A Critical View of the Current State of Reservoir Modeling of Shale Assets
- Adam Wilson (JPT Special Publications Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 98 - 101
- 2014. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 165713, "A Critical View of Current State of Reservoir Modeling of Shale Assets," by Shahab D. Mohaghegh, SPE, Intelligent Solutions and West Virginia University, prepared for the 2013 SPE Eastern Regional Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 20-22 August. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The coupling of hydraulic fractures and natural-fracture networks and their interaction with the shale matrix remains a major challenge in reservoir simulation and modeling of shale formations. This article reviews methods used to understand the complexities associated with production from shale to shed light on the belief that there is much to be learned about this complex resource and that the best days of understanding and modeling how oil and gas are produced from shale are still ahead.
Preshale Technology. The phrase “preshale” technology aims to emphasize the combination of technologies that are used to address the reservoir and production modeling of shale assets. In essence, almost all of the technologies used today for modeling and analysis of hydrocarbon production from shale were developed to address issues that originally had nothing to do with shale. As the shale boom began, these technologies were revisited and modified in order to find application in shale.
Conventional Discrete Fracture Network. The most common technique for modeling a discrete natural fracture (DNF) network is to generate it stochastically. The common practice in carbonate and some clastic rocks is to use borehole-image logs to characterize the DNF at the wellbore level. These estimates of DNF characteristics are then used for the stochastic generation of the DNF throughout the reservoir.
The idea of the DNF is not new. It has been around for decades. Carbonate rocks and some clastic rocks are known to have networks of natural fractures. Developing algorithms and techniques to generate DNFs stochastically and then couple them with reservoir-simulation models was common practice before the so-called “shale revolution.”
A New Hypothesis on Natural Fractures in Shale
What are the general shapes and structures of natural fractures in shale? Are they close to those of the stochastically generated set of natural fractures with random shapes that has been used for carbonate (and sometimes clastic) formations? Or are they more like a well-structured and well-behaved network of fractures that have a laminar, plate-like form, examples of which can be seen in outcrops (such as those shown in Fig. 1)?
Shale is defined as a fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from the compaction of silt and clay-sized mineral particles commonly called mud. This composition places shale in a category of sedimentary rocks known as mudstones. Shale is distinguished from other mudstones because it is fissile and laminated.
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