Compaction bands in high temperature/pressure diagenetically altered unconventional shale gas reservoirs

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:20 AM
Klaus Regenauer-Lieb1,2, Manolis Veveakis3 and Thomas Poulet3, (1)CSIRO Exploration and Mining, Perth, WA, Australia, (2)University of New South Wales, School of Petroleum Engineering, Sydney, Australia, (3)CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering Perth, Perth, WA, Australia
Unconventional energy and mineral resources are typically trapped in a low porosity/permeability environment and are difficult to produce. An extreme end-member is the shale gas reservoir in the Cooper Basin (Australia) that is located at 3500-4000 m depth and ambient temperature conditions around 200oC. Shales of lacustrine origin (with high clay content) are diagenetically altered. Diagenesis involves fluid release mineral reactions of the general type Asolid ↔ Bsolid +Cfluid and switches on suddenly in the diagenetic window between 100-200oC. Diagenetic reactions can involve concentrations of smectite, aqueous silica compound, illite, potassium ions, aqueous silica, quartz, feldspar, kerogen, water and gas . In classical petroleum engineering such interlayer water/gas release reactions are considered to cause cementation and significantly reduce porosity and permeability. Yet in contradiction to the expected permeability reduction gas is successfully being produced.

We propose that the success is based on the ductile equivalent of classical compaction bands in solid mechanics. The difference being that that the rate of the volumetric compaction is controlled by the diagenetic reactions. Ductile compaction bands are forming high porosity fluid channels rather than low porosity crushed grains in the solid mechanical equivalent. We show that this new type of volumetric instability appears in rate-dependent heterogenous materials as Cnoidal waves. These are nonlinear and exact periodic stationary waves, well known in the shallow water theory of fluid mechanics. Their distance is a direct function of the hydromechanical diffusivities. These instabilities only emerge in low permeability environment where the fluid diffusivity is about an order of magnitude lower than the mechanical loading. The instabilities are expected to be of the type as shown in the image below. The image shows a CT-scan of a laboratory experiment kindly provided by Papamichos (pers.comm.). Periodic compaction bands are clearly detected by the CT analysis of a shale sample compressed under high confining pressure.