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Pore types, pore-network analysis, and pore quantification of the lacustrine shale-hydrocarbon system in the Late Triassic Yanchang Formation in the southeastern Ordos Basin, China

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Continental Upper Triassic Yanchang “black shales” in the southeastern Ordos Basin have been proven to be unconventional gas reservoirs. Organic-matter-lean and organic-matter-rich argillaceous mudstones form reservoirs that were deposited in a deeper water lacustrine setting during lake highstands. In the stratified lake, the bottom waters were dysaerobic to anoxic. This low-energy and low-oxygen lake-bottom setting allowed types II and III organic matter to accumulate. Interbedded with the argillaceous mudstones are argillaceous arkosic siltstones deposited by gravity-flow processes. Rock samples from the Yanchang Chang 7–9 members are very immature mineralogically. Mineral grains are predominantly composed of relatively equal portions of quartz and feldspar. The high clay-mineral content, generally greater than 40%, has promoted extensive compaction of the sediments, permitting the ductile material to deform and occlude interparticle pores. Furthermore, this high clay-mineral content does not favor hydraulic fracturing of the mudstone reservoir. The pore network within the mudstones is dominated by intraparticle pores and a lesser abundance of organic-matter pores. Interparticle pores are rare. The mean Gas Research Institute (GRI) crushed-rock porosity is 4.2%. Because the pore network is dominated by poorly connected intraparticle pores, permeability is very low (the GRI-calculated geometric mean permeability = 9.9 nd). The dominance of intraparticle pores creates a very poor correlation between GRI porosity and GRI permeability. Several methods of porosity analysis (GRI crushed rock, nitrogen adsorption, and point count) were conducted on each samples, and the results were compared. There is no significant correlation between the three methods, implying that each method measures different pore sizes or types. There is also no relationship between the porosity and permeability and total organic carbon. Much of the mature (peak oil window) organic matter is nonporous, suggesting that it is of type III. Most of the organic-matter pores are in migrated solid bitumen. Overall, the samples analyzed have low porosity and permeability for mudrocks.

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