Ebrahim Alaei, head
of the Energy and Environment Department of RIPI, said that four oil spill
bioremediation projects have been carried out so far, using native
He said that
hydrocarbon spill and its penetration into soil and underground water reservoirs
were major challenges to the petroleum industry.
In Iran, where
underground water is limited, this challenge must be dealt with more seriously
and we need to develop the capacity to clean up possible
"One of the
state-of-the-art technologies in the world in this regard is oil spill
bioremediation. A variety of microbes which naturally exist in the environment
are able to utilize petroleum hydrocarbons as a source of carbon or energy, and
transform them into water and carbon dioxide while they are growing and
reproducing," Alaei said.
Dastgheib, director of RIPI environmental projects, said: "We have focused
on isolating and identifying native oil-degrading microorganisms for some 10
years. During the first step we managed to create a collection of microbes
endowed with such capacity. The advantage of native microbes is that they are
fully compatible with local conditions and their application is less
success in the lab and pilot phases, we managed to clean up 2,000 tonnes of
oil-contaminated soil in Siri Island using indigenous microorganisms by
applying landfarming method and finally turning the contaminated site into a
green space," he said.
He added that
for achieving higher efficiency, landfarming can be replaced by biopiles. He mentioned
that biopile technology using active aeration was developed and applied in the
Khangiran area for cleaning up an oil-contaminated mud pit containing about
10,000 tons of soil and sludge. This mud pit, which was like a lagoon, changed
into a green landscape a year later, said Dastgheib, adding that this project
was rewarded at the 7th research festival of Iranian oil industry. Another
similar project has been implemented at Gavzard area of Gachsaran district,
where an oil spill had occurred due to the fracture and oil leakage in a
pipeline. "We used biopile technology with passive aeration system
there" he said.
our survey of local microbes in research projects led into identification of
several new bacterial species" he said. One of them was introduced to the scientific
world as P. sinuspersisi after the name of Persian Gulf.
that oil spills in Iran usually affect surface areas, emphasizing that these
contaminants may penetrate into water tables gradually, if not treated
properly. That means, he said, spread of pollution and growing threats to human
in order to estimate the amount of such contamination in groundwater we need to
drill monitoring wells. My colleagues have determined the extent and volume of
oil plume in a contaminated region in Assaluyeh, which is known as Iran's gas hub,
by using engineered monitoring wells," he said.
we are combining SVE (soil vapor extraction) and biostimulation technologies
for cleaning up groundwater. By creating vacuum in the drilled wells and using
native microbes we cleaned up contaminated water tables to some extent in three
years." he said, adding that this project has been rewarded by the
European Green Association.
"Due to various
ecological and hydrogeological conditions in Iran, the level of water tables
varies in different areas. Therefore, working on underground waters across the
country needs more sophisticated and more advanced technologies," he said.
Dastgheib continued as saying that RIPI is working on novel technologies such
as PRB (permeable reactive barrier) to clean up oil spills in deep ground
waters but this technology is still in the pilot stage.
point that must be taken into consideration is that Iran's technology in oil
spill bioremediation is thoroughly based on local and domestic potentials.
"At international exhibitions held in regional countries we have seen
neighboring petro-states willing to use Iran's technology," said
RIPI’s oil spill bioremediation technology has become well-characterized and established
in a way that private knowledge-based companies can carry out such projects in
large fields in collaboration with RIPI by using our know-how," he added.
“At RIPI, our
applied research projects are aimed at serving the real needs of the industry.
Therefore, our research achievements were not limited to the lab stage,"
he said. "We are now able to implement our environmental projects at
different site conditions based on potentialities and budget earmarked by
clients," said Dastgheib. He added that new projects were set to start in
oil-producing areas in different parts of Iran in near future.
achievement of RIPI in the environment is designing and manufacturing sensors
that would detect environmental contaminants.
Jahromi, senior researcher at RIPI, said 17 sensors had been designed and built
by Iranian researchers to detect oil pollutants.
indigenization of technologies for removing contaminants from the environment,
we need special tools and sensors to detect them," she said.
added that within the framework of the 4th Four-Year Economic
Development Plan, a similar project had been carried out in cooperation with
the National Iranian Oil Company's Directorate of Research and Technology. That
project pertained to 17 sensors that could detect CO, NO, SO2, H2S,
VOC, BTEX, O2,and methane in air, TPH and PAH in soil and Phenol, oil spill, TPH, COD and Heavy metals in water. "Of those 17
sensors, 12 sensors have been finalized as portable tools," she said.
she added, the precision and accuracy of these sensors have been tested at
modern labs of RIPI in collaboration with Malek Ashtar University.
said the Environment Division of RIPI was tasked with monitoring different
environmental contaminants. "In light of the obligation of this center and
the requirement by the Iranian Department of the Environment for oil companies
in Iran to protect the environment, we have developed necessary tools to detect
and control oil contaminants."
In 2013, the
Environment Division of RIPI formulated a project for building sensors to
detect environmental pollution resulting from upstream oil operations. The
proposal, which was based on advanced technologies, was submitted to NIOC.
necessity of application of this technology, two NIOC subsidiaries – Iranian
Offshore Oil Company (IOOC) and Iran Oil Terminals Company (IOTC) – were chosen
as end-users of this project. The project started in 2014.
"At the beginning,
in order to achieve our objectives more effectively, we moved to build and
equip a lab to have everything for designing and manufacturing a sensor from A
to Z," said Samari Jahromi. "After that we started detecting
contaminants targeted by clients. In the end 17 contaminants were detected and
registered. In the next stage, upon the request of the client the technology
roadmap for these sensors was developed for NIOC subsidiaries."
technologies and knowhow for building sensors of 17 contaminants were
studied," she said.
Ten sensors are
to detect NO, CO, BTEX, VOC, SO2, O2, methane, H2S,
and LPG, four sensors are aimed at being used in the liquid phase of heavy
metals like mercury and cadmium, phenol compounds and COD and oil spills, and
three sensors for PAH and TPH (in aqueous and solid phases).
said that the client had given the affirmation for the project to go ahead after
the successful field test of these sensors.
sensor, some certain sort of technology is used. For example, in soil sensors,
fiber optics is used. For air sensors, we build a portable device in which four
sensors run simultaneously. This is the new solid state technology. In fact, we
use nanotechnology to make sensors more capable and more sensitive. The foreign
and commercialized prototypes of these sensors use microtechnology," she
said: "For hydrosensors we tested sensors of heavy metals, COD and
aromatic compounds. Therefore, we are now ready to receive endorsement from
domestic and foreign standard organizations for sensors."
She said that
laser-based oil spill sensor was one of widely used sensors. This sensor is set
to be installed early next year on Iran's largest oil export terminal in Kharg
Island in cooperation with Malek Ashtar University.
of environmental sensors, the US, Canada and Japan are placed from first to
third in the world. Universities in Iran stepped into this sector years ago and
so far have made some research achievements. However, these efforts have yet to
reach the stage of manufacturing of a commercial device. RIPI has aimed to
achieve this important objective in its sensor development roadmap. Currently, numerous
sensors are annually used in Iran's gas, petroleum and petrochemical sectors in
different models. That indicates the high profitability of working on
sensors," the senior researcher said.
said the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) had recently requested sensors
from the RIPI in light of the distribution of biosensors roadmap in the
officials visited RIPI labs and filed requests for cooperation," she said.
"Currently, in order to protect domestic manufacturing, many companies
affiliated with the petroleum industry prefer Iranian sensors to foreign
ones" added Samari Jahromi.
Courtesy of Iran Petroleum