An Environmental-Scanning-Electron-Microscope Investigation Into the Effect of Biofilm on the Wettability of Quartz
- E. Jaqueline Polson (Heriot-Watt University) | James O. Buckman (Heriot-Watt University) | David G. Bowen (Core Laboratories) | Adrian C. Todd (Heriot-Watt University) | Mary M. Gow (University of the West of Scotland) | Simon J. Cuthbert (University of the West of Scotland)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- March 2010
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 223 - 227
- 2010. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 4.3.4 Scale, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 1.8 Formation Damage, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.6.2 Core Analysis, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
- biofilm; bacteria; fungi; wettability; sandstone; core analysis
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- 599 since 2007
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The wettability relationships between oil, brine, gas, and rock are important in understanding reservoir dynamics. Chemical surfactants, scale inhibitors and microbes introduced during exploration and production are all known to affect reservoir wettabilty. However, little thought has been given to the possibility of microbial contamination of cores during core preservation, handling, storage, or analysis and the effect that this may have on measuring parameters such as wettability. In an attempt to understand how wettability analysis of sandstone cores may be altered by the presence of microbial contamination, this paper examines the effect on wettability of bacterial/fungal biofilms on quartz. Wettability data for quartz and quartz colonized by bacterial/fungal biofilms were collected using an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM). The results illustrate that the introduction of bacteria and fungi to such systems can change wettability from hydrophilic to hydrophobic. These findings have important implications within the oil industry.
Core Analysis and Biological Contamination. During core analysis studies of reservoir rocks, many parameters are recorded, such as porosity, permeability, mineralogy, and wettability (Anderson 1986a, 1986b). Wettability has important implications for factors such as relative water and oil permeabilities, resistivity, and capillary pressure (Anderson 1986a, 1986b, 1987; Wang et al. 1997).
The development of microbiological growths within porous reservoir rock, such as sandstone, has many important implications for parameters such as porosity and permeability, for example by pore blocking (Udegbunan et al. 1991; Hayatdavoudi and Ghalambor 1996; Lappan and Fogler 1996; Brydie et al. 2001). New mineral phases may be biologically mediated and precipitated (Adams et al. 1992; Feldmann et al. 1997; Konhauser and Urrutia 1999; Neumeier 1999; Adamo and Violante 2000), and certain mineral phases may be particularly susceptible to chemical and physical alteration or destruction through biological action (Weed et al. 1969; Barker and Banfield 1996; Bennet et al. 1996; Paris et al. 1996; Ullman et al. 1996; Barker et al. 1998; Wakefield and Jones 1998; Welch and Ullman 1999). In addition, the coating of mineral grains by the growth of bacteria and fungi may potentially alter the overall wettability of the core sample. This paper's focus is on this potential for alteration of wettability brought about by the presence of such microorganisms.
Biological contamination of core materials can occur at many points during a core's history, during core handling, preservation, or even while performing laboratory tests. It is also possible that microorganisms are present from the reservoir. Given those problems, it is of importance to minimize the degree of biofilm formation.
For the purpose of this paper, a biofilm is defined as "a population of microorganisms concentrated at a solid/liquid interface." No inference is made as to the thickness of the film, although, in the present study, biofilms were typically found to be 1 or 2 cells thick. The biofilm also includes extra cellular products, such as proteins, that may be released by the microorganisms and coat surfaces.
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