Laboratory Rock Characterization - Decompressing High Pressure Shale Samples

by University College London
Fig. 1: Schematic of the BIOREP device used to run the reactive percolation experiments in the presence of an enriched, deep surface, microbial consortia. The reactor was filled with a sequence of basalt plugs (grey rectangles).

How does the laboratory work? 

The technology was developed in UCL’s Earth Sciences Laboratory. It was inspired by the CoreVault technology developed by Halliburton that can drill and obtain high pressure samples. It transfers high pressure rock samples from sample holders to characterization vessels. Then, the high pressure shale gas samples can be used for reducing pressure and collecting the high pressure gas content of the core samples. The apparatus can simulate underground reservoir conditions to replicate the full cycle of shale gas operations in the laboratory. We can impose a pressure drawdown regime on the high pressure sample to measure the gas production in order to optimise the operational constraints for economic production strategies.

What is the purpose of the technologies?

The laboratory evaluations can provide insights for the shale gas operators for improved characterisations of shale gas formations. It helps in identifying sweet spots and geological layers that are rich in hydrocarbon gases. It can give a realistic estimation of gas in place, which is vital for the economic evaluation of the shale gas resources. Once the technology is deployed for a shale gas reservoir, it can provide a guideline for optimised production strategies for the exploitation of the hydrocarbon resource.

Field testings

We have tested our technology on the samples taken from Haynesville shale reservoir in the USA, which revealed 5 times higher gas in place compared to previous estimations.