Anaerobic microbial degradation of hydrocarbons, typically occurring at the oil-water transition zone, influences the quality of oil reservoirs. In Pitch Lake, Trinidad and Tobago—the world’s largest asphalt lake—we found that microorganisms are metabolically active in minuscule water droplets (1 to 3 microliters) entrapped in oil. Pyrotag sequencing of individual droplet microbiomes revealed complex methanogenic microbial communities actively degrading the oil into a diverse range of metabolites, as shown by nuclear magnetic resonance and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. High salinity and water-stable isotopes of the droplets indicate a deep subsurface origin. The 13.5% water content and the large surface area of the droplets represent an underestimated potential for biodegradation of oil away from the oil-water transition zone.