Workshop on shales: Seal, reservoir, source

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Date 6-9 June 2010
Location Austin, Texas, USA

This workshop brought together experts in the fields of geology, petrophysics, rock physics, geophysics, geomechanics, well stimulation and completion and reservoir engineering.


Shales comprise a large proportion of the rocks in most sedimentary basins, and form the seal and source rocks for many conventional hydrocarbon reservoirs. However, knowledge of shale properties has lagged behind that of sandstones and carbonates, since these formations make up most conventional reservoirs. The recent upsurge of interest in gas shales (resource plays) demands that this imbalance be corrected. In such gas shale reservoirs, the shale acts as the source rock, seal and reservoir, and interest in shale gas plays is increasing rapidly. Because of their low permeability, there is also currently great interest in using shales as possible host rocks for waste storage, and in the petroleum industry shales cause billions of dollars of losses annually in exploration, development and production programs through pore pressure related kicks, blow-outs and wellbore instability. Shales have a decisive impact on fluid flow and seismic wave propagation because of their low permeability and anisotropic microstructure. Recently, much attention has been focused on shale properties because of shifts in the seismic wave travel time that have been observed in the shales surrounding producing reservoirs that are being monitored with time-lapse seismic surveys. Examples of stress arching and reduction of seismic propagation velocity immediately above and below reservoirs, and increased velocity in the sideburden due to stress concentrations at the edge of reservoirs have emphasized the critical link between the dynamic elastic response of shales and their geomechanical properties. Stress and pore pressure magnitudes, stress field orientation and compaction/diagenetic histories significantly impact the dynamic elastic response of shales, affecting velocity, seismic anisotropy and fluid identification.

Despite the obvious importance of shales, there have been relatively few laboratory or field scale studies of shale behavior and their properties remain poorly defined. Improved understanding of shale properties benefits several geophysical areas such as anisotropy quantification for improved seismic imaging, fluid identification and lithology determination, time-lapse seismic interpretation, borehole geophysics and pore pressure prediction, as well as seal evaluation, rock strength estimation and basin modeling.

Technical topics

  • Shale geology
  • Shale petrophysics
  • Rock physics of shales
  • Shale Geomechanics
  • Pore pressure estimation and wellbore stability in shales
  • Seismic, acoustic and resistivity anisotropy in shales
  • Surface Seismic Response to Shales
  • In-situ stress and hydraulic fracturing of shales
  • Completion optimization and microseismic monitoring
  • Interpretation of travel time shifts in 4D seismic
  • The road ahead

Organizing Committee


Robert Tatham, University of Texas-Austin
Colin Sayers, Schlumberger


Eric van Oort, Shell
Bill Almon, Chevron
Jacques Levelle
Dan Ebrom, Statoil
Manika Prasad, Colorado School of Mines
Robert Suarez-Rivera, TerraTek
John Plappert, Brigham
Jennifer Miskimins, Colorado School of Mines
Tiziana Vanorio, Stanford
Ivar Brevik, Statoil
Carl Sondergeld, University of Oklahoma
Mike Batzle, Colorado School of Mines
Ali Mese, Geomechanics E&R
Russell Roundtree, Halliburton

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Workshop on shales: Seal, reservoir, source
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