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The Application of Hydrocarbon System and Play Fairway Analysis for Unconventional Resource Plays: The Case for Shale Gas and Shale Oil Reserves

Barrie Wells1 and Jay E. Leonard2
1Conwy Valley Systems Limited, Conwy, United Kingdom
2Platte River Associates, Inc., Boulder, CO

In the USA, the exploration and development of unconventional resource plays is being pursued enthusiastically. Of the many types of unconventional resource plays, shale oil and shale gas are probably most popular. However, we are beginning to understand that these plays are more dissimilar than alike.

For shale exploration, it is desirable to identify “sweet spots” or areas that could be drilled early to front load the economics. This talk will address two geologically different situations; the Utica shale gas and the Williston Basin Bakken shale oil play. With either, critical factors such as hydrocarbon generation and expulsion rate and timing coupled with fracture timing and sorption, define such “sweet spots”.

It is critical to characterize these plays on a regional scale utilizing the techniques of Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) coupled with conventional Hydrocarbon System Analysis. The techniques of Hydrocarbon System Analysis along with routine geochemical and geological analysis provide the spatial input for the PFA. The PFA focuses on the construction of common risk segment maps which indicate the proper relative probability for accumulation. These relative common risk segments maps are combined with measures of the data quantity and confidence to construct absolute probability maps that form the basis for a spatial probability of geologic success (Pg).

This talk will illustrate how the techniques of Hydrocarbon System Analysis and Play Fairway Analysis led to the acquisition of leases and the drilling of wells in North America and how the principles employed may be applied in the Indian sub-continent.

Presentation GEO India Expo XXI, Noida, New Delhi, India 2008©AAPG Search and Discovery