The development of unconventional resource or ‘shale’ plays has dramatically changed the way in which reservoirs are evaluated and characterized. Mudstone facies that have been considered as seals and source intervals have become prolific reservoirs with the advent of horizontal drilling and multi-stage completions. Unlike conventional plays, resource plays have a greater degree of complexity and heterogeneity at a much smaller (pore) scale, yet these reservoirs are distributed basin-wide in many areas. While typical evaluation techniques common to conventional oil and gas reservoirs have been employed in the evaluation of resource plays, it is clear that these technologies are insufficient and that the tools used in characterizing finegrained rocks must improve. In North American basins the development of these plays has had the advantage of abundant well control, however, in the approach and an understanding of the scale of application and fidelity of each technology. In order to define areas of the greatest potential in new and existing basins, an integrated approach or ‘toolkit’ that contains multiple technologies at different scales of resolution will be a key innovation that may one day make resource plays conventional.


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