We use the DNA fingerprints of 1 foot below surface or seabed soil samples to predict prospectivity with >70% accuracy, to:

The presence of vertical upward microseepage is extensively described in the literature where clear and sharp anomalies of microbial population and geochemical properties could be found precisely at the border of reservoirs. Bacteria are present in high numbers and variation of species in soil samples. Their exceptionally high adaptivity to grow on small amounts of nutrient sources from the shale ‘reservoir’ turns them into an advanced ‘soft sensing mechanism’.

Technology & Process

A patented technology – has been developed to analyze surface soil samples (few mm3’s from approx. 1 ft. depth) that recognizes hydrocarbon micro-seepage from sweet spots. First, bacterial DNA is extracted, producing tagged 16S rDNA data that is translated to bacterial species. The result of this ‘DNA technology’ is hundreds of thousands (partly field type specific) biomarkers. The ‘DNA finger-print’ of the soil sample.

Our database – with biomarkers, is subsequently used as modeling input to our proprietary localized triple loop © computational model, capable of predicting the presence of a sweet spot in a heterogeneous field with an accuracy of >70% prior to drilling. It basically uses the difference in ‘DNA finger-prints’ connected to sweet spots and non-sweet spots. Six plays in US are extensively sampled, with different characteristics on productivity, age of the producing interval, type of play (oil vs gas), geology and climate and soil type: Bone Spring (Permian), Bakken, Antrim, Avalon, Lewis, Haynesville and Marcellus.

The patented workflow – consists of the following steps:

  1. Soil sampling in the field, followed by DNA analysis to get DNA-fingerprints of the microbes.
  2. Selecting a training set from our database with sample data from earlier drilled and known areas. The training set has similar DNA fingerprints compared to the new samples and can correlate DNA from soil samples with production data.
  3. Modelling and validating the microbes that determine the sweet spots/prospectivity.
  4. Mapping and analyzing the prospectivity / sweet spots / low production areas of the target play.

In parallel with TNO’s medical DNA validation practices, the sweet spot prediction accuracy given above has been extensively validated. For the in the mentioned plays, the initial prediction accuracy is 71-84%, thousands of sampled locations with analyzed DNA / biomarkers and known production history have been run as validation set.
For one simulation, 30% of the known production rates are not used. This simulation is repeated 1000 times with randomly chosen locations that are left out. In total 176.715 of 208.000 of the predicted locations were labeled correctly. This robust modelling process is repeated for every new area and is proven a key contributor for precise Sweet spot prediction.


BIODENTIFY started as a TNO and JOA Ventures company since 2015. Biodentify is headquartered in the University City of Delft, The Netherlands. TNO is a 3000+ Dutch R&D organization, hosting the largest Microbiological research group in the Netherlands. JOA Ventures is a business incubator bringing innovative technologies to market in the Oil & Gas, Software, and Biotechnology business.

The result of this cooperation is a novel technology, predicting prospectivity at locations in shale oil and gas plays or off shore before drilling with approx. 70% accuracy, based on microbiological DNA analysis of shallow soil or seabed samples.

Leadership: Gerard de Jager (CEO), Jonathan Zwaan (Commercial Director), Chris te Stroet (Technology Director)

Advisory Board: Frank Schuren (Microbiologist, TNO), Roy Montijn (Head Microbiotech group, TNO), Lex Molinger (General Manager Technology Maturation, Shell), Wolfgang Benz (International Business Mangager, Koerber AG)

Investors: JOA-Ventures is 100% owner of Biodentify


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation –SME Instrument programme under grant agreement No 829284


Contact by phone

Telephone +31 (0) 15-2572796

Info by mail

Technical Information:

Visiting Address

Delftechpark 25
2628 XJ Delft, the Netherlands


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