Oil field souring control by nitrate-reducing Sulfurospirillum spp. that outcompete sulfate-reducing bacteria for organic electron donors.
ABSTRACT: Nitrate injection into oil reservoirs can prevent and remediate souring, the production of hydrogen sulfide by sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Nitrate stimulates nitrate-reducing, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (NR-SOB) and heterotrophic nitrate-reducing bacteria (hNRB) that compete with SRB for degradable oil organics. Up-flow, packed-bed bioreactors inoculated with water produced from an oil field and injected with lactate, sulfate, and nitrate served as sources for isolating several NRB, including Sulfurospirillum and Thauera spp. The former coupled reduction of nitrate to nitrite and ammonia with oxidation of either lactate (hNRB activity) or sulfide (NR-SOB activity). Souring control in a bioreactor receiving 12.5 mM lactate and 6, 2, 0.75, or 0.013 mM sulfate always required injection of 10 mM nitrate, irrespective of the sulfate concentration. Community analysis revealed that at all but the lowest sulfate concentration (0.013 mM), significant SRB were present. At 0.013 mM sulfate, direct hNRB-mediated oxidation of lactate by nitrate appeared to be the dominant mechanism. The absence of significant SRB indicated that sulfur cycling does not occur at such low sulfate concentrations. The metabolically versatile Sulfurospirillum spp. were dominant when nitrate was present in the bioreactor. Analysis of cocultures of Desulfovibrio sp. strain Lac3, Lac6, or Lac15 and Sulfurospirillum sp. strain KW indicated its hNRB activity and ability to produce inhibitory concentrations of nitrite to be key factors for it to successfully outcompete oil field SRB.
Project description:Control of microbial reduction of sulfate to sulfide in oil reservoirs (a process referred to as souring) with nitrate has been researched extensively. Nitrate is reduced to nitrite, which is a strong inhibitor of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Perchlorate has been proposed as an alternative souring control agent. It is reduced to chlorate (ClO3 -) and chlorite (ClO2 -), which is dismutated to chloride and O2. These can react with sulfide to form sulfur. Chlorite is also highly biocidal. Here we compared the effectiveness of perchlorate and nitrate in inhibiting SRB activity in medium containing heavy oil from the Medicine Hat Glauconitic C (MHGC) field, which has a low reservoir temperature and is injected with nitrate to control souring. Using acetate, propionate and butyrate as electron donors, perchlorate-reducing bacteria (PRB) were obtained in enrichment culture and perchlorate-reducing Magnetospirillum spp. were isolated from MHGC produced waters. In batch experiments with MHGC oil as the electron donor, nitrate was reduced to nitrite and inhibited sulfate reduction. However, perchlorate was not reduced and did not inhibit sulfate reduction in these incubations. Bioreactor experiments were conducted with sand-packed glass columns, containing MHGC oil and inoculated with an oil-grown mesophilic SRB enrichment. Once active souring (reduction of 2 mM sulfate to sulfide) was observed, these were treated with nitrate and/or perchlorate. As in the batch experiments, 4 mM nitrate completely inhibited sulfide production, while partial inhibition occurred with 1 and 2 mM nitrate, but injection of 4 mM perchlorate did not inhibit sulfate reduction and perchlorate was not reduced. The enriched and isolated PRB were unable to use heavy oil components, like alkylbenzenes, which were readily used by nitrate-reducing bacteria. Hence perchlorate, injected into a low temperature heavy oil reservoir like the MHGC, may not be reduced to toxic intermediates making nitrate a preferable souring control agent.
Project description:Sodium nitroprusside (SNP) disrupts microbial biofilms through the release of nitric oxide (NO). The actions of SNP on bacteria have been mostly limited to the genera Pseudomonas, Clostridium, and Bacillus. There are no reports of its biocidal action on sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), which couple the reduction of sulfate to sulfide with the oxidation of organic electron donors. Here, we report the inhibition and kill of SRB by low SNP concentrations [0.05 mM (15 ppm)] depending on biomass concentration. Chemical reaction of SNP with sulfide did not compromise its efficacy. SNP was more effective than five biocides commonly used to control SRB. Souring, the SRB activity in oil reservoirs, is often controlled by injection of nitrate. Control of SRB-mediated souring in oil-containing bioreactors was inhibited by 4 mM (340 ppm) of sodium nitrate, but required only 0.05 mM (15 ppm) of SNP. Interestingly, nitrate and SNP were found to be highly synergistic with 0.003 mM (1 ppm) of SNP and 1 mM (85 ppm) of sodium nitrate being sufficient in inhibiting souring. Hence, using SNP as an additive may greatly increase the efficacy of nitrate injection in oil reservoirs.
Project description:Oil production by water injection can cause souring in which sulfate in the injection water is reduced to sulfide by resident sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Sulfate (2 mM) in medium injected at a rate of 1 pore volume per day into upflow bioreactors containing residual heavy oil from the Medicine Hat Glauconitic C field was nearly completely reduced to sulfide, and this was associated with the generation of 3 to 4 mM acetate. Inclusion of 4 mM nitrate inhibited souring for 60 days, after which complete sulfate reduction and associated acetate production were once again observed. Sulfate reduction was permanently inhibited when 100 mM nitrate was injected by the nitrite formed under these conditions. Pulsed injection of 4 or 100 mM nitrate inhibited sulfate reduction temporarily. Sulfate reduction resumed once nitrate injection was stopped and was associated with the production of acetate in all cases. The stoichiometry of acetate formation (3 to 4 mM formed per 2 mM sulfate reduced) is consistent with a mechanism in which oil alkanes and water are metabolized to acetate and hydrogen by fermentative and syntrophic bacteria (K. Zengler et al., Nature 401:266-269, 1999), with the hydrogen being used by SRB to reduce sulfate to sulfide. In support of this model, microbial community analyses by pyrosequencing indicated SRB of the genus Desulfovibrio, which use hydrogen but not acetate as an electron donor for sulfate reduction, to be a major community component. The model explains the high concentrations of acetate that are sometimes found in waters produced from water-injected oil fields.
Project description:Oil fields can experience souring, the reduction of sulfate to sulfide by sulfate-reducing microorganisms. At the Terra Nova oil field near Canada's east coast, with a reservoir temperature of 95°C, souring was indicated by increased hydrogen sulfide in produced waters (PW). Microbial community analysis by 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed the hyperthermophilic sulfate-reducing archaeon Archaeoglobus in Terra Nova PWs. Growth enrichments in sulfate-containing media at 55-70°C with lactate or volatile fatty acids yielded the thermophilic sulfate-reducing bacterium (SRB) Desulfotomaculum. Enrichments at 30-45°C in nitrate-containing media indicated the presence of mesophilic nitrate-reducing bacteria (NRB), which reduce nitrate without accumulation of nitrite, likely to N2. Thermophilic NRB (tNRB) of the genera Marinobacter and Geobacillus were detected and isolated at 30-50°C and 40-65°C, respectively, and only reduced nitrate to nitrite. Added nitrite strongly inhibited the isolated thermophilic SRB (tSRB) and tNRB and SRB could not be maintained in co-culture. Inhibition of tSRB by nitrate in batch and continuous cultures required inoculation with tNRB. The results suggest that nitrate injected into Terra Nova is reduced to N2 at temperatures up to 45°C but to nitrite only in zones from 45 to 65°C. Since the hotter zones of the reservoir (65-80°C) are inhabited by thermophilic and hyperthermophilic sulfate reducers, souring at these temperatures might be prevented by nitrite production if nitrate-reducing zones of the system could be maintained at 45-65°C.
Project description:Acetate, propionate, and butyrate (volatile fatty acids [VFA]) occur in oil field waters and are frequently used for microbial growth of oil field consortia. We determined the kinetics of use of these VFA components (3 mM each) by an anaerobic oil field consortium in microcosms containing 2 mM sulfate and 0, 4, 6, 8, or 13 mM nitrate. Nitrate was reduced first, with a preference for acetate and propionate. Sulfate reduction then proceeded with propionate (but not butyrate) as the electron donor, whereas the fermentation of butyrate (but not propionate) was associated with methanogenesis. Microbial community analyses indicated that Paracoccus and Thauera (Paracoccus-Thauera), Desulfobulbus, and Syntrophomonas-Methanobacterium were the dominant taxa whose members catalyzed these three processes. Most-probable-number assays showed the presence of up to 107/ml of propionate-oxidizing sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in waters from the Medicine Hat Glauconitic C field. Bioreactors with the same concentrations of sulfate and VFA responded similarly to increasing concentrations of injected nitrate as observed in the microcosms: sulfide formation was prevented by adding approximately 80% of the nitrate dose needed to completely oxidize VFA to CO2 in both. Thus, this work has demonstrated that simple time-dependent observations of the use of acetate, propionate, and butyrate for nitrate reduction, sulfate reduction, and methanogenesis in microcosms are a good proxy for these processes in bioreactors, monitoring of which is more complex.IMPORTANCE Oil field volatile fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate were specifically used for nitrate reduction, sulfate reduction, and methanogenic fermentation. Time-dependent analyses of microcosms served as a good proxy for these processes in a bioreactor, mimicking a sulfide-producing (souring) oil reservoir: 80% of the nitrate dose required to oxidize volatile fatty acids to CO2 was needed to prevent souring in both. Our data also suggest that propionate is a good substrate to enumerate oil field SRB.
Project description:Hydrogen sulfide production by sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) is the primary cause of oil reservoir souring. Amending environments with chlorate or perchlorate [collectively denoted (per)chlorate] represents an emerging technology to prevent the onset of souring. Recent studies with perchlorate reducing bacteria (PRB) monocultures demonstrated that they have the innate capability to enzymatically oxidize sulfide, thus PRB may offer an effective means of reversing souring. (Per)chlorate may be effective by (i) direct toxicity to SRB; (ii) competitive exclusion of SRB by PRB; or (iii) reversal of souring through re-oxidation of sulfide by PRB. To determine if (per)chlorate could sweeten a soured column system and assign a quantitative value to each of the mechanisms we treated columns flooded with San Francisco bay water with temporally decreasing amounts (50, 25, and 12.5 mM) of (per)chlorate. Geochemistry and the microbial community structure were monitored and a reactive transport model was developed, Results were compared to columns treated with nitrate or untreated. Souring was reversed by all treatments at 50 mM but nitrate-treated columns began to re-sour when treatment concentrations decreased (25 mM). Re-souring was only observed in (per)chlorate-treated columns when concentrations were decreased to 12.5 mM and the extent of re-souring was less than the control columns. Microbial community analyses indicated treatment-specific community shifts. Nitrate treatment resulted in a distinct community enriched in genera known to perform sulfur cycling metabolisms and genera capable of nitrate reduction. (Per)chlorate treatment enriched for (per)chlorate reducing bacteria. (Per)chlorate treatments only enriched for sulfate reducing organisms when treatment levels were decreased. A reactive transport model of perchlorate treatment was developed and a baseline case simulation demonstrated that the model provided a good fit to the effluent geochemical data. Subsequent simulations teased out the relative role that each of the three perchlorate inhibition mechanisms played during different phases of the experiment. These results indicate that perchlorate addition is an effective strategy for both souring prevention and souring reversal. It provides insight into which organisms are involved, and illuminates the interactive effects of the inhibition mechanisms, further highlighting the versatility of perchlorate as a sweetening agent.
Project description:Acetate, propionate, and butyrate, collectively referred to as volatile fatty acids (VFA), are considered among the most important electron donors for sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and heterotrophic nitrate-reducing bacteria (hNRB) in oil fields. Samples obtained from a field in the Neuquén Basin, western Argentina, had significant activity of mesophilic SRB, hNRB, and nitrate-reducing, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (NR-SOB). In microcosms, containing VFA (3 mM each) and excess sulfate, SRB first used propionate and butyrate for the production of acetate, which reached concentrations of up to 12 mM prior to being used as an electron donor for sulfate reduction. In contrast, hNRB used all three organic acids with similar kinetics, while reducing nitrate to nitrite and nitrogen. Transient inhibition of VFA-utilizing SRB was observed with 0.5 mM nitrite and permanent inhibition with concentrations of 1 mM or more. The addition of nitrate to medium flowing into an upflow, packed-bed bioreactor with an established VFA-oxidizing SRB consortium led to a spike of nitrite up to 3 mM. The nitrite-mediated inhibition of SRB led, in turn, to the transient accumulation of up to 13 mM of acetate. The complete utilization of nitrate and the incomplete utilization of VFA, especially propionate, and sulfate indicated that SRB remained partially inhibited. Hence, in addition to lower sulfide concentrations, an increase in the concentration of acetate in the presence of sulfate in waters produced from an oil field subjected to nitrate injection may indicate whether the treatment is successful. The microbial community composition in the bioreactor, as determined by culturing and culture-independent techniques, indicated shifts with an increasing fraction of nitrate. With VFA and sulfate, the SRB genera Desulfobotulus, Desulfotignum, and Desulfobacter as well as the sulfur-reducing Desulfuromonas and the NR-SOB Arcobacter were detected. With VFA and nitrate, Pseudomonas spp. were present. hNRB/NR-SOB from the genus Sulfurospirillum were found under all conditions.
Project description:The injection of nitrate is one of the most commonly used technologies to impact the sulfur cycle in subsurface oil fields. Nitrate injection enhances the activity of nitrate-reducing bacteria, which produce nitrite inhibiting sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Subsequent reduction of nitrate to di-nitrogen (N2) alleviates the inhibition of SRB by nitrite. It has been shown for the Medicine Hat Glauconitic C (MHGC) field, that alkylbenzenes especially toluene are important electron donors for the reduction of nitrate to nitrite and N2. However, the rate and extent of reduction of nitrate to nitrite and of nitrite to nitrogen have not been studied for multiple oil fields. Samples of light oil (PNG, CPM, and Tundra), light/heavy oil (Gryphon and Obigbo), and of heavy oil (MHGC) were collected from locations around the world. The maximum concentration of nitrate in the aqueous phase, which could be reduced in microcosms inoculated with MHGC produced water, increased with the toluene concentration in the oil phase. PNG, Gryphon, CPM, Obigbo, MHGC, and Tundra oils had 77, 17, 5.9, 4.0, 2.6, and 0.8 mM toluene, respectively. In incubations with 49 ml of aqueous phase and 1 ml of oil these were able to reduce 22.2, 12.3, 7.9, 4.6, 4.0, and 1.4 mM of nitrate, respectively. Nitrate reduced increased to 35 ± 4 mM upon amendment of all these oils with 570 mM toluene prior to incubation. Souring control by nitrate injection requires that the nitrate is directed toward oxidation of sulfide, not toluene. Hence, the success of nitrate injections will be inversely proportional to the toluene content of the oil. Oil composition is therefore an important determinant of the success of nitrate injection to control souring in a particular field.
Project description:Oil reservoir souring by the microbial reduction of sulfate to sulfide is unwanted, because it enhances corrosion of metal infrastructure used for oil production and processing. Reservoir souring can be prevented or remediated by the injection of nitrate or biocides, although injection of biocides into reservoirs is not commonly done. Whether combined application of these agents may give synergistic reservoir souring control is unknown. In order to address this we have used up-flow sand-packed bioreactors injected with 2 mM sulfate and volatile fatty acids (VFA, 3 mM each of acetate, propionate and butyrate) at a flow rate of 3 or 6 pore volumes (PV) per day. Pulsed injection of the biocides glutaraldehyde (Glut), benzalkonium chloride (BAC) and cocodiamine was used to control souring. Souring control was determined as the recovery time (RT) needed to re-establish an aqueous sulfide concentration of 0.8-1 mM (of the 1.7-2 mM before the pulse). Pulses were either for a long time (120 h) at low concentration (long-low) or for a short time (1 h) at high concentration (short-high). The short-high strategy gave better souring control with Glut, whereas the long-low strategy was better with cocodiamine. Continuous injection of 2 mM nitrate alone was not effective, because 3 mM VFA can fully reduce both 2 mM nitrate to nitrite and N2 and, subsequently, 2 mM sulfate to sulfide. No synergy was observed for short-high pulsed biocides and continuously injected nitrate. However, use of continuous nitrate and long-low pulsed biocide gave synergistic souring control with BAC and Glut, as indicated by increased RTs in the presence, as compared to the absence of nitrate. Increased production of nitrite, which increases the effectiveness of souring control by biocides, is the most likely cause for this synergy.
Project description:Microbial communities in shale oil fields are still poorly known. We obtained samples of injection, produced and facility waters from a Bakken shale oil field in Saskatchewan, Canada with a resident temperature of 60°C. The injection water had a lower salinity (0.7 Meq of NaCl) than produced or facility waters (0.6-3.6 Meq of NaCl). Salinities of the latter decreased with time, likely due to injection of low salinity water, which had 15-30 mM sulfate. Batch cultures of field samples showed sulfate-reducing and nitrate-reducing bacteria activities at different salinities (0, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.5 M NaCl). Notably, at high salinity nitrite accumulated, which was not observed at low salinity, indicating potential for nitrate-mediated souring control at high salinity. Continuous culture chemostats were established in media with volatile fatty acids (a mixture of acetate, propionate and butyrate) or lactate as electron donor and nitrate or sulfate as electron acceptor at 0.5 to 2.5 M NaCl. Microbial community analyses of these cultures indicated high proportions of Halanaerobium, Desulfovermiculus, Halomonas, and Marinobacter in cultures at 2.5 M NaCl, whereas Desulfovibrio, Geoalkalibacter, and Dethiosulfatibacter were dominant at 0.5 M NaCl. Use of bioreactors to study the effect of nitrate injection on sulfate reduction showed that accumulation of nitrite inhibited SRB activity at 2.5 M but not at 0.5 M NaCl. High proportions of Halanaerobium and Desulfovermiculus were found at 2.5 M NaCl in the absence of nitrate, whereas high proportions of Halomonas and no SRB were found in the presence of nitrate. A diverse microbial community dominated by the SRB Desulfovibrio was observed at 0.5 M NaCl both in the presence and absence of nitrate. Our results suggest that nitrate injection can prevent souring provided that the salinity is maintained at a high level. Thus, reinjection of high salinity produced water amended with nitrate maybe be a cost effective method for souring control.