microbiology

From Bacteria to Barrels: Microbiology Having an Impact on Oil Fields

The science behind the use of microbes to enhance oil recovery has advanced significantly, but it suffers from old associations.

After decades of trial and error, those working on microbial enhanced oil recovery have identified the “oil-eating” bacteria that laboratory tests suggest can change the properties in an oil reservoir, and know better how to put them to work. The increasing knowledge of the role microbial life plays in oil and gas reservoirs has also led to new approaches for controlling corrosion, managing bacterially-produced hydrogen sulfide, and creating natural gas from coal.

(In this story, “eat” is used to describe the metabolic processes of bacteria. For instance, oil eating is more precisely hydrocarbon oxidizing.)

But the greatest potential payoff and the most debate come from the idea of microbes for enhanced oil recovery (MEOR). “There is a much greater understanding of what microbiology is doing in a reservoir” and how that can be used to produce more oil, said Stuart Page, chief executive officer of Glori Energy, a company that has staked its future of convincing the industry that microbes can be used to recover more oil.

Read the full article from the November 2011 JPT.

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