The reservoir engineer involved in the development of unconventional gas reservoirs (UGRs) is required to integrate a vast amount of data from disparate sources, and to be familiar with the data collection and assessment. There has been a rapid evolution of technology used to characterize UGR reservoir and hydraulic fracture properties, and there currently are few standardized procedures to be used as guidance. Therefore, more than ever, the reservoir engineer is required to question data sources and have an intimate knowledge of evaluation procedures.
We propose a workflow for the optimization of UGR field development to guide discussion of the reservoir engineer's role in the process. Critical issues related to reservoir sample and log analysis, rate-transient and production data analysis, hydraulic and reservoir modeling and economic analysis are raised. Further, we have provided illustrations of each step of the workflow using tight gas examples. Our intent is to provide some guidance for best practices. In addition to reviewing existing methods for reservoir characterization, we introduce new methods for measuring pore size distribution (small-angle neutron scattering), evaluating core-scale heterogeneity, log-core calibration, evaluating core/log data trends to assist with scale-up of core data, and modeling flow-back of reservoir fluids immediately after well stimulation. Our focus in this manuscript is on tight and shale gas reservoirs; reservoir characterization methods for coalbed methane reservoirs have recently been discussed.