The Impact of Bacteria in Oil & Gas Production


Bacteria can present numerous concerns in oil and gas production, causing significant impact to equipment and production systems. Exploration and production is conducted alongside living eco-systems whose byproducts can cause tremendous damage, therefore it becomes necessary to introduce various biocide chemicals into the production process to maintain successful operations. While some bacteria and microbes can have beneficial effects when dissolving oil spills and chemicals, many of these metabolic processes can have detrimental effects on production equipment and overall site stability.


Oilfield production sites are an exceptional habitat for the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms because they create conditions that allow for the growth and reproduction of a number of types of bacteria. These conditions include Temperature, pH, Total Dissolved Solids, and Dissolved Oxygen to create an environment that encourages the growth of both aerobic and anaerobic types of bacteria. What this means is that bacteria can grow in various production areas and cause corrosion, oxidation, and other damages to oilfield equipment. While many bacteria can be found in the areas where oilfield exploration is occurring and the production processes further enhance these environments, there are some cases in which the fracking fluid injected into production sites can be contaminated with bacteria as many of the external water sources used are taken from surface ponds, rivers, and lakes.


Biocides are registered products that prohibit organic bacteria growth, bio-sludge, and inhibits any microbiological life that could create an environment that is not conducive to oilfield exploration and production operations. Used carefully to prevent further damage from occurring, oilfield biocides treat acids, scales, slime, and poisonous gasses and are also useful to prevent rusting. Non-Oxidizing biocides alter the permeability of the cell walls of the microorganisms and interfere with their ability to grow and replicate, whereas oxidizing biocides such as chlorine dioxide react with the bacteria and must be classified as such in order to heighten awareness of potential reactions with other chemicals. The use of oxidizing biocides must be regulated and specific dosages carefully controlled.  

Most commonly, biocides are recommended during hydrostatic testing to prevent corrosion of internal equipment elements. Biocides are also added to fracking fluids in small quantities to counter the naturally occurring bacteria present in many of these water sources. When used effectively, these chemicals can slow or prevent the growth of bacteria, but must be used continuously to prevent regrowth.


While it would be easiest to rely on a blanket application of biocides at your oilfield site, it is not that easy to effectively prevent bacteria growth while preserving the surrounding ecosystems. Using a combination of historical and analytical data for your production site, it is necessary to undergo field testing that includes a comprehensive survey of the production services and equipment used in specific production phases, as well as state of the art laboratory analysis in order to determine proper chemistry solutions and mitigation plans, from pipeline cleaning chemicals to pipe lubricants, corrosion inhibitors, and more.  As bacterias can develop a sort of “immunity” to various biocides, there may be a need for repeat testing if conditions worsen or do not improve over time. 

These recommendations are used to improve oil, gas, and water quality, creating solutions to protect the assets used to produce oil and gas. At DynaChem, we provide fast-acting chemical concentrations designed to accommodate your specific applications and requirements, allowing you to reduce the potential for damages to your equipment. We offer innovative chemical solutions and technical services applicable throughout all phases of exploration and production.