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Physical Properties of Shales and

Possible Origin of High Pressures


William C. Pritchett, SPE, ARCO Oil and Gas Co.

Introduction
Laboratory and borehole measurements of shale depth of investigation of the neutron lifetime log is
properties may be unreliable because of modification considerably greater than that of the scatter gamma
during or after drilling or coring. The borehole ray density log.I,2 Therefore, neutron lifetime log
gravimeter is an ideal tool for measuring the bulk measurements should be affected much less by any
density of thick shale units because of its great depth modified shale near the borehole than would
of investigation and negligible sensitivity to shale in measurements made with a density log.
the vicinity of the borehole, which may have been Neutron lifetime logs show a progressive decrease
modified in drilling. By contrast, the scatter gamma in macroscopic neutron capture cross section with
ray density log has an extremely shallow depth of increasing depth for U.S. gulf coast shales with
investigation and its response may be dominated by normal pore pressures. This decrease in neutron
modified shale surrounding a borehole. A com- capture cross section is the result of increased
parison of bulk densities measured by these two compaction of shales with depth. If high-pressure
methods in both sands and shales was made in three shales are shales that were not compacted normally
U.S. gulf coast wells. In all three wells the two with increasing depth of burial, then they should
methods yielded comparable densities for the sands. have physical properties comparable with relatively
But in two wells, which were drilled with fresh muds, uncompacted shales at much shallower depths of a
the density log yielded shale bulk densities few thousand feet (1000 to 1500 m). In particular,
significantly less than those shown by the borehole they should have high neutron capture cross sections
gravimeter. These data indicate that shale adjacent to as compared with normally pressured shales at
the borehole in these two wells had been modified by slightly shallower depths. However, our logs show
drilling and the modified shale densities had been neutron capture cross sections for U.S. gulf coast
reduced significantly. In the well drilled with a saline high-pressure shales that range from normal to less
mud, bulk densities from the two methods were in than normal for their depths. These data indicate
close agreement in both sands and shales, which that these high-pressure shales are not shales that
indicates that shales adjacent to the borehole in this were never compacted. The data are consistent with
well were not modified significantly. an alternate hypothesis for the generation of high
High-pressure shales are particularly susceptible to pore pressures in shales.
modification during drilling since they are relatively The alternate hypothesis is that normally com-
permeabble and soft. Sometimes they even flow. pacted shales subsequently may develop high pore
Density log data in high-pressure shales are pressures due to the dewatering of montmorillonite
unreliable due to probable shale modification. as it is converted to illite at temperatures on the order
Unfortunately, we have no borehole gravimeter data of 200°F (93°C). 3-5 This change in clay mineralogy
in high-pressure shales and, therefore, no reliable results in an increase in the volume occupied by
measurements of bulk densities in their natural state. liquid pore water and a decrease in the volume oc-
The best data available for studying high-pressure cupied by solid grains. My hypothesis for the
shales are some neutron lifetime logs. The effective generation of high pressures in these shales is simply
0197-7520/8010010-7506$00.25
that the reduction in grain volume results in a loss of
Copyright 1980 Society of Petroleum Engineers grain-to-grain contact and, hence, a decreasing
OCTOBER 1980 341
·
ability of the grains to support the weight of the densities measured for shales may reflect the density
overburden. Under the alternate hypothesis, even of modified shale rather than the density of un-
thick high-pressure shales may lose water gradually, disturbed shale' farther back from the wall of the
recompact, and re-establish good grain support, thus borehole. In the three U.S. gulf coast wells where
becoming shales with normal pore pressures but with both density log data and borehole gravimeter log
increased bulk densities and decreased macroscopic data are available, the densities from the two
neutron capture cross sections. Dewatered high- methods were compared for both shale and sand-
pressure shales that have not lost the added pore stone intervals. Table 1 lists these three wells along
water should have bulk densities and neutron capture with the resistivities of the muds and descriptions of
cross sections comparable with those of normally the hole conditions as interpreted from caliper logs.
pressured shales at slightly shallower depths. In all three wells, the bulk densities from the two
Low bulk densities reported for some high- methods agreed well in the thick sands. Figs. 1, 2,
pressure shales may be erroneous because of and 3 are plots of shale bulk densities for the three
modification of the shales. Other high-pressure wells as functions of depth as determined by both the
shales may never have been compacted normally, and density log and gravimeter. There were no high pore
their bulk densities should be low. pressures in these wells to the depths to which the
borehole gravimeter was run. In the Gulf Moore
Erroneous Density Data for Shales Well 175 (Fig. 1), the two methods yielded nearly
With Normal Pressures identical results showing a trend of increasing bulk
Both laboratory and borehole measurements of shale density with depth resulting from increased com-
properties may not be reliable because of shale paction with depth. In the Chevron State 1366 Well
modification. Exposure of shales with normal 31 (Fig. 2), the gravimeter data show a similar trend
pressures to relatively fresh mud filtrate can cause of increasing shale density with depth. But in this
significant modification due to clay swelling. Large well, the density log indicates lower densities in a
changes in compressive stress could cause some widely scattered pattern. In the Pan American Miami
physical modification. The densities of thick shale Well 26 (Fig. 3), the shale densities from the density
units could be measured reliably in situ with the log are about 0.2 g/cm 3 lower than those shown by
borehole gravimeter by measuring the gravity field of the borehole gravimeter. If the densities derived from
the earth at the bottom and top of each shale unit. the gravimeter are correct, then the density log error
The error in the bulk density due to modified shale is sufficient to make a compacted shale at 10,000 ft
near the borehole would be negligible. (3050 m) appear to have a density equal to the true
The scatter gamma ray density log often is used to density of a relatively uncompacted shale at 4,000 ft
measure bulk densities of rocks surrounding (1220 m). These data indicate that the density log
boreholes and has been used to interpret shale yielded erroneous bulk densities (too low) for shales
properties, including degree of compaction. The in the two wells drilled with relatively fresh muds.
backscattered gamma rays have relatively low Hole enlargement was severe in these two wells. We
energies, which limits the depth of investigation of recommend the use of the borehole gravimeter for
the tool to the order of 1 in. (2.5 cm). Therefore, the determining the density of thick shale units.

TABLE 1 - WELLS WITH GRAVITY DATA AND DENSITY LOGS


Mud
Weight Water Loss Resistivity Caliper Log, Indication
Well Type (Ibm/gal) (kg/m 3 ) (cm 3 ) (fl·m) of Hole Condition
Gulf Moore 175 Chemical 11.4 1370 3.8 0.6 at 96°F Hole in good shape below
(35.6°C) 2,500 ft (762 m). Mostly
gauge to + 1 to 2 in. (2.5
to 5 cm) even in thick
shales.
Chevron State Caustic, 12 1440 7 0.92 at 89°F Hole badly enlarged in many
1366 31 Q Broxin (31'?"C) places. Better below 6,000
ft (1829 m). Selected
intervals in sands and
shales look reasonably
good below 5,000 ft (1524
m). Sections enlarged
beyond 3 in. (7.6 cm) not
considered.
Pan American Native 11.11330 6.4 2.71 at 88°F All thick shales badly washed
Mi~mi 26 (31.1°C) out. Took log data in
thin shale sections where
indicated enlargment rang,
ed from 0 to 4 in. (0 to 10
cm). Many sands gauge to
+ 1 in. (2.5 cm). Few sands
washed out (ignored
these).

342 SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL


Neutron Lifetime Log Response to Shales
With Normal Pressures
The macroscopic neutron capture cross section of a
material is determined by the types of nuclei in the
material and the number of each type within a unit
volume. Table 2 lists some representative mac-
roscopic neutron capture cross sections. 1 Table 3 DEPTH, THOUSANDS OF MUllS
shows calculated capture cross sections for mont- ,--_ _----'T'----_ _ _--'1.;=-'_ _ _ _-=;2.o"---_ _ _--=;;2.5
2700
morillonite clay with an assumed formula defined in
the table. The cross sections listed for 0% porosity 2600

correspond to theoretical values for the solid 2500


montmorillonite grains with various numbers of
2400
interlayers of water as given by the parameter n. The
cross sections listed for values of porosity other than 2300 fit

zero represent clays or shales that have undergone 2200 ..


~
various degrees of compaction. For this table, the
2100
pore space is assumed to be filled with liquid water LEGEND:

. - SHALE DENSITY flOM GIAVITY DATA


with a salinity of 100,000 ppm NaCI. Other clay ... - SHALE DENSITY nOM DENSITY LOG
2000

minerals such as illite have less interlayer water and


lower capture cross sections for a given degree of DIrTH, THOUSANDS Of flIT
compaction. Illite has some potassium, aluminum,
Fig. 1 - Shale density in Gulf Moore Well 175, Orchard
and iron, but the effect of these elements is minor. field.
Many shales and clays contain a few other elements
that add to the overall capture cross sections. The
values of the cross sections in Table 3 for mont-
morillonite are consistent with the range for shale as DE'TH, THOUSANDS Of MITEIS

2.7 ,--_ _----'T1.0'----_ _ _----'T1.'~_ _ _~2T·0~_ _ _~2.S2700


given in Table 2, which is from 20 to 40. Shales with
cross sections of 35 or more must be porous and 2.6 2600

probably contain montmorillonite. The pore space •


U
might contain brine with higher salinity or the shales
might contain some boron, either of which would : 2.4 2400
~ •
increase the capture cross section. Shales with cross • ~.

sections near 20 probably contain little mont- ..!


~. 2.3 2300 ::

morillonite and must be compacted so as to have .. 2200

little porosity. 2.1 2100


LEGEND:
A typical shale at shallow depth has a high neutron .- SHALE DENSITY FlOM GIAVITY DATA 2000
2.0
capture cross section because it has a lot of water. .&- SHAU DENSITY FlOM DENSITY LOG

The salinity of the pore water may not be very I.'2


high. 6 ,7 A typical shale at somewhat greater depth DIPTH, THOUSANDS OF fEET

has lost some pore water because of compaction, and Fig. 2-Shale density in Chevron State 1366 Well 31, Bay
it exhibits a lower macroscopic capture cross section Marchand field.
despite the fact that salinity of the remaining pore
water is higher. 7

Origin of High Pressures in Shales DEPTH, THOUSANDS Of METE IS

2.7 ,--_ _----'T1.0'----_ _ _~1T-.'_ _ _ _-=;2._=_0_ _ _ _ _.:2;.;52700


In the U.S. gulf coast, high-pressure shales are
common, particularly at depths where the tem- 2.6 2600
perature is considerably higher than 200°F (93°C).
2.' 2500
The prevailing theory is that high-pressure shales are
shales that were not compacted normally with in- ~ 2.4 2400
~
creasing depth of burial. 7,8 These shales are .: 2.3
characterized as having unusually high porosity for !ii
their depth, as evidenced by low electrical resistivity ..
! 2.2 2200

and low sonic velocity. The concept is that thick, 2.1 2100

rapidly buried clays had little permeability after only 2.0 .- SHAU DENSITY FlOM GIAVITY DAtA 2000

moderate compaction and that further loading by A- SHALE DENSITY flOM DENSITY LOG

additional sedimentation was ineffective in squeezing I.'2~~~~~~-~~-~.-~10~+.1I-~12-~13--1~4 1'00


DEPTH, THOUSANDS OF nn
water out of the interior of the massive units. By this
concept, high-pressure shales often have persisted for Fig. 3 - Shale density in Pan American Miami Corp. Well
tens of millions of years with pore pressures greatly 26, South Pecan Lake field.
in excess of hydrostatic pressure.
There is another concept to account for the
generation of high pressures in shales. High-pressure
OCTOBER 1980 343
shales could result from the dewatering of mont-
morillonite. 3- 5 The theory is that a normal, com-
pacted shale may become a high-pressure shale as the
conversion of montmorillonite to illite is accelerated
by increased temperature with increased depth of
burial. 9,10 In this clay mineral conversion, some of
the interlayer water of the montmorillonite grains is
expelled and becomes additional pore water. There is
a consequent increase in the volume occupied by pore
water and a corresponding decrease in the volume
occupied by the solid grains. How this leads to the
TABLE 2 - MACROSCOPIC CAPTURE
CROSS SECTIONS FOR VARIOUS MATERIALS1 development of high pressures is debatable. My
thought is simply that the reduced grain-to-grain
Total
contact would require either recompaction as fast as
Type of Material interlayer water is expelled or the pore pressure must
Limestone (GaG0 3) rise to support the weight of the overburden. If the
</>=0 shale is thick, the former interlayer water may not be
</>=10%
100,000 ppm NaGI 12.1 squeezed out of the interior of the shale mass as fast
Sandstone (Si0 2 ) as it is released into the pores. This hypothesis would
</>=0 3.5 lead to a high-pressure shale with more pore water
</>=10% than a normal shale at the same depth but with less
100,000 ppm NaGI 8.9
</>=30% interlayer water. The total water would not be dif-
100,000 ppm NaGI 19.8 ferent unless some leakage occurred.
Anhydrite (GaS04) A shale with high pressures because it had not
</>=0 12.1 undergone normal compaction also might undergo
Dolomite
IGaMg (G0 3h!
the montmorillonite-to-illite transition and, con-
</>=0 6.8 sequently, lose part of what little stress had been
Shale 20 t040 carried by grain-to-grain contact. The result would
Fresh water 22.2 be a higher-pressure shale due to the combination of
Oil (dead crude) 22.2
the two effects.
Salt water
30,000 ppm NaGI 31.7
100,000 ppm NaGI 56 Physical Properties of High-Pressure Shales
Table 4 gives some of the physical properties of high-
pressure shales both for shales that were not com-
pacted normally with increasing burial and for shales
that compacted normally but subsequently developed
TABLE 3 - CALCULATED MACROSCROPIC NEUTRON high pressure as a result of dewatering of mont-
CAPTURE CROSS SECTIONS FOR MONTMORILLONITE
morillonite. In either case, the electrical resistivity
Assumed formula: NaO.33 AI 1.67 Si 4 010 (OHh ·nH 2 0 plus and the sonic velocity should be relatively low
(NaGI)o.1 adsorbed. because of the relatively large amount of pore water.
Number Both bulk density and grain density depend on how
of Layers of Shale Porosity Filled With Brine the high pressures were generated. Bulk density
Interlayer of 100,000 ppm NaGI should be low for the depth of burial for shales that
Water, n never underwent normal compaction. But bulk
0% 10% 15% 20% 25%
-
0 21.6' 24.7 26.3 27.9 29.5 density should be normal for the depth (or higher
2 24.9 27.7 29.1 30.5 32.0 than normal) for shales that developed high pressure
4 27.7 30.2 31.5 32.8 34.0 due to dewatering of montmorillonite. Grain density
6 30.1 32.4 33.55 34.7 35.8
·Cross-section units are 10 - 3cm - 1.
should be normal for the depth for never-compacted
high-pressure shales but should be higher than
normal for shales that developed high pressures as a
result of dewatering.
The macroscopic neutron capture cross section for
high-pressure shales depends on how the high
pressures were generated, as shown in Table 4. A
high-pressure shale that was not compacted normally
with increasing depth of burial should have ab-
normally high total water content and, consequently,
an abnormally high capture cross section similar to
that of normal shales at much shallower depths.
Conversely, a shale that was compacted normally but
developed high pressures due to the expulsion of
interlayer water into the pores should have a normal
total water content and a normal neutron capture
344 SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL
TABLE 4 - COMPARISONS OF HIGH-PRESSURE SHALES THAT NEVER UNDERWENT NORMAL COMPACTION
AND THOSE THAT COMPACTED NORMALLY BUT DEVELOPED HIGH PRESSURES
AS A RESULT OF MONTMORI LLONITE DEWATERI NG
Never-Compacted High-Pressure Shale Item and Comparison High Shale Pressure From Dewatering
Porosity high for the depth and similar Porosity: similar Porosity high for the depth and
to that of normal shales at much similar to that of normal shales at
shallower depths much shallower depths
Bulk density low for the depth and similar Bulk Density: different Bulk density similar to or higher
to that of normal shales at much than that of normal shales at
shallower depths similar depths
Grain density similar to that of normal Grain Density: different Grain density higher than that of
shales shales with normal pressures that
have not dewatered
Electrical resistivity low for the depth Resistivity: similar Electrical resistivity low for the
and similar to that of normal shales at depth and similar to that of normal
much shallower depths shales at much shallower depths
Sonic velocity low for the depth and similar Sonic Velocity: similar Sonic velocity low for the depth
to that of normal shales at much and similar to that of normal
shallower depths shales at much shallower depths
Macroscopic neutron capture cross Neutron capture Macroscopic neutron capture cross
section high for the depth and similar cross section: different section similar to or less than
to that of normal shales at much that of normal shales at
shallower depths similar depths

TABLE 5 - COMPARISON OF BOREHOLE MEASUREMENTS TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN NEVER-COMPACTED


HIGH-PRESSURE SHALES AND SHALES THAT COMPACTED NORMALLY BUT DEVELOPED HIGH
PRESSURES AS A RESULT OF THE DEWATERING OF MONTMORILLONITE
Item Compared Density Log Borehole Gravimeter Neutron Lifetime Log
Quantity measured Number of low- Force exerted on Ratio of the number of gamma rays
energy scattered a mass by the detected in two time windows after
gamma rays gravity field of excitation by a pulse of high energy
detected in re- the earth at spe- neutrons
sponse to a cific depths
collimated beam
of high-energy
gamma rays
Physical property of the earth that Density of elec- Mass of the earth Type and number of the various nuclei
dominates the tool response trons beyond the below the depth present in the vicinity of both neutron
pad pressed of the measurement source and gamma ray detector
against the wall
of the borehole
Physical property inferred Density of the Density of the Macroscopic neutron capture cross
earth adjacent to earth between the section of the earth in the vicinity
the pad depths of the mea- of the borehole
surements
Relative depth of investigation Very shallow - Extremely deep- Moderate - on the order of 1 ft (0.3 m)
of the measurement on the order of 1 beyond tens of
in. (2.5cm) yards (meters)
Relative effect of any modified shale Strong effect Negligible effect Moderate effect from any modified
that might be adjacent to the from any modi- from any modified shale
borehole fied shale shale
Reliability of the measurements for Unreliable Very reliable for Moderately reliable for shale
distinguishing between never- thick shale intervals as thick as 1 ft (0.3 m)
compacted high-pressure shales and intervals
dewatered high-pressure shales

OCTOBER 1980 345


cross section for the depth unless leakage has oc-
curred. If the high-pressure dewatered shale has
leaked, then the capture cross section should be less
I than normal for the depth. Whatever the origin of
the high pressures in shales, the pore water content is
relatively high, and this has a strong effect on both
electrical resistivity and sonic velocity. The capture
cross section is affected equally by both interlayer
water and pore water; therefore, this cross section
I ~
does not change with montmorillonite dewatering.
""
~
'"o
Physical Measurements of
....:z:
...... ,(

t High-Pressure Shales

r
,1" ~ There is much data in the literature on the electrical
" '~NDER
resistivity and the sonic velocity of high-pressure

I
D
C,OtPA'V
, I
shales. But as is shown in Table 4, these
( , ,,
, I measurements should give low values for the depth of
burial for high-pressure shales, whatever the origin
DE,WATERING I
of the high pressures, Conversely, measurements of
~' density and neutron capture cross sections should
respond differently depending on the origin of the
,
o .5 1.0 1.52.0
RESISTIVITY,
18 16 14 12 10
MUD WT., #/GAL
,,,
I
I
I
I

24 2R 32 36 40 44
NEUTRON SIGMA,
II 1 high pressures. Table 5 compares the available
borehole measurements that might allow us to
determine the origin of the high pore pressures in
shales. Since high-pressure shales are probably very
CM-1.l0 -3
susceptible to modification, scatter gamma ray data
OHMMETERS
are unreliable. Borehole gravimeter measurements
2160 1200 2.4 4.4 should be ideal, but we have no gravimeter data for
ke/ m 3 high-pressure shale intervals.
Fig. 4-lllustration of anticipated log responses to high·
The neutron lifetime log has a greater depth of
pressure shales. investigation than the density log, and effects from
within and near the borehole are suppressed by the
delay in the inital measurements after each pulse of
neutrons. 1,2 The neutron lifetime log is not as
reliable for evaluating thick high-pressure shales as
the borehole gravimeter would be, but it is much
T.. more reliable than the density log .
.
~

Fig. 4 is an illustrative example of the anticipated


§ response of resistivity and neutron lifetime logs to a
high-pressure shale. The mud weight shown indicates
\ C
lE
~
z
2S00
the approximate pressure required to control the well
for drilling. In the normal shales above the high-

t
pressure shale, resistivity increases with depth and
9
capture cross section decreases with depth due to
/. .1
compaction and consequent loss of pore water. In the
high-pressure shale, the resistivity decreases and
10 .... .1 • 3000 remains below the projection of the previous trend

V~
because of the increased porosity. The neutron
I
~

• ~ lifetime log response should show a decided break in


• ~
%

"i
./ the trend if the high-pressure shale has never un-
dergone normal compaction. This is illustrated by the
11
heavy line. The dashed lines indicate the range of
./• response that would be anticipated if the high

" 1
3500
pressure in the shale were the result of dewatering of
o .4
J
.1 1.2 11 16 14 12 10
II •
24 26 21 30 32 34
montmorillonite .
Fig. 5 shows some actual data for the Atlantic
RESISTIVITY, MUD WEIGHT, #/GAL NEunON SIGMA,
OHMMETERS
Richfield Wild Well 2 in the Midland field in south
2160 1200 2.4 3.4
Louisiana. Note the classical break in the shale
m- I resistivity curve at the top of the high-pressure zone.
Fig. 5 - Log responses to high·pressure shale in the Unfortunately, the neutron lifetime log was not run
Atlantic Richfield Co. Wild Well 2, Midland field. above this depth. However, the decreasing capture
cross section with depth below 9,000 ft (2740 m)
indicates a decreasing content of total water, whereas
346 SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL
the resistivity curve indicates increasing pore water
content with depth. One explanation is a rapid T •
decrease in interlayer water with depth. These data
suggest that this high-pressure shale is the result of
.~
~
~

the dewatering of montmorillonite rather than
continuous undercompaction. Furthermore, the 9
f\, .....
~

rapid decrease in capture cross section (sigma) with ..C


::Ii
o
z
depth is indicative of fluid leakage and recompaction ~

t
of this high-pressure shale. ~

1I~
Fig. 6 shows similar data for a well operated by 0 3000
~

Getty Oil Co. The absence of an anomalous increase Q


z 10

•:~ \
in sigma near the top of the high-pressure interval ~
:> ~

indicates that this high-pressure shale also is the 0


:z: ~
\
,
~

result of the dewatering of montmorillonite rather i


than undercompaction. Below 10,000 ft (3050 m),
total water decreases with depth but pore water
:z:
...
~

~
Q

11
~. v ~-
...
;
increases with depth.
Fig. 7 is yet another example from south kl I'
\
Louisiana. In this well, the borehole is enlarged in
K --\
3500

many of the shale sections and the resistivity and


-Ison ~

1
- -
neutron data are scattered as a result. Yet the trend • •
strongly supports the concept of montmorillonite J I 1.1
12
dewatering as opposed to undercompaction as the .6 .8 1.01.2 1.4 16 14 12 10 30323436
cause of the high pressures. In all cases we have RESISTIVITY, MUD WY., NEUTRON SIGMA,
#/GAl CM- I • 10- 3
studied, the high pressures appear to result from OHMMETERS
I . I I

dewatering of montmorillonite. 1920 1200 3.0 3.6

Jones II reported on the use of downhole gravity


data in formation evaluation: Fig. 6 - Log responses to high-pressure shale in the Getty
P. Thibodeaux Well 1D, Church Point field.
Bulk densities measured with the borehole gravity log
in wells in the Gulf Coast area show considerable
deviation from densities measured with the gamma-
gamma log. Moreover, they do not show a density
change in the overpressured shale zone.

He also noted
T:::. 2500

::>

... in at least one area of the Gulf Coast there is no
decrease in density in the overpressured zone as would • ..
:::'"
IL

generally be supposed. Gravity density logs from


other wells in the same general area indicate that
densities in the overpressured zone continue to in-
9 -.
..C::e
o
z •
....
crease to the maximum depth logged. ~

t
~
~

• '"
Conclusions
~

0 • ~
'"
Q ::e
Under the prevailing theory of high-pressure shales,
these shales have never undergone normal com-
Z
00(
'"
::>
10
3000
....%
:l;
.
paction. High-pressure shales have persisted, then, 0 o
%
....
• -
for tens and hundreds of millions of years without
significant loss of fluids. Normal-pressure shales
%
.... l- ..::: •
never developed high pressures because they lost
water fast enough to allow normal compaction to
IL
~

11
::>

..:::'"
IL
%
If f - ....

occur as burial took place.
Data presented in this paper indicate that many • ":z: l-
I --
U.S. gulf coast shales underwent normal compaction • re .....

1
3500
with burial and maintained normal pressure by losing ~
fluids. After burial to depths of about 8,000 ft (2440
m) or more, the dewatering of montmorillonite 12
provided additional pore water that could not be .6 .8 1.0 1.2 16 14 1210 30 34 38 42 46
RESISTIVITY, MUD WT.,
drained off as fast as it was released. Therefore, high NEUTRON SIGMA,
OHMMETERS #/GAL eM-I. 10- 3
pressures were generated in these formerly normal I I I
1920 1200 3.0 4.6
shales. Such shales may be leaking fluids but not fast
enough to keep up with dewatering. Presumably
other shales that originally contained mont- Fig. 7 - Log responses to high-pressure shale in the Getty
morillonite also have undergone dewatering but have Estellette Well 1, Church Point field.
remained at or near normal pressure by losing fluids
OCTOBER 1980 347
fast enough to keep up with dewatering. Still other References
shales that now have normal pressures may have
developed high pressures due to dewatering of I. Youmans, A.H., Hopkinson, E.C., Bergan, R.A., and Oshry,
montmorillonite but since have leaked off enough H.!.: "Neutron Lifetime, A New Nuclear Log," J. Pet. Tech.
fluids to recompact and re-establish normal pore (March 1964) 319-328; Trans., AIME, 231.
pressures. 2. Hopkinson, E.C., Youmans, A.H. and Johnson, R.B. Jr.:
"Depth of Investigation of the Neutron Lifetime Log,"
It has been pointed out in the literature that the Trans., SPWLA Annual Logging Symposium (1974) AA 1-9.
dewatering of montmorillonite provides additional 3. Fertl, Walter H. and Timko, Donald J.: "Relationship
pore water in shales that may contain matured Between Hydrocarbon Accumulation and Geopressure and Its
hydrocarbons, and subsequent loss of fluids from Economic Significance," J. Pet. Tech. (Aug. 1971) 923-930.
these shales may be significant in the primary 4. Harkins, Kenneth L. and Baugher, J.W. III: "Geological
Significance of Abnormal Formation Pressures," J. Pet.
migration of hydrocarbons from source rocks to Tech. (Aug. 1969) 961-966.
reservoir rocks. 5,12 It might be important to oil and 5. Powers, Maurice C.: "Fluid-Release Mechanisms in Com-
gas exploration to determine to what extent each of pacting Marine Mudrocks and Their Importance in Oil Ex-
the two theories for generating high pressures ploration," Bull., AAPG (July 1967) 51, No.7, 1240-1254.
6. Jones, Paul H.: "Hydrodynamics of Geopressure in the
(dewatering or continuous undercompaction) ac- Northern Gulf of Mexico Basin," J. Pet. Tech. (July 1969)
counts for the high-pressure shales in a given basin. 803-810.
The best and most reliable method for making such 7. Fluids in Subsurface Environment, A. Young and J.E. Galley
determinations is by bulk density measurements with (eds.), AAPG (1965).
8. Dickinson, George: "Geological Aspects of Abnormal
the borehole gravimeter. Alternatively, or in ad- Reservoir Pressures in Gulf Coast Louisiana," Bull., AAPG
dition, neutron lifetime logs should be run to (Feb. 1953) 37, No.2, 410-432.
measure total water content (pore water plus in- 9. Perry, Ed and Hower, John: "Burial Diagenesis in Gulf Coast
terlayer water). Data should be acquired for shales Pelitic Sediments," Clays and Clay Minerals (June 1970) 18,
165-177.
with both high and normal pressures and from 10. Grim, Ralph E.: Clay Mineralogy, McGraw-Hill Book Co.
shallow to great depths. Inc., New York City (1953).
11. Jones, Bill R.: "The Use of Downhole Gravity Data in
Nomenclature Formation Evaluation," Trans., SPWLA 13th Annual
1: macroscopic neutron capture cross section, Logging Symposium (1972) M 1-13.
1O-3 cm -1 12. Burst, John F.: "Diagenesis of Gulf Coast Clayey Sediments
and Its Possible Relation to Petroleum Migration," Bull.,
cf> porosity AAPG(Jan.1969)53, No. 1,73-93.
Original manuscript received in Society of Petroleum Engineers office July
11, 1978. Revised manuscript received June 6, 1980. Paper accepted for
publication July 21, 1980. Paper (SPE 7506) first presented at the SPE 53rd
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, held in Houston, Oct. 1·4, 1978. SPEJ

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