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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 98, No. 4 (April 2014), P. 663694.

Copyright copy2014. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Effect of pore structure on the producibility of tight-gas sandstones

A. Sakhaee-Pour, 1 Steven L. Bryant 2

1Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; [email protected]
2Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; [email protected]


The estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) is one of the most significant properties of tight-gas sandstone reservoirs, but it remains difficult to predict. Estimated ultimate recovery is dependent on the success of stimulation by hydraulic fracturing, the existence and connectivity of natural fractures, and as illustrated in this article, the pore structure of the matrix. Here, we analyze the lab measurements that are indicative of the pore structure, and then we predict the effect of pore structure on producibility. We develop a relationship between the EUR of tight-gas sandstones and their petrophysical properties measured by drainage and imbibition tests (mercury intrusion, withdrawal, and porous plate) and by resistivity analyses. We use the ratio of residual mercury saturation after mercury withdrawal ( S gr) to initial mercury saturation ( S gi), which is the saturation at the start of withdrawal, as a measure of gas likely to be trapped in the matrix during production and, hence, a proxy for EUR. A multitype pore space model is required to explain mercury intrusion capillary pressures in these rocks. Implications of this model are supported by other available laboratory measurements. The model comprises a conventional network model and a treelike pore structure (an acyclic network) that mimic the intergranular and intragranular void spaces, respectively. The notion of the treelike pore structure is introduced here for the first time in the context of tight-gas sandstones. Applying the multitype model to porous plate data, we classify the pore spaces of rocks into intergranular dominant, intermediate, and intragranular dominant. This pore space classification is topological and is not based on scale or size. These classes have progressively less drainage and imbibition hysteresis, which leads to the prediction that significantly more hydrocarbon is recoverable from intragranular porosity than intergranular porosity. Available field data (production logs) corroborate the higher producibility of intervals with intragranular porosity, although the data are not sufficient to eliminate the possible contribution of other factors such as size and shape of the volume contacted by hydraulic fractures or the presence and attributes of natural fractures. The superior recovery of hydrocarbon from intragranular-dominant pore structures is despite its inferior initial production rate.

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