Problems Caused by Microbes and Treatment Strategies: Rapid Diagnostics of Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) in Oilfield Systems with a DNA-Based Test Kit

  • Torben Lund Skovhus
  • Ketil Bernt Sørensen
  • Jan Larsen
Conference paper


In the past, many operators have encountered failures due to MIC in pipelines and topside facilities contaminated with sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB). In some cases, severe pitting has resulted in flow lines being either abandoned or replaced (Davies and Scott, 2006). However, there are reports of little or no significant MIC in some systems, despite an apparent significant contamination with SRB (Maxwell, 2006). As most bacterial counts were conducted using serial dilution techniques such as the most probable number (MPN) technique selective enumeration of SRB strains (depending on the type of growth medium used) will inevitably be conducted. Therefore, high bacterial numbers derived from cultivation-based techniques do not necessarily correlate to high SRB numbers causing MIC in the production system (Larsen et al., 2005). In addition, MIC can be caused by other microbes such as sulphate-reducing archaea (SRA), methanogens and fermentative microbes (Larsen et al., 2008, 2009). Also most samples taken by the oil industry are water samples. However, the majority of microbial activity takes place in biofilms that attach to pipeline walls, well tubing and on the inside of topside facilities.


Much Probable Number Water Outlet Microbiologically Influence Corrosion Pipe Surface Corrosion Scale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Laboratory experiments and field monitoring were sponsored by DUC Partners (A.P. Møller-Mærsk, Shell and Chevron).


  1. Boopathy R, Daniels L (1991) Effect of pH on anaerobic mild steel corrosion by methanogenic bacteria. Appl Environ Microbiol 57:2104–2108Google Scholar
  2. Crolet J (2005) Microbial corrosion in the oil industry: a corrosionist’s view. In: Ollivier B, Magot M (eds) Petroleum microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC, pp 143–170Google Scholar
  3. Davies M, Scott PJB (2006) Oilfield water technology. (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2006), pp 213–242Google Scholar
  4. Gittel A, Sørensen K, Skovhus TL, Ingvorsen K, Schramm A (2009) Prokaryotic community structure and activity of sulfate reducers in production water from high-temperature oil reservoirs with and without nitrate treatment. Appl Environ Microbiol 75:7086–7096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hansen LH, Larsen J, Jensen M, Thomsen US, Sørensen K, Lundgaard T, Skovhus TL (2009) The application of bioassays for evaluating in-situ biocide efficiency in offshore oil production in the North sea. SPE 121656, SPE International Symposium on Oilfield Chemistry 2009, The Woodlands, TXGoogle Scholar
  6. Hugenholtz P (2002) Exploring prokaryotic diversity in the genomic area. Genome Biol 3:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Larsen J, Rasmussen K, Pedersen H, Sørensen K, Lundgaard T, Skovhus TL (2010) Consortia of MIC Bacteria and Archaea causing pitting corrosion in top side oil production facilities (Corrosion 2010, Paper 10252). (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2010)Google Scholar
  8. Larsen J, Skovhus TL, Agerbæk M, Thomsen TR, Nielsen PH (2006) Bacterial diversity study applying novel molecular methods on Halfdan produced waters (Corrosion 2006, Paper 06668). (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2006)Google Scholar
  9. Larsen J, Skovhus TL, Saunders AM, Højris B, Agerbæk M (2008) Molecular identification of MIC bacteria from scale and produced water: similarities and differences (Corrosion 2008, Paper 08652). (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2008)Google Scholar
  10. Larsen J, Sørensen K, Højris B, Skovhus TL (2009) Significance of troublesome sulfate-reducing prokaryotes (SRP) in oil field systems (Corrosion 2009, Paper 09389). (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2009)Google Scholar
  11. Larsen J, Zwolle S, Kjellerup BV, Frølund B, Nielsen JP, Nielsen PH (2005) Identification of bacteria causing souring and biocorrosion in the Halfdan field by application of new molecular techniques (Corrosion 2005, Paper 05629). (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2005)Google Scholar
  12. Magot M, Ollivier B, Patel BKC (2000) Microbiology of petroleum reservoirs. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 77:103–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Maxwell S (2006) Predicting microbially influenced corrosion (MIC) in seawater injection systems. SPE 100519, SPE International Oilfield Corrosion Symposium 2006, AberdeenGoogle Scholar
  14. Roberge PR (1999) Microbes and biofouling. Handbook of corrosion engineering. McGraw-Hill, New York, p 195Google Scholar
  15. Skovhus TL, Højris B, Saunders AM, Thomsen TR, Agerbæk M, Larsen J (2009) Practical use of new microbiology tools in oil production. SPE Production Operations 24:180–186Google Scholar
  16. Woese CR, Kandler O, Wheelis ML (1990) Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. Proc Natl Acad Sci 87:4576–4579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Zhu XY, Lubeck J, Kilbane JJ II (2003) Characterization of microbial communities in gas industry pipelines. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:5354–5363CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torben Lund Skovhus
    • 1
  • Ketil Bernt Sørensen
    • 1
  • Jan Larsen
    • 2
  1. 1.Danish Technological Institute, DTI Oil & GasAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Maersk Oil and Gas ASCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations