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Talk Highlights Potential Applications of MEOR in Oman


Since the initiation of Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) biotechnology for the crude oil in 2007 in Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), many MEOR technologies have been successfully established. Different types of microbes have been isolated, characterized and were found to potentially capable to enhance oil recovery and reduce heavy oil viscosity to light oil. The production of bio-products in bioreactors ex-situ and subsequent injection into the reservoir is the next major objective of the SQU research team. This was revealed by Prof. Saif Al-Bahry, Director of the Oil and Gas Research Center at SQU who delivered a talk titled “potential applications of microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) applications in the Sultanate of Oman” at the university.
Extraction of crude oil from reservoirs occurs in three stages. At the primary stage of crude oil production occurs by high pressure in the reservoir. According to some reports, only 30-40% of crude oil is produced. The secondary stage starts when the oil is depleted due to the fall in reservoir pressure and in order to enhance oil production, water and immiscible gases are injected into the wells, where additional 15-25% oil is recovered, leaving behind about 35-55 % of oil as residual oil. When the amount of the recovered oil drops, the enhanced oil recovery technologies are being applied. This is known as a tertiary stage or enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Oil and gas are the backbone of the economy in Oman with total reserves of 5.5 billion barrels of crude oil, which is the second lowest in the Arabian Peninsula after Yemen.
“The Sultanate of Oman dedicated to in EOR techniques and became one of the leading countries in EOR applications. In this stage, miscible gas displacement (CO2), steam injection, chemical injection (synthetic surfactant, polymers and/or solvents), microbial technologies, and their bio-products are used, which is the biotechnological uses of microbes to enhance oil recovery. The process is known as Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR). Although the non-biological technologies are easy to apply and the results are promising, they are expensive and are not environmental friendly”. Prof Al Bahry said.
“Most of the microbial biotechnology which are involved in MEOR include biomass, biosurfactants, biopolymers, bio-acids, bio-gas, bio-solvent and enzymes. The MEOR technology depends either by injection of exogenous microbes and their bio-products or by in-situ generation of indigenous microbial bio-products. At SQU, extensive and successful research on Omani microbial isolates have been conducted in collaboration with national and international oil industries. The research financial support and scholarships were mainly supported by His Majesty, PDO and SQU grants are highly appreciated. The team has excellent research experience in MEOR and has proven and successfully established research in-house biosurfactant technologies; and two types of proven in-house biopolymer based technologies. The MEOR research team at SQU has successfully demonstrated EOR from highly fractured cores using Microbial Permeability Profile Modification (MPPM) using Omani microbes. The Core-flooding experiments showed promising results where total of 27-30% of the residual oil was produced after 11 hours of incubation in fractured Indiana limestone core-plugs”, Prof. Al Bahry explained. “In addition to these technologies, SQU can assist servicing the oil companies and others in complete microbiological analysis; total water chemistry; crude oil analysis; and rock properties analysis, Prof Al Bahry concluded.