Microbial genomics for de-risking offshore oil and gas exploration in Nova Scotia

2019-09-26 OERA Webinar - Genome
September 26, 2019 1:00pm ADT

Carey Ryan, Offshore Energy Research Association; Dr. Todd Ventura, Saint Mary’s University; Dr. Casey Hubert, University of Calgary

Purpose and Goals: The purpose of the project is to develop, validate, and deploy different genomics-based bioassay tools for offshore prospecting on the Scotian Slope. The bioassays will be based on principles of microbial oceanography and ecology and focus on both bacteria that actively metabolise hydrocarbons in the seabed, as well as dormant bacteria (endospores of thermophiles) expelled from subsurface oil reservoirs via hydrocarbon seepage. Genomics results will be integrated with conventional geoscience information to map petroleum potential with the goal of attracting and maintaining large-scale investments by the offshore petroleum industry in Nova Scotia.

Description: The project is organized around five primary activities: (1) A piston coring program to be under-taken during three successive summers to collect seabed samples in proximity to suspected oil seeps; (2) Geochemical analysis to identify the presence of and characterize hydrocarbons in the samples, determine total organic carbon, and provide insights into the origins of the organic matter; (3) Marine microbiology and genomics applied to the samples using different bioassay strategies to investigate the presence of different target groups of microorganism; (4) Integration, analysis and mapping to bring together geomicrobiology with the results of concurrent geoscience studies to generate GIS data packages and maps in a framework that will enable inter¬ested oil companies to undertake independent evaluations; and (5) Project management and dissemination to ensure that project objectives are being met, coordinate the project’s various elements, administer the financial aspects of the project, and disseminate the results. Evaluation of microbial lipids in the samples is an additional component that has been added to the project.

Partners and Role:
University of Calgary: Prof. Casey Hubert and members of U of C’s Geomicrobiology Group
Nova Scotia Department of Energy: Adam MacDonald
Geological Survey of Canada: Dr. Calvin Campbell
Applied Petroleum Technology (Canada) Limited: Dr. Martin Fowler
Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, NS): Prof. Todd Ventura, Dr. Carl Peters
Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia: Carey Ryan