Fractal analysis of the pore structure for clay bound water and potential gas storage in shales based on NMR and N2 gas adsorption
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Fractal dimension (D) is a critical parameter to estimate the heterogeneity of complex pore structure in shale gas reservoirs. To quantify the fractal dimension of various pore types and evaluate their implications on shale effective porosity and gas storage capacity in potential, we performed fractal analysis based on experimental results of low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (LF-NMR) and low-pressure N2 gas adsorption (LP-N2-GA) in Permian Carynginia shales. By comparing the calculated fractal dimensions based on the two approaches, we analyzed the ‘surface fractal dimension’ for ineffective pores occupied by clay bound water (CBW) and the ‘volume fractal dimension’ for effective pores (Deff) holding removable fluids for the first time in shales. The NMR-based CBW pore fractal dimension (Dcbw) is linear positively correlated with the fractal dimension of micropore surface (D1) (R2 = 0.91) and the volume of CBW (R2 = 0.58), while negatively correlated with effective porosity (R2 = 0.58). The NMR-based effective pore fractal dimension (Deff) is linear positively correlated with the fractal dimension of meso/macropore volume (D2) (R2 = 0.82) and presents a good positive correlation with gas storage capacity (R2 = 0.80). The results indicate that CBW largely complicates the fractal geometry of nanoscaled pore network and potentially resist effective fluid flows in shales. The pore surface of higher heterogeneity (higher D1) associates with larger surficial CBW retention and would further block the effective pore space for fluid transport. The meso/macropore volumes of higher complexity (higher D2) is intimate with the larger heterogeneity in effective pores for the higher potential of hydrocarbon storage capacity in gas shales.
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