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ABSTRACT

A new model is proposed to predict porosity in organic matter for unconventional shale reservoirs. This model is based on scanning electron microscopic (SEM) observations that reveal porosity in organic matter is associated with secondary porosity developed within organic matter cement that fills void space preserved prior to oil generation. The organic matter cement is interpreted as solid bitumen resulting from the thermal alteration of residual oil retained in the source rock following oil expulsion. Pores are interpreted to develop within the solid bitumen as a result of thermal cracking and gas generation at increased levels of thermal maturity, transforming the solid bitumen to pyrobitumen. The pyrobitumen porosity model is an improvement over existing kerogen porosity models that lack petrographic validation. Organic matter porosity is predicted by first estimating the potential volume of organic matter cement by deriving the matrix porosity available at the onset of oil generation from extrapolations of lithologic specific compaction profiles. The fraction of organic matter cement converted to porosity in the gas window is then calculated by applying porosity conversion ratios derived from SEM digital image analysis of analogous shale reservoirs. Further research is required to refine and test the porosity prediction model.

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