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Shale Reservoir Workshop: Analyzing Organic-Rich Mudrocks From Basin To Nano-Scale

Ursula Hammes, PhD

INSTRUCTOR: Ursula Hammes, PhD
DISCIPLINE: Geoscience, Unconventional Reservoirs
CEUS: 4.0

Contact SCA’s Training Department at to schedule an In-House course.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Geoscientists, reservoir engineers, and managers who desire to develop a better understanding of the geological, mechanical, and chemical character of mudrock systems and how mudrock attributes vary in the context of shale gas/oil reservoir exploitation.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONThis unique training course can be customized to your staff’s skill needs by choosing between the modules below. The class will utilize lectures, core examination and exercises, to address the reservoir characterization, sedimentology, facies, sequence stratigraphy, petrophysics, fractures, and geochemistry of shale-gas/oil bearing mudrocks.

This workshop focuses on rock-based interpretation of mudrocks from basin to nano-scale. Participants will learn how to use core, cuttings, geochemical, and petrophysical data to characterize mudrocks and apply mudrock depositional, sedimentological, sequence stratigraphic, geochemical and petrophysical principles to exploration areas and production assets in shale basins. Subsurface data from a variety of oil and gas shale plays will be examined.

Client management will pre-select 2, 4 or 5 of the Modules below for their private / in-house course.


  • Appraise the variety of shale systems from basin to nano-scale.
  • Characterize mudrock facies and identify facies and sequences in cores and be able to tie those to well-log character.
  • Assess and interpret geochemical data critical to understanding mudrock systems.
  • Judge controls on source rock deposition, reservoir heterogeneities, and determine frackable intervals.
  • Recognize and quantify the rock properties that will have an impact on completion success.
  • Learn how to characterize shale reservoirs.



Module 1: Approaches to understanding the geology of shale-gas/oil plays

  • Overview of organic-rich mudrock systems
    • Carbonate-dominated systems
    • Clastic-dominated systems
    • Mud-dominated systems
    • Examples from different North American resource plays
  • Techniques for characterization of mudrocks (overview)
    • Sedimentology
    • Sequence Stratigraphy
    • Geochemistry
    • Petrophysics
    • Seismic and Geomechanics
    • Fractures

Core viewing: Introduction to cores at the Bureau of Economic Geology (cores from Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Bossier, Bakken, Wolfcamp)

Module 2: Stratigraphic and depositional processes in shale basins:

  • Stratigraphic framework
    • Regional correlations and variations
    • Sequence stratigraphy (shelf to basin correlations)
    • Exercise
    • Interpretation of depositional environments in shale basins:
  • Facies interpretations
    • Carbonaceous shales (Haynesville, Eagle Ford example)
    • Siliceous shales (Barnett example)
    • Clay-rich shales (Neal Shale; Tertiary Shale)
  • Mudrock sedimentology
    • Sedimentary structures and depositional processes
  • Core descriptions (core examples tbd.)
  • Inter- and intrabasinal variations – examples from different shale basins (Haynesville, Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, Bakken, Wolfcamp)
  • Factors determining organic-rich deposits
    • Paleogeography
    • Ocean chemistry
    • Climate
    • Modern examples (Cariaco Basin)
    • Core Viewing

Module 3: Geochemical Tools and Geochemistry Review

  • Overview of definitions in source rock evaluation
  • Lithology: XRD and XRF
  • Organic-matter type and richness: Kerogen / TOC
  • Maturity: Rock-evaluation
  • Interpretation of Geochemical results – incorporating data
  • XRD and exercise
  • XRF and exercise
  • TOC and exercise
  • Rock-evaluation and exercise
  • Mudrock diagenesis (with thin-section photomicrographs)
  • Core viewing


Module 4: Reservoir characterization and reservoir quality of mudrocks

  • Porosity
    • Porosity from wire line logs, pitfalls and methods
    • Porosity from core measurements, pitfalls and methods
    • Porosity from SEM pictures; Comparison of point-counts and measured porosity
  • Permeability
    • Permeability measurements and pitfalls
  • Wireline logs
    • Methods for calculating TOC from wireline logs, δLogR and Multimin methods
    • Lithology and porosity and permeability measurements from wireline logs
  • Exercise
    • Fractures in mudrocks
  • Types of fractures
  • Control of fractures on fracs
  • Geomechanics of fractures
  • Core viewing


Module 5: Production and well completion

  • Influences on production
    • Reservoir pressure
    • Lateral lengths
    • Frac stages
    • Proppant types and volumes
    • Integration
  • Exercise: evaluating and finding best shale reservoirs using learned skills
  • Course Summary


OPTIONAL: 3-hour afternoon field trip to Eagle Ford/Austin Chalk outcrops in Austin!