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Battelle Oil & Gas Newsletter

Battelle Oil & Gas Newsletter

Joint Industry Research Program for MIC Field Detection Technology To Begin Early 2016

Battelle is ready to begin the joint development of a new rapid field detection device for microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). The study is part of a joint industry research program (JIRP) to complete development of the device for use in the field by the oil and gas community. The JIRP is still open for a limited number of additional participants. 

MIC causes significant damage to oil and gas pipelines, downhole equipment, offshore structures and other critical assets. Left untreated, it can lead to asset failure resulting in production delays, flow disruption or even accidental releases. 

Battelle’s hand-held detection kit will allow operators and oilfield service staff to quickly identify the presence and type of corrosion-causing bacteria so that they can select the most effective remedy options. Not all bacteria influence corrosion; of those that do, different types respond best to different treatments. The MIC detection device under development uses genetic analysis to identify the presence of bacteria most commonly associated with corrosion, such as sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB), acid-producing bacteria (APB) or iron-related bacteria (IRB). 

Currently, in order to identify the species of bacteria present, operators must send samples away to a lab for DNA analysis—often waiting days or weeks for results. The new field test will allow staff to diagnose an MIC problem in the field within hours of collecting samples so that appropriate mitigating action can be started right away 

Battelle’s proprietary MIC detection process consists of field-based methods for purifying DNA from bacteria present in a range of oil and gas industry fluid samples (e.g., source or make-up water, injection water, flowback and produced water, or even product streams), amplification of DNA fragments specific to MIC-causing bacteria, and simple detection of DNA fragments using strip tests that change color. The methods evaluated have performed well in laboratory studies, providing fast and accurate identification of the genetic markers of common MIC-causing bacteria. 

Battelle is now ready to expand the range of bacteria groups and move into formal field validation studies of the technology with select industry partners. The JIRP will build upon Battelle’s previous work to validate a field-ready method for bacterial DNA purification, a critical step in transitioning traditional laboratory-based approaches into a robust and efficient solution for field use. The objective is to develop a market-ready field-deployable kit for detection and specification of MIC-causing bacteria types. 

Key tasks for the JIRP include: 

  • Definition of the requirements for in-field MIC detection
  • Selection of the best approaches for the subsequent amplification and detection of species of concern
  • Testing of the complete method in the lab against stakeholder performance requirements
  • Demonstration of the test kit’s performance in the field.

The study will consist of three phases: 

  • Phase 1: Method selection to meet field performance requirements. In this phase, Battelle will work with the JIRP participants to define the performance requirements for the MIC detection kit, including total analysis time, species of bacteria to be identified/MIC type, detection output, sample types, allowable reagent and instrumentation, shelf-life and storage conditions. Researchers will also evaluate options for amplification and detection and select one to two options for each step for further testing, based on their anticipated ability to meet the performance requirements of the JIRP members.
  • Phase 2: Laboratory validation of integrated test kit. Following the selection of the individual analysis steps for detection of MIC-causing bacteria, Battelle will conduct iterative laboratory testing of the total test kit solution. The previously developed DNA separation and extraction method, along with the options identified in Phase 1 for DNA amplification and detection, will be tested with field samples to confirm their ability to meet the performance requirements.
  • Phase 3: Field demonstration and performance feedback. Upon successful completion of Phases 1 and 2, the JIRP will proceed with a field demonstration of the test kit. Battelle staff will test the procedure on-site at two representative locations selected jointly with the JIRP members. During these demonstrations, researchers will develop field protocols for the test kit, gather feedback for further development, and validate the results of the field tests using laboratory analysis. Following completion of the Phase 3 effort, it is anticipated that the demonstrated approach will be ready for optimization and commercialization.

Participating JIP partners will have pre-sale access to the technology and the opportunity to participate in field trials at their work sites. They will also receive the data and results from these trials. In return, partners will share in the costs of the study, which is estimated at $250,000 per partner over a 12-month period. The JIRP is open to operating companies as well as field service companies in the oil & gas industry. There are still a limited number of spaces available.