Integrated Experimental Characterization of the Lower Huron Shale in the Central Appalachian Basin


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Virginia Tech


Reservoir characterization is an essential step in the oil/gas exploration process and is of great significance in the evaluation of oil/gas resources. To evaluate the production potential of the Lower Huron shale in the central Appalachian Basin, matrix permeability, Raman spectroscopy, Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used in this study. According to the experimental results, matrix permeability is relatively high for a shale gas formation, suggesting great production potential of shale gas resources in this region. Additionally, four shale samples with varying thermal maturity were characterized by the complementary Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, and curve-fitting results successfully demonstrated the change of chemical structures with the evolution of thermal maturity. Raman spectroscopy results show that the curve fitted G band position and the band separation between the G band and D1 band tend to increase with the rise of thermal maturity level. Results of FTIR spectroscopy show that the aromaticity level and the condensation extent of aromatic rings show an increasing tendency with the increase of maturation level. Moreover, mechanical properties of these four shale samples were characterized by AFM. Results show that Young's modulus is in the range of 8.20 GPa - 12.94 GPa, which is in the normal range compared with the results from other shale formations. Additionally, scanned results show an increasing tendency for Young's modulus of the organic components with the rise of thermal maturity level in these shale samples. The potential reason for this phenomenon was also explored, specifically, the growth of aromatic groups and the decrease of the CH2/CH3 ratio may be possible reasons for the rise of Young's modulus of organic components in these shale samples. This work is meaningful for the evaluation of shale gas resources, especially emerging plays, in the central Appalachian Basin, and it also provides a valuable database for relevant research on shale matrix permeability, Raman, FTIR and AFM.



Reservoir characterization, matrix permeability, Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM)