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Chapter 30 : Microbial Approaches for the Enhanced Recovery of Methane and Oil from Mature Reservoirs

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Microbial Approaches for the Enhanced Recovery of Methane and Oil from Mature Reservoirs, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

Given our current dependency on fossil fuels and the dwindling supplies thereof, efforts must be made to ensure availability of fossil fuels and to minimize the energy-associated environmental footprint. This chapter tries to indicate how biotechnology might assist in achieving these goals with specific respect to fossil energy reserves. Methane is now believed to be the primary by-product of anaerobic oil biodegradation in many petroliferous deposits. There are a number of microbial processes that are potentially useful, either to improve oil production rates from individual wells or to increase the ultimate amount of oil recovered from a reservoir. It is important to note that for most microbial oil recovery technologies, multiple products and activities are involved and it is likely that these act synergistically. The incomplete oxidation of hydrocarbons could generate alcohols or fatty acids from the hydrocarbon molecule or stimulate the production of biosurfactants and bioemulsifiers derived from microbial cells. Oil production of carbonaceous sandstone reservoirs in Romania increased by 30 to 40 barrels per day when treated with a mixed microbial population adapted for rapid growth under reservoir conditions with molasses as the substrate. Microbial oil recovery processes will gain more widespread acceptance and application only when quantitative measures of performance can be reliably obtained.

Citation: Suflita J, Mcinerney M. 2008. Microbial Approaches for the Enhanced Recovery of Methane and Oil from Mature Reservoirs, p 389-403. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch30

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Bacteria and Archaea
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Microbial Ecology
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Carboxylic Acids and Derivatives
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Aromatic Hydrocarbons
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Cyclic Hydrocarbons
0.50060177
Chemicals
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Figure 1.

Biotechnological approaches for the recovery of energy from residual oil deposits. Panels A through D represent areas of the terrestrial subsurface amenable to the different processes described in the text and in Table 1 . (A) Hydrocarbon metabolism results in methane production. (B) Microbial well stimulation removes paraffins and/or creates useful products that increase oil drainage into the well. (C) Microbially enhanced waterflooding where microbial metabolism creates useful products to mobilize entrapped oil. (D) Microbially selective plugging blocks high-permeability channels and redirects the recovery fluid into previously bypassed regions of the reservoir to recover additional oil.

Citation: Suflita J, Mcinerney M. 2008. Microbial Approaches for the Enhanced Recovery of Methane and Oil from Mature Reservoirs, p 389-403. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch30
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Tables

Generic image for table
Table 1.

Products and activities of microorganisms potentially useful for enhanced oil recovery or improved oil production

Citation: Suflita J, Mcinerney M. 2008. Microbial Approaches for the Enhanced Recovery of Methane and Oil from Mature Reservoirs, p 389-403. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch30
Generic image for table
Table 2.

Survey of microbial processes to improve or enhance oil recovery

Citation: Suflita J, Mcinerney M. 2008. Microbial Approaches for the Enhanced Recovery of Methane and Oil from Mature Reservoirs, p 389-403. In Wall J, Harwood C, Demain A (ed), Bioenergy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815547.ch30

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