Shales are responsible for a number of significant issues in the subsurface such as overpressures and wellbore stability issues. On the positive side, shales form source rocks and seals to conventional hydrocarbon accumulations and they are also reservoirs in terms of shale gas plays. However, their long treatment as non-reservoir rocks until very recent times means we have a limited understanding of their behaviour both at laboratory and field scales. This paper describes a workflow for the thorough characterisation of shales with respect to their mechanical, physical, rock physics and petrophysical properties, detailing the impacts of such factors as stress and mineralogy on rock property response. Preservation is noted to be critical in determining rock properties, especially where the pore fluid has an impact on rock properties, for example in electrical properties, strength/elastic stiffness (static and dynamic) and permeability. Partial saturation of water is also a critical factor in gas shales and will also have a significant effect on rock properties determination and interpretation in these rock types. The impact of water content on rock properties in both fully saturated and partially saturated shales will be discussed.


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