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Chapter 6 : Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs

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Abstract:

Petroleum biodegradation in reservoirs can be demonstrated by bulk compositional alteration, isotopic fractionation of petroleum components, and identification of specific metabolic products in petroleum. The effects of biodegradation on the physical properties and bulk composition of petroleum have been summarized by numerous studies. Different classes of compounds in petroleum have different susceptibilities to biodegradation. This chapter presents the biodegradation behavior of multiply methylated naphthalenes, i.e., trimethylnaphthalenes (TMNs), tetramethylnaphthalenes (TeMNs), and pentamethylnaphthalenes (PMNs). The relative biodegradability of fluoranthene, pyrene, and chrysene was compared in a study using the Liaohe basin suite, indicating that fluoranthene is more vulnerable to biodegradation than pyrene and chrysene. The chapter compares the susceptibility during biodegradation of short side chain to long side chain steranes, monoaromatic steroid hydrocarbons (MAS) and triaromatic steroid hydrocarbons (TAS). Knowledge of biodegradation processes is especially critical to the accurate prediction of biodegradation risk in petroleum exploration. Methanogenesis through carbon dioxide reduction may be the dominant terminal process in petroleum biodegradation in the subsurface, since biodegraded petroleum reservoirs are sometimes associated with abundant methane. A biodegradation model based on geochemical analysis and geological observation has been established. Analyzed data suggest that biodegradation occurs within a narrow region near the oil-water contacts (OWCs) and that reservoirs often show a late charge of oil to the top of the oil column.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6

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Aromatic Hydrocarbon Degradation
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Hydrocarbon Degradation
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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
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Image of FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1

Concentration and carbon isotope composition of CO in petroleum gases from the Australian Plate. (Modified from ].)

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2

Conceptual model for the origin and isotopic composition of carbon dioxide and methane in biodegraded petroleums.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 3
FIGURE 3

Representative RICs showing aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbon distributions in reservoir core extracts at various levels of biodegradation. 17, C--alkane; 18, C--alkane; 30H, C-17α,21β-hopanes; 25-norH, C-17α,21β 25-norhopane; MN, methylnaphthalenes; DMN, dimethylnaphthalenes; P, phenanthrene.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 4
FIGURE 4

Relative concentration variations of aliphatic components relative to an initial least degraded oil (PM level 2) at different biodegradation levels for a suite of oils from the Liaohe basin. Sesqui T, sesquiterpanes; Tri T, tricyclic terpanes; Penta T, pentacyclic terpanes; St, C-steranes; 25-Norhop, C-17α,21β-25-norhopanes.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 5
FIGURE 5

Variations of commonly used aliphatic biomarker ratios with increasing degrees of biodegradation. TT, tricyclic terpanes; PT, pentacyclic terpanes; CTs, 18-α(H)-30-norneohopane; CH, C-17α,21β-hopane; CM, C-17β,21α-hopane; CH, C-17α,21β-hopane; G, gammacerane; DiaSt, diasteranes; St, regular C-steranes; CS/(S+R), C-ααα-steranes 20S/ (20S+20R); ββ/(αα+ββ), C-steranes ββ/(αα+ββ); CNH, C-17α,21β 25-norhopane.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 6
FIGURE 6

Relative concentration variations of aromatic components relative to an initial least degraded oil (PM level 2) at different biodegradation levels for a suite of oils from the Liaohe basin. B, C-alkylbenzenes; N, C-alkylnaphthalenes; DBT, C-alkyldibenzothiophenes; P, C-alkylphenanthrenes; TeC, tetracyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 7
FIGURE 7

Variations of aromatic isomer ratios with increasing degree of biodegradation. TMNR, [2,3,6-TMN/(1,2,3-TMNþ1,2,4-TMN)]; TeMNR, [1,3,6,7-TeMN/(1,2,5,6-TeMNþ1,2,3,5-TeMN)]; MPR, 9-MP/3-MP; MDR, 4-MDBT/MDBT; Py/Fl, pyrene/fluoranthene; LTAS%, (C-TAS/C- TAS) × 100; LMAS%, (C-MAS/C-MAS) × 100.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 8
FIGURE 8

Variations of relative concentrations of the carbazole compound groups with increasing degree of biodegradation. C+MC, carbazole plus methylcarbazoles; DMC, C-alkylcarbazoles; TMC, C-alkylcarbazoles; BC, benzocarbazoles; MBC, methylbenzocarbazoles; DBC, dibenzocarbazoles or naphthocarbazoles.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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Image of FIGURE 9
FIGURE 9

Integrated plot showing saturated hydrocarbon contents and gas chromatograms of the Lengdong reservoir petroleums through the reservoir (based on ], ], ], and ]). Biodegradation of hydrocarbons at the OWC is controlled by mineral dissolution in the water leg and results in a compositional gradient in the oil column.

Citation: Huang H, Larter S. 2005. Biodegradation of Petroleum in Subsurface Geological Reservoirs, p 91-122. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch6
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