Two-dimensional (2D) T1-T2 NMR has been widely proposed as a method to determine the fluids present in unconventional source rocks. However, the assignment of the components in the 2D T1-T2 NMR spectra has so far been based on conceptual consideration and lacks rigorous experimental verification. Many assignment variations appeared in the literature and can be misleading. For example, large T1/T2 peaks in the 2D T1-T2 NMR were suggested to be fluid in small pores coupled with kerogen solid through dipolar relaxation. Our recent 500-MHz NMR relaxation experiments found that the dipolar relaxation between nanoconfined fluids and solid matrix is not big enough to support that large T1/T2 interpretation. The objective of this paper is to determine what quantitative data can be obtained using 2D T1-T2 NMR from source rocks with high confidence. We found the oil and water saturation can be accurately measured in preserved source rock plugs.

Two-dimensional T1-T2 NMR data were collected on preserved core plugs from five wells of a source rock reservoir using an inversion-recovery Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill (CMPG) pulse sequence on a 12-MHz NMR instrument. The acquired 2D data were inverted using an optimized inversion software, MUPen2D. We then obtain oil and water content in the plug from the 2D T1-T2 NMR using an in-house-developed NMR MATLAB app. The porosity of all the plugs was measured using a combined NMR and gas porosimetry (CNG) method. Oil and water saturation were also obtained using an industry-standard method developed by the Gas Research Institute (GRI) on the rock material close to where the plug was drilled.

The oil and water saturations measured on the preserved plugs using 2D T1-T2 NMR and CNG are consistent with those from the GRI method using crushed rocks and an invasive cleaning procedure. The results show that oil and water saturations were accurately determined from 2D T1-T2 NMR on preserved source rock samples with high confidence. The NMR method is nondestructive and noninvasive and takes less than 4 hours on a preserved source rock plug, while GRI is destructive and invasive and can take several weeks for an accurate measurement on one sample. The measured results can be further used to determine the production potential of a source rock well in combination with log data.

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