Microbial Identification and Evaluation

In 2017, OSP launched LifeCheck Resources recognizing the paramount relevance of a microbial mitigation strategy for preventing issues such as corrosion and souring in oil and gas applications. LifeCheck Resources utilizes several technologies for microbial identification and evaluation including LifeCheck DNA, LifeCheck ATP and LifeCheck Media. All or a selection can be chosen for microbial analysis and testing.

Identify and Evaluate Microbes Present

LifeCheck DNA

LifeCheck DNA technology is a modern microbial identification and evaluation tool for determining problematic microbial populations in almost any sample type utilizing either 16S DNA sequencing or qPCR. This innovative genetic testing works by measuring the amount of specific DNA present in the sample from microbes of interest. LifeCheck DNA can provide a full microbial community profile, or quantify targeted microbes.

LifeCheck DNA Features and Benefits


No growth biases, no false negatives or false positives.


No use of needles, disposal of culture media, no chemicals.


Data sent in an easy to understand report. Make informed mitigation decisions.

Data Tracking

We can track your long-term data to notify you when microbial counts have changed and suggest appropriate action.


Molecular methods are recognized in the NACE TM0212, TM0194 and other Standard Practices.

Cost Effective

Accurate results within days instead of weeks. Make important mitigation decisions sooner.

Customizable Assays

Determine the data that is most relevant for you.


Analyses do not have to be performed on living microorganisms, which makes it possible to preserve samples and send them several weeks afterwards.

Learn more about LifeCheck DNA 16S Sequencing

LifeCheck DNA 16S Sequencing characterizes and provides insight into the microbial community present, and in what relative proportion.
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Learn more about LifeCheck DNA qPCR

LifeCheck DNA qPCR enables the detection and accurate quantification of specific microbes without the need for growth media.
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Microbial detection and monitoring with ATP Test Kits

LifeCheck ATP

The first step in mitigating microbial growth is to assess the level of microbes in fluid or on surfaces prior to treatment. Information regarding overall population, metabolic subtypes present and presence of biofilms are all important to determine the best course of action. Easily evaluate the microbial content of fluid or solids in oilfield and industrial applications and identify the potential microbial threat with our LifeCheck ATP Test Kits.

LifeCheck ATP Test Kits Features and Benefits


Facilitates immediate action to reduce operating costs.

Versatile Applications

Easy to adapt to multiple applications

Learn more about LifeCheck ATP Test Kits

Our LifeCheck ATP test kit is a simple field test that detects the overall population of microbes by measuring the metabolic activity a molecule (living cell) called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.
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Reliable results in 10 minutes or less

Field Friendly

Choice of field prep and lab analysis or complete analysis in the field

Microbial monitoring with industry recognized serial dilution media

LifeCheck Media

The microbes responsible for corrosion and souring fall into specific metabolic subtypes. Our LifeCheck Media APB and SRB Serial Dilution Bottles determine the specific subtype of bacteria that is present.

LifeCheck Media Features and Benefits

NACE Approved

NACE Standard TM0194-2004 industry recognized microbial testing technology

Learn more about LifeCheck Media

Serial dilution is the stepwise dilution of a substance in solution—in the case of LifeCheck Media, growth media in which a specific group of microbes (e.g., SRB) can grow.
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Gain access to trusted advisors for microbial challenges

Microbial Consulting

Lean teams and sample transportation pose challenges. Our Technical Team is comprised of molecular microbiology experts, who can offer immediate on-site or in the lab sample evaluation and testing, providing you with reliable results time and time again. If your team is faced with any of these application challenges, our team of OSP Experts is ready to help.

Application ChallengeOSP Technical Consulting Services
Whole System AnalysisFind the source of microbial contamination by having our experts assess your entire system using the proper testing kits and protocols.
Hydraulic Fracturing FluidScreen source waters, evaluate on-site biocide treatments, or complete post-frac evaluations to ensure biocide efficacy after wells come on production.
Pipeline IntegrityConduct a baseline assessment of gathering systems for use in mitigation strategies or compliance documentation and schedule regular field testing.
Coupon or Bioprobe TestingIncrease data relevancy by having OSP experts test coupons or probes as they are pulled using LifeCheck ATP or DNA.
Failure Site AnalysisPerform microbial analyses of failure sites prior to submitting for metallurgical testing.
Injection WellsOptimize injection pressures and volumes by identifying microbial issues.
Treatment EvaluationsEvaluate any treatment program for effectiveness with accurate measurements on-site throughout the life of your microbial control strategy.
Biocide Selection StudySubmit samples to OSP’s Technical Centre for comparison studies to determine the best biocide for your microbial control strategy.

Learn more about Microbial Testing Technology and Services

The first step in mitigating microbial growth is to assess the level of microbes prior to treatment. Information regarding overall population is important to determine the best course of action.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Tell us about LifeCheck ATP?

The ATP test is a simple field test that detects a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP. This molecule is related to energy production and is present in all living cells. The ATP test uses a reaction that generates light when ATP is present, and is easily measured with a simple tool in the field. By measuring the ATP content of a sample, you can assess the viable biomass or “total life” within that sample. This test does not distinguish between microbial groups (SRB, APB etc). Results take less than 10 minutes per sample.

How does the test results from LifeCheck ATP compare to traditional culture media like APB/SRB?

These tests aren’t comparable as they work differently and measure different things. Culture tests are trying to grow microbes, and estimate microbial numbers based on microbial growth. We now know that less than 1% of microbes are culturable even under perfect lab conditions, making this type of test highly inaccurate. However, in the early days of MIC, these were the only tests available and were a positive first step. These tests work by adding a volume of liquid sample to a vial of pre-made culture media and performing serial dilutions to estimate the log numbers of cells in the original sample. The vials must incubate for 3-4 weeks before the results can be interpreted, which is simply a visual assessment of how many bottles turned cloudy or changed colour, depending on the test. Several studies have shown from sequencing the DNA of original samples and incubated samples that the samples have completely different microbial communities. In general, the type of media used determines the numbers and types of microbes you will get.

There is also a high potential for false negatives as many microbes simply cannot grow in the culture media, even ones that are of interest. As a result, you end up underestimating your microbe count. For example, sulfide in a system can come from a variety of microbes other than SRB, such as thiosulfate reducers and Archaea. These other bugs will not be able to grow in the SRB media, meaning that you may get a negative result for an SRB bottle test simply because the actual sulfide producers in your system cannot be detected. This can have significant and dangerous results.

Why is it difficult to grow bacteria?

The idea of unculturable microbes first appeared around 100 years ago, when it was observed that cell counts under a microscope were much higher than the number of colonies that would grow on a plate. It has been highlighted again with recent molecular technologies, such as 16S sequencing, which showed us that a single sample can have thousands of different microbes in it.

Think of microbes as tiny people, they have specific conditions required for growth. We cannot survive outside of a narrow temperature range, for example. Microbes also have complex nutrient and environmental requirements. Replicating the conditions required for growth is the biggest challenge, as microbes have diverse pH, nutrient, salinity, temperature, oxygen and pressure requirements.

For example, high temperature microbes, known as thermophiles, will die below a certain temperature, and incubating them at room temperature will kill them. Same with microbes from a high salinity environment, if you put them into culture media with less or different salts than their environment, they will die. In addition, most microbes live in complex communities where they live syntrophically (they depend on each other) with other microbes, and cannot grow efficiently on their own. Think of it this way, if you were picked up and dropped into the middle of the ocean, how long would you survive? You suddenly don’t have food you can eat, or water you can drink even though you are surrounded by water and fish.

In addition, microbes grow in the natural environment which has a relatively low nutrient concentration, and consequently they are slow growers which can take months or even years to replicate. These microbes may be well established in your system, however trying to grow them to measurable amounts would take a considerable amount of time. In some cases, putting microbes from a nutritionally low to high environment can shock the cells to death. Same reason why a starving person cannot just sit down and eat a large meal after months of not eating, they will become very sick.


I wanted to take a moment to say thank you so much for our partnership. I cannot ask for a better partnership than the one I have with OSP. The dedication, time and effort to help us get up and going with ATP testing is something that has not gone unrecognized. It is truly amazing to see that wonderful customer service still lives in our industry. This type of partnership is one we will continue to have and grow together.

Courtney, Kel-Tech, A Clariant Company

Since 2014, Omega Treating Chemicals has been engaging OSP and their team for science related challenges, technical lab support, microbial testing services, scale support and sales support. The team at OSP feels like an extension of our team, always willing and able to respond, offering holistic client support from lab to field to sales. With a fantastic collaborative partnership over the years, when we are looking to problem solve, we never hesitate to call OSP.

Leah Duran, Technical Director, Omega Treating Chemical, Inc.

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