Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.1, 105-117, 2021
Biopolymer production by Aureobasidium mangrovei SARA-138H and its potential for oil recovery enhancement
The world economy depends heavily on crude oil. With a conventional oil recovery process, only one-third of crude oil is extracted. Various technologies have been developed to maximize the recovery of oil resources from natural reservoirs. Polymer technology has been used in many oil fields around the world. The biopolymer pullulan, produced by some Aureobasidium species, has been used in many industrial applications, but no research has been conducted regarding its use in the microbial enhancement of oil recovery (MEOR). Here, we investigate the potential of pullulan produced by newly isolated species Aureobasidium mangrovei SARA-138H for enhancement of oil recovery. Our results indicate that under optimized conditions, that is, sucrose as the carbon source in the medium, a pH of 9, incubation at 25 degrees C, and 250 rpm agitation, the fungus was able to produce 10 g/L of pullulan. The maximum viscosity achieved under these conditions was 318 cP after 15 days of incubation. Pullulan solution (10 g/L) showed the ability to recover 36.7% of heavy crude oil after 34.2% of secondary oil recovery. However, diluted pullulan in brine at the ratio (1:1) resulted in the recovery of 20.23% of oil from the residual oil in the core after 22.6% of secondary oil recovery. A 20-day injectivity test revealed that pullulan passed smoothly through the core, causing no blockage. It was concluded that pullulan from A. mangrovei SARA-138H was able to increase oil recovery to a degree comparable to that achieved with many polymers used in oil fields around the world.