In the oil and gas industry, tracers are used to estimate residual oil saturation, to indicate the location and orientation of fractures in tight reservoirs, to identify and mark the direction of fluid flow in fractured deposits, to locate faults and discontinuities, and to measure fluid movement in injection wells during drilling. The tracers should behave in a mechanically similar manner to the tested substance, e.g., formation waters, oil or gas, and, on the other hand, they should significantly differ from them in terms of chemical properties so that it is possible to identify them. One of the fluorescent tracers used in the oil and gas industry, e.g., for inter-well tests during secondary or tertiary production methods (especially during reservoir hydration), is uranine. In order to assess the effectiveness of fluid movement measurements, it is necessary to determine the uranine content in formation waters. In this study, a method was developed to determine uranine in formation water samples using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (HPLC/FLD). The initial step in preparing samples for chromatographic analysis would be solid phase extraction (SPE). The method was validated and allows for the determination of uranine in formation water samples in the concentration range from 0.030 to 2.80 µg/L. The validation of the method included the analysis of factors influencing the measurement result (sources of uncertainty), determination of the linearity range of the standard curve, determination of the quantification limit of the method, and verification of the reproducibility, selectivity, stability and correctness achieved. The method developed within the study can be successfully applied in the case of the determination of uranine content in formation water samples from the oil and gas mining industry, which are often unstable and characterized by a relatively complex matrix. After validation, the method will also be applicable to the determination of uranine in matrices with a similar physicochemical composition, e.g., to assess groundwater flow in deformed carbonate aquifers or to characterize faults that act as barriers to horizontal groundwater flow.
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