Prior to its release the guideline was field tested in real offshore maintenance activities. The experiences from the testing have been implemented into the final version of the guideline.

Joining forces to prepare industry guidelines is a fruitful way of compiling and sharing best practise. The mercury guideline has acted as an eye opener to the industry, and has enabled the industry to better control mercury exposure.

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