Microbial Genomics for De-Risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration in Nova Scotia

Principal Investigators:

Dr. Casey R. J. Hubert, University of Calgary, Associate Professor, CAIP Chair in Microbiology (Academic Project Lead); Mr. Adam MacDonald, Nova Scotia Department of Energy, Lead – Offshore Petroleum Geoscience (End User Project Lead); Dr. G. Todd Ventura, Saint Mary’s University, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Organic Geochemistry

Start Date:      April 2016

End Date:        March 2019

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.

The project is organized around five primary activities: (1) A piston coring program to be undertaken during three successive summers to collect seabed samples in proximity to suspected oil seeps (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, Geological Survey of Canada); (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 (Applied Petroleum Technology Canada Ltd); (3) Marine microbiology and genomics applied to the samples using different bioassay strategies to investigate the presence of different target groups of microorganism (University of Calgary); (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 interested oil companies to undertake independent evaluations (Nova Scotia Department of Energy); 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 (Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia). Evaluation of microbial lipids in the samples is an additional component of the project being undertaken by Saint Mary’s University.

Microbial Genomics for De-risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration in Nova Scotia


Microbial Exploration Techniques

Comparative metagenomics of hydrocarbon and methane seeps of the Gulf of Mexico

Microbial Genomics for De-risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration

Microbial Genomics Workshop

GAPP AGM Presenation

Summary of Geochemical Investigations

Offshore Petroleum Resources – NS and the PFA

Microbial Genomics for De-risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration2