Interbedding of Shale Breaks and Reservoir Heterogeneities
- George A. Zeito (Sinclair Oil And Gas Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1965
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,223 - 1,228
- 1965. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 305 since 2007
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Detailed visual examination of outcrops was used to obtain data on the lateral extent of shale breaks. Thirty vertical exposures belonging to marine, deltaic and channel depositional environments were examined, surveyed and photographed. The dimensions of the outcrops ranged from 356- to 8,240-ft long and 25- to 265-ft thick. Shale breaks were found to extend laterally for significant distances, and in some sands terminated by joining other breaks much more frequently than by disappearance. Consequently, with regard to flow, a gross sand consisted of both continuous and discontinuous subunits. The degree of continuity of shale breaks as well as the occurrence and spatial distribution of discontinuities were different for the three depositional environments.
Statistical evaluations were performed to determine the confidence level with which estimates derived from outcrops can be applied to reservoir sands. Results of these evaluations revealed that: (1) the lateral continuity of shale breaks in marine sands is significant, and the estimates of lateral extent can be applied to reservoir sands with a high degree of confidence (80 to 99 per cent of the shale breaks continued more than 500 ft, with a confidence of 86 per cent); and (2) the tendency for adjacent shale breaks to converge upon each other over small distances in deltaic and channel sands is highly significant (62 to 70 per cent of the shale breaks converged in less than 250 ft, with a confidence of 50 per cent), but the probable magnitude of the resulting sand discontinuities cannot yet be predicted with adequate confidence.
Almost all of the efforts devoted to characterization of the variable nature of reservoir sands have been focussed on permeability variations. Among the widely used concepts that have emerged from these efforts are those of stratified permeabilities, random permeabilities, and communicating and noncommunicating layers of different permeabilities. This study is concerned with the presence of interbedded shales and silt laminations. These features are impermeable or only slightly permeable to flow. Therefore, knowledge of the extent to which they continue laterally and the manner in which they terminate within the bodies of gross sands is important for proper description of reservoir flow.
Initial field observations made on outcrops revealed that shale breaks and the relatively thinner silt laminae have impressive lateral continuity. They appeared to divide sand sections into separate individual sand layers. Although most of the layers were continuous across the total lengths of the outcrops, some were discontinuous because the bounding shale breaks converged. Furthermore, the discontinuous layers appeared more prevalent in channel and deltaic sands than in marine sands.
Based on these initial findings, a detailed investigation was carried out to determine, quantitatively: (1) the degree of continuity of shale breaks in marine, deltaic and channel sands; and (2) the frequency and spatial distribution of discontinuities in the three environments.
The procedure used to obtain field data from outcrops included visual examination, surveying and photographing each outcrop. The photographs were examined carefully and important outcrop features were traced, measured and recorded.
The selection of outcrops for this study was made on the basis that each outcrop should be exposed clearly to permit detailed visual examination of vertical lithology, and it should also be sufficiently long (over 200 ft) to provide useful data on the lateral continuity of lithology.
Identification of the depositional environment for each outcrop was made on the basis of bedding characteristics, vertical sequence of lithology and the presence of indicative sedimentary features. Whenever possible, hand specimens of associated shales were collected to determine depositional origin. Almost one-half of the outcrops used in this study required environmental identification; the remainder had already been identified by previous investigators.
Several photographs of each outcrop were usually required to cover the entire length of the outcrop. These photographs were taken from one station or several, depending on the terrain, size of the outcrop and distance to the outcrop. A Hasselblad camera, with a standard 80-mm lens and a 250-mm telephoto lens, was used. The telephoto lens permitted photographing outcrops as far as two miles away. Slow-speed films were used, either Panatomic-X or Plus-X.
The final operation conducted in the field was that of surveying the outcrops. The distance of an outcrop from a point of observation was determined by a triangulation method using the plane table. The measured distance was then combined with the angle of view of the camera lens to establish a scale to be used on the photographs.
Films were processed using standard processing techniques and 4.5X enlargements made. The enlargements of each outcrop were butted together to form a single panorama. Slides were also prepared on several outcrops; these were used whenever greater magnification (wall projection) was required to bring out maximum lithologic detail.
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