The Use of Nuclear Explosives in Oil and Gas Production

CIM Bulletin, 1968

H. F. COFFER, Vice-President, Engineering & Research, H. E. GRIER and H. H. ARONSON, GER Geonuclear Corporation, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nuclear explosions are currently being planned for use in oil and gas production, the recovery of oil from oil shale, gas storage and copper leaching. The current status of each of these projects is discussed, with emphasis on the economics of each application. The first commercial application of nuclear explosives will be in gas stimulation. Project Gasbuggy will be rapidly followed by two additional shots, also related to gas production. These three events, each in a different formation, will be described in this paper with a discussion on their significance to the world's oil and gas industry. The use of nuclear explosives in oil and gas stimulation should be a standard accepted practice within a few years. Calculations based on explosions in media such as tuff, alluvium, granite and dolomite predict large increases in productivity when nuclear devices are used in tight, thick formations. The broken-up rock resulting from the explosion becomes the new well bore, with a production rate of six to twelve times that of a normally completed well. Also included in the paper is a discussion of the real or possible problems associated with nuclear explosive engineering. The only major foreseeable problem is the seismic shock wave. This limits the size of explosive which can be used near important surface structures. A discussion is included on the radiation problem, which we believe to be largely psychological in the case of contained explosions.
Keywords: Explosion, Explosives, Fracturing, kiloton, nuclear explosive, reservoir, Second Oil Shale Symposium, tuff, Oil, Oils, Production, Projects, Radiation, Rock, Rocks