A Framework for Fracture Network Formation in Overpressurised Impermeable Shale: Deformability Versus Diagenesis

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Understanding the formation, geometry and fluid connectivity of nominally impermeable unconventional shale gas and oil reservoirs is crucial for safe unlocking of these vast energy resources. We present a recent discovery of volumetric instabilities of ductile materials that may explain why impermeable formations become permeable. Here, we present the fundamental mechanisms, the critical parameters and the applicability of the novel theory to unconventional reservoirs. We show that for a reservoir under compaction, there exist certain ambient and permeability conditions at which diagenetic (fluid-release) reactions may provoke channelling localisation instabilities. These channels are periodically interspersed in the matrix and represent areas where the excess fluid from the reaction is segregated at high velocity. We find that channelling instabilities are favoured from pore collapse features for extremely low-permeability formations and fluid-release diagenetic reactions, therefore providing a natural, periodic network of efficient fluid pathways in an otherwise impermeable matrix (i.e. fractures). Such an outcome is of extreme importance the for exploration and extraction phases of unconventional reservoirs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Alevizos, S; Poulet, T; Sari, M; Lesueur, M; Regenauer-Lieb, K; Veveakis, M

Published Date

  • March 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 50 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 689 - 703

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0723-2632

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00603-016-0996-y

Citation Source

  • Scopus