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Analysis of the Petroleum Generation Potential of the Neal (Floyd) Shale in the Black Warrior Basin Using Kinetic and Basin Modeling

Abstract

With the advent of long-length horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, organic-rich shale has become an economically attractive source of hydrocarbons that has transformed the domestic exploration and production industry. An analysis of the Neal (Floyd) Shale in the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama and Mississippi is being conducted to determine its potential as an unconventional reservoir for natural gas and oil. Focused ion beam milling coupled with scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) is being used to investigate the sources of porosity within the shale at different levels of kerogen maturity. A total of 64 shale samples were collected every ten feet from cuttings and core from three wells for use in this study. The three wells selected are the S.H. Gilmer well located in Lamar County, Alabama, the Holliman #13-16 well located in Pickens County, Alabama, and the Lamb 1-3 #1 well located in Greene County, Alabama. The measured depth of the Neal (Floyd) shale in the S.H. Gilmer well is 835-917 m, 1911-2002 m in the Holliman #13-16 well, and 2747-2765 m in the Lamb 1-3 #1 well. The calculated vitrinite reflectance values for these samples range from 0.76-1.52% increasing with depth. A kinetic model for porosity development based on total organic carbon (TOC), kerogen type and hydrogen index (HI) values will be used to estimate the porosity that has been induced by kerogen decomposition to oil and gas. The kinetic model will be coupled with basin modeling to estimate the type and volume of hydrocarbons that have been generated. In addition, the mineralogy and silica content of the Neal (Floyd) Shale has been analyzed to evaluate the brittleness of the shale, which is the primary factor governing hydraulic fracturing success. This project will lead to better understanding and modeling shale plays for successful hydraulic fracturing, and the development of porosity associated with kerogen and bitumen transformations to oil and gas.