A new laboratory approach to shale analysis using NMR relaxometry

By:  and 
Edited by: Luis BaezKen Beeney, and Steve Sonnenberg



Low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (LF-NMR) relaxometry is a non-invasive technique commonly used to assess hydrogen-bearing fluids in petroleum reservoir rocks. Measurements made using LF-NMR provide information on rock porosity, pore-size distributions, and in some cases, fluid types and saturations (Timur, 1967; Kenyon et al., 1986; Straley et al., 1994; Brown, 2001; Jackson, 2001; Kleinberg, 2001; Hurlimann et al., 2002). Recent improvements in LF-NMR instrument electronics have made it possible to apply methods used to measure pore fluids to assess highly viscous and even solid organic phases within reservoir rocks. T1 and T2 relaxation responses behave very differently in solids and liquids; therefore the relationship between these two modes of relaxation can be used to differentiate organic phases in rock samples or to characterize extracted organic materials. Using T1-T2 correlation data, organic components present in shales, such as kerogen and bitumen, can be examined in laboratory relaxometry measurements. In addition, implementation of a solid-echo pulse sequence to refocus T2 relaxation caused by homonuclear dipolar coupling during correlation measurements allows for improved resolution of solid-phase protons.

LF-NMR measurements of T1 and T2 relaxation time distributions were carried out on raw oil shale samples from the Eocene Green River Formation and pyrolyzed samples of these shales processed by hydrous pyrolysis and techniques meant to mimic surface and in-situ retorting. Samples processed using the In Situ Simulator approach ranged from bitumen and early oil generation through to depletion of petroleum generating potential. The standard T1-T2 correlation plots revealed distinct peaks representative of solid- and liquid-like organic phases; results on the pyrolyzed shales reflect changes that occurred during thermal processing. The solid-echo T1 and T2 measurements were used to improve assessment of the solid organic phases, specifically kerogen, thermally degraded kerogen, and char. Integrated peak areas from the LF-NMR results representative of kerogen and bitumen were found to be well correlated with S1 and S2 parameters from Rock-Eval programmed pyrolysis. This study demonstrates that LFNMR relaxometry can provide a wide range of information on shales and other reservoir rocks that goes well beyond porosity and pore-fluid analysis.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title A new laboratory approach to shale analysis using NMR relaxometry
DOI 10.1190/urtec2013-181
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Society of Petroleum Engineers
Contributing office(s) Central Energy Resources Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, Denver, Colorado, 12-14 August 2013
First page 1775
Last page 1782