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Based on recent studies of Barnett and Woodford gas shales in Texas and Oklahoma, a systematic characterization workflow has been developed that incorporates lithostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy, geochemistry, petrophysics, geomechanics, well log, and three-dimensional (3-D) seismic analysis. The workflow encompasses a variety of analytical techniques at a variety of geologic scales. It is designed as an aid in identifying the potentially best reservoir, source, and seal facies for targeted horizontal drilling. Not all of the techniques discussed in this chapter have yet been perfected, and cautionary notes are provided where appropriate.

Rock characterization includes (1) lithofacies identification from core based on fabric and mineralogic analyses (and chemical if possible); (2) scanning electron microscopy to identify nanofabric and microfabric, potential gas migration pathways, and porosity types/distribution; (3) determination of lithofacies stacking patterns; (4) geochemical analysis for source rock potential and for paleoenvironmental indicators; and (5) geomechanical properties for determining the fracture potential of lithofacies.

Well-log characterization includes (1) core-to-log calibration that is particularly critical with these finely laminated rocks; (2) calibration of lithofacies and lithofacies stacking patterns to well-log motifs (referred to as gamma-ray patterns or GRPs in this chapter); (3) identification and regional to local mapping of lithofacies and GRPs from uncored vertical wells; (4) relating lithofacies to petrophysical, geochemical, and geomechanical properties and mapping these properties.

Three-dimensional seismic characterization includes (1) structural and stratigraphic mapping using seismic attributes, (2) calibrating seismic characteristics to lithofacies and GRPs for seismic mapping purposes, and (3) determining and mapping petrophysical properties using seismic inversion modeling.

Integrating these techniques into a 3-D geocellular model allows for documenting and understanding the fine-scale stratigraphy of shales and provides an aid to improved horizontal well placement. Although the workflow presented in this chapter was developed using only two productive gas shales, we consider it to be more generically applicable.

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