Cancer research technology revitalizing oil and gas

Jan. 17, 2023
The same technology used to identify the human genome is now being used by the oil and gas industry to optimize production and planning.

Offshore staff

HOUSTON  A newly established Houston-based biotech company, GeOME Analytics, is applying its technology in a science project aiming to identify the human genome.

The Human Genome Project has cost about $3 billion over nearly 13 years. During this project, GeOME’s technology contributed sequencing of about 50% of the human genes. Decades of research have gone into developing and finetuning GeOME’s algorithm and methodology. Now the same technology is being used by the oil and gas industry to optimize production and planning.

"We received several requests from oil and gas operators asking if we could apply our DNA sequence methodology subsurface. Even though we are in Houston, the energy capital of the world, it was remarkable that the energy industry looked at biology as a way of optimizing its operations. We then partnered with a large global operator, and nearly three years later, we have fully qualified the technology. We are now mapping the stratigraphy in ways previously not possible,” said GeOME  CEO and Founder Gunaratne Preethi.

Applying cancer biotechnology in optimizing well planning and production may appear surprising at first. When looking below the surface, however, these are microbial environments developed over thousands of years that are dominant in the stratigraphic layers that exist today. The company did not state which operators are using this technology.

“Unfortunately, current clients and cost savings are confidential, but the technology use is not. We use subsurface microbial DNA, on- or offshore, and with our technology, analyze what is present and non-existing to accurately determine production details by benches, reservoir allocation or other detailed data. If correlating to our cancer research, it is like 'lineage tracing,' where the metastatic breast cells from the bone helps correct the diagnosis of breast cancer. Subsurface tracing is similar; it is just less complex tracing microbes in distinct stratigraphic layers, compared to cancer cells that may have traveled all over the human body,” Preethi said.