Tight gas

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An illustration of tight gas compared to other types of gas deposits. (Non) Conventional Deposits.svg
An illustration of tight gas compared to other types of gas deposits.

Tight gas is natural gas produced from reservoir rocks with such low permeability that massive hydraulic fracturing is necessary to produce the well at economic rates. Tight gas reservoirs are generally defined as having less than 0.1 millidarcy (mD) matrix permeability and less than ten percent matrix porosity. [1] [2] Although shales have low permeability and low effective porosity, shale gas is usually considered separate from tight gas, which is contained most commonly in sandstone, but sometimes in limestone. Tight gas is considered an unconventional source of natural gas.

Natural gas fossil fuel

Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium. It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas.

Hydraulic fracturing well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a hydraulically pressurized liquid

Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid. The process involves the high-pressure injection of 'fracking fluid' into a wellbore to create cracks in the deep-rock formations through which natural gas, petroleum, and brine will flow more freely. When the hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, small grains of hydraulic fracturing proppants hold the fractures open.

A darcy and millidarcy are units of permeability, named after Henry Darcy. They are not SI units, but they are widely used in petroleum engineering and geology. Like some other measures of permeability, a darcy has dimensional units in length².


Rock with permeabilities as little as one nanodarcy, reservoir stimulation may be economically productive with optimized spacing and completion of staged fractures to maximize yield with respect to cost. [3]

Reservoir simulation

Reservoir simulation is an area of reservoir engineering in which computer models are used to predict the flow of fluids through porous media.


Some examples of tight gas reservoirs are:

Wattenberg Gas Field

The Wattenberg Gas Field is a large producing area of natural gas and condensate in the Denver Basin of central Colorado, USA. Discovered in 1970, the field was one of the first places where massive hydraulic fracturing was performed routinely and successfully on thousands of wells. The field now covers more than 2,000 square miles between the cities of Denver and Greeley, and includes more than 23,000 wells producing from a number of Cretaceous formations. The bulk of the field is in Weld County, but it extends into Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, and Larimer Counties.

Denver Basin

The Denver Basin, variously referred to as the Julesburg Basin, Denver-Julesburg Basin, or the D-J Basin, is a geologic structural basin centered in eastern Colorado in the United States, but extending into southeast Wyoming, western Nebraska, and western Kansas. It underlies the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.

Mesaverde Formation

The Mesaverde Formation is a Late Cretaceous geologic formation found in areas of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, in the Western United States.

See also

Related Research Articles

Petroleum geology is the study of origin, occurrence, movement, accumulation, and exploration of hydrocarbon fuels. It refers to the specific set of geological disciplines that are applied to the search for hydrocarbons.

Permeability in fluid mechanics and the earth sciences is a measure of the ability of a porous material to allow fluids to pass through it.

Coalbed methane, coalbed gas, coal seam gas (CSG), or coal-mine methane (CMM) is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries.

Petroleum reservoir

A petroleum reservoir or oil and gas reservoir is a subsurface pool of hydrocarbons contained in porous or fractured rock formations. Petroleum reservoirs are broadly classified as conventional and unconventional reservoirs. In case of conventional reservoirs, the naturally occurring hydrocarbons, such as crude oil or natural gas, are trapped by overlying rock formations with lower permeability. While in unconventional reservoirs the rocks have high porosity and low permeability which keeps the hydrocarbons trapped in place, therefore not requiring a cap rock. Reservoirs are found using hydrocarbon exploration methods.

Petrophysics is the study of physical and chemical rock properties and their interactions with fluids.

Extraction of petroleum removal of petroleum from the earth

The extraction of petroleum is the process by which usable petroleum is drawn out from beneath the earth's surface location

San Juan Basin geologic structural basin

The San Juan Basin is a geologic structural basin located near the Four Corners region of the Southwestern United States. The basin covers 7,500 square miles and resides in northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, and parts of Utah and Arizona. Specifically, the basin occupies space in the San Juan, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and McKinley counties in New Mexico, and La Plata and Archuleta counties in Colorado. The basin extends roughly 100 miles N-S and 90 miles E-W.

Piceance Basin

The Piceance Basin is a geologic structural basin in northwestern Colorado, in the United States. It includes geologic formations from Cambrian to Holocene in age, but the thickest section is made up of rocks from the Cretaceous Period. The basin contains reserves of coal, natural gas, and oil shale. The name likely derives from the Shoshoni word /piasonittsi/ meaning “tall grass”.

Bakken Formation

The Bakken Formation is a rock unit from the Late Devonian to Early Mississippian age occupying about 200,000 square miles (520,000 km2) of the subsurface of the Williston Basin, underlying parts of Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The formation was initially described by geologist J.W. Nordquist in 1953. The formation is entirely in the subsurface, and has no surface outcrop. It is named after Henry Bakken, a farmer in Tioga, North Dakota, who owned the land where the formation was initially discovered, during drilling for oil.

Bend Arch–Fort Worth Basin

The Bend Arch–Fort Worth Basin Province is a major petroleum producing geological system which is primarily located in North Central Texas and southwestern Oklahoma. It is officially designated by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as Province 045 and classified as the Barnett-Paleozoic Total Petroleum System (TPS).

Haynesville Shale

The Haynesville Shale is an informal, popular name for a Jurassic Period rock formation that underlies large parts of southwestern Arkansas, northwest Louisiana, and East Texas. It lies at depths of 10,500 to 13,000 feet below the land’s surface. It is part of a large rock formation which is known by geologists as the Haynesville Formation. The Haynesville Shale underlies an area of about 9,000 square miles and averages about 200 to 300 feet thick. The Haynesville Shale is overlain by sandstone of the Cotton Valley Group and underlain by limestone of the Smackover Formation.

Montney Formation

The Montney Formation is a stratigraphical unit of Lower Triassic age in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in British Columbia and Alberta.

Cardium Formation

The Cardium Formation is a stratigraphic unit of Late Cretaceous age in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. It takes the name from the fossilized Cockle (Cardiidae) shells that it contains, and it was first described along the Bow River banks by James Hector in 1895. It is present throughout western Alberta and in northeastern British Columbia, and it is a major source of petroleum and natural gas.

Tight oil light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone

Tight oil is light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone. Economic production from tight oil formations requires the same hydraulic fracturing and often uses the same horizontal well technology used in the production of shale gas. While sometimes called "shale oil", tight oil should not be confused with oil shale, which is shale rich in kerogen, or shale oil, which is oil produced from oil shales. Therefore, the International Energy Agency recommends using the term "light tight oil" for oil produced from shales or other very low permeability formations, while the World Energy Resources 2013 report by the World Energy Council uses the terms "tight oil" and "shale-hosted oil".

The Mansfield Natural Gas Field is located west of Mansfield, Ohio, within the Appalachian foreland basin. The field is 1.5 miles long by 1.4 miles wide and is in a general oval shape, stretching northward. This field, although small, is an analog for many of the natural gas fields that occur within the Appalachian Basin. It was first discovered by the Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company in the early 1930's. It is part of the Utica – Lower Paleozoic system, which is estimated to make up 15 to 20 percent of the total hydrocarbon abundance of the Appalachian Basin.

Halibut Oil Field

The Halibut Field, is an oil field, within the Gippsland Basin. The oil field is located approximately 64 km offshore of southeastern Australia. The total area of this field is 26.9 km2 and is composed of 10 mappable units.

Kapuni is an onshore natural gas-condensate field located in the Taranaki Basin, a ~100,000 km2 partially-inverted rift basin on the Taranaki Peninsula in the North Island, New Zealand. Discovered in 1959 and brought into production in 1970, Kapuni remained New Zealand's only producing gas-condensate field until the offshore Maui gas field began production in 1979.


  1. Ben E. Law and Charles W. Spencer, 1993, "Gas in tight reservoirs-an emerging major source of energy," in David G. Howell (ed.), The Future of Energy Gasses, US Geological Survey, Professional Paper 1570, p.233-252.
  2. Ali Sharif, Tight gas resources in Western Australia, Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum, Sept. 2007.
  3. McCoy, Mark; W. Neal Sams (2007). "Tight Gas Reservoir Simulation: Modeling Discrete Irregular Strata-Bound Fracture Networks and Network Flow, Including Dynamic Recharge from the Matrix" (PDF). National Energy Technology Laboratory . Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  4. Alan Petzet, "Wintershall starts Dutch North Sea tight gas flow," Oil and Gas Journal, 6 Mar. 2012.