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Open AccessArticle

Application of the Fractal Method to the Characterization of Organic Heterogeneities in Shales and Exploration Evaluation of Shale Oil

Institute of Unconventional Oil and Gas, State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base, Northeast Petroleum University, Daqing 163318, China
State Key Laboratory of Oil and Gas Reservoir Geology and Exploitation, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610051, China
PetroChina Daqing Oilfield Company, China National Petroleum Corporation, Daqing 163318, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7(4), 88;
Received: 17 February 2019 / Revised: 23 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Mineral Resource Mining)
The first member of the Qingshankou Formation, in the Gulong Sag in the northern part of the Songliao Basin, has become an important target for unconventional hydrocarbon exploration. The organic-rich shale within this formation not only provides favorable hydrocarbon source rocks for conventional reservoirs, but also has excellent potential for shale oil exploration due to its thickness, abundant organic matter, the overall mature oil generation state, high hydrocarbon retention, and commonly existing overpressure. Geochemical analyses of the total organic carbon content (TOC) and rock pyrolysis evaluation (Rock-Eval) have allowed for the quantitative evaluation of the organic matter in the shale. However, the organic matter exhibits a highly heterogeneous spatial distribution and its magnitude varies even at the millimeter scale. In addition, quantification of the TOC distribution is significant to the evaluation of shale reservoirs and the estimation of shale oil resources. In this study, well log data was calibrated using the measured TOC of core samples collected from 11 boreholes in the study area; the continuous TOC distribution within the target zone was obtained using the △logR method; the organic heterogeneity of the shale was characterized using multiple fractal models, including the box-counting dimension (Bd), the power law, and the Hurst exponent models. According to the fractal dimension (D) calculation, the vertical distribution of the TOC was extremely homogeneous. The power law calculation indicates that the vertical distribution of the TOC in the first member of the Qingshankou Formation is multi-fractal and highly heterogeneous. The Hurst exponent varies between 0.23 and 0.49. The lower values indicate higher continuity and enrichment of organic matter, while the higher values suggest a more heterogeneous organic matter distribution. Using the average TOC, coefficient of variation (CV), Bd, D, inflection point, and the Hurst exponent as independent variables, the interpolation prediction method was used to evaluate the exploration potential of the study area. The results indicate that the areas containing boreholes B, C, D, F, and I in the western part of the Gulong Sag are the most promising potential exploration areas. In conclusion, the findings of this study are of significant value in predicting favorable exploration zones for unconventional reservoirs. View Full-Text
Keywords: fractal; box-counting; Hurst exponent; shale oil; Songliao Basin; China fractal; box-counting; Hurst exponent; shale oil; Songliao Basin; China
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Liu, B.; Yao, L.; Fu, X.; He, B.; Bai, L. Application of the Fractal Method to the Characterization of Organic Heterogeneities in Shales and Exploration Evaluation of Shale Oil. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7, 88.

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