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Product Code: JLA_15_1_25

Z. Xu
C. B. Reed
G. Konercki
Technology Development Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60540

R. A. Parker
Parker Geoscience Consulting, LLC, Arvada, Colorado 80403

B. C. Gahan
Gas Technology Institute, Des Plains, Illinois 60018

S. Batarseh
R. M. Graves
Department of Petroleum Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado 80401

H. Figueroa
Petroleos de Venezuela INTEVEP, S.A., Caracas 1070A, Venezuela

N. Skinner
Halliburton Energy Service, Carrollton, Texas 75006

Application of advanced high power laser technology to oil and gas well drilling has been attracting significant research interests recently among research institutes, petroleum industries, and universities. Potential laser or laser-aided oil and gas well drilling has many advantages over the conventional rotary drilling, such as high penetration rate, reduction or elimination of tripping, casing, and bit costs, and enhanced well control, perforating and side-tracking capabilities. The energy required to remove a unit volume of rock, namely the specific energy (SE), is a critical rock property data that can be used to determine both the technical and economic feasibility of laser oil and gas well drilling. When a high power laser beam is applied on a rock, it can remove the rock by thermal spallation, melting, or vaporization depending on the applied laser energy and the way the energy is applied. The most efficient rock removal mechanism would be the one that requires the minimum energy to remove a unit volume of rock. Samples of sandstone, shale, and limestone were prepared for laser beam interaction with a 1.6 kW pulsed Nd:yttrium–aluminum–garnet laser beam to determine how the beam size, power, repetition rate, pulse width, exposure time and energy can affect the amount of energy transferred to the rock for the purposes of spallation, melting, and vaporization. The purpose of the laser rock interaction experiment was to determine the optimal parameters required to remove a maximum rock volume from the samples while minimizing energy input. Absorption of radiant energy from the laser beam gives rise to the thermal energy transfer required for the destruction and removal of the rock matrix. Results from the tests indicate that each rock type has a set of optimal laser parameters to minimize specific energy (SE) values as observed in a set of linear track and spot tests. As absorbed energy outpaces heat diffusion by the rock matrix, local temperatures can rise to the melting points of the minerals and quickly increase observed SE values. Tests also clearly identified the spallation and melting zones for shale samples while changing the laser power. The lowest SE values are obtained in the spalling zone just prior to the onset of mineral melt. The laser thermally spalled and saw mechanically cut rocks show similarity of surface microstructure. The study also found that increasing beam repetition rate within the same material removal mechanism would increase the material removal rate, which is believed due to an increase of maximum temperature, thermal cycling frequency, and intensity of laser-driven shock wave within the rock. © 2003 Laser Institute of America.

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