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AAPG Southwest Section Annual Convention

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Geologic Components of Shale Production


Industry and investors recognized from the beginning that the traditional components of a field—reservoir, trap and charge—did not apply to shale production since the target formation provided all three. While it is mostly true that there are no dry holes in shale production, there is wide range of productivity, and many areas are unprofitable for geologic reasons. After years of delineation and experimentation we can now offer a model for what geologic components are necessary for profitable production: 1. Reservoir – sufficient thickness of a rock matrix able to contain and flow fluids 2. Geomechanics – the ability to create and to sustain a complex fracture network within the reservoir 3. Fluids – initial pressure and fluid type able to maintain a driving force Unlike defined accumulations for which the criteria are binary (present/absent), the components are mostly gradational. That is, quality exists on a spectrum, and better quality in one dimension compensates for worse in different dimension. There are, however, deal-killers which cannot be overcome by other dimensions.