In this work, a nanoporous template with a controllable channel diameter was used to simulate the oil storage ability of shale pore throats. On the basis of the wetting behaviours at the nanoscale solid-liquid interfaces, the seepage of oil in nano-channels of different diameters was examined to accurately and systematically determine the effect of the pore diameter on the oil storage capacity. The results indicated that the lower threshold for oil storage was a pore throat of 20 nm, under certain conditions. This proposed pore size threshold provides novel, evidence-based criteria for estimating the geological reserves, recoverable reserves and economically recoverable reserves of shale oil. This new understanding of shale oil processes could revolutionize the related industries.