Characteristics of clay-abundant shale formations: Use of CO2 for production enhancement

Chengpeng Zhang, Ranjith Pathegama Gamage, Mandadige Samintha Anna Perera, Jian Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Clay-abundant shale formations are quite common worldwide shale plays. This particular type of shale play has unique physico-chemical characteristics and therefore responds uniquely to the gas storage and production process. Clay minerals have huge surface areas due to prevailing laminated structures, and the deficiency in positive charges in the combination of tetrahedral and octahedral sheets in clay minerals produces strong cation exchange capacities (CECs), all of which factors create huge gas storage capacity in clay-abundant shale formations. However, the existence of large amounts of tiny clay particles separates the contacts between quartz particles, weakening the shale formation and enhancing its ductile properties. Furthermore, clay minerals' strong affinity for water causes clay-abundant shale formations to have large water contents and therefore reduced gas storage capacities. Clay-water interactions also create significant swelling in shale formations. All of these facts reduce the productivity of these formations. The critical influences of clay mineral-water interaction on the productivity of this particular type of shale plays indicates the inappropriateness of using traditional types of water-based fracturing fluids for production enhancement. Non-water-based fracturing fluids are therefore preferred, and CO2 is preferable due to its many unique favourable characteristics, including its minor swelling effect, its ability to create long and narrow fractures at low breakdown pressures due to its ultralow viscosity, its contribution to the mitigation of the greenhouse gas effect, rapid clean-up and easy residual water removal capability. The aim of this paper is to obtain comprehensive knowledge of utilizing appropriate production enhancement techniques in clay-abundant shale formations based on a thorough literature review.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1887
Number of pages27
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Clay minerals
  • CO
  • Formation damage
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Shale gas

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