Recent developments in shale technology have revolutionized oil and gas production in the United States. However, there is still a strong requirement for assessing the prospectivity of emerging shale plays, both in the United States and internationally. This paper is an attempt to generalize the results from three major US shale plays: Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara, and to use these to assess the prospectivity of emerging shale plays elsewhere. Porosity, permeability, total organic carbon (TOC) content, thickness, brittleness, composition and maturity of shales are all important in the generation and retention of hydrocarbons. Factors such as depositional environment, uplift and burial, proximity to porous media, presence of natural factures, and reservoir pressure distribution over geologic time all also affect the ability of shales to retain hydrocarbons and be economically productive reservoirs.

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