Sulfide remediation by pulsed injection of nitrate into a low temperature Canadian heavy oil reservoir.


Sulfide formation by oil field sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) can be diminished by the injection of nitrate, stimulating the growth of nitrate-reducing bacteria (NRB). We monitored the field-wide injection of nitrate into a low temperature (approximately 30 degrees C) oil reservoir in western Canada by determining aqueous concentrations of sulfide, sulfate, nitrate, and nitrite, as well as the activities of NRB in water samples from 3 water plants, 2 injection wells, and 15 production wells over 2 years. The injection water had a low sulfate concentration (approximately 1 mM). Nitrate (2.4 mM, 150 ppm) was added at the water plants. Its subsequent distribution to the injection wells gave losses of 5-15% in the pipeline system, indicating that most was injected. Continuous nitrate injection lowered the total aqueous sulfide output of the production wells by 70% in the first five weeks, followed by recovery. Batchwise treatment of a limited section of the reservoir with high nitrate eliminated sulfide from one production well with nitrate breakthrough. Subsequent, field-wide treatment with week-long pulses of 14 mM nitrate gave breakthrough at an additional production well. However, this trend was reversed when injection with a constant dose of 2.4 mM (150 ppm) was resumed. The results are explained by assuming growth of SRB near the injection wellbore due to sulfate limitation. Injection of a constant nitrate dose inhibits these SRB initially. However, because of the constant, low temperature of the reservoir, SRB eventually grow back in a zone further removed from the injection wellbore. The resulting zonation (NRB closest to and SRB further away from the injection wellbore) can be broken by batch-wise increases in the concentration of injected nitrate, allowing it to re-enter the SRB-dominated zone.

DOI: 10.1021/es902211j

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@article{Voordouw2009SulfideRB, title={Sulfide remediation by pulsed injection of nitrate into a low temperature Canadian heavy oil reservoir.}, author={Gerrit Voordouw and Aleksandr A Grigoryan and Adewale J Lambo and Shiping Lin and Hyung Soo Park and Thomas R. Jack and Dennis Coombe and Bill Clay and Frank Zhang and Ryan Ertmoed and Kirk Miner and Joseph J. Arensdorf}, journal={Environmental science & technology}, year={2009}, volume={43 24}, pages={9512-8} }