Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Natural soil bacteria pump new life into exhausted oil wells

Date:
April 8, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
Technology that enlists natural soil bacteria as 21st century roughnecks now is commercially available and poised to recover precious oil remaining in thousands of exhausted oil wells. The process has been termed microbially enhanced oil recovery (MEOR).

Technology that enlists natural soil bacteria as 21st century roughnecks now is commercially available and poised to recover precious oil remaining in thousands of exhausted oil wells, according to a scientist who spoke in New Orleans on April 8. His report on a process termed microbially enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) was part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

"The idea of using microbes to bring spent oil wells back to life dates to the early 1900s," said Brian Clement, Ph.D. "That was the era of 'easy-to-recover' oil, and when a well played out, you just moved on and drilled another -- knowing that 60-70 percent of the oil in that first reservoir remained untouched. We're in a different era now. Oil is scarcer, and it makes sense to use MEOR. It can put about 10 percent of the oil in exhausted wells into barrels with low capital investment, low operating costs and little environmental impact."

Clement is a senior scientist at Glori Energy, which is deploying its MEOR technology known as AERO™, for Activated Environment for Recovery of Oil. Other companies that have moved the technology to market include DuPont, which offers its MATRx™ MEOR technology and Titan Oil Recovery, Inc., which offers its Titan Processฎ. Clement's talk was part of the symposium titled "The Interconnected World of Energy, Food and Water."

Conventional oil production techniques rely on pressure that exists naturally in an underground reservoir to push oil to the surface, much like the pressure in a bottle of carbonated beverage. Clement explained that the pressure in a reservoir declines over time, and eventually it is too low to force oil to the surface. At that point, as much as 60 to 70 percent of the reservoir's oil often remains in the ground.

MEOR can retrieve that oil by fostering various changes in the reservoir. Clement explained that the AERO™ System, for instance, piggybacks on waterflooding, a widely used process in which water is injected into the reservoir to force oil out of the well and to the surface. The system adds a customized formula of nutrients to the injection water to optimize its quality and stimulate the growth of native reservoir bacteria.

With the AERO™ System, microbes thrive and grow to increase oil production using two main mechanisms. First, they break down and metabolize oil at the oil-water interface, allowing the oil to flow more freely. Second, the microbes block existing water channels within the reservoir's soil, forcing the water into new channels and driving more oil to the surface.

With the AERO™ System's MEOR technology, oil field owners and operators can increase production from declining wells without having to invest in expensive, new infrastructure. Clement described tests in which the technology helped produce an additional 9-12 percent of the total oil remaining in reservoirs. The number may sound small, but translates into an additional $10 billion of oil from wells in the United States and more than $165 billion worldwide.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "Natural soil bacteria pump new life into exhausted oil wells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408122258.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2013, April 8). Natural soil bacteria pump new life into exhausted oil wells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408122258.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "Natural soil bacteria pump new life into exhausted oil wells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408122258.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) — Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) — To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) — A Dutch highway has become the first lit by glow-in-the-dark paint — a project aimed at reducing street light use. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins