Comparison of microbial communities involved in souring and corrosion in offshore and onshore oil production facilities in Nigeria

  • Chuma Okoro
  • Seun Smith
  • Leo Chiejina
  • Rhea Lumactud
  • Dongshan An
  • Hyung Soo Park
  • Johanna Voordouw
  • Bart P. Lomans
  • Gerrit VoordouwEmail author
Environmental Microbiology


Samples were obtained from the Obigbo field, located onshore in the Niger delta, Nigeria, from which oil is produced by injection of low-sulfate groundwater, as well as from the offshore Bonga field from which oil is produced by injection of high-sulfate (2,200 ppm) seawater, amended with 45 ppm of calcium nitrate to limit reservoir souring. Despite low concentrations of sulfate (0–7 ppm) and nitrate (0 ppm), sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and heterotrophic nitrate-reducing bacteria (NRB) were present in samples from the Obigbo field. Biologically active deposits (BADs), scraped from corrosion-failed sections of a water- and of an oil-transporting pipeline (both Obigbo), had high counts of SRB and high sulfate and ferrous iron concentrations. Analysis of microbial community composition by pyrosequencing indicated anaerobic, methanogenic hydrocarbon degradation to be a dominant process in all samples from the Obigbo field, including the BADs. Samples from the Bonga field also had significant activity of SRB, as well as of heterotrophic and of sulfide-oxidizing NRB. Microbial community analysis indicated high proportions of potentially thermophilic NRB and near-absence of microbes active in methanogenic hydrocarbon degradation. Anaerobic incubation of Bonga samples with steel coupons gave moderate general corrosion rates of 0.045–0.049 mm/year, whereas near-zero general corrosion rates (0.001–0.002 mm/year) were observed with Obigbo water samples. Hence, methanogens may contribute to corrosion at Obigbo, but the low general corrosion rates cannot explain the reasons for pipeline failures in the Niger delta. A focus of future work should be on understanding the role of BADs in enhancing under-deposit pitting corrosion.


Oil field Sulfide Souring Corrosion Methanogen Sulfate-reducing bacteria 



This work was supported through a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair Award to GV, which is also supported by Baker Hughes, BP, Computer Modelling Group Limited, ConocoPhillips Company, Intertek Commercial Microbiology, Dow Microbial Control, Enbridge, Enerplus Corporation, Oil Search Limited, Shell Global Solutions International BV, Suncor Energy Inc., and Yara Norge AS, as well as by Alberta Innovates—Energy and Environment Solutions (AIEES). Analytical tools and expertise developed through the Hydrocarbon Metagenomics Project funded by Genome Canada and administered through Genome Alberta enabled characterization of community compositions. We thank Jung Soh and Christoph Sensen for bioinformatic analyses of pyrosequencing data and Jaspreet Mand for help in calculating corrosion rates.

Supplementary material

10295_2014_1401_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (405 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 406 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chuma Okoro
    • 1
  • Seun Smith
    • 2
  • Leo Chiejina
    • 3
  • Rhea Lumactud
    • 4
    • 5
  • Dongshan An
    • 5
  • Hyung Soo Park
    • 5
  • Johanna Voordouw
    • 5
  • Bart P. Lomans
    • 6
  • Gerrit Voordouw
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesCaleb UniversityLagosNigeria
  2. 2.Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO)LagosNigeria
  3. 3.Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of NigeriaPort HarcourtNigeria
  4. 4.Department of Physical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Toronto ScarboroughTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  6. 6.Shell Global Solutions International BVRijswijkThe Netherlands

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