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Microbial improved and enhanced oil recovery (MIEOR): Review of a set of technologies diversifying their applications

David A. Wood

(Published: 2018-12-11)

Corresponding Author and Email:David A. Wood,; ORCID:

Citation:Wood, D.A. Microbial improved and enhanced oil recovery (MIEOR): Review of a set of technologies diversifying their applications. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2019, 3(2): 122-140, doi: 10.26804/ager.2019.02.02.

Article Type:Invited review


Microbial improved and enhanced oil recovery (MIEOR) deploys microbes into wellbores and subsurface oil reservoirs and/or stimulates in-situ microbes to generate biochemicals that induce positive changes to reservoir and/or fluid conditions. MIEOR has a history of laboratory testing and field trials stretching back many decades, but few large-scale commercial projects. This review describes mechanism and components involved and the challenges in scaling-up laboratory performance to field-wide commercial applications. Microbes tend to exist in consortia with the ability to generate a wide range of biochemicals and biomass capable of performing various useful MIEOR actions and some actions that are detrimental (e.g., reservoir souring, facilities corrosion, formation damage). The complexity of the microbial consortia makes it difficult to unravel the net consequences of growing a microbial community in a specific reservoir. This requires extensive experimental studies coupled with long-term field trials and the outcomes of several recent examples are provided. These complexities and requirements have historically slowed down the commercialization of MIEOR. Significant advances in recent years have provided improved modelling and simulation tools capable of representing more realistically the evolution of MIEOR actions at the micro and macro scales. The advantages and disadvantages of MIEOR are identified and explored. Future expectations for the development and exploitation of MIEOR technologies are discussed considering the recent advances it has achieved.

Keywords:Microbial enhanced oil recovery techniques, microbial biochemical products, biofilms, biosurfactants, MIEOR simulation, sub-surface microbe consortia.


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