Shale gas plays require technology such as fracture stimulation to increase rock permeability and achieve commercial rates of flow. The brittleness of shales are a major control on the ease of fracture stimulation. The Brittleness Index (BI) is a proxy for rock strength, based on geomechanical parameters, and/or rock mineralogy, and provides an indication of hydraulic stimulation effectiveness. Legacy drill core does not always have the geophysical logs needed for assessment of shale brittleness, therefore mineralogical and geochemical derived proxies for shale brittlenesss are often used with varying success. Shales from the Paleoproterozoic Lawn Hill Platform of north-west Queensland and the Northern Territory are known to contain organic-rich sedimentary units with the potential to host shale-gas plays. The Egilabria 2 DW1 well demonstrated a technical success in flowing gas from the Lawn Supersequence and recent geomechanical logging in the Egilabria prospect have demonstrated the presence of brittle rocks favourable for fracture stimulation with similarities between logged geophysics and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) derived brittleness (Bailey et al., 2019). In this study we assess the brittleness of shales from twelve wells across the Isa Superbasin that do not have geophysical log data using XRD, major elemental analyses from X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and mineral carbon (MinC) techniques. The results of this study demonstrate highly variable mineral components between all analysed supersequences. The brittleness index (BI) of the shales derived from XRD ranges from ductile to brittle with zones of brittle shales present in all supersequences. Shale brittleness is controlled by increasing quartz and decreasing clay content with little influence from carbonates. Major elements based on XRF showed moderate to poor correlations to mineral type and the brittleness index was significantly higher than the results calculated by XRD. XRF analyses are not recommended as a proxy for shale brittleness in the Isa Superbasin region. The MinC parameter was highly effective as a proxy for carbonate based on comparisons with XRD derived carbonate concentrations. An important finding in this study is the variations in BI and TOC between supersequences, and within supersequences. This is evident down-hole and spatially across the area sampled. Future work is needed to investigate sweet spots for shale gas production.

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