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Chapter 29 : Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection

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Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

Much of the world’s oil is produced by water injection. Water injected through injection wells helps to maintain the reservoir pressure required to sweep the oil to the surface through production wells. When injected water breaks through, an oil-water mixture is produced. After separation from produced oil, the produced water can be reinjected, a production strategy referred to as produced water reinjection (PWRI). PWRI is commonly practiced in landlocked reservoirs where access to water may be limited. The fraction of water produced from oil fields subjected to water injection (the water cut) generally increases with time. Oil production by water injection often results in increased sulfide levels (souring), because sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) couple the oxidation of degradable oil organics to the reduction of sulfate to sulfide. Nitrate injection also stimulates heterotrophic nitrate-reducing bacteria (hNRB), which couple either incomplete oxidation of degradable oil organics (to acetate and CO) or complete oxidation of oil organics (to CO only) to the reduction of nitrate to nitrite, nitrogen, or ammonia. The need to provide both a hydrocarbon substrate and a fermenting inoculum designed for high yields of biosurfactant adds to the complexity of traditional microbially enhanced oil recovery. Nitrate injection changes the microbial community downhole to one in which the activities of hNRB and in some cases nitrate-reducing, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (NR-SOB) are more prominent.

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29

Key Concept Ranking

Nitrates and Nitrites
0.49178743
Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonia
0.43482283
Hydrogen Sulfide
0.43045858
0.49178743
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Figures

Image of Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Schematic of oil production by water injection under a PWRI regime. Reproduced from Voordouw ( ).

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29
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Image of Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Survey of microbial groups impacting the sulfur cycle in oil fields. (A) SRB couple incomplete oxidation of oil organics to acetate and CO, or complete oxidation of acetate to CO to the reduction of sulfate to sulfide. (B) hNRB couple incomplete oxidation of oil organics or complete oxidation of acetate to CO to reduction of nitrate to nitrite and then to either nitrogen or ammonia. (C) NR-SOB oxidize sulfide to sulfur or sulfate, with nitrate being reduced to nitrite and then to either nitrogen (with NO and NO as intermediates) or to ammonia (without intermediates). Note that some NRSOB/hNRB do not reduce nitrate beyond nitrite. Also nitrite is a powerful SRB inhibitor as indicated by the dotted lines.

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29
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Image of Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Effect of strain CVO and nitrate on sulfide production by SRB. (A and B) Sulfide production by sp. strain Lac3 is permanently inhibited because the organism lacks nitrite reductase. (C and D) Sulfide production by Hildenborough is transiently inhibited because this organism contains nitrite reductase. Adapted from Greene et al. ( ).

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29
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Image of Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Role of nitrite reductase in the pseudosymbiotic relationship between SRB and NR-SOB. Adapted from Greene et al. ( ).

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29
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Image of Figure 5.
Figure 5.

(Left) Formation of sulfur in pipes with a partially aerated gas phase. Most sulfur precipitates are formed at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions, where the dissolved oxygen comes in but is intermittently available. (Right) Corrosion cell formed between precipitated sulfur and the iron surface. Pitting corrosion ensues because relatively large amounts of precipitated sulfur can be present locally, as drawn. The FeS formed can be electron conducting and may accelerate the process.

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29
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Tables

Generic image for table
Table 1.

Chemical compositions of Ekofisk-produced water and seawater

Citation: Voordouw G. 2008. Emerging Oil Field Biotechnologies: Prevention of Oil Field Souring by Nitrate Injection, p 379-388. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch29

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