The permeability of shale is a significant and important design parameter for shale gas extraction. The shale gas permeability is usually obtained based on Darcy flow using standard laboratory permeability tests done on core samples, that do not account for different transport mechanisms at high pressures and anisotropic effects in shales due to nano-scale pore structure. In this study, the permeability of shale is predicted using a pore network model. The characteristics of pore structure can be described by specific parameters, including porosity, pore body and pore throat sizes and distributions and coordination numbers. The anisotropy was incorporated into the model using a coordination number ratio, and an algorithm that was developed for connections of pores in the shale formation. By predicting hydraulic connectivity and comparing it with several high-pressure permeability tests, the proposed three-dimensional pore network model was verified. Results show that the prediction from the anisotropic pore network model is closer to the test results than that based on the isotropic pore network model. The predicted permeability values from numerical simulation using anisotropic pore network model for four shales from Qaidam Basin, China are quite similar to those measured from laboratory tests. This study confirmed that the developed anisotropic three-dimensional pore network model could reasonably represent the natural gas flow in the actual shale formation so that it can be used as a prediction tool.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes