Nonempirical apparent permeability of shale

H. Singh, F. Javadpour, A. Ettehadtavakkol, H. Darabi

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158 Scopus citations


Physics of fluid flow in shale reservoirs cannot be predicted from standard flow or mass-transfer models because of the presence of nanopores, ranging in size from one to hundreds of nanometers, in shales. Conventional continuum-flow equations, such as Darcy's law, greatly underestimate the fluid-flow rate when applied to nanopore-bearing shale reservoirs. As a result of the existence of nanopores in shales, the molecular mean free path becomes comparable with the characteristic geometric scale, and we hypothesize that under this condition, Knudsen diffusion, in addition to correction for the slip boundary condition, becomes the dominant mechanism. Recently, a few models have been developed that use various empirical parameters to account for these modifications (Javadpour 2009; Civan 2010; Darabi et al. 2012). This paper aims to provide a different approach to modeling apparent permeability in shale reservoirs. The proposed model is analytical, free of any empirical coefficients, and has been derived without invoking the assumption of slip flow at the pore wall. Our model of apparent permeability represented by a single analytical equation, depends only on pore size, pore geometry, temperature, gas properties, and average reservoir pressure. The proposed model is valid for Knudsen numbers less than unity and it stands up under the complete operating conditions of a shale reservoir. Our model reasonably predicts results as reported by other models. Finally, the model shows that pore-surface roughness and mineralogy have a negligible influence on gas-flow rate, whereas pore geometry and pore size play a significant role in the proportion of diffusion in total flow rate. Our study shows that a combination of Darcy flow and Knudsen flow-ignoring the Klinkenberg effect- can describe gas flow for a range of Knudsen flow applicable to a shale-gas system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-424
Number of pages11
JournalSPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014


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