Oil and gas

Biomarkers for next-generation, water-based detection and monitoring of MIC

Joint Industry Project

MIC JIP

Contact us:

Dr Susmitha Purnima Kotu

Dr Susmitha Purnima Kotu

Engineer, DNV JIP lead

Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) is remarkably difficult for pipeline operators to detect and monitor.

DNV has partnered with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company and Microbial Insights, Inc. to develop methods, tools and workflows ("biomarker technology") to reliably detect the occurrence of MIC in oil field operations and overcome these challenges.

While oil fields have access to several molecular methods for detection and identification of MIC, the data doesn’t always create a comprehensive picture of system integrity and leaves oil field operators with gaps when looking for indicators for microbial influenced corrosion in active systems.

The unfortunate impact for pipeline operators is that the discovery of MIC is most often diagnosed through material testing after damage has already occurred. Because early detection is difficult, oil field facilities face challenges related to shortened service life or worse, failure of infrastructure due to MIC corrosion.

Our vision is to create 1,200 datapoints of corrosion-to-biomarker correlations, generated on simulated pipelines with actual field waters and participant-selected service conditions. Assembling MIC experts from across the industry (JIP participants) to unravel the most relevant microbial degradation mechanisms in carbon steel infrastructure, such as full well stream pipelines, crude transmission lines, produced water piping and seawater injection systems.

20211007 MIC JIP 358x201p

Be a part of the solution

DNV will be partnering with 8-12 additional project participants operating oil field assets with a history of MIC or service conditions of particular interest for laboratory simulation to assist in generating samples for biomarker discovery.

If you would like to be a participant in the study, please submit your interest below.

Learn more about DNV's MIC services

Contact us:

Dr Susmitha Purnima Kotu

Dr Susmitha Purnima Kotu

Engineer, DNV JIP lead

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have any plans/protocols to conduct field validation of the markers you discover?
ANSWER
ANSWER

We will be validating the biomarkers with a limited number of field samples that are submitted by participants and also the laboratory samples generated during the bottle tests and APES tests. However, the scope of this JIP does not cover field validation. After the biomarker discovery and assay development, participants can use these biomarkers for MIC management in the field. The micH biomarker discovered by ExxonMobil URC was validated in the field. Here is a link to the paper for more details:

Severe Corrosion of Carbon Steel in Oil Field Produced Water Can Be Linked to Methanogenic Archaea Containing a Special Type of [NiFe] Hydrogenase (asm.org)

How many samples can participants submit? What types of samples do you need from participants?
ANSWER
ANSWER

Participants can submit samples from at least one asset with high MIC threat. These samples can include water samples, pig debris, coupon swabs, and/or samples collected on filter membranes. Submitting a diverse set of samples is strongly encouraged as this could provide additional layers of evidence.

Is this work only going to focus on water-based biomarkers? Will this be relevant for sludge samples and midstream?
ANSWER
ANSWER

The APES has the ability for testing the effect of pigging debris on MIC. Each bioreactor has a special compartment for coupon and pig debris in the 6 o’clock position. For example, the Steering Committee can decide to conduct an experiment with synthetic brine and use the 6 o’clock positioned coupons with pigging debris overlaid as inoculum to measure biomarker activity and effect of under deposit corrosion. As member of the Steering Committee, you can tailor the test design to reflect the field conditions and types of samples relevant to you.

Once biomarker assays are developed, we have budgeted for biomarker assay testing on those non-water field samples too. These assays will be applicable for debris and biofilm samples. But if you have coupons in water traps in your midstream lines, you could use that water for the biomarker analyses. Here is a link to the paper from ExxonMobil URC where they used micH biomarker on pigging debris samples. ExxonMobil URC team has used the biomarkers discovered so far on midstream assets and found them very useful for MIC assessments!

Severe Corrosion of Carbon Steel in Oil Field Produced Water Can Be Linked to Methanogenic Archaea Containing a Special Type of [NiFe] Hydrogenase (asm.org)

What if we cannot get the volume of water needed for testing?
ANSWER
ANSWER

Ideally, we would need water samples, sludge/swab samples, and/or samples collected on filter membranes. The samples collected on filtered samples can help tell if there are changes to the community during shipment.  If you are able to get enough water samples, we can use them for testing in the APES and bottle tests in the lab. If you cannot ship water samples, we can use the filtered samples and use simulated synthetic brine (would need the composition or a small water sample for chemical analysis) for the lab experiments. We will work with you during the process of sample collection and shipment. We have procedures that we can share and can also provide guidance for paperwork for international shipments.

Can we discriminate biotic from abiotic corrosion?
ANSWER
ANSWER

Yes. The APES tests use sterile controls for abiotic corrosion along with simulating acid gas corrosion using CO2/H2S in the headspace, as appropriate.

What will be final deliverable? Will there be a field test kit?
ANSWER
ANSWER

The final deliverable for participants would be a report describing discovered biomarkers, technical details of the developed assays (e.g. qPCR conditions, primer sequences etc.) for quantifying biomarkers, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for interpretation of biomarker levels.

There will not be a field test kit as part of this phase of the JIP. If there is enough interest, there may be a plan to set up a second phase of this JIP to develop a field test kit. The samples collected in the field can be sent to the lab of your choice for biomarker testing. Once the data is available, the participants can use the KPI information to interpret the severity of MIC and monitor/mitigate accordingly.

What will be the expected Lower Detection Limit (LDL) of the biomarkers?
ANSWER
ANSWER

It is difficult to predict LDL of new biomarkers, but the ones that have already been discovered (MicH and MicC assays) have an LDL of 100 genes/sample.

What will be expected cost for analyzing biomarkers?
ANSWER
ANSWER

The costs per qPCR for DNA based biomarkers are expected to be approximately USD 275 for the first target and USD 75 for the subsequent targets. The costs per immunoassay for protein-based biomarkers are expected to be in the range of USD 100 per test. If 5 DNA based biomarkers and 5 protein-based biomarkers are discovered during the JIP, then the cost for analyzing these biomarkers would be approximately USD 1000 based on current costs.

Join the JIP!

Related information

On-demand webinar: MIC JIP Call for participants

Watch this recording to learn more about biomarkers for next-generation, water-based detection and monitoring of MIC

The mechanism of microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC)

Learn from the corrosion experts at DNV about the mechanisms of MIC and the complex relationship between corrosion and microorganisms to help improve your MIC management programs.

Biomarkers for next-generation, water-based detection and monitoring of MIC

Download the joint industry project brochure

On-demand webinar

Reliably diagnosing the threat of microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC)

On-demand webinar

Optimizing MIC mitigation and monitoring

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