Implications of Limited Thermophilicity of Nitrite Reduction for Control of Sulfide Production in Oil Reservoirs.

Abstract

UNLABELLED Nitrate reduction to nitrite in oil fields appears to be more thermophilic than the subsequent reduction of nitrite. Concentrated microbial consortia from oil fields reduced both nitrate and nitrite at 40 and 45°C but only nitrate at and above 50°C. The abundance of the nirS gene correlated with mesophilic nitrite reduction activity. Thauera and Pseudomonas were the dominant mesophilic nitrate-reducing bacteria (mNRB), whereas Petrobacter and Geobacillus were the dominant thermophilic NRB (tNRB) in these consortia. The mNRB Thauera sp. strain TK001, isolated in this study, reduced nitrate and nitrite at 40 and 45°C but not at 50°C, whereas the tNRB Petrobacter sp. strain TK002 and Geobacillus sp. strain TK003 reduced nitrate to nitrite but did not reduce nitrite further from 50 to 70°C. Testing of 12 deposited pure cultures of tNRB with 4 electron donors indicated reduction of nitrate in 40 of 48 and reduction of nitrite in only 9 of 48 incubations. Nitrate is injected into high-temperature oil fields to prevent sulfide formation (souring) by sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), which are strongly inhibited by nitrite. Injection of cold seawater to produce oil creates mesothermic zones. Our results suggest that preventing the temperature of these zones from dropping below 50°C will limit the reduction of nitrite, allowing more effective souring control. IMPORTANCE Nitrite can accumulate at temperatures of 50 to 70°C, because nitrate reduction extends to higher temperatures than the subsequent reduction of nitrite. This is important for understanding the fundamentals of thermophilicity and for the control of souring in oil fields catalyzed by SRB, which are strongly inhibited by nitrite.

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00599-16

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Cite this paper

@article{Fida2016ImplicationsOL, title={Implications of Limited Thermophilicity of Nitrite Reduction for Control of Sulfide Production in Oil Reservoirs.}, author={Tekle Tafese Fida and Chuan Chen and Gloria N. Okpala and Gerrit Voordouw}, journal={Applied and environmental microbiology}, year={2016}, volume={82 14}, pages={4190-9} }