The U.S. oil industry is trying to do more with less, as operators seek to maximize reservoir production during a period of low oil prices.

The application of DNA sequencing in the oil industry provides operators with unique perspective of subsurface reservoirs to help maximize production and minimize environmental impact.

The technology, a combination of DNA sequencing and advanced analytical software, is being developed for the oil and gas industry by genomics startup Biota Technology.

A diagnostic tool developed by Biota Technology uses DNA data obtained from microbes residing in the subsurface of oil reservoirs to track the flow of oil.

Data from the oil samples provides information on the vertical drainage height in the target oil layer and shows whether the oil layers above and below the target layer are also being drained.

The new technology would replace or complement diagnostic tools currently used to determine the best location to place a well, such as microseismic surveys, petrophysical logs, oil geochemistry data, and chemical tracers.

Biota is introducing the first new data source to the oil and gas industry in two decades,” says Vik Rao, former Chief Technology Officer for Halliburton and now the Chief Technology Officer of Biota.