Extremophiles

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 511–519

Biogenic methane production in formation waters from a large gas field in the North Sea

  • Neil D. Gray
  • Angela Sherry
  • Stephen R. Larter
  • Michael Erdmann
  • Juliette Leyris
  • Turid Liengen
  • Janiche Beeder
  • Ian M. Head
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00792-009-0237-3

Cite this article as:
Gray, N.D., Sherry, A., Larter, S.R. et al. Extremophiles (2009) 13: 511. doi:10.1007/s00792-009-0237-3

Abstract

Methanogenesis was investigated in formation waters from a North Sea oil rimmed gas accumulation containing biodegraded oil, which has not been subject to seawater injection. Activity and growth of hydrogenotrophic methanogens was measured but acetoclastic methanogenesis was not detected. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens showed activity between 40 and 80°C with a temperature optimum (ca. 70°C) consistent with in situ reservoir temperatures. They were also active over a broad salinity range, up to and consistent with the high salinity of the waters (90 g l−1). These findings suggest the methanogens are indigenous to the reservoir. The conversion of H2 and CO2 to CH4 in methanogenic enrichments was enhanced by the addition of inorganic nutrients and was correlated with cell growth. Addition of yeast extract also stimulated methanogenesis. Archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences recovered from enrichment cultures were closely related to Methanothermobacter spp. which have been identified in other high-temperature petroleum reservoirs. It has recently been suggested that methanogenic oil degradation may be a major factor in the development of the world’s heavy oils and represent a significant and ongoing process in conventional deposits. Although an oil-degrading methanogenic consortium was not enriched from these samples the presence and activity of communities of fermentative bacteria and methanogenic archaea was demonstrated. Stimulation of methanogenesis by addition of nutrients suggests that in situ methanogenic biodegradation of oil could be harnessed to enhance recovery of stranded energy assets from such petroleum systems.

Keywords

(Extreme) thermophilic microorganisms and their enzymology Thermophile ecology Anaerobic bacteria Archaea Methanogens Marine thermophiles and hyperthermophiles Metabolism Methanogenesis 

Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil D. Gray
    • 1
    • 2
  • Angela Sherry
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephen R. Larter
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael Erdmann
    • 4
  • Juliette Leyris
    • 5
  • Turid Liengen
    • 5
  • Janiche Beeder
    • 4
  • Ian M. Head
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Civil Engineering and GeosciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Institute for Research on Environment and SustainabilityNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  3. 3.Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.StatoilHydroResearch Centre BergenBergenNorway
  5. 5.StatoilHydroResearch Centre PorsgrunnPorsgrunnNorway

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