Upper Carboniferous sandstones are one of the most important tight gas reservoirs in Central Europe. We present data from an outcrop reservoir analog (Piesberg quarry) in the Lower Saxony Basin of Northern Germany. This field-based study focuses on the diagenetic control on spatial reservoir quality distribution.
The investigated outcrop consists of fluvial 4th-order cycles, which originate from a braided river dominated depositional environment. Westphalian C/D stratigraphy, sedimentary thicknesses and exposed fault orientations (NNW-SSE and W-E) reflect tight gas reservoir properties in the region further north. Diagenetic investigations revealed an early loss of primary porosity by pseudomatrix formation. Present day porosity (7% on average) and matrix permeability (0.0003 mD on average) reflect a high-temperature overprint during burial. The entire remaining pore space is occluded with authigenic minerals, predominantly quartz and illite. This reduces reservoir quality and excludes exposed rocks as tight gas targets. The correlation of petrographic and petrophysical data show that expected facies-related reservoir quality trends were overprinted by high-temperature diagenesis. ... mehrThe present day secondary matrix porosity reflects the telogenetic dissolution of mesogenetic ankerite cements and unstable alumosilicates.
Faults are associated with both sealed and partially sealed veins near the faults, indicating localized mass transport. Around W-E striking faults, dissolution is higher in leached sandstones with matrix porosities of up to 26.3% and matrix permeabilities of up to 105 mD. The dissolution of ankerite and lithic fragments around the faults indicates focused fluid flow. However, a telogenetic origin cannot be ruled out.
The results of this work demonstrate the limits of outcrop analog studies with respect to actual subsurface reservoirs of the greater area. Whereas the investigated outcrop forms a suitable analog with respect to sedimentological, stratigraphic and structural inventory, actual reservoirs at depth generally lack telogenetic influences. These alter absolute reservoir quality values at the surface. However, the temperature overprint and associated diagenetic modification, which caused the unusually low permeability in the studied outcrop, may pose a reservoir risk for tight gas exploration as a consequence of locally higher overburden or similar structural positions.