Rock Typing: Keys to Understanding Productivity in Tight Gas Sands Conference Paper uri icon


  • Abstract This paper presents a work-flow process to describe and characterize tight gas sands. The ultimate objective of this work-flow is to provide a consistent methodology to systematically integrate both large-scale geologic elements and small-scale rock petrology with the physical rock properties for low-permeability sandstone reservoirs. To that end, our work-flow integrates multiple data evaluation techniques and multiple data scales using a core-based rock typing approach that is designed to capture rock properties characteristic of tight gas sands. Fundamental to this process model are identification and comparison of three different rock types — depositional, petrographic, and hydraulic. These rock types are defined as:Depositional — These are rock types that are derived from core-based descriptions of genetic units which are defined as collections of rocks grouped according to similarities in composition, texture, sedimentary structure, and stratigraphic sequence as influenced by the depositional environment. These rock types represent original large-scale rock properties present at deposition.Petrographic — These are rock types which are also described within the context of the geological framework, but the rock type criteria are based on pore-scale, microscopic imaging of the current pore structure — as well as the rock texture and composition, clay mineralogy, and diagenesis.Hydraulic — These are rock types that are also defined at the pore scale, but in this case we define "hydraulic" rock types as those that quantify the physical flow and storage properties of the rock relative to the native fluid(s) — as controlled by the dimensions, geometry, and distribution of the current pore and pore throat structure. Each rock type represents different physical and chemical processes affecting rock properties during the depositional and paragenetic cycles. Since most tight gas sands have been subjected to post-depositional diagenesis, a comparison of all three rock types will allow us to assess the impact of diagenesis on rock properties. If diagenesis is minor, the depositional environment (and depositional rock types) as well as the expected rock properties derived from those depositional conditions will be good predictors of rock quality. However, if the reservoir rock has been subjected to significant diagenesis, the original rock properties present at deposition will be quite different than the current properties. More specifically, use of the depositional environment and the associated rock types (in isolation) to guide field development activities may result in ineffective exploitation. Introduction Unconventional natural gas resources — tight gas sands, naturally-fractured gas shales, and coalbed methane reservoirs — comprise a significant percentage of the North American natural gas resource base and these systems represent an important source for future reserve growth and production. Similar to conventional hydrocarbon systems, unconventional gas reservoirs are characterized by complex geological and petrophysical systems as well as heterogeneities — at all scales. However, unlike conventional reservoirs, unconventional gas reservoirs typically exhibit gas storage and flow characteristics which are uniquely tied to geology — deposition and diagenetic processes. As a result, effective resource exploitation requires a comprehensive reservoir description and characterization program to quantify gas-in-place and to identify those reservoir properties which control production. Although many unconventional natural gas resources are characterized by low permeabilities, this paper addresses only low-permeability sandstone reservoirs, i.e., tight gas sands.

name of conference

  • SPE Unconventional Reservoirs Conference

published proceedings

  • All Days

author list (cited authors)

  • Rushing, J. A., Newsham, K. E., & Blasingame, T. A

complete list of authors

  • Rushing, Jay Alan||Newsham, Kent Edward||Blasingame, Thomas Alwin

publication date

  • January 1, 2008 11:11 AM


  • SPE  Publisher