A scientific drilling project to investigate natural gas in shale rock recently launched on the Danish island of Bornholm. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, together with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), completed a shallow drilling project of approximately 130 feet into the Alum Shale of the island within the research project GASH (Gas Shales in Europe, the first European interdisciplinary shale gas research initiative). These dense claystone packages from the Cambrian era are some 500 million years old, and may contain natural gas (methane). Also known as shale gas, this methane is regarded as a so-called unconventional natural gas, and could be an interesting new energy resource for Europe.
is referred to as shale gas when it is trapped in shales. Like any methane,
shale gas derives from organic matter. Over a period of hundreds of millions of
years, deposits of plant debris can decompose to crude oil and natural gas, if
they are covered by sedimentary deposits under the necessary pressure and
temperature conditions. In the case of shale gas, the process differs somewhat:
Before it can seep into larger reservoirs, it is trapped in the rock. For this
to occur, the rock must be compact – composed of very small individual grains –
and shale has such properties. Shale gas deposits are considered unconventional
because, in contrast to conventional oil and natural gas systems, the gaseous claystone
package provides three individual functions – as the mother rock in which the
gas is formed, as a reservoir rock in which the matured gas is stored and as a
cap rock that prevents the methane from escaping.
at the GFZ investigate these processes and potential deposits in Europe in the
international-scale research program GASH, because the geological conditions
that lead to the shale gas formation and preservation in Europe, as of yet, have
not been explored very well. The drilling on Bornholm
is intended to improve the knowledge on this subject, by analyzing the obtained
cores with geological, geochemical, geophysical and geomechanical methods. To
this end, the mobile laboratory "BugLab" of the GFZ will be
transported to Bornholm.
drilling took about 3 days. In order to validate the results, a second core was
drilled close to the first borehole, which will remain with the GEUS in Denmark.
Finally, the drilling was followed by geophysical examinations using 3-D
seismics and water samples.
individual projects are implemented in the joint research project GASH. In
addition, GASH is developing a European-wide black shale database that for the
first time combines all the available geological information on black shales in
Europe. Research partners are the German
GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ and several European universities and research
institutions. The GASH project will run over a 3-year period (2009 to 2012),
and is coordinated by the GFZ.
Drilling into Shale to Explore New Energy
August 27, 2010