Brittleness indices (BI) commonly used in the petroleum industry are based on elastic modulus or mineralogy that can be calculated from well logs. However, they both ignore the effect of confining pressure. Shale is usually distributed at different depth under different confining pressure. Models without considering the influence of confining pressure will directly lead to inaccuracy in BI calculation, thus resulting in the failure of hydraulic fracturing. In this work, we compared confining pressure with rock mechanics parameters and the microcrack quantity of a core, introduced "fracture toughness" to explain how confining pressure influences BI, and finally developed a new model to correct the effect of confining pressure in BI calculation. Fracture toughness is an important parameter that characterizing a rock’s resistance to a fracture. It increases with confining pressure, since an increase of confining pressure may close preexisting cracks and restrict the crack propagation. The results show that BI is usually larger at low confining pressure than at high pressure. Also, higher content in brittle mineral does not necessarily mean brittler. The results calculated by the new model, which considers the influence of Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio, tensile strength, confining pressure and fracture toughness in BI calculation, match well with experimental results.

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