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Influence of biodegradation on crude oil acidity and carboxylic acid composition

Lookup NU author(s): William Meredith, Dr Martin Jones


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Quantitative analysis of separated carboxylic acid fractions of 33 crude oils from the UK, Italy and California, showed that the carboxylic acid fraction is a major factor responsible for the acidity in these oils. It was apparent that biodegradation is the main process that produces high concentrations of carboxylic acids in these crude oils with the extent of biodegradation, as measured from their hydrocarbon compositions, being clearly correlated with their total acid number (TAN). Although probably not important in influencing oil TAN, the distribution of C30-C32 hopanoic acids was also seen to be controlled by biodegradation, increasing in concentration for all but the most biodegraded oils. Hopanoic acids with the 17β(H),21β(H) stereochemistry were found in many of the biodegraded oils, and were thought to be mainly derived from the bacteria that were responsible for the biodegradation of the oil. This may haves implications for the timing and mechanisms of the biodegradation involved. The role of C0-C3 alkylphenols in determining oil acidity Was investigated and shown not to be a significant factor in the sample set studied. However, a number of undegraded oils, with low carboxylic acid contents were seen to have relatively high acidities, showing that factors other than biodegradation, possibly related to high sulphur content can control oil acidity in certain oil types. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Meredith W, Kelland S-J, Jones DM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Organic Geochemistry

Year: 2000

Volume: 31

Issue: 11

Pages: 1059-1073

ISSN (print): 0146-6380

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5290

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/S0146-6380(00)00136-4


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