Laboratory Protocols for Investigating Microbial Souring and Potential Treatments in Crude Oil Reservoirs

  • Yuan Xue
  • Gerrit Voordouw
  • Lisa M. GiegEmail author
Part of the Springer Protocols Handbooks book series (SPH)


Oilfield souring is most frequently caused by the activities of sulfate-reducing microorganisms as they reduce sulfate to sulfide as their terminal electron-accepting process. Souring poses serious health and safety hazards to oilfield workers and can be detrimental to oil production processes by potentially plugging reservoirs and/or leading to infrastructure corrosion. Oilfield souring often occurs during secondary recovery operations based on waterflooding, especially when the water source contains an ample amount of sulfate that can stimulate sulfate reducers associated with the reservoir or other locations within an oil recovery operation (such as topside facilities). Water chemistry, temperature, potential carbon sources, and microbial communities all play a role in determining whether souring will occur in a given field. Approaches such as biocide, nitrate, or, most recently, perchlorate treatments have shown good success in controlling souring in laboratory experiments and/or in field applications. This chapter outlines a variety of protocols that can be used in a laboratory setting to study souring potential in a given oilfield and to test methods of souring control that may be applied to that field or oilfields in general. Methods of field sample collection, water chemistry analyses, microbiological analyses, and laboratory incubation strategies are described.


Biocides Column studies Crude oil reservoir Microcosms Nitrate Souring Sulfate reducers Sulfide 



We thank Johanna Voordouw, Yin Shen, Dr. Rhonda Clark, Dr. Dongshan An, Dr. Chuan Chen, and Dr. Sandra Wilson for their roles in developing and optimizing many of the protocols described in this chapter. LMG was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery grant, while YX and GV were supported by an NSERC Industrial Research Chair Award (to GV) which is also funded by Baker Hughes, BP, Computer Modelling Group Limited, ConocoPhillips Company, Intertek, Dow Microbial Control, Enbridge, Enerplus Corporation, Oil Search Limited, Shell Global Solutions International BV, Suncor Energy Inc., and Yara Norge AS, as well as by Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Petroleum Microbiology Research Group, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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