Influence of Surfaces on Sulphidogenic Bacteria
Sulphidogenic bacteria in oil reservoirs are of great economic importance in terms of souring, fouling and corrosion. Mixed cultures containing these bacteria were isolated from chalk formations in North Sea oil reservoirs. These were thermophilic cultures, growing optimally at 60ºC. Oil formations are porous matrices, providing a very large surface area and ideal conditions for bacterial attachment, survival and growth. This study included assessments of sulphide production rates of thermophilic (t-)sulphidogen consortia with and without additional surfaces. The availability of a surface contributed significantly to the rate and extent of sulphide generation. Surfaces were offered in varying amounts to growing planktonic cultures: significantly more sulphide was produced from cultures in contact with a surface than from identical cultures in the absence of a surface. In another series of experiments, t-sulphidogens were added to chalk rock chips in the presence of nutrients and incubated for several months. This resulted in rapid sulphide generation, the final concentration being related to the initial nutrient concentration. Subsequent nutrient addition resulted in renewed sulphide generation. It is suggested that bacteria in reservoirs can withstand long periods of nutrient deprivation while attached within the porous rock matrix and opportunistically utilise nutrients when they become available.