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In the petroleum industry, biological contamination can have a significant economic impact, whether it occurs during crude oil extraction (upstream), distribution of petroleum products (midstream) or the production phase in refineries and petrochemical industries (downstream). Contamination is closely linked to the presence of water, and can therefore affect:
• crude oil extraction, via the groundwater or water used for boring;
• storage of newly refined petroleum products (due to the separation of the water and hydrocarbon phases that occurs during storage) or products that are subjected to long-term storage in reservoirs (strategic reserves);
• all stages of distribution where water could be introduced: ocean transport on oil tankers, river transport by barges, condensation or seepage in pipelines or vats, etc.
Most petroleum products can become contaminated (crude oil, boat diesel, automotive diesel, diesel for marine engines, domestic gas, kerosene, automobile gas, fuel, lubricants and synthetic fluids, etc.), but contamination occurs more frequently and can be more problematic in petroleum products that are poor in sulfur, rich in biodiesel or contain water and sediment. Learn more
Contaminating micro-organisms (aerobic or anaerobic bacteria, yeast and mold) can grow:
• as biofilms on filters, the interior walls of tanks, cisterns, reservoirs, pipes, etc.
• at the interface between the lower aqueous phase (composed of water, which is essential for cellular metabolism) and the upper organic phase (composed of hydrocarbons, which serve as a source of nutrients).
The proliferation of these micro-organisms can lead to losses in quality due to:
• biotransformation or metabolism of hydrocarbons;
• production of undesirable compounds (sulfides, sulfate, tensioactive molecules);
• catalysis of undesirable chemical reactions that can cause bio-corrosion (Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion - MIC);
• formation of cellular residue or excretions that lead to blockages (sludge, bacterial biofilms, fungal thalli, etc.).
• blockage of filters or pipes by microbial residue (silt, sludge) or biofilms;
• bio-corrosion of reservoirs, vats and pipes by bacteria that produce acid or induce electrochemical reactions that create rust spots and holes in metal (known as “pitting”), such as sulfur-reducing bacteria (bactéries sulfato-réductrices, BSR) and other species (Geobacter sp.). Biofilms and sludge storage tanks are a preferred environment for the growth of anaerobic sulfur-reducing bacteria;
• the presence of water and sediment due to microbial biomolecules with emulsifying properties that increase the solubility of water and sediment.
Rapid microbiological analysis using ATP 2G is an efficient, low-cost diagnostic tool that is easy to implement in an industrial setting and allows the user to:
• use a reliable indicator to monitor the biological quality of petroleum products and facilities in real time, particularly in hot weather or when the products are stored for a long time;
• quickly detect biological shifts, thereby increasing responsiveness in decision-making, the efficiency of any corrective measures taken and the economic and ecological optimization of any applied treatments;
• prevent bio-corrosion without having to specifically monitor sulfur-reducing bacteria (which requires complicated and costly analyses);
• prevent blockage by microbial biofilms and sludges;
• quantify the effect of a biocidal agent on a microbial population or biofilm.
aqua-tools I&E recommends the QGO-M™ rapid microbiological analysis kit for:
• Measuring the total biomass of crude, intermediate or refined petroleum products, by taking samples from the aqueous phase, biofilms and sediment if needed;
• Continuous monitoring of the microbiological quality of an upstream or midstream facility, creating a microbiological map if necessary;
• Optimizing cleaning and disinfection of lines or reservoirs to verify the effectiveness of a treatment or to minimize the required dose of biocides/bio-dispersants.
• Upstream and midstream petroleum industry: oil wells, oil rigs, pipelines, treatment and storage centers, etc.
• Petroleum product transport: transport via ocean, river, road, train, etc.
• Associated petrochemical industries: light chemicals, heavy chemicals, plastics, etc.