Send to

Choose Destination
Adv Appl Microbiol. 2009;66:141-251. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2164(08)00806-X.

Microbial processes in oil fields: culprits, problems, and opportunities.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74074, USA.


Our understanding of the phylogenetic diversity, metabolic capabilities, ecological roles, and community dynamics of oil reservoir microbial communities is far from complete. The lack of appreciation of the microbiology of oil reservoirs can lead to detrimental consequences such as souring or plugging. In contrast, knowledge of the microbiology of oil reservoirs can be used to enhance productivity and recovery efficiency. It is clear that (1) nitrate and/or nitrite addition controls H2S production, (2) oxygen injection stimulates hydrocarbon metabolism and helps mobilize crude oil, (3) injection of fermentative bacteria and carbohydrates generates large amounts of acids, gases, and solvents that increases oil recovery particularly in carbonate formations, and (4) nutrient injection stimulates microbial growth preferentially in high permeability zones and improves volumetric sweep efficiency and oil recovery. Biosurfactants significantly lower the interfacial tension between oil and water and large amounts of biosurfactant can be made in situ. However, it is still uncertain whether in situ biosurfactant production can be induced on the scale needed for economic oil recovery. Commercial microbial paraffin control technologies slow the rate of decline in oil production and extend the operational life of marginal oil fields. Microbial technologies are often applied in marginal fields where the risk of implementation is low. However, more quantitative assessments of the efficacy of microbial oil recovery will be needed before microbial oil recovery gains widespread acceptance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center