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Biotechnology and fermentation are driving new innovation in the oil and gas industry

Innovation is at the heart of all great industries, and the oil and gas industry is no exception. For example, the USA shale revolution was facilitated by innovative drilling and fracturing technologies. They allowed operators to drill longer wells, pump more sand and increase the number of fracturing stages per well to recover more oil and gas from tight and shale formations. As a result, the USA is the only country extracting shale oil and gas commercially.

Many oil and gas companies are looking for the next big breakthrough method to improve oil recovery and optimize operations. Oilfield chemical company Locus Bio-Energy has found a unique one: using biotechnology and patented fermentation methods to develop customized biosurfactant treatments.

Learn more about how these methods and green oilfield chemicals are changing the future of oil and gas performance and profitability.

Fermentation, biotechnology and their role in the oil and gas industry

What is biotechnology?

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field of science and technology that has arisen at the intersection of biological, chemical and technical knowledge. This field merges biology with technology by using biological processes to develop new products or technologies.

In the oil and gas industry, biotechnology is increasingly important as it provides innovative solutions to enhance production and significantly reduce environmental impact. By integrating biotechnological innovations into oil and gas applications, companies can enhance operational efficiencies and recovery rates, while also addressing some of the most pressing sustainability challenges.

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a metabolic process that utilizes microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeast, and renewable raw materials—typically carbohydrates like sugars and fatty acids —to create bio-based solutions. This process is most commonly associated with producing beer and wine; but it can be used to produce a multitude of other products.

In the past, fermentation was associated in the oil and gas industry with microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR). This method involved injecting live microbes into reservoirs to increase the amount of oil recovered. But the approach had major challenges and limitations.

MEOR is a thing of the past. The team at Locus Bio-Energy has found and perfected a fermentation process that creates non-living, sterilized biosurfactants proven to outperform traditional oilfield chemicals.

Locus Bio-Energy Leads in Fermentation and Biotechnology

Due to their expertise in biotechnology, the team at Locus Bio-Energy has an unmatched ability to create new oil & gas technologies that advance profitability and sustainability. What makes the oilfield chemical company unique is its novel approach.

First, the Locus Bio-Energy team identified the specific modes of action needed in oil and gas applications. Then, they used novel fermentation methods to produce complex organic molecules which cannot be synthesized by traditional synthetic chemical methods. The process can produce a vast array of molecules with unique and very interesting physicochemical characteristics.

Specifically, the company produces premium 100% biobased surfactants, known as biosurfactants.

That’s right, fermentation, which is most commonly known for making your favorite beer, is the solution to creating new innovations for the oil industry. It’s all part of the biotechnology revolution. 

Fermentation-produced biosurfactants and their use in the oilfield

Biosurfactants have attracted interest in the oil & gas industry for the last 10-15 years as promising alternatives to petroleum-based surfactants. Aside from their green profile, they have remarkably low critical micelle concentrations (minimum effective dosage rates), reducing surface and interfacial tensions to very low levels. Biosurfactants are also excellent wetting agents. All of these factors make them highly attractive for oilfield applications.

Previously, biosurfactants were only used at small scale in the personal care, household cleaning and selected pharmaceutical applications. This was mainly due to limits in manufacturing capacities and high costs. However, Locus Bio-Energy can produce these materials in commercially viable quantities for the oil industry thanks to the company’s innovations in biotechnology and patented fermentation processes.

Producing oil & gas biosurfactants through fermentation

In the past, production of biosurfactants on a large scale was too expensive and inefficient to be considered a viable option. The key word here being “previously”.

The difference is Locus Bio-Energy’s industry-first approach to fermentation and production. 

Locus Bio-Energy scientists, and the fermentation experts at its holding company, Locus Fermentation Solutions, have perfected and patented methods to produce biosurfactants. The approach has three key stages:

  1. Bioinformatics: Using bioinformatics, experts identify non-bacterial microorganisms with the appropriate gene clusters that can produce high yields of the most effective biosurfactants.
  2. Fermentation: Then the selected biosurfactants are produced by combining these strains with natural and renewable raw materials through the company’s proprietary fermentation process. The fermentation process has a low carbon footprint and enables costs to be significantly lower than other commercially available fermenters.
  3. Purification: Traditionally, the biosurfactant recovery and purification stage of the production process is the most expensive and time consuming. However, Locus Bio-Energy has developed methods of producing highly pure and homogenous biosurfactants.

This innovative fermentation method, and the biosurfactants produced from it, can successfully replace common oilfield chemicals, such as surfactants, in a variety of oil and gas applications.

The future of fermentation-produced biosurfactants in oil and gas

The market potential for clean, energy-efficient and cost-effective biosurfactants in the oil and gas industry has existed for  years. With Locus Bio-Energy’s patented fermentation advancements and bioinformatics platform, the company is finally able to make this dream into a reality. Its biosurfactants, including the award-winning AssurEOR line, can be applicable in any field of petroleum / oil and gas industry.

Plus, the fermentation technology is also being used to develop solutions for other industries such as agriculture, mining, industrial and many more.

The future of the oil industry is reliant on innovative technologies that can meet the growing demands of oil production and recovery. Locus Bio Energy is prepared to meet these demands, using fermentation and biotechnology to find solutions to the industry’s biggest problems in the most unexpected of places.

Biosurfactants: Produced By Nature. Perfected By Locus.

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