China Shale, Phase 2Completed


$75k (USD) per Sponsor



Principal Investigator(s):

Value to Sponsors

  1. Collected 50+ new shale wells with cores, logs, seismic, production test results, etc.
  2. Collected 332 new samples in addition to 109 previously included with Phase 1.
  3. Tested 441 samples (mainly core) in U.S. labs and 400+ in Chinese labs for geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, petrophysics, isotherm, geomechanics, etc.
  4. Closed knowledge gaps for key Chinese shales in order to understand reservoir quality between different shales and facies, well log and seismic response, etc., of shale reservoirs, diagenesis, rock fabric, heterogeneity, gas-in-place/gas content, petrophysics, and geomechanical properties and mechanical stratigraphy (not a primary focus based on sponsor’s suggestion).
  5. Reservoir characterization for key shale formations;
  6. Determine key elements that define a shale reservoir and relationship between a variety ofparameters to help predict best reservoir;
  7. Identify the critical and scientific differences between marine and lacustrine shales;
  8. Further compare (quantitatively and qualitatively) producing shales in the U.S. with Chinese marine and lacustrine shales.

Digital ArcGIS product with detailed database of measured properties and attributes.

  1. Presentations at project review meetings;
  2. Final report delivered in print and electronic formats

Characterize primary, targeted marine and lacustrine shales at a reservoir scale, focusing on gas producing marine basins and oil producing lacustrine basins that had been high-graded during Phase 1:

  1. Collect new samples from the high-graded basins identified in Phase 1. Relatively few measurements were feasible in Phase 1 due to a lack of samples. With newly acquired samples, EGI will run tests similar to those performed in Phase 1 and also expand the testing procedures to include additional, more robust assessments/measurements (described in more detail in the Scope of Work).
  2. Understand the relationships between the relevant geologic environments and geomechanical responses especially generic hydraulic fracture growth in shales with different properties and geological settings. The aim is to develop relationships for each shale group: this will facilitate ranking and suggest exploration, well construction and production techniques;
  3. Continue to build and develop the database started in Phase 1 and fill gaps by including newly collected data, and results from new sample testing and additional measurements.
  4. Decipher the fundamental differences (and similarities, if found) between Chinese marine and lacustrine shales
  5. Further compare (quantitatively and qualitatively) U.S. producing shales and Chinese marine and lacustrine shales.

Enhance the geologic understanding of the most promising marine and lacustrine shales from four primary basins/regions (Sichuan (key marine gas-producing basin), Yangtze Platform outside Sichuan (area of interest and bidding blocks), Ordos (key lacustrine oil and marine-transitional gas-producing basin), and Bohai Bay (key lacustrine oil-producing basin);

  1. Laboratory evaluation of marine and lacustrine shales using traditional assessment tools (as in Phase 1) and new testing tools, procedures, and measurements to characterize geochemistry, mineralogy, petrophysical properties, gas and/or oil content and brittle response/“fracability” of Chinese shales, especially for the lacustrine shales;
    1. NEW: Perform new testing, at U.S.-based laboratories to discern the mechanical stratigraphy and fracturing potential for various shales in the relevant marine and lacustrine settings;
    2. NEW: Carry out qualitative (and quantitative where possible) examination of facies, kerogen type and distribution, pore type and pore distribution to further assess hydrocarbon storage across a diverse range of shales and increased understanding of storage mechanisms;
    3. NEW: Ascertain the shale sedimentation processes, mineralogy, diagenesis, heterogeneity, fabric, deformation by detailed thin section and QEMSCAN® observation and fracture delineation from micro- to macro-scales;
    4. EXPANDED: Increase the number of samples tested to measure porosity and permeability, gas storage capacity (tight rock analysis or equivalent), isotherm testing), geochemistry, and mineralogical characterization for reservoir interval shales and outcrop shales;
  2. Catalog characteristics from seismic reflection surveys, well logs, image logs, mineralogy, and geomechanical properties (where possible) for typical shale wells;
  3. Correlate geologic properties and geomechanical measurements; e.g., relationships between mineralogy, rock fabric, storage capacity, and geomechanical parameters.
  4. Conduct representative hydraulic fracturing simulations/fracture propagation forecasts for representative marine and lacustrine shales. Interrelate these with geological characteristics. The goal is to attempt to establish differences between vertical and aerial fracture growth behavior and fracture potential/morphology (natural and induced) for various marine and lacustrine shales;
  5. Develop relationships (between similar and dissimilar shales) employing the database that has/is being developed to aid in evaluation and inference of various shale properties;
  6. Provide detailed quantitative and qualitative comparisons between properties of U.S. producing marine shales and China’s most promising marine and lacustrine shales to understand the merits and potential downsides of these Chinese shales;
  7. Expand the database by including new core and outcrop sample testing and revise interpretations that will guide the appraisal and exploitation of Chinese shales.


Based on the general findings from a limited number of measurements in Phase 1, the marine shales are relatively brittle compared to the lacustrine shales that were evaluated. We still do not have definitive insights regarding differences in specific reservoir properties, e.g. porosity and permeability, and gas content. Similarly, the potential for brittle response to tectonic or engineering events (colloquially referred to as “fracability”) between dissimilar marine shales, and especially for diverse lacustrine setting shales, remains uncertain. To date (Phase 1), our sense of differences in gas content, porosity and permeability between various shales is only based on limited isotherm and tight rock analyses (a limited number of acceptable samples [fewer than 10] were available in Phase 1).