Permeability is one of the most fundamental reservoir-rock properties required for modeling hydrocarbon production. Many shale-gas and ultralow-permeability tight gas reservoirs can have matrix-permeability values in the range of tens to hundreds of nanodarcies. The ultrafine pore structure of these rocks can cause violation of the basic assumptions behind Darcy's law. Depending on a combination of pressure-temperature conditions, pore structure and gas properties, non-Darcy flow mechanisms such as Knudsen diffusion, and/or gas-slippage effects will affect the matrix apparent permeability.
Even though numerous theoretical and empirical models were proposed to describe the increasing apparent permeability caused by non-Darcy flow/gas-slippage behavior in nanopore space, few literature sources have investigated the impact of formation compaction and the release of the adsorption gas layer upon shale-matrix apparent permeability during reservoir depletion.
In this article, we first present a thorough review on gas flow in shale nanopore space and discuss the factors that can affect shale-matrix apparent permeability, besides the well-studied non-Darcy flow/gas-slippage behavior. Then, a unified shale-matrix apparent-permeability model is proposed to bridge the effects of non-Darcy flow/gas-slippage, geomechanics (formation compaction), and the release of the adsorption gas layer into a single, coherent equation. In addition, a mathematical framework for an unconventional reservoir simulator that was developed for this study is also presented.
Different matrix apparent-permeability models are implemented in our numerical simulator to examine how the various factors affect matrix apparent permeability within the simulated reservoir volume. Finally, the impact of a natural-fracture network on matrix apparent-permeability evolution is investigated. The results indicate that, even though the conductive fracture network plays a vital role in shale-gas production, the matrix apparent-permeability evolution during pressure depletion cannot be neglected for accurate production modeling.