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Application of organic petrology in high maturity shale gas systems

December 31, 2017

Application of incident light microscopy techniques for organic petrology in high temperature thermogenic shale gas systems demonstrates that solid bitumen is the dominant organic matter. Solid bitumen is retained as a residual conversion product as oil-prone kerogen cracks to hydrocarbons or occurs from the cracking of once liquid oil. Oil-prone Type I/II kerogens are not present in shale gas reservoirs, already having converted to hydrocarbons. Type III/IV kerogens (vitrinite and inertinite) are refractory and persist in shale gas reservoirs to high maturity with little morphological change apart from condensation and aromatization causing higher reflectance. Organic petrology applications are most useful for thermal maturity determination and delineation of hydrocarbon windows through measurement of vitrinite reflectance and vitrinite reflectance equivalents from other organic matter (zooclasts and/or solid bitumen). Depositional organo-facies determination generally is not possible in the gas window of thermal maturity; fluorescence microscopy is not useful as organic matter is no longer autofluorescent. Application of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) allows observation of an interconnected nano-scale organic porosity in shale gas systems but suffers from inability to identify organic matter types. SEM approaches to shale gas reservoir characterization therefore should not attempt differentiation of kerogen types or kerogen vs. solid bitumen identification unless correlative organic microscopy is performed. Herein are reviewed organic petrology results as used in the shale gas systems of North America, Europe and China, including SEM applications, citing recent examples from the literature.

Publication Year 2017
Title Application of organic petrology in high maturity shale gas systems
DOI 10.2174/9781681084633117010001
Authors Paul C. Hackley
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70219068
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Energy Resources Science Center