Shales have small pore and throat sizes ranging from nano to micron scales, low porosity and limited permeability. The poor permeability and complex pore connectivity of shales pose technical challenges to (a) understanding flow and transport mechanisms in such systems and, (b) in predicting permeability changes under dynamic saturation conditions. This study presents quantitative experimental evidence of the migration of water through a generic shale core plug using micro CT imaging. In addition, in-situ measurements of gas permeability were performed during counter-current spontaneous imbibition of water in nano-darcy permeability Marcellus and Haynesville core plugs. It was seen that water blocks severely reduced the effective permeability of the core plugs, leading to losses of up to 99.5% of the initial permeability in experiments lasting 30 days. There was also evidence of clay swelling which further hindered gas flow. When results from this study were compared with similar counter-current gas permeability experiments reported in the literature, the initial (base) permeability of the rock was found to be a key factor in determining the time evolution of effective gas permeability during spontaneous imbibition. With time, a recovery of effective permeability was seen in the higher permeability rocks, while becoming progressively detrimental and irreversible in tighter rocks. These results suggest that matrix permeability of ultra-tight rocks is susceptible to water damage following hydraulic fracturing stimulation and, while shut-in/soaking time helps clearing-up fractures from resident fluid, its effect on the adjacent matrix permeability could be detrimental.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology