Biofilm Management in the Oil Industry

Aquateam is a subcontractor to the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) to the above project. It is financed by Petromaks and a joint industry group including Statoil, BP, SeaBox, Ballasttech-NIVA, Veterinary Institute and University of Oslo. Aquateam is responsible for developing and testing the anaerobic biofilm model system needed in the project.


Project Summary

The oil and gas industry are faced with major biofouling and biocorrosion problems that each year cost billions of US Dollars. Bacteria organized in biofilms are major causative agents in these scenarios. One important aspect in the formation of biofilms is the communication required between microorganisms, also known as Quorum Sensing (QS). Interfering with this communication to disrupt or prevent biofilms would provide an elegant solution with minimum adverse effects to the environment. An example of compounds having such properties are furanones discovered in the Australian red algae Delisea pulchra, which effectively keeps the algae free from biofouling.

In this project, it has been proposed to test synthetic produced thiophenons (TF), a related group of molecules, which recently has been shown by the University of Oslo to have better anti-QS efficacy compared to furanones. TF molecules in solution or immobilized on surface, will be tested alone and in combination with other treatment methods, i.e., biocides and nitrate. The first task will be to develop two representative biofilm model systems which will be used for testing TF and other compounds with the purpose of developing effective and more environmentally friendly methods to control biofilms. As biofilm requires water for development, they are found in Produced Water Reinjection and Sea Water Injection during Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) operations. In this project both anaerobic and aerobic biofilm model systems will be developed and used for developing and testing new biofilm control strategies. Matured oil producing fields, as on the Norwegian continental shelf, have high water production (PW) and use (IOR). This will increase environment focus and the need for controlling biofouling in pipelines and water treatment equipment.

We therefore believe that this project will form a solid basis for addressing the increasing challenges posed on bacterial control related to water management in the oil & gas industries.

Visit the official web site of the Petromaks program at the Research Council of Norway

Contact person in Aquateam is Frøydis Kristi Garshol.

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