Abstract

The nanometer-scaled pore systems of gas shale reservoirs were investigated from the Barnett, Marcellus, Woodford, and Haynesville gas shales in the United States and the Doig Formation of northeastern British Columbia, Canada. The purpose of this article is to provide awareness of the nature and variability in pore structures within gas shales and not to provide a representative evaluation on the previously mentioned North American reservoirs. To understand the pore system of these rocks, the total porosity, pore-size distribution, surface area, organic geochemistry, mineralogy, and image analyses by electron microscopy were performed. Total porosity from helium pycnometry ranges between 2.5 and 6.6%. Total organic carbon content ranges between 0.7 and 6.8 wt. %, and vitrinite reflectance measured between 1.45 and 2.37%. The gas shales in the United States are clay and quartz rich, with the Doig Formation samples being quartz and carbonate rich and clay poor. Higher porosity samples have higher values because of a greater abundance of mesopores compared with lower porosity samples. With decreasing total porosity, micropore volumes relatively increase whereas the sum of mesopores and macropore volumes decrease. Focused ion beam milling, field emission scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy provide high-resolution (∼5 nm) images of pore distribution and geometries. Image analysis provides a visual appreciation of pore systems in gas shale reservoirs but is not a statistically valid method to evaluate gas shale reservoirs. Macropores and mesopores are observed as either intergranular porosity or are confined to kerogen-rich aggregates and show no preferred orientation or align parallel with the laminae of the shale. Networks of mesopores are observed to connect with the larger macropores within the kerogen-rich aggregates.

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