POTENTIAL OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVES FOR PRODUCING HYDROCARBONS FROM DEPOSITS OF OIL, NATURAL GAS, OIL SHALE, AND TAR SANDS IN THE UNITED STATES.
BUREAU OF MINES WASHINGTON D C
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The appreciable difference between producible proved reserves and ultimate reserves and resources of hydrocarbon deposits is of such magnitude that much petroleum, natural gas, shale oil, and bitumen will not be produced unless significant technological progress is made in production techniques. The shattering effect of contained nuclear explosives and, to a lesser extent, the heat produced, have been considered as stimulative forces when the thickness, depth, and nature of such deposits permit considering the use of nuclear devices. The technical feasibility of using nuclear explosives cannot be evaluated fully at present. Additional information is needed on the effects of pressure, heat, and radioactivity on the solids and fluids of hydrocarbon deposits, the nature and extent of induced fractures in different rock media, and the possibility of isolating and confining or removing radioactive contaminants. Final technical feasibility can only be determined by a field test. If technical feasibility is established, economic feasibility will depend upon the comparative cost of producing hydrocarbons by nuclear explosives and by conventional means. It is probable that an economic comparison would favor nuclear stimulation only where devices of relatively high yield could be used practicably and safely. Author