Characterization of naturally occurring radioactive materials in Libyan oil pipe scale using a germanium detector and Monte Carlo simulation

A. S. Habib, A. L. Shutt, P. H. Regan, M. C. Matthews, Huda Al-Sulaiti, D. A. Bradley

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Radioactive scale formation in various oil production facilities is acknowledged to pose a potential significant health and environmental issue. The presence of such an issue in Libyan oil fields was recognized as early as 1998. The naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) involved in this matter are radium isotopes (226Ra and 228Ra) and their decay products, precipitating into scales formed on the surfaces of production equipment. A field trip to a number of onshore Libyan oil fields has indicated the existence of elevated levels of specific activity in a number of locations in some of the more mature oil fields. In this study, oil scale samples collected from different parts of Libya have been characterized using gamma spectroscopy through use of a well shielded HPGe spectrometer. To avoid potential alpha-bearing dust inhalation and in accord with safe working practices at this University, the samples, contained in plastic bags and existing in different geometries, are not permitted to be opened. MCNP, a Monte Carlo simulation code, is being used to simulate the spectrometer and the scale samples in order to obtain the system absolute efficiency and then to calculate sample specific activities. The samples are assumed to have uniform densities and homogeneously distributed activity. Present results are compared to two extreme situations that were assumed in a previous study: (i) with the entire activity concentrated at a point on the sample surface proximal to the detector, simulating the sample lowest activity, and; (ii) with the entire activity concentrated at a point on the sample surface distal to the detector, simulating the sample highest activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-355
Number of pages4
JournalRadiation Physics and Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014



  • Gamma-ray spectroscopy
  • Hyper-pure germanium detector
  • MCNP
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • NORM
  • Oil pipe scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation

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