Biodegradation of hydrocarbons in subsurface petroleum reserves forms part of the process by which heavy oil is formed. This process naturally occurs over millions of years converting lighter oil reserves into methane and heavy oil residues. Overall, this process has adversely impacted the majority of the world’s oil by making recovery and refining more costly, especially for highly biodegraded heavy oil and bitumen.

Typically, hydrocarbon biodegradation is viewed as a negative, but Profero Energy believes that accelerating this natural process actually increases oil and gas recovery. Through its proprietary technology LEMUR™ (Low Emission Microbial Upgrading and Recovery), Profero Energy is focused on converting certain constituent parts of oil resources into natural gas. The natural gas can be recovered or used to increase reservoir pressure consequently recovering more of the oil in place while also benefiting the rate of oil production.

Most of the world’s oil resources are heavy viscous hydrocarbons which are difficult and costly to produce. The recovery of heavy oil this from subsurface reservoirs is generally below 17 per cent of the original oil in place and carries significant environmental and economic costs. As a general rule, the heavier or denser the crude oil, the lower its economic value and the more difficult it is to recover.

Generally, heavier oil is less valuable; however, the high demand for oil and gas combined with declining production from conventional sources is shifting industry interest to exploitation of heavy oil. Heavy oil promises to play a major role in the future of the oil industry. Many countries are now moving to increase their production, revise reserve estimates, test new technologies and invest in infrastructure to ensure heavy oil resources are not left undeveloped.

For conventional lighter oils the majority of the original oil in place remains in the reservoir after standard production techniques plus established enhanced oil recovery methods have been exhausted. LEMUR™ provides a basis for extending the life of such reservoirs and recovering a significant proportion of the remaining oil.

LEMUR microbiology