Karoo Basin Unconventional Characterization


$80k (USD) per Sponsor


In Development

Principal Investigator(s):

Bryony Richards


Value to Sponsors

Recent estimates of unconventional resources in the Karoo Basin, suggest recoverable shale gas in-place from ~30 Tcf to ~500 Tcf (i.e. Decker and Marot, 2012). Potentially large gas reserves; coupled with the present energy shortfall in South Africa, has led to shale gas becoming an attractive new energy prospect, with much of the renewed exploration focus falling on the Karoo Basin shales.

The project is designed to evaluate the gas potential of key carbonaceous shales within the Ecca and Dwyka Groups of the Karoo Basin; with integrated results used to define and evaluate the fundamental factors important to shale hydrocarbon potential in the Karoo Basin. A subsequent comparison of key parameters and results to analogous basins in North America will be used to identify areas with the greatest potential to viably host and produce shale gas within the Karoo.

The project is designed to have a strong emphasis on the contextually significant relationships via cutting edge analytical data across multiple sources (i.e. geology, petrophysics and geophysics), collaborators, analytical platforms/tools (i.e. optical microscopy, XRD, XRF, QEMSCAN®, SEM, FIB-SEM etc.) and across multiple scales (i.e. macro- to nano-scales). The ultimate goal is to minimize time and resources currently dedicated to the identification of potential reservoir plays in the Karoo Basin. Improving our ability to locate, trace and supply oil and gas more effectively in South Africa in the future.

Project research is proposed to focus on the integration of three key technical areas; with the aim of establishing an unparalleled understanding of shale resources in South Africa’s Karoo Basin, allowing sponsors to make well informed exploration decisions:

  • Core through Pore™ Integrated Petrological Workflow
  • Geophysical and Petrophysical Data
  • Organic Petrology

Project deliverables will focus on the critical assessment of potential shales in key areas of the basin, using available literature, geological modeling and new analyses of samples, including:

Basic Deliverables:

  1. Key areas of project delivered using ArcGIS (versions 9.3 and 10.2) with GIS catalog delivered in Excel format.
  2. Excel delivery of all tables (including all numerical analytical results)
  3. Complete bibliography.
  4. PDF documents from final presentation.
  5. Geochemical and petrological databases and charts (Excel).

Advanced Deliverables:

  1. Comprehensive petrological analyses using the ‘Core through Pore™‘ integrated analytical approach using optical microscopy, XRD, XRF, QEMSCAN®, SEM, FIB-SEM and TEM/STEM.
  2. Integration and assessment of analysis with available well log and seismic data.
  3. Analog table in Excel format containing key shale parameters and potential analogous North American reservoirs.


The project staff are actively seeking collaborative relationships with a number of universities, organizations and individuals to facilitate fieldwork (including the possibility of setting-up state-of-the- art ‘field laboratories’), sample acquisition and knowledge. Scientists and technical staff from EGI and South Africa will participate in the project depending on the areas of expertise as necessary and an advisory team of experts from the sponsoring companies will guide the research as and when deemed necessary and/-or requested.