Shale Gas

What is it?
- It is in situ hydrocarbon natural gas present in organic rich, fine grained Shale. - Shales can contain natural gas, usually when two thick, black shale deposits „sandwich‟ a thinner area of Shale.

Its Presence in Shale:
It's stored in shale in a sorbed state (adsorbed and absorbed) as well as in a Free State (in fractures and pores).

Its unconventiality:
Unconventiality is – of course – a relative term; meaning that: what was unconventional yesterday may, through technological advance, become conventional tomorrow - Shale traditionally has been regarded as a hydrocarbon source rock or seal but currently is recognized as complex gas reservoirs that require unconventional thinking to produce gas. - Gas shales are self-sourced reservoirs. - Shales ordinarily have insufficient permeability to allow significant fluid flow from the rock into to a well bore, so we have to induce permeability within these shales.

Geochemical Properties of Gas Shale:

- One thing we do know about shales is that they're quite variable. This is a plot of sub geochemical parameters. The amount of Gas in place (GIP) on the first axis. The vitrnite reflectance is on the second axis which helps understand the thermal history of the shale. The amount of gas absorbed directly on the organic matter of the shale is represented on the third axis. How thick it is is represented on the fourth axis. And the amount of organic carbon (TOC) is represented on the last axis. What you can see – with these colors - is that a variety of combinations of these critical parameters can still make a successful gas play. So, we don't have a strict model. Meaning that you can't go out to a basin somewhere in the world and look for parameters x, y and z to find gas shale.

Economic Shales:

- There are some parameters we know that make a successful shale gas play. - If you want to have productivity within a shale gas system, you have to have thick enough rocks that have significant organic richness. You'll often hear the term "TOC" or total organic carbon but, it's really not carbon we are concerned about; we have lots of carbon - we have too much carbon - what we need is hydrogen. We need the hydrogen because every methane molecule is one carbon and 4 hydrogen atoms. It rapidly depletes the hydrogen supply in the system. So, we need thick shales with lots of hydrogen that have undergone a good thermal history to generate a lot of gas in place. - Then we also need the right kind of mineralogy which will impart certain brittleness to the rock, so that when we fracture these rocks - when we stimulate them - they crack and allow the gas to flow to the wellbore. Having increased pore pressure

helps and having enough ability to flow; what we term permeability. - The best gas shales are organic-rich black shales commonly found in the gas window (typically >1.4% vitrinite reflectance), but with some important exceptions. Most gas shales contain oil-generative organic matter (e.g., Type II kerogen) in quantities high enough to generate commercial quantities of methane.

Exploration Considerations
It's not an easy reservoir to work with or we would have figured it out a long time ago!

1) Natural fractures (friend or foe)
- Sometimes, natural fractures help gas flow to the wellbore and sometimes they're a problem. - Hydraulic fracturing in the presence of natural fractures can cause a complex network of fractures to form because of shear and tensile failure. - Evidences show that hydraulic fractures sometimes propagate away from the induced stress direction. One likely cause is that the natural fractures, which are present in most shales, act as weak planes that are reactivated during hydraulic fracturing. – Therefore, knowledge of the geometry and intensity of the natural fracture system is necessary for effective hydraulic fracture treatment design.

2) Kerogen type:
- There's a matter going back all the way to the organic matter – we call that kerogen. What kind of organic matter do we have? Cause not all organic matter are created equal.

- We have to have the right kind with enough hydrogen to generate this natural gas. And then a question comes up: Was the gas generated in place by bacteria? Or by standard petroleum sort of thinking where you have organic matter deposited in the sedimentary basin then gets heated up and changed into this kerogen which gets changed into something with an even stranger name called "bitumen" which generates gas and oil ? - Most gas shales contain oil-generative organic matter (e.g., Type II kerogen) in quantities (measured as Total Organic Carbon content) high enough to generate commercial quantities of methane.

3) Mineralogy of shales:
- Mineralogy is pretty significant where they determine the brittleness of the shales which, in turn, determines how easy fractures are formed. - Fractures are more prevalent in silica-rich and carbonate-rich shales than in clay-rich shales.

Determining Shale's permeability:
It's obvious now that it is critical to know the permeability of the Shales. The most effective means is using isotopes. But first,

this is a little background on isotopes, the effect of thermal maturation on them and gas wetness:

Background On Isotopes:
- An isotope is nothing more than a nuclide with different numbers of neutrons. So, your basic regard of carbon is C12. The 12 being its 6 protons plus the 6 electrons. About 99% of the carbon on the planet is carbon 12. Only 1% of the carbon is C13; it has an extra neutron. - This is a methane molecule; it could be carbon 12 or 13. It wouldn't really know the difference, but it will behave differently in nature.

Changes in Carbon Isotope Ratios with Thermal Maturation

- This is a plot of either depth or increase in temperature against the ratio of C13 and C12. What happens is: bacteria makes carbon that is very deficient in C13, so it has this -80 number. It simply wants to break C12 bonds because it is easier and they derive more energy from it. It's true that when you make oil, you get more C13 from degradation of the organic matter in the sedimentary rocks, but as you heat that material naturally in the subsurface, under high temperature and pressure, the C12 bonds break and you end up with a material that is relatively richer in C13. - You can use a mass-spectrometer to measure how much C13 compared to how much C12 and that's a fingerprint; it tells you

what the thermal history of this gas is.

Background on gas wetness:
Dry gas is strictly mostly methane while wet gas has more the

liquid components: ethane, propane, butane, pentane and hexane.

Using Isotopes as Permeability Indicators:

There is a clear isotopic difference between the free gas coming out the wellbore (light gas; low in C13) and methane that's adsorbed on to the rock (heavier). There are some parts where the isotopic values are nearly identical and some places where there is a large split

It turns out that those zones where there is a large split are actually the best zones in the well. But how can we explain this? How can isotopes tell you something about gas flow?

These are little bits of shale. The blue circles represent the free gas while the red ones represent the gas adsorbed on the shale. These shales have a lot of surface area and are able to attract gas to them; it just sucks on to them. Instead of being in the pore spaces, it's just a monomolecular layer lining these shales. That's one of the reasons we can store so much gas here. If you have a well with poor permeability, you'll get a little bit of free gas as the rig is drilling. But these rocks are so tight that as the cuttings desorb gas, they retain most of the free gas. Consequently, you get sort of similar isotopic numbers.

In contrast, this is a really good well. When you drill it, you get a lot of free gas coming up. And by the time you get the cuttings, you find that most of the free gas is gone. So, the gas that desorbs later is the heavier gas off the cuttings and it shows up over here and that separation indicates zones of greater permeability.

Gas Character Anomalies Found in Highly Productive Shale Gas Wells Looking at the isotopic character of Shale gas, I can give you two examples of how they're not "well behaved" based on our conventional system: I. Ethane isotope “rollover” II. Mud gas isotope “reversals”

1) Barnett Shale Ethane isotope “rollover”

- Normally, if you were to plot gas wetness versus the isotopic composition (in this case of ethane), you'd get this kind of line; the gas gets drier, and C13 becomes more concentrated. Well, this works out fine for a large area of the Barnett but then you reach a certain area in which all of a sudden the gas isotopes act weird. Instead of going this way (getting heavier), they get lighter and lighter (more C12) and they never come back. - This shift or rollover in ethane isotope is caused by gas that stays trapped in the shale. The large gas molecules start cracking into smaller molecules, so ethane breaks down into more methane. This results in drier gas and higher pressure (due to the presence of smaller molecules in the same place).

How does that help me? This rollover indicates an increase in maturity. So, the wells in

the rollover area appear to be among the most productive shalegas wells.

2) Mud gas isotope “reversals”

In the first graph, we can see that as you go down, the shale wetness is pretty high but as soon as you hit Haynesville, it becomes extremely dry. Similarly, as you go down in the second graph and hit Haynesville, the gas isotopes which followed the normal maturity trend snap back and get very light; much less C13.

How does that help me? The Haynesville doesn't appear to have sourced any oils. Which indicates that is a closed system. It's keeping all its hydrocarbons in there, these things are cracking and causing this massive overpressure and enhancing the productivity of the shale gas dramatically.

To Sum up Shale-gas well performance can be correlated to gas character anomalies seen in gas isotopic analyses: Ethane isotope “rollovers” indicate in situ cracking at high maturities. Also, Ethane isotope “reversals” within a single well demonstrate overpressure/effective seals.

Hydraulic Fracturing:
- It's the propagation of extensive induced (artificial) fractures in a rock layer caused by pressurized fluid. - Fractures provide a conductive path connecting a larger area of the reservoir to the well, thereby increasing the area from which natural gas and liquids can be recovered from the targeted formation. -This type of fracturing is known as "Frac job" and the process is often shortened to fracking or hydrofracking.

The Wells:
- Production wells may be drilled in the vertical direction only or paired with horizontal or directional sections - Typically, hydraulic fracturing is performed in cased wellbores and the zones to be fractured are accessed by perforating the casing at those locations. - When performed in already highly-permeable reservoirs such as sandstone-based wells, the technique is known as "well stimulation".

- In case of cased wellbore, the service crew perforate, frac and prepare the well for production. The first of these steps is to perforate the casing.

- A perforating gun is inserted into the casing to the targeted section of the horizontal leg, then, an electrical current is sent down the wire to the perforating gun and sets up a charge that shoots small holes through the casing and cement and out a short distance into the shale formation. The perforating gun is then pulled out of the hole. Next, the well will have to be fracked. This process is carried out by pumping the fracturing fluid (water, sand and additives) into the wellbore at a rate that is sufficient to increase the down hole pressure to exceed that of the fracture gradient of the rock. Water and sand make about 99% of this fluid, the remainder consist of compounds commonly found in consumer products. As the mixture is forced out through the perforations and into the surrounding rock, pressure causes the shale to fracture. This creates a pathway connecting the reservoir to the well and allows the gas to flow to the wellbore. - Next, a temporary plug is used to close off or isolate the perforated and fracked section of the wellbore so that the next stages of the horizontal leg can be perforated and fracked. Once fracking is completed, the plugs are drilled out allowing the gas and frac water to flow up the wellbore. - Operators typically try to maintain the "fracture width", by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid, a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped.

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