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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigation into the importance of geochemical and pore structural heterogeneities for shale gas reservoir evaluation Ross, Daniel John Kerridge


An investigation of shale pore structure and compositional/geochemical heterogeneities has been undertaken to elucidate the controls upon gas capacities of potential shale gas reservoirs in northeastern British Columbia, western Canada. Methane sorption isotherms, pore structure and surface area data indicate a complex interrelationship of total organic carbon (TOC) content, mineral matter and thermal maturity affect gas sorption characteristics of Devonian- Mississippian (D- M) and Jurassic strata. Methane and carbon dioxide sorption capacities of D- M shales increase with TOC content, due to the microporous nature of the organic matter. Clay mineral phases arealso capable of sorbing gas to their internal structure; hence D- M shales which are both TOC- and clay-rich have the largest micropore volumes and sorption capacities on a dry basis. Jurassic shales, which are invariably less thermally mature than D- M shales, do not have micropore volumes which correlate with TOC. The covariance of methane sorption capacity with TOC, independent of micropore volume, indicates a solute gas contribution (within matrix bituminite) to the total gas capacity. On a wt% TOC basis, D-M shales sorb more gas than Jurassic shales: a result of thermal-maturation induced, structural transformation of the D- M organic fraction. Organic-rich D- M strata are considered to be excellent candidates for gas shales in Western Canada. These strata have TOC contents ranging between 1-5.7 wt%, thermal maturities into the dry-gas region, and thicknesses in places of over 1000 m. Total gas capacity estimates range between 60 and 600 bcf/section where a substantial percentage of the gas capacity is free gas, due to high reservoir temperatures and pressures. Inorganic material influences modal pore size, total porosity and sorption characteristics of D-M shales. Carbonate-rich samples often have lower organic carbon contents (oxic deposition) and porosity, hence potentially lower sorbed and free-gas capacities. Highly mature Devonian shales are both silica and TOC-rich (up to 85% quartz and 5 wt% TOC) and as such, deemed excellent potential shale gas reservoirs because they are both brittle (fracable), and gas-charged. However, quartz-rich Devonian shales display tight-rock characteristics, with poorly developed fabric, small median pore diameters and low permeabilities. Hence potential `frac-zones' will require an increased density of hydraulic fracture networks for optimum gas production.

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