Isolation and study of microorganisms from oil samples for application in Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery


Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) is potentially useful to increment oil recovery from a reservoir beyond primary and secondary recovery operations using microorganisms and their metabolites. Stimulation of bacterial growth for biosurfactant production and degradation of heavy oil fractions by indigenous microorganisms can enhance the fluidity and reduce the capillary forces that retain the oil into the reservoir. MEOR offers major advantages over conventional EOR, namely low energy consumption and independence of the price of crude oil. In this work, the isolation and identification of microorganisms capable of producing biosurfactants and promote degradation of long-chain n-alkanes under conditions existent in oil reservoirs were addressed. Among the isolated microorganisms, five Bacillus strains were able to produce extracellular biosurfactants at 40 degrees C under anaerobic conditions in medium supplemented with hydrocarbons. Three isolates were selected as the higher biosurfactant producers. The obtained biosurfactants reduced the surface tension of water from 72 to 30 mN/m, exhibited emulsifying activity and were not affected by exposure to high temperatures (121 degrees C). These characteristics make them good candidates for use at conditions usually existing in oil reservoirs. Furthermore, it was here shown for the first time that Bacillus strains were able to degrade large alkyl chains and reduce the viscosity of hydrocarbon mixtures under anaerobic conditions. The results obtained show that the isolated microorganisms are promising candidates for the development of enhanced oil recovery processes. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



subject category

Biotechnology & Applied Microbiology; Environmental Sciences & Ecology


Gudina, EJ; Pereira, JFB; Rodrigues, LR; Coutinho, JAP; Teixeira, JA

our authors


This work was supported by PARTEX OIL AND GAS. Jorge F. B. Pereira acknowledges the financial support from Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia through doctoral research grant SFRH/BD/60228/2009.

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