Pressure sensitivity of shale permeability - How gas flow through shales changes with depth of burial and changes in gas pore pressure.

Impact: Economic, Environmental


By means of experimental high-pressure studies and theoretical analyses, the Rock deformation lab (Rutter, Mecklenburgh, Chandler) have explored how total and pore pressures impact upon the gas permeability of tight rocks (shales and tight-gas sandstones). This has included investigation through laboratory experiments of the fracture toughness characteristics of shales. This work is complemented by high resolution optical microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and X-ray imaging (including use of the Diamond synchrotron X-ray source) to visualise shale microstructures to a degree of resolution previously not attained (Ma, Fauchille, Taylor). Researchers argue that these data are essential to the development of well-engineered subsurface storage of gases and liquids that will be of increasing importance in the coming energy transitions. Part financed by NERC, part by Manchester shale gas consortium (Schlumberger, BG International, Chevron), work by the rock deformation lab aims to change industry mindset re characterization of well testing for gas in place and yield and eventually to commercialize the procedure. The lab hopes that it will bring about a step change in the way well tests are interpreted and make possible better economic decisions based on the results of well tests. Further, these data will progressively find their place in the design of subsurface reservoirs for the gases and liquids essential to future energy transitions.

Impact date2013
Category of impactEconomic, Environmental
Impact levelBenefit

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy
  • Policy@Manchester