Shale Science at EGI Aligns With Industry Need

EGI Presentation at Houston Geological Society

The success of EGI’s Corporate Associate program builds on the consistent delivery of research relevant to today’s oil and gas industry and ensuring that our efforts and insights directly benefit member companies requires constant communication between EGI and its corporate sponsors. We pursue this communication routinely and aggressively by utilizing multiple communication pathways including:

  1. recommendations from our Advisory Board, a panel of distinguished industry advisors,
  2. hiring scientists with extensive industry experience and established contacts,
  3. strategic discussion and updates with our 50+ Corporate Associates and their subject matter experts,
  4. providing high-level training and peer assist based on Corporate Associates identified needs,
  5. participation in conferences where we interact with the earth science community at large

Three EGI scientists recently prepared and presented a technical poster at the Houston Geological Society’s (HGS) Applied Geoscience Conference, “Integrated Approaches of Unconventional Reservoir Assessment and Optimization,” March 8–9, 2016. Popularly known as “Mudrocks,” the 2016 conference was hosted at Anadarko Petroleum and attended by 215 geoscientists representing operators, service companies, laboratories, government agencies, and university research groups, all with an active interest in the development of unconventional resources.

Speakers for this conference are by invitation only and are selected by an expert panel organized by HGS. As such, the technical program reflects the current issues perceived to be of greatest impact to the industry. This year, the conference highlighted technical talks addressing eight themes:

  1. Nanoscale Reservoir Behavior and Observations
  2. Petroleum Systems Attribute Integration
  3. Petrophysical Integration to Optimize Completions
  4. Hybrid Unconventional Opportunities
  5. Unconventional Technology for Tight Reservoirs
  6. Geophysical Advances for Reservoir Characterization
  7. Recompletions and Refracturing
  8. Integrated Reservoir Characterization for Fun and Profit

Matthias Greb, M.Sc., Senior Geologic Advisor and Petroleum Systems Specialist, contributed work on Kerogen Kinetics which highlights EGI’s laboratory-based source rock characterization capabilities. This study is in development and offers companies not only analysis of their own source rock samples but also access to data on source rocks provided by the other participating companies, one benefit of EGI’s cost shared research model.

For the exploitation of unconventional resources, having an accurate prediction of expected fluid type and knowing the extent of the play fairway are critical to making sound business decisions. Generic models of source rock generation and expulsion do not capture the large degree of variability in the composition of organic matter between different source rocks. This can lead to incorrect predictions of in-situ hydrocarbon volumes, key fluid properties and ultimately to poor play fairway delineation.

Specialized instrumentation and procedures are needed to accurately measure the kinetic parameters that describe the decomposition of kerogen to petroleum. EGI uses the HAWK™ Instrument from Wildcat Technologies to run bulk pyrolysis with kinetic parameters calculated using KINETICS 2015 (GeoIsoChem Corp.; Braun and Burnham, 1994). An example from the Anadarko Basin illustrated how an improved understanding of kerogen kinetics can significantly change the prediction of fluid type and the location of the play fairway.

The overriding message of the conference is that optimizing unconventional development requires integration of geology, geophysics, and engineering across a wide range of scales. EGI’s work spans from the nano-scale to the plate-scale and transcends traditional discipline boundaries.

The EGI poster highlighted three research projects illustrating work which has been Completed, work In Progress, and work In Development covering the subjects of Improved Liquid Recovery, Kerogen Kinetics, and Mechanical Stratigraphy.

Mudrock Conference Poster - Matthias Greb. Click on image to view larger.

W. Lansing Taylor, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist and Advisor to the Director, attended the conference and presented new research on Mechanical Stratigraphy. This work strives to incorporate a more sophisticated understanding of structural geology and geomechanical setting into models of hydraulic stimulation.

Rather than propagating in their plane, some natural fractures in layered, mechanically-heterogeneous material display a dendritic or branching geometry. In the presence of contrasting mechanical properties, crack-tip blunting can cause vertical fracture propagation to cease allowing the fracture to merge with bedding plane slip surfaces. If this mechanism is active during hydraulic stimulation of an unconventional resource, the resulting completion will have increased fracture surface area within the contacted GRV.

This numerical study focuses on the mechanical behavior of bedding planes to determine the geologic and engineering conditions required for bedding planes to become incorporated as a geometric elements of hydraulically induced fractures.

Mudrock Conference Poster - Lansing Taylor. Click on image to view larger.

EGI Affiliate Scientist Dr. Milind Deo, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Petroleum Research Center at the University of Utah, contributed ideas from EGI’s project: Improved Liquid Recovery focusing on integration of geologic heterogeneity, in-situ stress, and completion design.

Mudrock Conference Poster - Milind Deo. Click on image to view larger