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Proceedings Paper

Rock removal using high-power lasers for petroleum exploitation purposes
Author(s): Humberto G. Figueroa; A. LaGreca; Brian C. Gahan; Richard A. Parker; Ramona M. Graves; Samih Batarseh; Neal Skinner; Claude B. Reed; Zach Xu
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Paper Abstract

This paper describes the experimental results of selective rock removal using different types of high power lasers. US military owned continuous wave laser systems such as MIRACL and COIL with maximum powers of 1.2 MW and 10 kW and wavelengths of 3.8 and 1.3 mm respectively, were first used on a series of rock types to demonstrate their capabilities as a drilling tool for petroleum exploitation purposes. It was found that the power deposited by such lasers was enough to drill at speeds much faster than conventional drilling. In order to sample the response of the rocks to the laser action at shorter wavelengths, another set of rock samples was exposed to the interaction of the more commercially available high power pulsed Nd:YAG laser. To isolate the effects of the laser discharge properties on the rock removal efficiency, a versatile 1.6 kW Nd:YAG laser capable of providing pulses between 0.1 millisec and 10 millisec in width, with a maximum peak power of 32 kW and a variable repetition rate between 25 and 800 pulses/sec was chosen. With this choice of parameters, rock vaporization and melting were emphasized while at the same time minimizing the effects of plasma shielding. Measurements were performed on samples of sandstone, shale, and limestone. It was found that each rock type requires a specific set of laser parameters to minimize the average laser energy required to remove a unit volume of rock. It was also found that the melted material is significantly reduced in water saturated rocks while the drilling speed is still kept higher than conventional drilling.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2002
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 4760, High-Power Laser Ablation IV, (13 September 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.482140
Show Author Affiliations
Humberto G. Figueroa, PDVSA-Intevep (Venezuela)
A. LaGreca, PDVSA-Intevep (Venezuela)
Brian C. Gahan, Gas Technology Institute (United States)
Richard A. Parker, Gas Technology Institute (United States)
Ramona M. Graves, Colorado School of Mines (United States)
Samih Batarseh, Colorado School of Mines (United States)
Neal Skinner, Halliburton Energy Services (United States)
Claude B. Reed, Argonne National Lab. (United States)
Zach Xu, Argonne National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4760:
High-Power Laser Ablation IV
Claude R. Phipps, Editor(s)

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