Sequencing the Oil Field Microbiome – Can Metagenomics Help Combat MIC?
Corrosion costs between 1-5% of global gross domestic product annually. Microbiologically influenced corrosion is believed to contribute to around 20% of this. Due to the complexity of the microbial populations involved, the mechanisms of many of these processes are still poorly understood. Culture-based methods such as most probable number technique (MPN) and isolation only reveal a very small proportion of the microorganisms present, meaning that potentially problematic microorganisms are overlooked and not suitably targeted for mitigation. Due to revolutionary advances in DNA sequencing technologies, collectively known as next-generation sequencing (NGS), we are now able to sequence and identify many thousands of microorganisms in a single sample. By looking at the DNA sequences from these samples (metagenomics) we can identify what microorganisms are abundant (amplicon metagenomics), what the microorganisms are doing and even what they are capable of doing, by identifying their genomic and thus metabolic potential (through shotgun metagenomics). This wealth of information can be used to better understand specific corrosion mechanisms, target the responsible groups of microorganisms and ultimately predict their activities in order to control MIC. We present herein case studies where these new technologies have been used, which have enabled targeted mitigation strategies to minimize the impact that microorganisms have in the oil and gas industry.