Physicochemical and biological controls of sulfide accumulation in a high temperature oil reservoir

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In order to maintain the reservoir pressure during secondary oil production large volumes of seawater are injected into reservoirs. This practice introduces high concentrations of sulfate into the reservoir promoting the growth of sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) and results in the production of an increasing volume of produced water (PW) that needs to be discharged. SRM reduce sulfate to sulfide causing reservoir souring and as a mitigation strategy nitrate is injecting along with the seawater into the reservoir. We used PW from the Halfdan oil field (North Sea) to set up microcosms to determine the best reinjection strategy in order to inhibit SRM activity and minimize the environmental impact of PW during secondary oil production. We discuss the effect of temperature, electron donor, and sulfate and nitrate availability on sulfide production and microbial community composition. Temperature and the terminal electron acceptor played a key role in shaping the microbial community of the microcosms. PW reinjection at 62 °C inhibited SRM activity due to nitrite toxicity by encouraging nitrate reduction to nitrite by thermophilic nitrate reducers, while at 74 °C we observed complete absence of any microbial activity over the course of 150 days. KEY POINTS: • Temperature and the presence/ absence of nitrate shaped the microbial community structure. • Thermophilic nitrate reducers convert nitrate to ammonia with the accumulation of nitrite that inhibits sulfide production. • Nitrite inhibition is the most effective nitrate-based souring mitigation mechanisms. • The reinjection of hot produced water to oil reservoirs is a promising souring mitigation approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Pages (from-to)8467-8478
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Nitrate reduction, Produced water reinjection, Reservoir souring, Sulfate reduction, Thermophilic

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