Long-term biocide efficacy and its effect on a souring microbial community

Xiang Shi, Daiane A. F. Oliveira, Lea Holsten, Katrin Steinhauer, Julia R. de Rezende

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Reservoir souring, which is the production of H2S mainly by sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) in oil reservoirs, has been a long-standing issue for the oil industry. While biocides have been frequently applied to control biogenic souring, the effects of biocide treatment are usually temporary, and biocides eventually fail. The reasons for biocide failure and the long-term response of the microbial community remain poorly understood. In this study, one-time biocide treatments with glutaraldehyde (GA) and an aldehyde-releasing biocide (ARB) at low (100 ppm) and high (750 ppm) doses were individually applied to a complex SRM community, followed by 1 year of monitoring of the chemical responses and the microbial community succession. The chemical results showed that souring control failed after 7 days at a dose of 100 ppm regardless of the biocide type and lasting souring control for the entire 1-year period was achieved only with ARB at 750 ppm. Microbial community analyses suggested that the high-dose biocide treatments resulted in 1 order of magnitude lower average total microbial abundance and average SRM abundance, compared to the low-dose treatments. The recurrence of souring was associated with reduction of alpha diversity and with long-term microbial community structure changes; therefore, monitoring changes in microbial community metrics may provide early warnings of the failure of a biocide-based souring control program in the field. Furthermore, spore-forming sulfate reducers (Desulfotomaculum and Desulfurispora) were enriched and became dominant in both GA-treated groups, which could cause challenges for the design of long-lasting remedial souring control strategies. IMPORTANCE Reservoir souring is a problem for the oil and gas industry, because H2S corrodes the steel infrastructure, downgrades oil quality, and poses substantial risks to field personnel and the environment. Biocides have been widely applied to remedy souring, but the long-term performance of biocide treatments is hard to predict or to optimize due to limited understanding of the microbial ecology affected by biocide treatment. This study investigates the long-term biocide performance and associated changes in the abundance, diversity, and structure of the souring microbial community, thus advancing the knowledge toward a deeper understanding of the microbial ecology of biocide-treated systems and contributing to the improvement of current biocide-based souring control practices. The study showcases the potential application of incorporating microbial community analyses to forecast souring, and it highlights the long-term consequences of biocide treatment in the microbial communities, with relevance to both operators and regulators.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00842-21
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number17
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2021


  • biocide
  • glutaraldehyde
  • microbial control
  • oilfield microbiology
  • reservoir souring
  • sulfate reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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