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Field Evaluation of the Caney Shale as an Emerging Unconventional Play, Southern Oklahoma
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The overall goal of this project is to establish the Caney Shale Field Laboratory in southern Oklahoma to conduct a comprehensive field characterization and to validate cost-effective technologies that will lead to a comprehensive development plan for the Caney Shale, characterized by high clay content and ductile behavior.  


Oklahoma State University, School of Chemical Engineering-Petroleum Program, Stillwater, OK
Oklahoma State University, Geology, Stillwater, OK
Oklahoma Geological Survey, Norman, OK 
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Continental Resources, Oklahoma City, OK 

Caney shale field lab

The Caney Shale is an emerging unconventional resource play in the southern mid-continent Anadarko, Ardmore, and Arkoma basins. The Caney reservoir is approximately 60–300 m thick, rich in total organic carbon, contains a large oil resource platform, and has a strong natural gas drive. However, development has been hampered by high clay content and reactivity of the formation with water.
The first phase of the project (years 1 and 2) will focus on studying the Caney shale. The second phase of the project (years 3 and 4) will focus on field development, starting with a horizontal well being drilled in Caney.
The project’s first objective is development of an open, collaborative, and integrated program to comprehensively characterize the geological, petrophysical, and geochemical properties of the Caney Shale and its reservoir fluids. The geomechanical properties of clay-rich ductile shale are not known and can contribute to the know-how for fracturing such formations. 
Secondly, the project aims to gain a fundamental understanding of hydraulic fracture initiation/propagation, fracture and proppant pack permeability, proppant embedment, and fluid-rock interaction in the Caney Shale using laboratory data, field observations, and modelling. 
Finally, the project will validate the findings and recommendations from the first phase of the project by drilling, stimulating, and testing a horizontal well. Based on the results from this study, a development plan and best practices manual will be developed for the Caney Shale in southern Oklahoma. This will facilitate accelerated development of not only the Caney Shale play but also help develop understanding of ductile shale fracturing and exploration of upcoming unconventional resources.


Because this is an emerging play, the project intends to contribute to the fundamental understanding of Ductile Shales for applications in hydraulic fracturing; subsurface storage; carbon capture, utilization, and storage/enhanced oil recovery; and potential contribution of shales to well “plug and abandon,” ultimately allowing the team to safely, economically, and responsibly produce Caney Shale.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

OSU PETE Task 12a: Mileva Radonjic
12.a.1: Proppant Embedment and Fracture Conductivity

  • Flow through experiments were conducted using Caney Shale specimens from brittle and ductile regions cored at different orientations (0o, 45o& 90o) to the bedding plane with a monolayer of proppant. These experiments provided data on proppant embedment, fracture permeability and geochemical changes at reservoir conditions and demonstrated that in regions with a thin layer of proppant, proppant embedment was the main mechanism for reduced fracture conductivity. 
  • Micro indentation tests were performed on brittle and ductile shale samples to provide an insight into the performance of proppant shale rock interaction at a microscale level.

PITT Task 12b: Andrew Bunger

  • Creep tests on vertical and horizontal cores were complete for all zones. 

OSU PETE Task 12c: Prem Bikkina

  • Geomaterial (Illite) micromodels were developed and used to investigate the swelling, fines migration, and wettability alteration behavior of the clay when exposed to brines of various salinities, produced water, model oil (n-decane), and crude oil. 

LBNL Task 13a: Jonny Rutqvist

  • Modeling of flow through tests and proppant pack compaction was completed and contributed to a journal paper by OSU that is being revised for publication in Fuel. The modeling matches laboratory data on permeability reduction using a sand compaction model, which indicates grain rearrangements and grain crushing as mechanisms of permeability reduction during increased stress across the proppant pack. 
  • Modeling fracture closure of a monolayer flow through experiments was completed. This modeling focus on proppant embedment and impact on fracture permeability in a fracture with a monolayer of proppants. 

OSU PETE Task 14b: Geir Hareland

  • A statistical analysis was performed on the Gallaway reservoir geomechanical and petrophysical properties.  The results of this analysis were used as input in GOPHER stimulations to study the effects of fracture properties and 3-year production. These simulation results show that better fractures (higher conductivity) are seen in harder rock, but higher production in softer rock.  

OSU PETE Task 14c: Geir Hareland

  • An economic field development calculator has been developed and integrates multi-well analysis. In the development calculator, this tool allows the user to input information given by the geology team to ensure that the total reservoir is developed, and the economics for each well are accounted for.  
Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

Industry Contribution: $12,135,800

Contact Information

NETL – Joseph Renk – Federal Project Manager (

Oklahoma State University – Mileva Radonjic, Principal Investigator (