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Intertek supports world-leading oil and gas research project

26 Jun 2012
Intertek, the global provider of quality and safety services, has committed $200,000 (£125,000) to support stage two of a groundbreaking five year research project by the University of Calgary into microbiology and its implications in the oil and gas industry.

The new funding is a continuation of support from Intertek, totalling $400,000 (£250,000) over ten years, a leading international research project to examine three major areas of petroleum microbiology, which is an area of focus and expertise within Intertek’s energy production solutions.

The research is looking at reservoir souring due to bacteria, corrosion control with biological treatment and Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR). Using high-end technology and cutting edge microbiology methods, and analytical data and support from Intertek, the research is at the forefront of petroleum microbiology and the project is pioneering in tackling these worldwide issues.

For Intertek’s Commercial Microbiology service line, the insight to reservoir souring and the implications the research may have for industry are significant. The research will benefit Intertek clients who are exploring new reservoirs and addressing quality issues caused by microbial activity in existing reservoirs. Intertek experts have been supporting the research team by inputting knowledge and expertise to direct the research through the Research Advisory Committee.

Heike Hoffmann, Consultant Microbiologist at Intertek Commercial Microbiology, said: “A significant proportion of microorganisms are still not that well understood. The research will create new insights into the problems commonly faced due to bacteria. It is widely accepted that nitrates halt reservoir souring but it is not fully understood how. This study will look at the mechanism of reservoir souring more deeply and allow us to develop the reservoir chemistry testing and evaluation programmes we provide to clients.”

The work is part of an ongoing program by the Production and Integrity Assurance service line of Intertek, based in Aberdeen, which is focused on corrosion and materials testing and microbiology in the oil and gas sector. The aim is to help oil and gas companies significantly improve their management of microbiological problems, by offering them unique and market leading new services.

The research forms part of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chairs programme, which aims to unite top university researchers and companies to produce findings which will help advance understanding of how microorganisms can work both for and against the oil industry.

The project will also provide an opportunity for students at the University of Calgary to be part of cutting edge research in the field as there are ten PhD and master student places and five post doctorate fellow places on the team.

World leading expert in petroleum microbiology, Professor Gerrit Voordouw, is the chair holder of the project. Covering reservoir souring, corrosion control and improved production, the research is looking at the fundamentals of how micro organisms can hamper and improve oil and gas production.

Dr Hoffmann added: “If we can establish the different effects organisms have and how they inter-relate with each other, then we can establish how to treat them.”

Intertek is currently investing in new headquarters for its energy services teams to integrate under one roof at Aberdeen’s Excel Centre in the Bridge of Don, which includes £4.5 million on state-of-the-art laboratories and research, development, testing and training facilities. The FTSE 100 company recently reported a 27% rise in revenue for 2011.