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Extreme Environment Souring Simulation Studies

Our Pressurised Bioreactor Laboratories

Our scientists are world-leading experts in oilfield microbiological souring management. They use our purpose-built pressurised bioreactor laboratories to carry out souring simulation studies for operators and service companies around the globe. By simulating the temperatures and pressures that mimic specific downhole oilfield conditions, they are able to advise on the most cost-effective way of controlling the production of hydrogen sulfide (H₂S).

Our research concerns the behaviour of sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) and the control of SRM through injection water treatments, including nitrate and proprietary chemical dosing.

By operating our pressurised bioreactors under many different conditions, they are also able to determine the efficacy of various biocides and water treatment regimens upon different microbial populations.

We have been sub-culturing oilfield microorganisms for more than 30 years and, since 2003, have operated what is widely considered to be the world's largest and most advanced research facility to study and evaluate microbiological souring in simulated reservoir conditions.

As many as 85 pressurised bioreactor columns, ranging from 25 cm to 4 metres in length are in operation at any one time in our UK-based pressurised bioreactor research facility. Specially designed corrosion-resistant columns that are filled with sand, seawater and crude oil, and inoculated with oilfield bacteria, our pressurised bioreactors are used to simulate the pressure and temperature (P/T) conditions that are found in water-flooded oil reservoirs, in order to help oil operators make the right commercial decisions. Testing pressures range from atmospheric pressure to 12,000 psig; testing temperatures range from 5°C to just below the boiling point of water.

To date, we have accumulated the equivalent of almost 600 bioreactor years’ worth of oilfield souring data. This priceless dataset is not simply unique across the global oil & gas industry; updated on an almost daily basis, it provides Rawwater’s clients with an unrivalled insight into the microbiology of their onshore, offshore and subsea assets. Our souring studies use crude oil and seawater samples from major oilfields globally. Ranging from large-scale joint industry projects (JIPs) to single-client activities, they last from a matter of weeks to a number of years.

Seriatim Series Research

We first began using pressurised bioreactors in 2003 to investigate the effects of pressure and temperature (P/T) on oilfield microbiology. Oil majors and service companies quickly recognised the value of our work. Their interest led to the development of our pressurised bioreactors as a research tool for the global oil & gas industry. As a result, the Seriatim joint industry project into oilfield souring was born – supported by almost $10 million in funding – and we have conducted Seriatim-series research ever since.

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