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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 57 (1973)

Issue: 4. (April)

First Page: 809

Last Page: 809

Title: Status of Gas-Stimulation Technology Employing Nuclear Explosions: ABSTRACT

Author(s): J. Toman, M. D. Denny, D. O. Emerson, J. H. Howard, R. M. Lessler, D. N. Montan, R. W. Terhune, H. A. Tewes

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Recent studies conclude that the tight gas sands in the Rocky Mountain region contain a resource potential of nearly 600 Tcf of natural gas. Of this amount, approximately 300 Tcf may be recovered through the use of nuclear explosives, assuming that nuclearly stimulated wells will produce for 50 years. This volume is equivalent to the present proved national gas reserves of 290 Tcf. Significant results have been obtained from full-scale tests conducted to date, namely Gasbuggy and Rulison. Additional progress has been made in further developing this technology, including (1) the successful testing of a small-diameter (less than 8-in.), low-tritium producing explosive designed specifically for gas-stimulation applications; (2) the completion of technical plans for the Rio B anco test which will stimulate a 1,200-ft gas-bearing section; (3) progress on computer-modeling studies comparing simultaneous versus sequential detonations in the same hole; (4) the formulation of the first experiment needed to develop a sequential explosion system.

Extensive studies also have been made on the safety of this technique. Detailed investigations show that users of the gas will be exposed to an increment of radioactivity equal to about 1% of the natural radioactivity in our background. Ground motion due to the nuclear detonation is unavoidable. However, by proper choice of yield, and location, and by sequential detonation, it can be controlled to limit inconvenience and damage such as plaster cracking. Public acceptance will depend largely on a clear understanding of the value of the benefits of the program as compared to the inconveniences involved. The benefits include additional local revenues to those near to stimulated fields, royalties to landowners, and, to the nation, an additional supply of natural gas, which is very much in demand.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists