Estimation of Shale Intrinsic Permeability with Process-Based Pore Network Modeling Approach

Shanshan Yao, Xiangzeng Wang, Qingwang Yuan, Fanhua Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A multi-scale pore network model is developed for shale with the process-based method (PBM). The pore network comprises three types of sub-networks: the μ m-scale sub-network, the nm-scale pore sub-network in organic matter (OM) particles and the nm-scale pore sub-network in clay aggregates. Process-based simulations mimic shale-forming geological processes and generate a μ m-scale sub-network which connects interparticle pores, OM particles and clay aggregates. The nm-scale pore sub-networks in OM and clay are extracted from monodisperse sphere packing. Nm-scale throats in OM and clay are simplified to be cylindrical and cuboid-shaped, respectively. The nm-scale pore sub-networks are inserted into selected OM particles and clay aggregates in the μ m-scale sub-network to form an integrated multi-scale pore network. No-slip permeability is evaluated on multi-scale pore networks. Permeability calculations verify that shales permeability keeps decreasing when nm-scale pores and throats replace μ m-scale pores. Soft shales may have higher porosity but similar range of permeability with hard shales. Small compaction leads to higher permeability when nm-scale pores dominate a pore network. Nm-scale pore networks with higher interconnectivity contribute to higher permeability. Under constant shale porosity, the shale matrix with cuboid-shaped nm-scale throats has lower no-slip permeability than that with cylindrical throats. Different from previous reconstruction processes, the new reconstruction process first considers the porous OM and clay distribution with PBM. The influence of geological processes on the multi-scale pore networks is also first analyzed for shale. Moreover, this study considers the effect of OM porosities and different pore morphologies in OM and clay on shale permeability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-148
Number of pages22
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Intrinsic permeability
  • Multi-scale model
  • Pore morphology
  • Pore network
  • Process-based approach


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