Unconventional reservoir exploration and development activities in the Middle East have increased and are expected to continue to do so. National oil companies in the Middle East have a strategy for maximizing oil exports as well as use of natural gas. This has placed emphasis on use of advanced technology to extend the lives of conventional reservoirs and more activities in terms of “unconventional gas and oil.” Understanding unconventional environments, such as shale reservoirs, requires unique processes and technologies based on reservoir properties for optimum reservoir production and well life.

The objective of this study is to provide the systematic work flow to characterize unconventional reservoir formation. This paper discusses detailed laboratory testing to determine geochemical, rock mechanical, and formation fluid properties for reservoir development. Each test is described in addition to its importance to the reservoir study. Geochemical properties, such as total organic carbon (TOC) content to evaluate potential candidates for hydrocarbon, mineralogy to determine the formation type and clay content, and kerogen typing for reservoir maturity. Formation fluid sensitivity, such as acid solubility testing of the formation, capillary suction time testing, and Brinell hardness testing, are characterized to better understand the interaction of various fluids with the formation to help optimize well development.

An additional parameter in unconventional reservoirs is to plan ahead when implementing the proper fracturing stimulation technique and treatment design, which requires determining the geomechanical properties of the reservoir as well as the fluid to be used for stimulation. Properties of each reservoir are unique and require unique approaches to design and conduct fracturing solutions. The importance of geomechanical properties is discussed here.

This paper can be used to help operators obtain a broad overview of the reservoir to determine the best completion and stimulation approaches for unconventional development.

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