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Field Evaluation of the Caney Shale as an Emerging Unconventional Play, Southern Oklahoma
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The overall goal of this project is to establish the Caney Shale Field Laboratory in southern Oklahoma to conduct a comprehensive field characterization and to validate cost-effective technologies that will lead to a comprehensive development plan for the Caney Shale, characterized by high clay content and ductile behavior. 


Oklahoma State University, College of Engineering, Stillwater, OK
Oklahoma State University, Geology, Stillwater, OK
Oklahoma Geological Survey, Norman, OK
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Continental Resources Inc. Oklahoma City, OK

Caney shale field lab

The Caney Shale is an emerging unconventional resource play in the southern mid-continent Anadarko, Ardmore, and Arkoma basins. The Caney reservoir is approximately 60–300 m thick, rich in total organic carbon, contains a large oil resource platform, and has a strong natural gas drive. However, development has been hampered by high clay content and reactivity of the formation with water.

The first phase of the project (years 1 and 2) will focus on studying the Caney shale. The second phase of the project (years 3 and 4) will focus on field development, starting with a horizontal well being drilled in Caney.

The project’s first objective is development of an open, collaborative, and integrated program to comprehensively characterize the geological, petrophysical, and geochemical properties of the Caney Shale and its reservoir fluids. The geomechanical properties of clay-rich ductile shale are not known and can contribute to the know-how for fracturing such formations.

Secondly, the project aims to gain a fundamental understanding of hydraulic fracture initiation/propagation, fracture and proppant permeability, proppant embedment, and fluid-rock interaction in the Caney Shale using laboratory data, field observations, and modelling.

Finally, the project will validate the findings and recommendations from the first phase of the project by drilling, stimulating, and testing a horizontal well. Based on the results from this study, a development plan and best practices manual will be developed for the Caney Shale in southern Oklahoma. This will facilitate accelerated development of not only the Caney Shale play but also help develop understanding of ductile shale fracturing and exploration of upcoming unconventional resources.


Because this is an emerging play, the project intends to contribute to the fundamental understanding of Ductile Shales for applications in hydraulic fracturing; subsurface storage; carbon capture, utilization, and storage/enhanced oil recovery; and potential contribution of shales to well “plug and abandon,” ultimately allowing the team to safely, economically, and responsibly produce Caney Shale.

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DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

Industry Contribution: $12,135,800

Contact Information

NETL – Joseph Renk – Federal Project Manager (

Oklahoma State University – Mileva Radonjic, Principal Investigator (