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Drill cuttings (DC) are produced during hydrocarbon drilling operations and are composed of subsurface rock coated with hydrocarbons and drilling fluids. Historic disposal of DC at sea has resulted in the formation of large piles on the seabed that may be left in situ following infrastructure decommissioning. This study provides a first insight into the microbial abundance, diversity and community structure of two DC piles from North Sea oil and gas installations. The abundance of both bacteria and archaea was lower in DC than in surrounding natural sediments. Microbial diversity and richness within DC were low but increased with distance from the piles. Microbial community structure was significantly different in DC piles compared to nearby natural sediments. DC bacterial communities were dominated by Halomonas, Dietzia and Dethiobacter. The presence of such organisms suggests a potential function of hydrocarbon degradation ability and may play an active role in DC pile remediation.
Potts, L. D., Perez Calderon, L. J., Gubry-Rangin, C., Witte, U., & Anderson, J. A. (2019). Characterisation of microbial communities of drill cuttings piles from offshore oil and gas installations. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 142, 169–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.03.014