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There is a holy grail for the oil industry; but it isn’t made of gold. It is a living thing, a microbe, or several different microbes, that can work their magic downhole in the reservoir to free the 60-70% of oil and gas remaining in fields after primary and secondary recovery.
Researchers across the globe are seeking these elusive “bugs” from the depths of the mid-ocean ridges, where extremophiles live, to more common surface and soil-dwelling bacteria that produce biofilms, which act as surface active agents-basically oilfield soaps. The goal is to locate bacteria that can alter the oil/bitumen in place within the reservoir environment.
If the hydrocarbon can be transformed into methane, then it can be extracted as a gas with normal technologies. Alternatively, if the hydrocarbon’s viscosity can be lowered, so that the oil will flow, then extraction is possible using conventional techniques.
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