High Accuracy Contamination Estimation in Hydrocarbon Samples Using Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography


C. Reddy, O. Mullins, B. Raghuraman, and R. Nelson
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Detailed characterization of complex oil mixtures is used for forensic investigation, determination of oil origin, and basic research on oil formation processes.  Heretofore, complete separation and visualization of these complex mixtures required multi-stage physical separation and tedious techniques that often lead to doubtful quantification and loss of minor components.  Advances in capillary-column gas chromatography, gas-valve switching, and detector response has allowed significant improvement in consistent, quantitative analysis of complete samples and, therefore, reliable detailed “fingerprints” of oil samples.


The invention is a method of estimating contamination of oil-based drilling mud filtrate in a hydrocarbon sample.  A filtered hydrocarbon sample contaminated with oil-based drilling mud is analyzed using two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC).  The level of contamination of the sample with oil-based drilling mud can be determined by identifying one or more unique components or tracers in the sample and summing their peak volumes, and then comparing those to peak volumes of a clean hydrocarbon sample.


  • Quantitation of drilling mud contamination in oil well samples
  • Comparison of oils for reservoir source analysis
  • Forensic comparison of oil samples that compensates for weathering changes

Key Benefits

  • Rapid test of complete oil sample
  • Detailed ratios of minor components achievable
  • Multi-parameter pattern recognition lead to more reliable, defensible results

Stage of Development

The technology is availabe for license.

Patent Number

Issued: US7805979 B2

Relevant Industry

  • Analytical Instrumentation – Gas Chromatography
  • Oil and Gas