Methanogenic degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in subsurface environments: Remediation, heavy oil formation, and energy recovery

N. D. Gray*, A. Sherry, C. Hubert, J. Dolfing, I. M. Head

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hydrocarbons are common constituents of surface, shallow, and deep-subsurface environments. Under anaerobic conditions, hydrocarbons can be degraded to methane by methanogenic microbial consortia. This degradation process is widespread in the geosphere. In comparison with other anaerobic processes, methanogenic hydrocarbon degradation is more sustainable over geological time scales because replenishment of an exogenous electron acceptor is not required. As a consequence, this process has been responsible for the formation of the world's vast deposits of heavy oil, which far exceed conventional oil assets such as those found in the Middle East. Methanogenic degradation is also a potentially important component of attenuation in hydrocarbon contamination plumes. Studies of the organisms, syntrophic partnerships, mechanisms, and geochemical signatures associated with methanogenic hydrocarbon degradation have identified common themes and diagnostic markers for this process in the subsurface. These studies have also identified the potential to engineer methanogenic processes to enhance the recovery of energy assets as biogenic methane from residual oils stranded in petroleum systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Applied Microbiology
EditorsAllen I. Laskin, Sima Sariaslani, Geoffrey M. Gadd
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Chapter5
Pages137-161
Number of pages25
Volume72
EditionC
ISBN (Print)9781282879225
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Applied Microbiology
NumberC
Volume72
ISSN (Print)0065-2164

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