ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0184.v1
Subject: Environmental And Earth Sciences, Geochemistry And Petrology Keywords: Over mature shale gas; Magnitude of isotope reversal; CH4 polymerization; CH4 cracking; Mud gas
Online: 13 June 2022 (10:41:14 CEST)
Exploration practices have proven that over mature shale gas exhibits a feature of carbon isotope reversal. The geochemical statistics indicate that the wetness (C2-C5/C1-C5) of shale gas with carbon isotope reversal is less than 1.8%. In addition, the magnitude of carbon isotope reversal (δ13C1- δ13C2) for the over mature shale gas presents a parabolic variation with decreasing wetness. δ13C1-δ13C2 increases with decreasing wetness within a wetness range of 0.9% ~1.8% and then decreases with decreasing wetness at wetness < 0.9%. The CH4 cracking experiment demonstrates that CH4 polymerization occurring in the early stage of CH4 cracking is an important factor involved in isotope reversal of over mature shale gas. Moreover, δ13C1- δ13C2 decreases with an increase in experimental temperature prior to CH4 substantial cracking. The values of δ13C1 and δ13C2 tend to equalize during CH4 substantial cracking. The δ13C1-δ13C2 of mud gas present at different depths during shale gas drilling in Sichuan Basin increases initially, then decreases with further increase in the depth and finally tends to zero, with only a trace hydrocarbon gas being detectable. Statistical data suggests that the shale gas production in Sichuan Basin decreases with the decreasing δ13C1-δ13C2 value and wetness. Thus, δ13C1-δ13C2 and wetness could potentially serve as useful criteria to screen CH4 cracking degree and to determine the largest depth of natural gas exploration. Great care should be taken during shale gas exploration in deeper layers, with wetness and δ13C1-δ13C2 less than 0.2% and 1%, respectively, since very low wetness (<0.2%) and δ13C1-δ13C2 (<1%) might be indicative of CH4 substantial cracking in a geological setting.