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Developing Biomineralization Technology for Ensuring Wellbore Integrity

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0010099
Agency Tracking Number: 0000231685
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 17a
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001646
Solicitation Year: 2017
Award Year: 2017
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2017-07-31
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-07-30
Small Business Information
160 West Granite St., Butte, MT, 59701-9260
DUNS: 078572874
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Robin Gerlach
 (406) 994-1840
Business Contact
 Dwight Hiebert
Phone: (406) 498-8312
Research Institution
 Montana State University
 Robin Gerlach
 309 Montana Hall
Bozeman, MT, 59717-2470
 (406) 994-1840
 Nonprofit college or university
Since drilling the earliest gas and oil wells, migration of hydrocarbons to the surface has challenged the oil and gas industry. With the recent onset of geologic CO2 sequestration activities, it has become even more important to develop well leakage mitigation strategies that can seal even microscopic apertures around injection, abandoned, and monitoring wells—especially in cases where traditional cement remediation proves inadequate. This research and development effort is focused on developing and commercializing biomineralization-based technology for sealing such unwanted leakage pathways. The biomineralization sealing technology being developed utilizes microbes or enzyme preparations to promote the controlled precipitation of minerals (biocement) in very small cracks and fissures, which are not accessible and sealable by traditional cement-based sealing technologies due to particle size and viscosity issues. We have demonstrated that the produced minerals reduce the permeability of these fractures with apertures of a few micrometers up to millimeters by forming an effective plug. The biomineralization seals are resistant to supercritical CO2 and hydrocarbons, and thus suitable for well remediation in geologic carbon sequestration as well as oil & gas storage and production. The biomineralization sealing technology has been successfully demonstrated at multiple scales in the laboratory and in the field. In order to transition the technology into the marketplace, we have partnered with Warriner Oil and Gas, Star of Texas Mineral Resources, and Schlumberger, who have committed significant resources to assist MET and MSU/CBE in the a first-of-a-kind field demonstration of this technology at a commercial oil or gas operation site. During the planned Phase IIB research and development activities, the biomineralization sealing technology will be implemented in the field to seal a leaking oil well in Texas owned by Star of Texas Mineral Resources. Extensive well characterization efforts before and after the field demonstration will provide commercially and scientifically sound proof of successful implementation of the technology. Laboratory efforts will prepare the team for field implementation; post-sealing assessments and analyses will provide scientifically defensible proof of successful implementation of the technology supporting commercialization efforts. The biomineralization sealing technology represents a low cost, effective solution that will decrease the number of leaking wells, increase the number of successfully producing oil & gas wells, and mitigate the environmental and health impacts potentially associated with leaky oil and gas wells (i.e., contamination of fresh water aquifers, leaking methane gas to the surface, etc.). Strong interest and commitment from several oil companies and an oil field service company demonstrate the substantial commercial potential for biomineralization technology.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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