• 5 minutes 'No - Deal Brexit' vs 'Operation Fear' Globalist Pushback ... Impact to World Economies and Oil
  • 8 minutes China has *Already* Lost the Trade War. Meantime, the U.S. Might Sanction China’s Largest Oil Company
  • 12 minutes Will Uncle Sam Step Up and Cut Production
  • 34 mins OPEC will consider all options. What options do they have ?
  • 11 hours Danish Royal Palace ‘Surprised’ By Trump Canceling Trip
  • 14 hours Trump vs. Xi Trade Battle, Running Commentary from Conservative Tree House
  • 6 hours Not The Onion: Vivienne Westwood Says Greta Thunberg Should Run the World
  • 13 hours NATGAS, LNG, Technology, benefits etc , cleaner global energy fuel
  • 11 hours A legitimate Request: France Wants Progress In Ukraine Before Russia Returns To G7
  • 6 hours What to tell my students
  • 20 hours With Global Warming Greenland is Prime Real Estate
  • 1 day Recession Jitters Are Rising. Is There Reason To Worry?
  • 19 hours China Threatens to Withhold Rare Earth Metals
  • 1 day TRUMP'S FORMER 'CHRISTIAN LIAISON' SAYS DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER WAS GOD'S PUNISHMENT FOR OBAMA ISRAEL DIVISION
  • 1 day Maybe 8 to 10 "good" years left in oil industry * UAE model for Economic Deversification * Others spent oil billions on funding terrorism, wars, suppressing dissidents, building nukes * Too late now
  • 1 day CLIMATE PANIC! ELEVENTY!!! "250,000 people die a year due to the climate crisis"
Gaurav Agnihotri

Gaurav Agnihotri

Gaurav Agnihotri, a Mechanical engineer and an MBA -Marketing from ICFAI (Institute of Chartered Financial Accountants), Mumbai, is a result oriented and a business focused…

More Info

Premium Content

An Unusual Potential Ally In The U.S. Shale Boom

The shale boom that made the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and gas is about to come to halt as the U.S. shale sector is witnessing a series of defaults due to rising driller debts and expiring hedges.

The collapse in oil prices has further added to the miseries of U.S. shale industry. In these difficult and testing times, there is something that might just give a breather to the U.S. shale industry and may even prolong the shale boom, and the innovation comes not from the field of engineering, but from microbiology.

There are microbes that are believed to have evolved and survived in the extreme depths of around 7,000 feet, and they might just provide what U.S. shale industry badly needs: a low cost oil and gas recovery technique.

Can microbes enable us to frack more oil?

These microbes have the potential to provide more natural gas from wells. However, it is essential that these microbes have a food source with which they can survive in such extreme depths. Related: Top 6 Myths Driving Oil Prices Down

Scientists have known about a group of bacteria that could help clean up oil spills. The bacteria Oliespira Antarctica is capable of degrading oil by forming a bloom, thereby minimizing the effects of an oil spill. In a similar way, it is now possible that scientists could find microbes living in deep shale rocks. “Finding life at depths like that would be amazing,” said Tim Carr of West Virginia University.

Some interesting research collaborations on the study of earth -microbes

The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) has initiated an $11 million project that would enable the Department of Energy and researchers to monitor the fracking wells drilled by a company located in Charleston called Northeast Natural Energy for the next five years.

The point of the project is to learn more about the role of microbes in deep shale wells. The potential advantage to drillers is the fact that microbes produce something called ‘biosurfactants’ that can make the process of pumping oil and natural gas much easier by increasing the porosity of shale rock. Related: China Getting Serious About Solar Energy

There are challenges and it may actually be difficult to find the microbes due to difficult conditions such as intense heat and extreme darkness. If microbes do live down below, they would require an adaptation known as ‘osmoprotectant’ that would save them from concentrated salts in the rocks.

Problems associated with microbes

Although there is the possibility of increasing the drilling output with help of earth microbes, there are some of the problems associated with these tiny creatures. According to Paula Mouser of Ohio State University, the tiny earth-microbe is the ‘next frontier’ for the U.S. shale industry, but has its share of problems. Related: Recession Risk Mounting For Canada

First, microbes can corrode drilling equipment. And while they have the potential to increase rock porosity, they can also have a countervailing negative effect – they can clog rock fractures and thereby prevent the smooth flow of oil and gas. Therefore, researchers and scientists need to effectively tap the benefits derived from the earth microbes and at the same time minimize their harmful effects. “We don’t know much about life at these depths in rock, and the oil and gas industry doesn’t have a good handle on how small organisms like microbes and bacteria can help oil and gas recovery,” said Mouser.

With rising drilling costs and falling crude oil prices, the oil and gas industry is in desperate need of newer technologies that can effectively recover the remaining untapped natural gas from tight shale rocks. Only time will tell as to what role bacteria and microbes could help in tapping this unrecovered gas.

By Gaurav Agnihotri for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play