A New Method to Estimate Total Organic Carbon (TOC) Content, an Example from Goldwyer Shale Formation, the Canning Basin

Munther Alshakhs*, Reza Rezaee
Petroleum Engineering Department, Curtin University, Kensington WA 6152, Australia

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© 2017 Alshakhs and Rezaee.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the 26 Dick Perry Avenue, Petroleum Engineering Department, Curtin University, Kensington WA 6152, Australia; Tel: +61 (0)414904145; E-mails:,



There is an increasing interest in the Goldwyer Formation of the Canning Basin as a potentially prospective shale play. This Ordovician shaly formation is one of the most prominent source rocks in the Canning Basin. One key property to evaluate the prospectivity of any shale oil or gas is its total organic carbon (TOC) richness.


This study investigates different TOC estimation techniques and validates the reliability of each, aiming to provide a best estimating approach for local and global applications.


The limited well distribution in the large area of the Canning Basin makes a basin-wide study not warranted at this stage. A focused look into the Barbwire Terrace was carried out instead. General TOC estimation methods, such as Schmoker and ∆logR were employed for TOC calculation. TOC relationships of single and multivariate regressions were also derived from wireline data and TOC rock sample measurements.


Both Schmoker and ∆logR methods tend to overestimate TOC when compared to the available Rock-Eval pyrolysis TOC measurements. The regression approach have shown to provide the best TOC estiamtes for wells in the Barbwire Terrace, where the best multiple regression approach for the terrace and global application was found to be the one derived from gamma-ray (GR), bulk density (RHOB), and sonic log transit time (DT).


The generalized nature of the Schmoker method, as it provides a global relationship between density and TOC is probably the main reason why this approach does not provide a good fit in the case of the Goldwyer Formation. Furthermore, the uncertainty associated with the ∆logR method factors, such as the level of maturity (LOM), and resistivity and sonic baselines greatly influence the TOC estimation in this method, and hence, sometimes do not merit a reliable TOC estimation. The multiple regression approach have shown to be most accurate once lithology and compaction information (GR, RHOB, and DT) were incorporated in the regression process. TOC was reliably estimated for wells inside and outside the Barbwire Terrace, and also for wells of a global lacustrine shale. Such derivation have provided a more accurate technical assessment of the shale play and its prospectivity as a potential unconventional hydrocarbon resource.

Keywords: Total organic carbon, TOC estimation, Regression analysis, Goldwyer formation, Canning basin.