Argonne National Laboratory

High-brightness X-ray analysis can improve recovery of oil and natural gas

The oil and gas industries are undergoing a revolution that has opened previously inaccessible resources trapped in shale and tight-play formations. These reserves are estimated to dwarf traditional reserve quantities, but current extraction processes fall short, and recovery rates for unconventional oil are much lower than for conventional wells. Argonne National Laboratory scientists working with industry at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) have developed new techniques to more accurately map out the global distribution of pore sizes and how that distribution changes across the reserve bed as pressure for extraction is applied.