Capillary Fluid Dynamics within Unconventional Rocks Investigated by Scanning Electron Microscope
S. Zhang, L. Canter, M. Sonnenfeld.
Fresh cores from tight-rock samples of subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs retain mobile fluids. These fluids have complex chemical compositions and a large spectrum of molecules with different diameters and polarities. When investigated using high-resolution field-emission scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the imposed vacuum over hours of time causes pore fluids trapped in the rock sample to flow and interact with the mineral matrix. This paper reports the capillary fluid dynamics effect observed on freshly milled cross sections of tight chalk at high resolution. Multiphase fluid dynamic simulations confirm the aggregation of heavier fluid molecules on the geometrical irregularities of the pore space. As a consequence of this pitfall, the differentiation of solid organic matter versus variably viscous hydrocarbons from SEM data is subject to a fundamental revision.