Biocorrosive thermophilic microbial communities in Alaskan North Slope oil facilities

Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Oct 15;43(20):7977-84. doi: 10.1021/es9013932.


Corrosion of metallic oilfield pipelines by microorganisms is a costly but poorly understood phenomenon, with standard treatment methods targeting mesophilic sulfate-reducing bacteria. In assessing biocorrosion potential at an Alaskan North Slope oil field, we identified thermophilic hydrogen-using methanogens, syntrophic bacteria, peptide- and amino acid-fermenting bacteria, iron reducers, sulfur/thiosulfate-reducing bacteria, and sulfate-reducing archaea. These microbes can stimulate metal corrosion through production of organic acids, CO2, sulfur species, and via hydrogen oxidation and iron reduction, implicating many more types of organisms than are currently targeted. Micromolar quantities of putative anaerobic metabolites of C1-C4 n-alkanes in pipeline fluids were detected, implying that these low molecular weight hydrocarbons, routinely reinjected into reservoirs for oil recovery purposes, are biodegraded and can provide biocorrosive microbial communities with an important source of nutrients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alaska
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / isolation & purification*
  • Archaea / metabolism
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Corrosion
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / instrumentation*
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • Seawater / microbiology


  • RNA, Bacterial