New Insights into Pore Characteristics and Hydrocarbon Generation of Shale Using Small-Angle Neutron Scattering

Friday, 19 December 2014
Mei Ding1, Monika Hartl1, Yunpeng Wang2 and Rex Hjelm1, (1)Los Alamos Natl Lab, Los Alamos, NM, United States, (2)GIG Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
Pore size, distribution, connectivity, and shape as well as hydrocarbon saturation and composition reflect the history of hydrocarbon maturation and migration. However, characterization of the underlying factors and processes controlling hydrocarbons behavior in tight rocks is extremely limited, especially lacking of direct experimental observations. We have studied the pore characteristics of marine and lacustrine shale from the Erdos basin, China during laboratory pyrolysis using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). Our SANS results show that scattering intensity of smaller pores (< 20 nm)/larger Q values of shale samples increase systematically as temperature increase during pyrolysis from 250 oC to 600oC (Fig.1a). These results in combination with hydrocarbon fractions measurements during the same process (Fig. 1b) provide a quantitative relation between pore characteristics and hydrocarbons generation. Our results indicate that hydrocarbon expulsion primarily causes the observed changes in smaller pores. They also demonstrate that due to its sensitivity to hydrogen, SANS locates all pores whether the pore is filled or not with hydrocarbons. Thus, SANS is particularly suited for probing hydrocarbon behavior in tight shale reservoirs and the factors that impact their pore dynamics for the petroleum industry.