Mudstones and shale gas
The mudstones and shale gas research group is a cross faculty research group focusing on the characterisation, analysis and modelling of mudstones as shale gas reservoirs, source rocks and seals from basin- to pore-scale. This includes regional sedimentology and basin evolution, diagenetic studies, rock mechanics and fracturing, high resolution tomographic imaging, fluid flow models and geomicrobiology.
In the context of shale gas exploration and production, there are many challenges which only fully integrated geoscience analysis can successfully address. The extraction of natural gas from deep, carbon-rich mudstones is predicted to be the largest contributor to growth in natural gas production in many countries around the world over the next 30 years. However, there are major questions over the basin-scale variability in organic matter content and maturation within gas-bearing successions and how such variability can be understood to aid in the identification of sweet spots, especially in poorly explored shale basins. The fracking efficiency of shale-gas reservoirs is controlled by shale mineralogy and pressure regime, among others, and once again predictive capability in this area is still poorly developed.
The University of Manchester has an extensive range of both academic expertise and modern infrastructure highly applicable to addressing the issues above. These include sedimentology, sequence stratigraphy and basin analysis; petrology and mineralogy; one of the most extensive suite of X-ray CT scanning facilities in the world, allowing imaging of rock structure and porosity from macro- down to micron-scale; dedicated experimental facilities for rock mechanics, fracturing studies, permeability measurement and petrophysics; organic and inorganic geochemistry and geomicrobiology; and isotopic analysis for noble gas tracing of hydrocarbon and CO2 sequestration related systems.
Research funding is received from a range of oil and gas companies and the research council (NERC). An industrially-funded research consortium (MSGR) is also currently run through the group.
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