Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Geological Foundation for Production of Natural Gas from Diverse Shale Formations
Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-6999
The Black Warrior Basin and Appalachian Thrust Belt of Alabama contain a diversity of emerging gas shale plays in Cambrian (Conasauga Formation), Devonian (Chattanooga Shale and unnamed shale units), and Mississippian strata (Floyd Shale). Development of these reservoirs has been slowed by a series of technical challenges, including uncertainty about best practices for exploration, drilling, and well completion. This uncertainty stems largely from inadequate characterization of the geologic framework of the targeted shale formations and is compounded by major differences of composition, thickness, geometry, and fracture architecture that exist between these formations and proven gas shale reservoirs in other regions.
Unconventional gas plays require an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to exploration and development, yet broadly applicable geologic models of resource distribution and producibility have yet to be developed for gas shale formations. The proposed study will employ a spectrum of field and laboratory techniques to characterize the stratigraphy, sedimentology, geologic structure, hydrodyamics, geothermics, petrology, geochemistry, and resource/reserve base of the gas shale reservoirs in the Black Warrior Basin and the Appalachian Thrust Belt of Alabama. This study is designed to increase knowledge of the mechanisms of gas storage and the sources of permeability in shale formations with diverse composition and geology. This integrated approach will reduce risks associated with exploration and development and will provide for an accurate assessment of resources and reserves. This study will further assist industry in the formulation of exploration and development strategies that are optimized for each gas shale play and will derive basic scientific concepts and models that can be applied to emerging and frontier gas shale plays throughout North America.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jack C. Pashin,