Carbonate reservoir rocks of the Najmah formation in Kuwait, with low porosity and low permeability, have been characterized using integrated digital and physical rock analyses methods. High-resolution imaging and analyses determined the microstructural characters of mineral matrix, organic matter (OM) distribution, organic and inorganic pore types, size distribution, and permeability variation within this kerogen-rich Late Jurassic stratigraphic unit.

Considerable heterogeneity of porosity and permeability was observed in the 100-ft studied interval of the Najmah Formation. Two-dimensional scanning electron microscopy (2D-SEM) imaging and three-dimensional focused ion beam SEM (3D-FIB-SEM) imaging highlighted the different types of porosities present within the formation rock. At each depth, several 2D-SEM images were used for characterization and selection of representative locations for extracting 3D FIB-SEM volumes. The 3D volumes were digitally analyzed and volumetric percentages of OM and total porosity were determined. The porosity was further analyzed and quantified as connected, nonconnected, and associated with organic matter. Connected porosity was used to compute absolute permeability in the horizontal and vertical directions in the area of interest.

Porosity associated with OM is an indicator of OM maturity and flow potential. It has been categorized as pendular type, spongy large grain, spongy small grain, fracture porosity within the OM, grain boundary fractures and intergranular porosity covering the entire OM. Permeability is not only influenced by porosity within OM or even apparent transformation ratio (ATR), it is also dependent on pore connectivity, pore sizes, and heterogeneity (e.g., high-permeability streaks). For high porosity samples, almost all pores are connected and contributing to permeability. For low porosity samples with high permeability, the flow is mainly through microfractures. It is possible that intergranular clay pores in highly thermally mature rocks were originally filled with OM and that, during progressive thermal maturation, transformation of OM to hydrocarbon(s) removed much of the pore filling OM.

It has also been observed that, although the total organic carbon (TOC) content of the rocks is significant (up to 18 wt%), and good maturity index (VR0>1), only few examined samples show good connected porosity within the OM. It is essential to evaluate the porosity within the OM thorough high-resolution measurements for pinpointing the prospective layers for future stimulated horizontal wells in this organic-rich source unit. These intervals can be considered as the potential sweet spots after integration with detailed petrophysics and geomechanical parameters for optimized well planning and completion design.

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