Using Neutrons to Study Fluid-Rock Interactions in Shales

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 09:30
3018 (Moscone West)
Victoria Hart DiStefano1, Joanna McFarlane2, Lawrence M Anovitz3, Alexander Gordon2, Richard E Hale2, Rodney D. Hunt2, Samuel A. Lewis Sr.2, Ken C. Littrell2, Andrew G. Stack2, Steve Chipera4, Edmund Perfect1, Hassina Bilheux2, Lindsay Marie Kolbus5 and Philip R. Bingham2, (1)University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, United States, (2)Oak Ridge National Lab, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, (3)ORNL U Tennessee, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, (4)Chesapeake Energy, Oklahoma City, OK, United States, (5)Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, United States
Recovery of hydrocarbons by hydraulic fracturing depends on complex fluid-rock interactions that we are beginning to understand using neutron imaging and scattering techniques. Organic matter is often thought to comprise the majority of porosity in a shale. In this study, correlations between the type of organic matter embedded in a shale and porosity were investigated experimentally. Selected shale cores from the Eagle Ford and Marcellus formations were subjected to pyrolysis–gas chromatography, Differential Thermal Analysis/Thermogravimetric analysis, and organic solvent extraction with the resulting affluent analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The pore size distribution of the microporosity (~1 nm to 2 µm) in the Eagle Ford shales was measured before and after solvent extraction using small angle neutron scattering. Organics representing mass fractions of between 0.1 to 1 wt.% were removed from the shales and porosity generally increased across the examined microporosity range, particularly at larger pore sizes, approximately 50 nm to 2 µm. This range reflects extraction of accessible organic material, including remaining gas molecules, bitumen, and kerogen derivatives, indicating where the larger amount of organic matter in shale is stored. An increase in porosity at smaller pore sizes, ~1-3 nm, was also present and could be indicative of extraction of organic material stored in the inter-particle spaces of clays. Additionally, a decrease in porosity after extraction for a sample was attributed to swelling of pores with solvent uptake. This occurred in a shale with high clay content and low thermal maturity. The extracted hydrocarbons were primarily paraffinic, although some breakdown of larger aromatic compounds was observed in toluene extractions. The amount of hydrocarbon extracted and an overall increase in porosity appeared to be primarily correlated with the clay percentage in the shale. This study complements fluid transport neutron imaging studies, to explain the physics and chemistry of fluid-rock behavior.

Research supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division and the Bredesen Center at the University of Tennessee.