NORM in oil and gas industry
NORM is created in the gas and oil production process, when produced fluids from reservoirs carry sulfates up to the surface of the Earth's crust. Barium, Calcium and Strontium sulfates are larger compounds, and the smaller atoms, such as Ra-226 and Ra-228 can fit into the empty spaces of the compound and be carried through the produced fluids. As the fluids approach the surface, changes in the temperature and pressure cause the Barium, Calcium, Strontium and Radium sulfates to precipitate out of solution and form scale on the inside, or on occasion, the outside of the tubulars and/or casing. The use of tubulars in the production process that are NORM contaminated does not cause a health hazard if the scale is inside the tubulars and the tubulars remain downhole. Enhanced concentrations of Ra-226 and Ra-228 and the daughter products such as Pb-210 may also occur in sludge that accumulates in oilfield pits, tanks and lagoons. Radon gas in the natural gas streams concentrate as NORM in gas processing activities. Radon (Rn-222) decays to Pb-210, then to Bi-210, Po-210 and stabilizes with Pb-206. Radon decay elements occur as a shiny film on the inner surface of inlet lines, treating units, pumps and valves associated with propylene, ethane and propane processing systems.