An integrated experimental workflow for formation water characterization in shale reservoirs: A case study of the bazhenov formation

Ekaterina S. Kazak, Andrey V. Kazak, Felix Bilek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we aim to develop a new integrated solution for determining the formation water content and salinity for petrophysical characterization. The workflow includes three core components: the evaporation method (EM) with isotopic analysis, analysis of aqueous extracts, and cation exchange capacity (CEC) study. The EM serves to quickly and accurately measure the contents of both free and loosely clay-bound water. The isotopic composition confirms the origin and genesis of the formation water. Chemical analysis of aqueous extracts gives the lower limit of sodium chloride (NaCl) salinity. The CEC describes rock-fluid interactions. The workflow is applicable for tight reservoir rock samples, including shales and source rocks. A representative collection of rock samples is formed based on the petrophysical interpretation of well logs from a complex source rock of the Bazhenov Formation (BF; Western Siberia, Russia). The EM employs the retort principle but delivers much more accurate and reliable results. The suite of auxiliary laboratory methods includes derivatography, Rock-Eval pyrolysis, and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. Water extracts from the rock samples at natural humidity deliver a lower bound for mineralization (salinity) of formation water. Isotopic analysis of the evaporated water samples covered d18O and d2H. A modified alcoholic ammonium chloride [(NH4Cl)Alc] method provides the CEC and exchangeable cation concentration of the rock samples with low carbonate content. The studied rock samples had residual formation water up to 4.3 wt%, including free up to 3.9 wt% and loosely clay-bound water up to 0.96 wt%. The latter correlates well to the clay content. The estimated formation water salinity reached tens of grams per liter. At the same time, the isotopic composition confirmed the formation genesis at high depth and generally matched with that of the region's deep stratal waters. The content of chemically bound water reached 6.40 wt% and exceeded both free and loosely bound water contents. The analysis of isotopic composition proved the formation water origin. The CEC fell in the range of 1.5 to 4.73 cmol/kg and depended on the clay content. In this study, we take a qualitative step toward quantifying formation water in shale reservoirs. The research effort delivered an integrated workflow for reliable determination of formation water content, salinity lower bound, and water origin. The results fill the knowledge gaps in the petrophysical interpretation of well logs and general reservoir characterization and reserve estimation. The research novelty uses a unique suite of laboratory methods adapted for tight shale rocks holding less than 1 wt% of water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812-827
Number of pages16
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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