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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/J002259/1
Status Completed
Energy Categories Fossil Fuels: Oil Gas and Coal(Oil and Gas, Enhanced oil and gas production) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES (Biological Sciences) 75%;
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences) 25%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr C Hubert
No email address given
Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Newcastle University
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 31 March 2012
End Date 30 March 2018
Duration 72 months
Total Grant Value £985,943
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region North East
Programme NC : Engineering
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr C Hubert , Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , University of Glasgow (0.000%)
Project Contact , University of Potsdam, Germany (0.000%)
Project Contact , Computer Modeling Group CMG Ltd, Canada (0.000%)
Project Contact , Chevron North Sea Limited (0.000%)
Project Contact , Geological Survey of Canada (0.000%)
Project Contact , Aarhus University, Denmark (0.000%)
Project Contact , Danish Technological Institute, Denmark (0.000%)
Project Contact , Rawwater Engineering Company (0.000%)
Project Contact , Shell International Exploration and Production B.V, The Netherlands (0.000%)
Project Contact , Max Planck Institutes (Grouped), Germany (0.000%)
Project Contact , TDI Brooks International Inc, USA (0.000%)
Project Contact , University of Vienna, Austria (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract There has never been a more exciting time to be at the interface of biological engineering and petroleum geosciences. Recent discoveries in geomicrobiology and methodological breakthroughs in DNA sequencing place us on the brink of an unprecedented understanding of the role of microorganisms in globally significant processes in subsurface petroleum reservoirs. Qualified estimates reveal that the vast majority of microorganisms on Earth inhabit the subsurface. Most newly discovered taxa in this 'deep biosphere' have no representatives in laboratory cultures, thus knowledge about their role in economically relevant biogeochemical cycles is unknown. Fossil fuel reservoirs are microbial habitats of great scientific interest and even greater societal importance. Microbes native to subsurface petroleum reservoirs can cause significant damage and economic loss. However, understanding and harnessing this 'petroleum microbiome' has great potential for engineering interventions for more sustainable petroleum production and novel exploration strategies.The next generation of engineers faces the unavoidable challenge of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and gas industry is at the epicentre of this challenge. Currently fossil fuels account for greater than 80% of global primary energy supply, yet even under optimistic projections of rapid innovation and modest population growth fossil fuels will still supply 70% of our energy in 2030 (International Energy Agency, 2010). It is clear that the transition towards more sustainable energy will require several decades, that fossil fuels will continue to be essential, and that innovation is needed in all areas of the energy sector. It is critical therefore to develop new engineering interventions and novel technologies focusing directly on the oil indsutry so that existing resources are exploited as responsibly as possible.It has long been recognized that microorganisms are important constituents of petroleum reservoirs and oil production systems, with the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) being reported almost a century ago (Bastin, 1926, Science 63:21). SRB are well known in the oil industry because they cause reservoir souring - the production of toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Souring costs the oil industry billions of pounds annually due to production problems related to H2S (e.g., corrosion) and the lower value of high-sulfur petroleum. Nitrate-reducing bacteria (NRB) can be stimulated to control souring in an environmentally friendly way, and while nitrate injection is a strategy beginning to be practised offshore, it remains poorly understood. The first major objective of DEEPBIOENGINEERING is to develop a new understanding of souring and nitrate-driven souring control by applying a combination of geochemistry, microbiology and high throughput nucleic acid sequencing to reservoir production waters and experimental cultures inoculated with them. This research will deliver an unprecedented understanding of the petroleum microbiome, which will underpin prediction-based bioengineering interventions for souring control.The second major objective of DEEPBIOENGINEERING is to exploit the knowledge of the deep petroleum microbiome to track the distribution of formerly indigenous reservoir bacteria. This will lead to a totally new tool for offshore oil and gas exploration. This idea is based on the observation of oil reservoir-like bacteria (thermophilic SRB) in cold ocean sediments (Hubert et al 2009, Science 325:1541) and the hypothesis that petroleum fluids leaking from reservoirs at natural seafloor hydrocarbon seeps is a mechanism for microbe dispersal that can be quantitatively measured. This will lead to predictive models and concepts that will be use bioindicators to map the seafloor and predict or locate seabed hydrocarbon seeps. This environmentally friendly tool will assist offshore exploration for needed petroleum energy resources

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Added to Database 30/04/12