Study of Multi-scale Transport Phenomena in Tight Gas and Shale Gas Reservoir Systems
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The hydrocarbon resources found in shale reservoirs have become an important energy source in recent years. Unconventional geological and engineering features of shale systems pose challenges to the characterization of these systems. These challenges have impeded efficient economic development of shale resources. New fundamental insights and tools are needed to improve the state of shale gas development. Few attempts have been made to model the compositional behavior of fluids in shale gas reservoirs. The transport and storage of reservoir fluids in shale is controlled by multiple distinct micro-scale physical phenomena. These phenomena include preferential Knudsen diffusion, differential desorption, and capillary critical effects. Together, these phenomena cause significant changes in fluid composition in the subsurface and a measureable change in the composition of the produced gas over time. In order to quantify this compositional change we developed a numerical model describing the coupled processes of desorption, diffusion, and phase behavior in heterogeneous ultra-tight rocks as a function of pore size. The model captures the various configurations of fractures induced by shale gas fracture stimulation. Through modeling of the physics at the macro-scale (e.g. reservoir-scale hydraulic fractures) and micro-scale (e.g. Knudsen diffusion in kerogen nanopores), we illustrate how and why gas composition changes spatially and temporally during production. We compare the results of our numerical model against measured composition data obtained at regular intervals from shale gas wells. We utilize the characteristic behaviors explicated by the model results to identify features in the measured data. We present a basis for a new method of production data analysis incorporating gas composition measurements in order to develop a more complete diagnostic process. Distinct fluctuations in the flowing gas composition are shown to uniquely identify the onset of fracture interference in horizontal wells with multiple transverse hydraulic fractures. The timescale and durations of the transitional flow regimes in shales are quantified using these measured composition data. These assessments appear to be robust even for high levels of noise in the rate and pressure data. Integration of the compositional shift analysis of this work with modern production analysis is used to infer reservoir properties. This work extends the current understanding of flow behavior and well performance for shale gas systems to encompass the physical phenomena leading to compositional change. This new understanding may be used to aid well performance analysis, optimize fracture and completion design, and improve the accuracy of reserves estimates. In this work we contribute a numerical model which captures multicomponent desorption, diffusion, and phase behavior in ultra-tight rocks. We also describe a workflow for incorporating measured gas composition data into modern production analysis.
Freeman, Craig Matthew (2013). Study of Multi-scale Transport Phenomena in Tight Gas and Shale Gas Reservoir Systems. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from