Core-flood Effluent and Shale Surface Chemistries in Predicting Interaction between Shale, Brine, and Reactive Fluid

Asli S. Gundogar, Jennifer L. Druhan, Cynthia M. Ross, Adam D. Jew, John R. Bargar, Anthony R. Kovscek

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Field and laboratory observations to date indicate that the efficiency of hydraulic fracturing, as it relates to hydrocarbon recovery, depends significantly on geochemical alterations to rock surfaces that diminish accessibility by partial or total plugging of the pore and fracture networks. This is caused by mineral scale deposition such as coating of fracture surfaces with precipitates, particle migration, and/or crack closure due to dissolution under stress. In reactive flow-through experiments, mineral reactions in response to acidic fluid injection significantly reduced system porosity and core permeability. The present study focuses on changes to fluid chemistry and shale surfaces (inlet and fracture walls) resulting from shale-fluid interactions and integrating these findings for an improved estimate of transport-related consequences. The reacted shale surfaces were examined by spatially-resolved scanning electron microscopy - energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) analysis. Importantly, inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry/optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-MS/OES) was utilized to probe the chemical evolution of the core-flood effluents. The three study cores selected from the Marcellus formation represent different mineralogies and structural features. In flow-through experiments, lab-generated brine and HCl-based fracture fluid (pH=2) were injected sequentially under effective stress (up to 500 psi) at reservoir temperature (80°C). SEM-EDS results confirmed by the ICP concentration trends showed significant Fe hydroxide precipitates in clay- and pyrite-rich outcrop samples due to partial oxidation of Fe-bearing phases in the case of intrusion of low salinity water-based fluids. Porosity reduction in the MSEEL (Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory) carbonate-rich sample is related to compaction of cores under stress due to matrix softening with substantial dissolution, and pore-filling by hydroxides, as well as barite and salts. Despite the same fluid compositions and experimental conditions used for both MSEEL samples, barite precipitation was much more intense in the MSEEL clay-rich sample due to its greater sorption capacity and additional sulfate source as well as fissile nature with multiple lengthwise cracks. ICP tests revealed time-resolved concentration trends in produced brine and reactive fluids that in turn complemented the pre-/post-reaction SEM-EDS observations. The greatest release of metal ions into brine was in clay-rich systems indicating the importance of disequilibrium between shale and injected solutions. A thorough examination of surface and effluent data indicated the significant influence of formation brine in shales, mixing of brine with fracture fluid during flow, and shale mineralogy on mineral dissolution and scale formation that significantly impacts flow efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 SPE/AAPG/SEG Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, URTC 2021 - Houston, United States
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 28 2021


Conference2021 SPE/AAPG/SEG Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, URTC 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Core-flood Effluent and Shale Surface Chemistries in Predicting Interaction between Shale, Brine, and Reactive Fluid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this