AAPG Bulletin, Vol.103, No.4, 835-870, 2019
Geochemical factors controlling the phase behavior of Eagle Ford Shale petroleum fluids
Petroleum types in the Eagle Ford resource play span the range from black oil to dry gas and are produced along regional trends that are largely maturity controlled. A total of 61 shale samples covering all maturity zones were evaluated to document organic richness, organic matter type, and maturation characteristics using established geochemical parameters. Pyrolysis experiments were then performed to simulate the generation of petroleum fluids. Termed the "PhaseSnapShot" approach, one or more target wells with known fluid properties were used as reference; a match with that composition was made using next-formed fluids generated from the shale in a closely located well of slightly lower thermal maturity than the target well(s). Phase behavior predictions from the model were calibrated using a regional pressure- volume-temperature (PVT) database compiled from the public domain. The conceptual model that best matched the PVT data were comprised of two reactive components: (1) a mixture of kerogen and bitumen that generated petroleum within the low permeability shale matrix and (2) bitumen in zones of enhanced porosity within the matrix. The combined generation of gas from both of these components as well as the strong retention of C-7(+) fluids in the matrix during production were required to match the calibration data. Retention of oil was needed over a broad thermal maturity range (Rock-Eval T-max release: 440 degrees C -475 degrees C). A key result of this forward model is that phase behavior and bulk compositional properties of hydrocarbons can be quickly and effectively predicted using mature shale samples as long as calibration data from PVT reports are available.