Firms to Research Laser Drilling Technology
The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the U.S. Department of
Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) announced
that they have joined together to further investigate whether it is
commercially viable to drill for oil and natural gas using
high-powered, military-based lasers.
The project is a continuation of Gas Research Institute's (now
GTI) initial 1997 two-year basic research study, which set out to
determine whether applications of U.S. military "Star-Wars" laser
technology could be adapted to revolutionize century-old natural
gas drilling technology. The basic research project examined the
feasibility, costs, benefits and environmental impact of applying
military-developed laser technologies to drill and complete natural
GTI said the new study will focus on three fundamental research
areas: laser cutting energy assessment; variable pulse laser
effects; and laser drilling under fluid conditions. Project
partners include: the Colorado School of Mines; Argonne National
Laboratory (Laser Applications Laboratory); and industry partners
Petroleos de Venezuela, SA, and Halliburton Energy Services.
"This is the right time to investigate the drilling application
of laser technology," said Richard Parker, project director, GTI
E&P Services. "The oil and gas industry introduced a radical
change at the turn of the last century, displacing cable tool
drilling with rotary drilling. Since then, great strides have been
made in refining the rotary technique, but no fundamental
revolutionary changes have been introduced."
"There are two pressures acting on the drilling industry today;
more wells drilled per year to meet an increased demand for
product, and the recent rapid reduction in the available rig
count," added Brian Gahan, project principal investigator, GTI
E&P Services. "Now is the time to introduce a fundamental
improvement in drilling systems. We're hopeful encouraging results
from this study will generate industry interest in supporting the
development of a prototype laser drilling tool."
"NETL is pleased to include the laser drilling study in our
portfolio of advanced drilling technology development efforts,"
stated Bill Gwilliam, project manager with NETL's Gas Supply
Projects Division. "We are currently investigating a wide range of
new, and in a few instances, novel drilling completion and
stimulation technologies in our program. We are convinced that
breakthroughs in rate-of-penetration or extended drill bit life
will contribute to our overall efforts to improve the economics of
drilling for natural gas and oil in the United States." Alex Steis
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