Understanding changes in petrophysical and geochemical parameters during source rock thermal maturation is a critical component in evaluating source-rock petroleum accumulations. Natural core data are preferred, but obtaining cores that represent the same facies of a source rock at different thermal maturities is seldom possible. An alternative approach is to induce thermal maturity changes by laboratory pyrolysis on aliquots of a source-rock sample of a given facies of interest. Hydrous pyrolysis is an effective way to induce thermal maturity on source-rock cores and provide expelled oils that are similar in composition to natural crude oils. However, net-volume increases during bitumen and oil generation result in expanded cores due to opening of bedding-plane partings. Although meaningful geochemical measurements on expanded, recovered cores are possible, the utility of the core for measuring petrophysical properties relevant to natural subsurface cores is not suitable. This problem created during hydrous pyrolysis is alleviated by using a stainless steel uniaxial confinement clamp on rock cores cut perpendicular to bedding fabric. The clamp prevents expansion just as overburden does during natural petroleum formation in the subsurface. As a result, intact cores can be recovered at various thermal maturities for the measurement of petrophysical properties as well as for geochemical analyses. This approach has been applied to 1.7-inch diameter cores taken perpendicular to the bedding fabric of a 2.3- to 2.4-inch thick slab of Mahogany oil shale from the Eocene Green River Formation. Cores were subjected to hydrous pyrolysis at 360 °C for 72 h, which represents near maximum oil generation. One core was heated unconfined and the other was heated in the uniaxial confinement clamp. The unconfined core developed open tensile fractures parallel to the bedding fabric that result in a 38 % vertical expansion of the core. These open fractures did not occur in the confined core, but short, discontinuous vertical fractures on the core periphery occurred as a result of lateral expansion.
Additional Publication Details
Application of uniaxial confining-core clamp with hydrous pyrolysis in petrophysical and geochemical studies of source rocks at various thermal maturities
Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Society of Petroleum Engineers