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AAPG Bulletin, Preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 7 November 2022.

Copyright © 2022. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Numerical modeling of microfracturing and primary hydrocarbon expulsion in the Jurassic Lower Tuwaiq Mountain shale: A conceptual framework

Syed Haider, Tadeusz Patzek, Thomas Finkbeiner, and Ralf Littke

Ahead of Print Abstract

This paper presents a geomechanical model of microcrack growth coupled with thermal maturation data for the Tuwaiq Mountain Formation (TMF), Jafurah Basin, Saudi Arabia. We set out to capture the basin evolution in terms of resource capacity and pore pressure. The overpressure that evolves in the organic matter-rich units during kerogen-oil conversion controls the creation and growth of horizontal and vertical microcracks between 65 and 60 MYBP (million years before present), according to our model. The crack coalescence time varies between 2 and 5 Ma. Vertical microcracks formed 55-50 MYBP, at a higher overpressure than that for the horizontal microcracks. The rate of microcrack growth, organic matter content and thermal maturity control the timing of microcrack coalescence that creates a rock-spanning cluster, and enables primary migration of some of these hydrocarbons out of the source rock. With vertical permeabilities of 300-500 nD and expulsion efficiency of 70%, primary migration stopped 30-25 MYBP. Plastic bitumen and brittle solid pyrobitumen, produced during secondary cracking of oil to gas, remain in isolated clusters that sever flow pathways and limit loss of pore pressure. Flow of gas micro-bubbles and oil droplets through the plastic bitumen preserves the pore pressure for millions of years, with a pressure decrease of 5-10 MPa. Balancing the hydrocarbon mass, and assuming that 10 Ma is the shortest time required to disconnect flow, we estimate the final pressure in TMF to be between 6500 psi (45 Mpa) and 9000 psi (62 Mpa). The methane gas storage capacity of the TMF is 500-700 scf/ton-source rock (14.2-20 m3/ton-source rock).

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Please cite this AAPG Bulletin Ahead of Print article as:

Syed Haider, Tadeusz Patzek, Thomas Finkbeiner, Ralf Littke: Numerical modeling of microfracturing and primary hydrocarbon expulsion in the Jurassic Lower Tuwaiq Mountain shale: A conceptual framework, (in press; preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 07 November 2022: AAPG Bulletin, DOI:10.1306/10242221068.