Advances in Measurement Standards and Flow Properties Measurements for Tight Rocks such as Shales

Sinha, Somnath (Exxon Mobil Upstream Research Company) | Braun, Edward M. (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.) | Passey, Quinn R. (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.) | Leonardi, Sergio Adrian (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company) | Wood, Alexander C. (Exxon Mobil Corporation) | Zirkle, Timothy (Exxon Mobil Corporation) | Boros, Jeffrey Allan (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.) | Kudva, Ryan Ashok


Determination of permeability of unconventional reservoirs is critical for reservoir characterization, forecasting production, determination of well spacing, designing hydraulic fracture treatments, and a number of other applications. In many unconventional reservoirs, gas is produced from tight rocks such as shale. Currently the most commonly used industry method for measuring permeability is the Gas Research Institute (GRI) technique, or its variants, which involve the use of crushed samples. The accuracy of such techniques, however, is questionable because of a number of inadequacies such as the absence of reservoir overburden stress while conducting these measurements. In addition to questionable accuracy of crushed rock techniques, prior studies have indicated that there is significant variability in results reported by different laboratories that utilize crushed-rock technique to measure permeability on shale samples. Alternate methods are required to obtain accurate and consistent data for tight rocks such as shales. In this paper we discuss a robust steady-state technique for measuring permeability on intact tight rock samples under reservoir overburden stress. Permeability measurement standards for low permeability samples are critical for obtaining consistent results from different laboratories making such measurements, regardless of the method used for measuring permeability. In this paper we present permeability measurement standards developed based on first principles that serve as the "ground-truth?? for permeability in the 10 - 10,000 nanoDarcy range. These standards can be used to calibrate any permeability measurement apparatus used to measure permeability on intact tight rock samples such as shales, to enable delivery of consistent results across different laboratories conducting measurements on intact tight rock samples.