The global Microbial EOR (microbial enhanced oil recovery) market size was estimated to be worth USD 1.04 billion in 2016. Increasing age of wells is the primary driver for the growth of the industry.
Microbial EOR market revenue, by application 2014 - 2024 (USD Billion)
Over the past few decades, crude oil has been the primary source of energy all over the world, used for manufacturing a host of products including plastics and various other chemicals. The extraction of petroleum for an extended period has resulted in depleting the levels within the wells. This factor has resulted in the development of various technologies to enhance the production of petroleum to cater to the growing global demand.
Post the usage of primary and secondary oil recovery techniques, today several of the wells in the world are equipped with tertiary technologies of extraction, also known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). EOR predominantly uses gas injection, chemical and thermal technologies for extracting more oil out of a well. However, rising awareness regarding the ill-effects of these technologies on the terrain around the wells has led to the development of eco-friendly technologies. Of these, the use of microbes has proven to be the most viable option in the recent years.
Microbial EOR has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years, with several companies testing and commercializing this technology in their existing wells. Microbes help in removing the oil trapped in rocks thereby, further pushing the output. In addition to their technical benefits, these microbes are cheap and are independent of crude oil price fluctuations. The investment required for setting up a MEOR is much more economical than other prevailing technologies.
Given its advantages, microbial enhanced oil recovery market faces specific challenges including the existence of an ideal environment of salinity under 150 g/L and temperature below 80oC in a reservoir depth of less than 2,400 meters. These conditions make it challenging to utilize the technology across all the wells despite their varying conditions. Moreover, the presence of other technologies including ultrasonic and plasma pulse technology (PPT) is expected to pose a high threat of substitution which is likely to hamper market growth.
Nonetheless, MEOR helps in extracting oil from trapped areas which delay the abandonment of wells resulting in an increased profit to companies. Wells with untapped potential of oil are expected to benefit from the use of microbes, thus opening new opportunities for the growth of the market. For instance, an offshore field in Malaysia, Bokor, received Microbial EOR treatments, which resulted in increasing the oil production from 600 barrels per day (b/d) to 1,500 b/d and reduced the water cut from 45% (before treatment) to 75% (post treatment).
Segmentation By Application
Of the existing wells using MEOR, onshore oilfields accounted for the largest chunk of the market as a result of favorable conditions for the movement of these organisms. The segment accounted for 99.2% of the market share in 2016.
Non-reactivity of these microbes in high saline conditions makes them infeasible for use in offshore rigs. Nonetheless, research & development for modification of the activity of microbes in saline conditions is expected to result in the high growth of the segment over the projected period. Statoil is assumed to be the first firm in the world to apply MEOR technology on an offshore field and is able to get the best of petroleum recovery rates from the Norne field by microbial enhanced oil recovery.
Segmentation by Injection Method
• Cyclic Microbial Recovery
• Microbial Flooding Recovery
• Microbial Selective Plugging
Microbes are injected into wells primarily through three modes, viz., cyclic microbial recovery, microbial flooding recovery, and microbial selective plugging. The method of injection depends on several factors and varies from country to country. Of these, microbial flooding is expected to witness the fastest growth at a CAGR of 3.3% over the projected period, followed closely by the cyclic method.
The flooding technique typically includes a solution of microbes and nutrients are injected into the wells. The microorganisms feed on the nutrient which results in the production of various acids, gases, and surfactants. These by-products act on the oil pushing them out of crevices, thus, pushing them into the reservoir well. The optimized results coupled with low of the product is anticipated to lead to its above average growth over the forecast period.
Segmentation by Region
• North America
• Asia Pacific
• Middle East & Africa
• Saudi Arabia
• Central & South America
Owing to the particular conditions in which microbes give optimum results, North America was the largest MEOR market, accounting for 66.6% of the global share in 2016. However, the maturity of the technology in the region is expected to result in sluggish growth over the next few years.
Trails and commercialization of this technology in several countries of Asia Pacific is projected to lead to its tremendous growth in the next few years. Several oil companies across Malaysia, China, and India are implementing the technology to enhance their output using low-cost solutions. Also, the competition among several countries across the globe to be one of the leading producers of petroleum is expected to drive the utilization of this technology further. The region is likely to exhibit growth at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2017 to 2024.
The global Microbial EOR market companies are consolidated in nature and include Titan Oil Recovery, Inc., Chemiphase, DuPont, GULF ENERGY SAOC, Environmental BioTechnologies Inc., Statoil ASA, ONGC TERI Biotech Limited, RAM Biochemicals, Inc., Micro-Bac International, and Microbial Energy Inc. These companies are focusing on the implementation and testing of new approaches and technology to emerge as a global leader and increase their presence in the global market.
Research Support Specialist, USA