Digital Rock Physics Provide Critical Insights to Characterize Eagle Ford, February 2011

HOUSTON–Much of the understanding about how shale reservoirs store and flow hydrocarbons has come from high resolution imaging of very small pores, especially within the shale’s kerogen component.

Pioneering work by the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology revealed the nature of porosity in shales in 2009 when Robert Loucks and his colleagues presented images of Barnett Shale pores obtained with a revolutionary new technology called focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). For the first time, geologists could see that shale porosity was unlike anything ever observed. Loucks’ remarkable images clearly showed that the pores were not only very small (1-5 millionths of an inch wide) but that virtually all the porosity in the Barnett was in the kerogen, not between solid mineral grains as is the case in most other oil and gas reservoirs. These important findings have been confirmed by researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Indiana University.

Of course, geologists and engineers need to know much more about shales than only pore size and shape. The most important information deals with the extent to which porosity is connected– so that it can provide flow paths for oil and gas–as well as the permeability, or ease with which the hydrocarbons can flow.

To read the full article in last month's American Oil & Gas Reporter, please click here.