Biodeterioration of crude oil and oil derived products: a review

  • Natalia A. Yemashova
  • Valentina P. Murygina
  • Dmitry V. Zhukov
  • Arpenik A. Zakharyantz
  • Marina A. Gladchenko
  • Vasu Appanna
  • Sergey V. KalyuzhnyiEmail author
Review Paper


Biodeterioration of crude oil and oil fuels is a serious economic and an environmental problem all over the world. It is impossible to prevent penetration of microorganisms in oil and fuels both stored in tanks or in oilfields after drilling. Both aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms tend to colonise oil pipelines and oil and fuel storage installations. Complex microbial communities consisting of both hydrocarbon oxidizing microorganisms and bacteria using the metabolites of the former form an ecological niche where they thrive. The accumulation of water at the bottom of storage tanks and in oil pipelines is a primary prerequisite for development of microorganisms in fuels and oil and their subsequent biological fouling. Ability of microorganisms to grow both in a water phase and on inter-phase of water/hydrocarbon as well as the generation of products of their metabolism worsen the physical and chemical properties of oils and fuels. This activity also increases the amount of suspended solids, leads to the formation of slimes and creates a variety of operational problems. Nowadays various test-systems are utilized for microbial monitoring in crude oils and fuels; thus allowing an express determination of both the species and the quantities of microorganisms present. To suppress microbial growth in oils and fuels, both physico-mechanical and chemical methods are applied. Among chemical methods, the preference is given to substances such as biocides, additives, the anti-freezing agents etc that do not deteriorate the quality of oil and fuels and are environmentally friendly. This review is devoted to the analysis of the present knowledge in the field of microbial fouling of crude oils and oil products. The methods utilized for monitoring of microbial contamination and prevention of their undesirable activities are also evaluated. The special focus is given to Russian scientific literature devoted to crude oil and oil products biodeterioration.


Biodeterioration Biofouling Crude oil Oil derived products Microbial contamination control Biocide 



The financial support of International Science and Technology Centre (project No. 2937) is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalia A. Yemashova
    • 1
  • Valentina P. Murygina
    • 1
  • Dmitry V. Zhukov
    • 1
  • Arpenik A. Zakharyantz
    • 1
  • Marina A. Gladchenko
    • 1
  • Vasu Appanna
    • 2
  • Sergey V. Kalyuzhnyi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Enzymology, Chemistry FacultyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada

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