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Project Rulison and Other Underground Nuclear Technology: Abstract
Austral Oil Company's Project Rulison is the second joint industry-government sponsored gas stimulation experiment in the United States using a nuclear explosive, and was made possible under the provisions of the United States Atomic Energy's Plowshare Program.
Project Rulison, detonated September 10, 1969, was designed to evaluate the potential of developing the 2500'-3000' thick gas bearing Mesaverde formation in the Rulison Field, Garfield County, Colorado, using nuclear explosives.
The 40-kiloton explosive was emplaced and fired at a depth of 8426' inside 10-3/4" casing on a .72" diameter multiconductor armored cable. The detonation created a chimney in the order of 300-350' high and 75' in radius.
The project was accomplished in complete safety without harm to any person. Gaseous radiation concentrations were approximately 1/4 of that originally predicted and have radically declined during the early testing.
It is presently apparent that nuclear explosives can be developed which will have in the order of 1/10th the Rulison residual tritium, the main gaseous radionuclide of concern.
Although technical feasibility has been proven, economic feasibility has not yet been proven. It appears, however, that the use of multiple explosives fired simultaneously in the same wellbore will expose the massive sand thickness to a single elongated chimney and consequently greatly increase the flow rate.
At this point many of the major technological problems have been solved and the remaining ones will surely be solved in the near future. If this technology is successful it could be extremely helpful in meeting our increasing energy requirements.
Acknowledgments and Associated Footnotes
1 Austral Oil Company, Inc., Houston, Texas
Copyright © 2006 by the Tulsa Geological Society