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Shale gas reserve evaluation by laboratory pyrolysis and gas holding capacity consistent with field data

Whitelaw, Patrick; Uguna, Clement N.; Stevens, Lee A.; Meredith, Will; Snape, Colin E.; Vane, Christopher H.; Moss-Hayes, Vicky; Carr, Andrew D.


Patrick Whitelaw

Senior Research Fellow

Professor of Chemical Technology & Chemical Eng

Christopher H. Vane

Vicky Moss-Hayes

Andrew D. Carr


Exploration for shale gas occurs in onshore basins, with two approaches used to predict the maximum gas in place (GIP) in the absence of production data. The first estimates adsorbed plus free gas held within pore space, and the second measures gas yields from laboratory pyrolysis experiments on core samples. Here we show the use of sequential high-pressure water pyrolysis (HPWP) to replicate petroleum generation and expulsion in uplifted onshore basins. Compared to anhydrous pyrolysis where oil expulsion is limited, gas yields are much lower, and the gas at high maturity is dry, consistent with actual shales. Gas yields from HPWP of UK Bowland Shales are comparable with those from degassed cores, with the ca. 1% porosity sufficient to accommodate the gas generated. Extrapolating our findings to the whole Bowland Shale, the maximum GIP equate to potentially economically recoverable reserves of less than 10 years of current UK gas consumption.


Whitelaw, P., Uguna, C. N., Stevens, L. A., Meredith, W., Snape, C. E., Vane, C. H., …Carr, A. D. (2019). Shale gas reserve evaluation by laboratory pyrolysis and gas holding capacity consistent with field data. Nature Communications, 10(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Aug 20, 2019
Publication Date 2019-12
Deposit Date Aug 2, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2019
Journal Nature Communications
Electronic ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Article Number 3659
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Physics and Astronomy; General Chemistry
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 1 May 2019; Accepted: 16 July 2019; First Online: 20 August 2019; : The authors declare no competing interests.


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