Oil Shale In-Situ Upgrading by Steam Flowing in Vertical Hydraulic Fractures Conference Paper uri icon


  • Oil shale, an organic-rich impermeable rock, is an abundant energy resource in the United States. Because few oil shale deposits occur in shallow formations, application of an in-situ process is necessary for thermal decomposition and subsequent oil and gas production. An earlier investigation indicated that cylindrical or planar in-situ electric heaters were more efficient than flowing steam through created fractures. This study investigates the efficiency of oil shale in-situ upgrading by steam flowing in vertical fractures. There are challenges in the through description of in-situ upgrading process because the kerogen decomposition involves of a series of complex and sensitive reactions, and results a large number of fluid and solid products. Expanding the Flow and Transport Simulator (FTSim) developed by Texas A&M University, we developed a fully implicit capability that describes the decomposition of kerogen in the oil shale and the resulting system changes with minimal simplification and assumptions. The decomposition process is represented by 6 kinetic reactions (resulting 10 components and 4 phases), involves coupled processes of mass transport and heat flow, and accurately accounts for phase equilibrium and phase transition thermodynamics. We applied our simulator to find a successful strategy for hydrocarbon production using steam that flows in vertical fractures created by multistage transverse fracturing in a horizontal (MTFH) well. The simulation of simultaneous heating and flowing provides the system change of oil shale reservoir during in-situ upgrading, and it indicates the necessary condition of successful hydrocarbon production from oil shale reservoir.

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, K., Moridis, G. J., & Ehlig-Economides, C. A.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • January 2014


  • SPE  Publisher