Monitoring of petroleum generation and expulsion from shale source rocks

A good estimation of the amount and quality of organic matter present in shale source or reservoir rocks can assist decision making in exploration of new fields. This project proposes to address these questions, focusing mainly on monitoring and quantifying the processes of hydrocarbon maturation and expulsion in shales. The processes of maturation and expulsion will be studied through maturation experiments carried out on shale core plugs at elevated temperature and in-situ pressures. The proposed maturation experiments will be combined with measurements of the electrical properties (electrical resistivity and/or chargeability), chemical and isotope analysis of produced gas. Visualization of flow pathways will be performed using our special staining technique.

The project will serve as a proof of concept for estimating the quantity and quality of organic matter in shales (or other rocks) in-situ in the field through electromagnetic prospecting. Up to now methods of electromagnetic (EM) prospecting have been targeting mainly reservoirs, leaving behind other components of petroleum systems, e.g. source rock and/or migration paths.

One of the project goals is to assess whether changes of shale electrical properties are significant to a degree that the source maturity may be concluded based on electromagnetic sounding. This project proposal is building on results of a research project carried out by IFE between 2009 and 2013, where IFE succeeded in generating hydrocarbons from intact tight source rock plugs in the laboratory under relevant sub-surface conditions, and was able to visualize porosity generation and flow pathways.