Potential environmental impacts of natural gas production have become the focus of increased regulatory activity. Cost effective environmental control strategies are needed for achieving environmental protection of operating and abandoned natural gas well sites and processing facilities. The Gas Research Institute (GRI) has an ongoing comprehensive research program to assist industry in developing cost effective technologies and strategies for attaining the required level of environmental protection associated with natural gas production activities. Bioremediation is hypothesized to be a key remediation strategy.

This paper presents background information on bioremediation; information on biotechnologies that have been proven in other industries and that may be applicable to the natural gas industry; a protocol for assessing the feasibility of bioremediation; and, some preliminary results on some soils that were evaluated using the protocol. Background information related to natural gas production and processing sites and chemicals that are typically used are presented because both are important preliminary feasibility screening criteria. Applications of bioremediation to sites with similar chemicals such as refineries, wood treating plants, and former manufactured gas plants (MGP's) have been used for approximately 30 years, however bioremediation is not widely used to treat wellhead sites or natural gas production and processing sites.

Examples of applications of bioremediation to nonnatural gas industry sites are presented and the similarities, primarily chemical, are presented. The GRI developed an Accelerated Biotreatability Protocol for former MGP sites and it is currently being modified for application to the Exploration and Production (E&P) industry. The Accelerated Treatability Protocol is a decision-making framework to evaluate the potential full-scale biological treatment options. Preliminary results from some soils collected and evaluated using the protocol are presented.

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