Source rock reservoirs (SRRs) are found in conventional oil and gas basins. The exploration for and the evaluation of an SRR depends on the geology, geochemistry, and petrophysical and geomechanical parameters, as well as economic constraints in the targeted area. The SRR exploration methodology is fundamentally different from conventional exploration as SRR objectives require a program that includes a data-acquisition focused effort in the early stages of exploration and appraisal. This paper highlights a holistic approach to shale gas development that has been developed in detail, encompassing more than 25 years of service company experience in US shale plays. Unconventional SRRs impose significant engineering constraints because reserves are spread out across large compartmentalized, stacked, or layered reservoirs, which are highly heterogeneous (faulted and fractured) and confine wide ranges of mineralogy. The objective of this work is to provide a better understanding of SRR quality and deliverability to assist with maximizing well productivity, improving hydraulic fracturing stimulation, and optimizing drilling and completion efficiency. This paper identifies critical paths and key technical elements or tasks associated with SRR basin screening and evaluation. Commercially successful analogs are used to evaluate and benchmark potential hydrocarbon reserves. A methodical approach that addresses the following key tasks is presented:

  1. Determine critical SRR attributes.

  2. Map selected attributes in the SRR model.

  3. High-grade the regions in the basin with the best potential.

This work provides a proven road map for the evaluation and development of SRRs. Critical paths with the associated key technical elements address and provide a project scope of challenges, which enable a holistic solution to successful unconventional SRR development.

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