Accurate quantification of total organic carbon (TOC) is an important step in evaluating log data in organic-rich reservoirs. The literature describes many log-based approaches for predicting TOC that have been introduced over the years, including the use of uranium content or GR linear regression, bulk density, the DeltaLogR approach, neural network approach, and a response equation-based method using sonic, density, and resistivity logs. All of the approaches require core-to-log calibration for validation. Each of these techniques involves assumptions for them to be valid, and, in a given instance, it is possible some techniques will not produce reliable results. However, good log-based TOC quantifications can be achieved by taking the median average of TOC estimates from several indicators.

Many shale reservoirs contain 10 wt% pyrite and total organic carbon (TOC), which translates to 7% pyrite and 20% kerogen by volume. High volumetric percentages of pyrite and kerogen significantly affect the rock grain density. In low-porosity shale reservoirs, each 0.02 g/cm3 error in grain density produces approximately 1 p.u. error in porosity.

Pyrite is commonly present in organic-rich shale intervals of shale gas formations because of the reducing conditions that enhanced organic matter preservation, and it may play a role in decreased resistivity response if the volume is sufficient.

Consequently, in shale reservoirs, any method of predicting TOC using resistivity logs, such as DeltaLogR, should also consider the presence of pyrite. Similarly, TOC predictions based on bulk-density logs may also be sensitive to elevated pyrite concentrations.

The link between pyrite presence and the depositional environment for many organic-rich shale reservoirs suggests that pyrite and sulfur may be useful TOC indicators in some situations. This paper examines the possible application of pyrite and sulfur for predicting TOC in shale reservoirs, such as in the Haynesville shale reservoir, but results should be applicable to many other shale reservoirs. An interesting result is that, although it may be possible to calibrate a TOC-based pyrite indicator for individual wells, the calibration is not universally applicable.

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