Semester

Fall

Date of Graduation

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MS

College

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Geology and Geography

Committtee Chair

Dengliang Gao

Committee Co-Chair

Tim Carr

Committee Member

Dengliang Gao

Committee Member

Pete Sullivan

Committee Member

Tom Wilson

Abstract

The Marcellus Shale has become an important unconventional gas reservoir in the oil and gas industry. Fractures within this organic-rich black shale serve as an important component of porosity and permeability useful in enhancing production. Horizontal drilling is the primary approach for extracting hydrocarbons in the Marcellus Shale. Typically, wells are drilled perpendicular to natural fractures in an attempt to intersect fractures for effective hydraulic stimulation. If the fractures are contained within the shale, then hydraulic fracturing can enhance permeability by further breaking the already weakened rock. However, natural fractures can affect hydraulic stimulations by absorbing and/or redirecting the energy away from the wellbore, causing a decreased efficiency in gas recovery, as has been the case for the Clearfield County, Pennsylvania study area. Estimating appropriate distances away from faults and fractures, which may limit hydrocarbon recovery, is essential to reducing the risk of injection fluid migration along these faults. In an attempt to mitigate the negative influences of natural fractures on hydrocarbon extraction within the Marcellus Shale, fractures were analyzed through the aid of both traditional and advanced seismic attributes including variance, curvature, ant tracking, and waveform model regression. Through the integration of well log interpretations and seismic data, a detailed assessment of structural discontinuities that may decrease the recovery efficiency of hydrocarbons was conducted. High-quality 3D seismic data in Central Pennsylvania show regional folds and thrusts above the major detachment interval of the Salina Salt. In addition to the regional detachment folds and thrusts, cross-regional, northwest-trending lineaments were mapped. These lineaments may pose a threat to hydrocarbon productivity and recovery efficiency due to faults and fractures acting as paths of least resistance for induced hydraulic stimulation fluids. These lineaments may represent major transfer faults that serve as pathways for hydraulic fluid migration. Detection and evaluation of fracture orientation and intensity and emphasis on the relationship between fracture intensity and production potential is of high interest in the study area as it entails significant time and cost implications for both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon exploration and production.

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