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What Is Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery?

Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim

Microbial enhanced oil recovery is a term that is used to describe a procedure that is utilized in the extraction of crude oil. This process is aimed at the application of specified types of microorganisms into a selected environment for the purpose of altering the surroundings where they have been placed. It is the reaction of these microorganisms as a consequence of their new surroundings that interest oil explorers mainly due to the fact that they contribute in a considerable way to the oil extraction process. As such, the driving force behind microbial enhanced oil recovery is the maximization of profit flowing from the added benefits derived from the use of microorganisms in the extraction process.

When oil companies or the owners of oil wells and reservoirs are trying to extract oil from these places, they can make the process easier through the use of microbial enhanced oil recovery. One way in which this can happen is due to the effect of the microorganisms on the oil itself. Due to the fact that the microorganisms cause certain chemical reactions in oil that results in a reduction in the thickness or denseness of the oil, this factor helps the engineers trying to extract the oil by making the process much easier. This ease is derived from the manner in which the oil tends to flow much easier after it has been exposed to the activities of the microorganisms, making the extraction a much easier affair.

An offshore oil platform.
An offshore oil platform.

Another benefit derived from microbial enhanced oil recovery is as a consequence of the byproducts of the microorganisms as they proliferate and thrive in the environment into which they have been introduced. One of these byproducts is biomass, which serves the purpose of moving the oil from its previous position to a more favorable place from which it can be extracted. Another byproduct from these microorganisms that also helps make microbial enhanced oil recovery desirable is biosurfacants, a substance that is really slippery and acts as a sort of lubricant that helps ease the progression of the oil during the extraction process. These microorganisms also contribute to the microbial enhanced oil recovery process through the production of carbon dioxide, which serves the purpose of buoying the oil up as it accumulates within the environment where these microorganisms have been introduced to assist in the recovery of as much oil as possible.

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    • An offshore oil platform.
      By: eyeidea
      An offshore oil platform.
    • Crude oil is the target of microbial enhanced oil recovery.
      By: jamenpercy
      Crude oil is the target of microbial enhanced oil recovery.