Now Available: Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment Reports


Summary chart for n-pentadecane (n-C15) in SRM 2779. The mass fraction (mg/kg) determined by each participating lab is plotted as the blue box plot showing the three individual measurements for each lab indicated with the blue diamonds and the blue box representing the standard deviation (lab mean +/- lab standard deviation). The mean of all values reported is indicated by the thick blue line (also labeled “mean”).

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is pleased to announce the release of two reports detailing the results of the Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment (HIE).

The first report, the Summary of Results from the 2014/2015 Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment (HIE), provides an overview of all test results involved in the experiment. The second report, the2014/2015 Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment: Description and Results for SRM 2779 Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil and Candidate SRM 2777 Weathered Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil, offers a more expansive level of detail on results for a sub-set of the tests conducted in the HIE. Both reports are authored by Christopher M. Reddy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Stephen A. Wise, Lane C. Sander, and Jacolin A. Murray of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

GoMRI Research Board member Dr. Jürgen Rullkötter commented, “GOMRI’s continued commitment to excellence was exemplified in this experiment to evaluate hydrocarbon analyte consistency across platforms. We were very fortunate to work with scientists from NIST that have decades of experience in leading intercomparison studies. NIST researchers and Dr. Reddy worked very diligently in the planning, the distribution of the test ampoules, the distillation of the results, and the writing of two reports. Both of these reports also had to pass the NIST internal review process, adding another layer of quality to GOMRI’s Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment.”

The first summary report discusses the HIE results for three organic constituent classifications: saturated hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons, and biomarkers. Twenty laboratories submitted results on traditional analytes measured by gas chromatography, ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry, toxicity, shear viscosity, and interfacial tension. Additionally, three laboratories submitted the results that represents the first-time comparison of weathered oils using Fourier Transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS).

The reports include the following recommendations:

  • Continue use of certified reference materials in routine analysis along with other means to elevate accuracy and minimalize systematic error;
  • Take advantage of the supplemental information section – now commonplace in peer-reviewed journals – and provide detailed content on analytical methods and QA/QC, allowing readers an opportunity to learn and compare results;
  • Plan for additional intercomparisons that may include other matrices such as animal tissues, water, or sediment samples; and
  • Publish results from the HIE in one or more peer-reviewed journals.

The HIE resulted from an open meeting at the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Sciences Conference. Shortly thereafter, the GoMRI Research Board invited the science community to participate. The goal of the experiment was to facilitate the best science possible for laboratory quality assurance/quality control practices for inter-laboratory comparison and petroleum compound calibration. Participants were provided certified reference materials and the opportunity to compare and gauge their methods and techniques with other researchers in the field.

Chris Reddy emphasized the importance of this experiment, saying “I am excited about the outcome of the HIE. Participants reported results on numerous chemical analyses, including one of the first using ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry, select physical properties, and toxicity.”


The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit