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CHAPTER 04

SEAL

(ROOF OR CAP ROCK)

Definition:
Seal is impermeable rock that
forms barrier on top of the reservoir
rock of an oil and/or gas reservoir.

In the case of anticlines ( Figure 1, (a)), only a vertical


seal, or caprock, is required; but faults (Figure 1, (b))
and stratigraphic traps ( Figure 1, (c,d)) must be
sealed both vertically and laterally.

Figure1

4.1 TYPES: the seal is


commonly:

Best
SEAL:
Formed
by
ductile
sedimentary rock: clay or shale (for
most sandstone reservoir, >60% of
known giant oilfields have shale seal).
Shale is the dominant caprock of worldwide
reserves (Figure 2) and is overwhelmingly
the seal in basins rich in terrigenous
sediments, where sandstones are the
dominant reservoir rock.

Idea cap rock: evaporates (especially


favorable where the reservoir rock are
carbonates, its density being almost 3.0).
Evaporites, however, are the most efficient
caprock. They are particularly common in
carbonate-rich basins, and they often form
seals for carbonate reservoirs. Furthermore,
evaporites commonly develop in restricted
basin settings, where accumulations of organicrich source rocks are also favored. (Figure 2)
Third common type: Dense carbonates
are the third most abundant caprock lithology
and seal about 2% of the world's reserves,
cemented rocks, argillaceous rocks,
chalk (Figure 2)

Figure2

4.2 General properties


Permeability in seal are mostly < 10-4
darcies.
Seal
are important and commonly
overlooked component in the evaluation
of a potential hydrocarbon accumulation.
Effective
seals
for
hydrocarbon
accumulation are typically thickness,
laterally continuous, ductile rocks with
high capillarity entry pressure.

To calculate the seal capacity, the


geologist needs also to know the pore
size and parameters permitting the
fluids to pass through pores of that
sizes,
the
fluid
densities,
the
interfacial tension between the fluids,
and the wettability
Seal need to be evaluated at two different
(micro and macro) scales.

4.3 MICRO PROPERTIES OF


SEAL
Capillary pressure, Pc
Pc= 2cos/ R
: Hydrocarbon water interfacial tension;
: Wettability;
R: Radius largest pore throats.
Hydrocarbon pressure, P
P = (w-hc) gh
w: density of the water; hc: density of
the HC.;
g: the acceleration of gravity;
h: the height of HC. column.
A seal is broken when P > Pc.

DIFFUSION LOSSES THROUGH


SEALS
Diffusion of Hydrocarbon through seals
is dependent mainly on:
Hydrocarbon type
The characteristics of the water filled
pore, network of the contacting seal
Time available for diffusion

4.4 MACRO CHARACTERISTIC OF


SEAL

LITHOLOGY.

DUCTILITY.

THICKNESS.

STABILITY.

LITHOLOGY

Almost effective seals are evaporate,


grained classtics, and organic-rich rocks.

These lithologies are seen as seals because:

fine

Have high entry pressure


Are laterally continuous
Maintain stability of lithology over large
areas
Are relative ductile
Are a significant portion of the fill of
sedimentary basins.

DUCTILITY

Ductility is a rock property to deform and flow


without visible fracturing that varies with
pressure and temperature (burial depth) as
well as with lithology.

Ductile lithologies tend to flow plastically


under deformation, whereas brittle lithologies
develop fractures.

The evaporate rock group make good ductile


seal under overburden of several thousand
feet, but can quite brittle at shallow depths.

SEAL LITHOLOGIES ARRANGED BY


DUCTILITY

SALT

ANHYDRITE

KEROGEN RICH SHALES

CLAY SHALES

SILTY SHALES

CARBONATE MUDSTONES

CHERTS

(most ductile lithologies at top of column)

THICKNESS

A few inches of ordinary clay shale are


theoretically adequate to trap very large column
heights of hydrocarbons (particle size of 10-4mm
have 600 psi 915m of hydrocarbon column)

Unfortunately, there is a low probability that a


zone only a few inches thick could be continuous,
unbroken, unbreached, and maintain stable lithoic
character over a sizable accumulation.

STABILITY

STABILITY IN LITHOLOGY

STABILITY IN THICKNESS

QUESTION TO DISCUSS
Determine
the
type
and
characteristics
(petrographic content, thickness, colour, main
minerals, rock facies, original, tectonics) of below
seal rock (Cuu Long Basin)