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ISMOS6 Conference Review

by Graham Shedden

ISMOS6 Conference Review

During the first week of June, oilfield microbiologists from industry and academia gathered in San Diego for the 6th International Symposium on Applied Microbiology and Molecular Biology in Oil Systems (ISMOS). This biennial symposium is the largest event discussing microbiology and molecular biology in the oil and gas industry, and provides an informal and welcoming atmosphere where experts can come together to discuss microbiological problems facing the industry. Click here to view the abstract book.

Dr Gary Jenneman gave a great opening keynote to the symposium, drawing on his considerable industry experience to draw together the challenges and advancements that have occurred in managing corrosion and reservoir souring. It was nice to see Gary mention SourSimRL®, the souring simulation software that Oil Plus has helped develop as part of a long-running JIP. Gary reminded us that, for operators, corrosion rates and time to failure are critical.

I co-chaired the Hydrocarbon Biodegradation session on Wednesday morning with Dr Boyd McKew from the University of Essex. Prof John Coates (University of California, Berkeley) was the invited speaker for the session and he presented his lab’s work with high-throughput screening to identify novel inhibitors of sulphidogenesis by sulphate-reducing bacteria.

At this ISMOS I found the end-user workshop to be of real value, particularly the talks from Dr Rick Eckert (DNV GL) and Dr Nicolas Tsesmetzis (Shell). The workshop focused on specific case studies relevant to the oil and gas industry. Rick talked about the need for standardisation across service companies providing microbiological services, to allow data to be compared easily. At the moment, each company will have its own preferred primers for qPCR, sequencing technology and on site methods. Oil Plus is part of the working group looking into this issue.

The conference dinner at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was a real highlight to the conference social events. 130-odd oilfield microbiologists strolling round a hanger looking at state-of-the-art planes and quizzing pilots was a unique experience. This was followed by a huge buffet dinner in the officer’s mess – Ken ‘Maverick’ Wunch really did a great job organising the evening.

Prof Gerrit Voordouw gave the closing keynote, highlighting his top 10 advancements in petroleum microbiology of the past 10 years. Gerrit is one of the leading figures in research on sulphate-reducing bacteria and nitrate treatment, as well as anaerobic processes occurring within oil reservoirs.

This year ISMOS utilised the event app Whova to make the conference more interactive. Everyone was called on to vote for the inaugural Gerrit Voordouw award for best oral presentation of the conference. The winner was Carmen Li, a PhD student in Casey Hubert’s lab in Calgary. Well done Carmen!

Best Posters at #ISMOS 6 were sponsored by Springer Nature & Dow. The winners were Courtney Toth, Daisuke Mayumi and Anna Engelbrektson, congratulations everyone!

Highlights

Karl Skeels, our Industrial CASE PhD student from the University of Essex presented his work on naphthenic acid biodegradation by Pseudomonas spp. This work showed that two Pseudomonas species were able to biodegrade model naphthenic acid compounds (including a diamondoid model compound) within a bioreactor system.

Leanne Walker from Rawwater presented their work looking at the implications of using guar gum for shale gas extraction. Guar gum is added to frac fluid to increase its viscosity and make the fracturing process more efficient. The results from Rawwater show that Guar gum can be used as a substrate for SRB, potentially stimulating souring of the well.

Prof Bradley Stevenson (University of Oklahoma) gave an interesting talk highlighting his group’s work on the biodegradation of biodiesel. Biodiesel is more susceptible to microbial fouling (more hygroscopic, increased oxygen content) than ‘regular’ diesel. This problem will only become more widespread as biodiesel increases.

ISMOS7 will be held in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. I’m looking forward to it already.

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