Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 22, pp 17697–17715 | Cite as

Characterization of the microbial community structure and the physicochemical properties of produced water and seawater from the Hibernia oil production platform

  • C. William YeungEmail author
  • Kenneth Lee
  • Susan Cobanli
  • Tom King
  • Jay Bugden
  • Lyle G. Whyte
  • Charles W. Greer
Research Article


Hibernia is Canada’s largest offshore oil platform. Produced water is the major waste byproduct discharged into the ocean. In order to evaluate different potential disposal methods, a comprehensive study was performed to determine the impact from the discharge. Microorganisms are typically the first organisms to respond to changes in their environment. The objectives were to characterize the microbial communities and the chemical composition in the produced water and to characterize changes in the seawater bacterial community around the platform. The results from chemical, physicochemical, and microbial analyses revealed that the discharge did not have a detectable effect on the surrounding seawater. The seawater bacterial community was relatively stable, spatially. Unique microorganisms like Thermoanaerobacter were found in the produced water. Thermoanaerobacter-specific q-PCR and nested-PCR primers were designed, and both methods demonstrated that Thermoanaerobacter was present in seawater up to 1000 m from the platform. These methods could be used to track the dispersion of produced water into the surrounding ocean.


Produced water Petroleum waste byproduct Microbial communities DGGE q-PCR Thermoanaerobacter 



The authors thank Jennifer Mason from the Centre of Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research for analytical and technical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

This research represents original data that has not been submitted elsewhere for publication, that all acknowledgements have been made, and that all authors have contributed significantly to the work. There are no real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2015_4947_Fig9_ESM.gif (91 kb)
Fig. S1

a Standard curves (2.1 × 106 to 0 copies/reaction) from the q-PCR assay. Plasmid DNA was used as the template. Circled numerals: 1, negative control (sterile distilled water); 2 to 7, plasmid DNA serially diluted from 2.1 × 106 to 2.1 × 101 copies/reaction. b Standard curve for six 10-fold serial dilutions of Thermoanaerobacter plasmid DNA (copy number 21 to 2.1 × 106). Quantification was performed by determining the threshold cycle (CT) against the calculated copies of plasmid DNA. The straight line, which was calculated by linear regression, shows an r 2 of 0.99901 with slope (M) of −3.587 and intercept (b) of 36.410 (GIF 91 kb)

11356_2015_4947_MOESM1_ESM.tif (14.2 mb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 14583 kb)
11356_2015_4947_Fig10_ESM.gif (17 kb)
Fig. S2

Correlation between numbers of copies vs. PW/SW dilution. The straight line, which was calculated by linear regression, shows an r 2 of 0.9998, slope of 82,606, and intercept equal to 0 (i.e., no produced water = zero copy). (GIF 17 kb)

11356_2015_4947_MOESM2_ESM.tif (5.7 mb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 5828 kb)
11356_2015_4947_Fig11_ESM.gif (332 kb)
Fig. S3

2008 Hibernia seawater bacterial 16S rRNA gene DGGE fingerprint. a Seawater samples from 1 m depth. b Seawater samples from 50 m depth (GIF 331 kb)

11356_2015_4947_MOESM3_ESM.tif (25.8 mb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 26389 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. William Yeung
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kenneth Lee
    • 3
  • Susan Cobanli
    • 4
  • Tom King
    • 4
  • Jay Bugden
    • 4
  • Lyle G. Whyte
    • 2
  • Charles W. Greer
    • 1
  1. 1.Energy, Mining and EnvironmentNational Research Council CanadaMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  3. 3.Oceans and Atmosphere National Research Flagship, Australian Resources Research CentreCSIROKensingtonAustralia
  4. 4.Fisheries and Oceans CanadaDartmouthCanada

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