Shale gas systems serve as sources, reservoirs, and seals for unconventional natural gas accumulations. These reservoirs bring numerous challenges to geologists and petroleum engineers in reservoir characterization, most notably because of their heterogeneous character due to depositional and diagenetic processes but also because of their constituent rocks' fine-grained nature and small pore size—much smaller than in conventional sandstone and carbonate reservoirs. Significant advances have recently been achieved in unraveling the gaseous hydrocarbon generation and retention processes that occur within these complex systems. In addition, cutting-edge characterization technologies have allowed precise documentation of the spatial variability in chemistry and structure of thermally mature organic-rich shales at the submicrometer scale, revealing the presence of geochemical heterogeneities within overmature gas shale samples and, notably, the presence of nanoporous pyrobitumen. Such research advances will undoubtedly lead to improved performance, producibility, and modeling of such strategic resources at the reservoir scale.


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