About our Pressurised Bioreactors
Our UK-based research teams use pressurised bioreactors – specially designed corrosion-resistant columns – to simulate the pressure and temperature (P/T) conditions that are found in water-flooded oil reservoirs, in order to help oil operators make the right commercial decisions.
We have been sub-culturing oilfield microorganisms for more than 30 years and, since 2006, have operated what is widely considered to be the world's largest and most advanced research facility to study and evaluate microbiological souring in simulated reservoir conditions. Our research concerns the behaviour of sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) and the control of SRM through injection water treatments, including nitrate and proprietary chemical dosing.
Almost 500 years' worth of souring data
As many as 85 pressurised bioreactor columns, ranging from 25 cm to 4 metres in length are in daily operation at our research facility. To date, we have accumulated the equivalent of almost 500 bioreactor years’ worth of oilfield souring data. This priceless dataset is growing on an almost daily basis and contains information relevant to oil reservoirs around the globe.
Replicating the downhole world
Our souring studies use crude oil and seawater samples from major oilfields globally. Ranging from large-scale joint industry projects (JIPs) to single-client activities, they last from a matter of weeks to a number of years. To replicate the downhole world, testing conditions within our bioreactor suites range from atmospheric pressure to 12,000psig, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to just below the boiling point of water. This considerable capability enables us to determine the efficacy of various biocides and water treatment regimens upon different microbial populations.
Seriatim series research
We first began using pressurised bioreactors in 2003 to investigate the effects of pressure and temperature (P/T) on oilfield microbiology. Oil majors and service companies quickly recognised the value of our work. Their interest led to the development of our pressurised bioreactors as a research tool for the global oil & gas industry. The Seriatim joint industry project into oilfield souring was born – supported by almost $10 million in funding – and we have conducted Seriatim series research ever since.
A new level of insight
Before the advent of Rawwater's pressurised bioreactors, investigations into whether or not an oilfield would sour as a result of microbiological activity relied on the use of simple sand, oil and seawater bottle tests, or upflow sand packs that were subjected to atmospheric pressure. Although more than suitable for simple screening programmes, such tests could not simulate the pressures and temperatures found within oil reservoirs. By contrast, the data generated by our pressurised bioreactors cover a range of operating conditions, including accurate chemistries at pressure and temperature (P/T).
We have accumulated the equivalent of almost 500 bioreactor years’ worth of oilfield souring data — growing daily.