Abstract: Thousands of shale wells are being drilled and fracked each year. These extremely tight formations are impossible to produce without fracking, which in turn requires knowledge of mechanical properties of shale. The chemical and mechanical instability of shales limits the recovery of full length cores and plugs necessary for conventional mechanical testing. Recovering cores is expensive. Nanoindentation provides a means to obtain Young’s modulus and hardness of rocks from drill cuttings, fragments and sidewall cores which are millimeters in size. The measurements obtained are reliable and agree well with other standard measurements. Additionally, measurement over the whole pay zone through drill cuttings can help in improving hydraulic fracturing design. This paper will focus on the applicability of nanoindentation to shales. It will also present a correlation to estimate rock mechanical properties based on the measurements of principal rock components affecting mechanical behavior: mineralogy, porosity and organic content. The precise measurement capability of the nanoindenter also enables the study of rock frame and organic content separately. Nanoindentation measurement provides a measure of anisotropy when bedding directions are known.
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