Evaluating Nitrogen Isotope Measurements in Unconventional Hydrocarbon Reservoirs
Friday, 19 December 2014
Nitrogen isotope (δ15N) measurements from core samples taken from unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs may provide important information on depositional environment, reservoir characterization, and post-depositional processes. In order to evaluate the potential of nitrogen isotopes as geochemical proxies for resource evaluation, we measured δ15Nbulk values for six Woodford Shale (Late Devonian-Early Mississippian) cores and three Caney Shale (Early Mississippian) cores and compared the profiles with other geochemical, lithological, maturation, and well-log data. The strongest correlation is between δ15Nbulk and redox-sensitive trace metals and other redox proxies, as predicted by previous research into δ15Nbulk values. This indicates that δ15Nbulk can be used in unconventional reservoirs as a proxy for depositional redox conditions. Unlike other redox proxies, δ15Nbulk reflects the redox state of the deep-water column, rather than that of the deposited sediment, providing a representation of water column processes during deposition. The δ15Nbulk proxy also appears not to be overprinted by catagenic processes. Associations of δ15Nbulk with thermal maturity, gamma ray response, and catagenesis and diagenesis proxies were found to be minimal. The δ15Nbulk profiles do not appear to be overprinted during catagenesis and therefore are not a reliable record of post-depositional processes. Including nitrogen isotope analyses in a geochemical assessment can provide valuable information about the original redox state of the reservoir unit, and assist in characterizing depositional environment.