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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Convergence of micro-geochemistry and micro-geomechanics towards understanding proppant shale rock interaction: A Caney shale case study in southern Oklahoma, USA


As a direct outcome of economic development coupled with an increase in population, global energy demand will continue to rise in the coming decades. Although renewable energy sources are increasingly investigated for optimal production, the immediate needs require focus on energy sources that are currently available and reliable, with a minimal environmental impact; the efficient exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbon resources is bridging the energy needs and energy aspirations, during the current energy transition period. The main challenges are related to the accurate quantification of the critical rock properties that influence production, their heterogeneity and the multiscale driven physico-chemical nature of rock–fluid interactions. A key feature of shale reservoirs is their low permeability due to dominating nanoporosity of the clay-rich matrix. As a means of producing these reservoirs in a cost-effective manner, a prerequisite is creation of hydraulic fracture networks capable of the highest level of continued conductivity. Fracturing fluid chemical design, formation brine geochemical composition, and rock mineralogy all contribute to swelling-induced conductivity damage. The Caney Shale is an organic-rich, often calcareous mudrock. Many studies have examined the impact that clay has on different kinds of shale productivity but there is currently no data reported on the Caney Shale in relation to horizontal drilling; all reported data on the Caney Shale is on vertical wells which are shallow, compared to an emerging play that is at double the depth. In this work we develop geochemical–geomechanical integration of rock properties at micro-and nanoscales that can provide insights into the potential proppant embedment and its mitigation. The novel methodology amalgamates the following: computed X-ray tomography, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy, micro-indentation, and Raman spectroscopy techniques. Our results show that due to the multiscale heterogeneity in the Caney Shale, these geochemical and structural properties translate into a variation in mechanical properties that will impact interaction between the proppant and the host shale rock.

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