An experimental investigation to study the effect of pulsed-power discharge on rock fracturing for well stimulation



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The demand for domestic energy is being met recently with natural gas and oil from several shale basins of United States. This new source of energy has been commercialized by applying hydraulic fracturing (HF) method in horizontal wells. The HF methods is very expensive: each HF job requires a huge quantity of water and special grades of sand and ceramic particles called proppant that constitute over two-thirds of three to five million dollar. In addition to that, HF has been identified as a major concern for environmental risks, involving ground and surface water pollution, methane leakage and air/noise pollution created by pumping and truck fleets. Hence the need has come for a more efficient, affordable and a cleaner and green technology that can be used for well stimulation. In this thesis an investigation is done to study the use of extremely high wellbore pressure loading rate for creating complex fracture network around the wellbore. A series of laboratory experiments have been conducted to determine a suitable loading mechanism under controlled laboratory conditions. The first part of the study is design and characterization of the loading mechanism (IP information) to be employed in concentric bore in cement blocks. The second part consists of fracturing different cement block sizes to study the effect of single and multiple pressure loading. Analysis of the fractures shows that multiple pressure loading increases fracture population and width.