What humans make, can disintegrate. Corrosion eats away at infrastructure, slowly but inexorably. In the oil and gas industry, corrosion is estimated to cost as much as US$3-7 billion each year. Corrosion due to microbial activity, or Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC), accounts for a large percentage of this. Not enough is known about how MIC occurs, primarily because it has been monitored by approaches that target only about 1 per cent of select microbial groups and because researchers have tended to study it in isolated disciplines, without integrating their findings.

Genomics allow for a deeper understanding and a more holistic examination of MIC processes across disciplines, leading to better understanding and management of MIC in the oil and gas industry. Drs. Lisa Gieg of the University of Calgary, John Wolodko of University of Alberta and Faisal Khan of Memorial University are leading a team with expertise in genomics, electrochemistry, degradation modeling, risk assessment and management. The project is developing practical applications to produce knowledge about MIC leading to the development of devices and assays, degradation and risk models, and management strategies to predict when, where and why MIC occurs.

biofilm and corrosion pit
An electron microscope image of a biofilm that formed on the surface of a corrosion coupon. A corrosion pit associated with microbial activity from a sub-sea transmission pipeline. Photos by D. Nicoletti & N. Fragoso.

By integrating these deliverables into corrosion management frameworks and standards, their use will become widespread, leading to reduced oil spills (by helping to minimize pipeline leaks, for instance) and improved asset integrity worker safety and environmental compliance. They will also extend the productive life of Canada’s oil and gas infrastructure, reducing operating costs and allowing potential capital savings of some $300-500 million, or 10 per cent.

Research Activities

Our mission is to utilize new genomics testing and analysis methods to better understand and predict the formation of MIC and its evolution, and to help develop/validate tools (assays, devices, databases, models & guidelines) and mitigation strategies for the Canadian energy sector.

Knowledge

Identify the microbial actors and pathways, chemical species, and MIC mechanisms that lead to facility failures.

Assays & Devices

Develop -omics and chemical-based monitoring tools to detect and measure MIC and associated chemical end-products.

Models

Devise better predictive modeling and risk assessment tools to help improve materials design and maintenance/ operating practices.

Translation

Improve corrosion control strategies to reduce potential failures by developing standards and guidelines.

Funding and Support

The geno-MIC project is funded through a Genome Canada Large Scale Applied Research Program (LSARP) grant, titled Managing Microbial Corrosion in Canadian Offshore and Onshore Oil Production Operations. Research commenced in the Spring of 2017 and will extend into the fall of 2021. geno-MIC was established with support from the following:

Federal & Provincial Agencies

Genome Canada

Mitacs

Natural Resources Canada

Genome Alberta

Alberta Innovates

InnoTech Alberta

Genome Atlantic

Government of Newfoundland & Labrador

End-User Partners

Baker Hughes

BP

Brenntag

CRC

DNV GL

Dupont

Enbridge

Husky Energy

LuminUltra

Marathon

Microbial Analysis

NALCO Champion

OSP

Promega

Schlumberger

Shell

Suez

Suncor

TransMountain

United Initiators

Universities

University of Calgary

Dalhousie University

University of Alberta

The University of Oklahoma

Memorial University

VIA University College