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SHALE EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION

Shale gas is naturally trapped within very fine grained


sedimentary rocks called shale or mudstone. Millions of
years ago, the mud and silt that was deposited in
ancient oceans and lakes often contained plant and
animal debris. Over time these sediments containing
this organic material were compacted and solidified
through burial, and with increasing temperature and
pressure formed shale and mudstone.
This organic material, through decomposition due to
pressure and temperature, generated oil and gas,
which in many cases migrated into other rock types
such as sandstone and limestone to form conventional
oil and gas reservoirs. The natural gas that is retained
within the shale is referred to as Shale gas. It is this
hydrocarbon that we are now able to successfully
extract.
METHODS USED FOR SHALE GAS EXTRACTION
The methods used to extract gas from a shale are of
different forms. These includes:
1. Hydraulic fracturing: this technique makes use of a
liquid fluid to fracture the reservoir rocks (fluids
such as Water-based fluids, Foam-based fluids, Oilbased fluids, Acid-based fluids, Alcohol-based
fluids, Emulsion-based fluids, Cryogenic fluids (CO 2,
N2, etc.) Fluids based on produced water)
2. Pneumatic Fracturing: is the technique that
makes use of a gas (typically air or nitrogen)
to fracture the reservoir rock.It is a technique
normally used in shallow formations.

3. Fracturing with Dynamic Loading fluids are not


used. This involves the use of explosive
fracturing or electric fracturing
Other methods of fracturing includes
Cryogenic fracturing
Mechanical cutting of the shale formation
Enhanced bacterial methanogenesis
Heating of the rock mass
In-situ combustion
Enhanced oil recovery in shale reservoirs .
The technique used for shale gas extraction involves:
Horizontal drilling: Horizontal drilling requires
drilling a vertical well to a predetermined depth
above the shale gas reservoir. The well is then
drilled at an increasing angle until it meets the
reservoir interval in a horizontal plane. Once
horizontal, the well is drilled to a selected length,
which could extend to as much as 2500m. This
portion of the well, called the horizontal leg or
lateral, allows significantly increased contact of the
wellbore with the reservoir as compared to a
vertical well.
Upon completion of drilling, production casing is
placed in the wellbore. A perforating gun is used to
create a series
of holes in the casing to connect the rock formation
to the wellbore.
Hydraulic fracturing: Hydraulic fracturing is a
well stimulation technique that has been employed
in the oil and gas industry since 1947. For very low
permeability formations such as fine sand and
shale. Permeability represents the ability for a fluid
to flow through a porous rock. In order for natural

gas or oil to be produced from low permeability


reservoirs
The purpose of hydraulic fracturing or fracing is
to either intersect and open existing natural
fractures or create new fractures within established
zones of weakness within the reservoir. This
fracture system is necessary to create pathways by
which the natural gas can flow to the wellbore.
The hydraulic fracturing process consists of
pumping a fluid, either a gas or a liquid, with a
suspended proppant (usually sand or ceramic
beads), down the wellbore at a high rate and
pressure through the perforations which causes the
surrounding rock to fracture or crack. The
suspended fluid and proppant mixture fills the
open fractures,
keeping them open after the fracture pressures are
removed. After the fracture stimulation is
completed, the proppant
stays within the fracture while the fluid is flowed
back to surface.
Multi-Stage Fracing
Multi
stage
fracing:
multiple
fracturing
operations are necessary in order to effectively
stimulate the reservoir rock. This process is called
multi-stage fracturing and consists of dividing
the horizontal leg into sections which are then
fractured independently. During this operation,
each stage is isolated from the rest of the
wellbore using various types of plugs or packers
(seals). Upon completion of all fracture stages, the
plugs or packers are removed and all stages of the
wellbore are allowed to flow back to the surface.

Figure 1. Methods use to extract gas from the shale

Figure 2 Shale gas exploration set up