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Liquid Explosives for Oil and Gas Wells


Study of Liquid Explosives to be Used in Oil and Gas Wells

Tech Area / Field

  • PHY-NGD/Fluid Mechanics and Gas Dynamics/Physics
  • MAT-EXP/Explosives/Materials

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov


  • Osborn Heirs Company, USA, TX, San Antonio\nLos Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos

Project summary

The purpose of the project is to investigate experimentally physical-chemical and detonating properties of liquid explosives (LE) under elevated temperatures and increased pressures conditions, existing in oil and gas wells in order these liquid explosives could be used to enlarge productive stratum oil-and-gas recovery.

Works under the project will result in getting liquid explosive basic-model, which is safe to handle and possesses stable characteristics under elevated temperatures and increased pressures conditions.

Productive stratum oil-and-gas recovery depends directly upon reservoir features of bearing strata: their porosity, fracturing, hardness, strata pressure and other features, which affect products recovery in different ways. Considerable amount of proven oil and gas fields have got potentially low strata pressure as well as output factor. These fields require additional methods, approaches and means of oil-and-gas recovery intensification. Recovery process arsenal includes plenty of methods to affect the productive stratum and well bottom, which intensify the process, increase products recovery and improve economic indexes of field operation. These methods include mechanical and explosive perforation, high-frequency electromagnetic field influence, shock wave and vibration influence, formation breakdown using gas-hydrodynamic and hydraulic methods, etc. Since the early 80’s liquid explosives started to be used for shock-wave stimulation of formation. On the assumption of the data available, the authors of the project consider that the wide use of liquid explosives for formation stimulation can facilitate the process of product recovery from proven fields and field under development. Firstly, liquid explosives can easily penetrate into surrounding rocks, which should result in formation of decked charge and thus lead to more deep explosive rupture of the stratum. This in its turn should increase the porosity and fracturing as well as partially or completely destroy sand plugs and hydrate deposits, extrude water from the cracks, pores and stratum channels. Consequently, one may expect the increase of products recovery. Secondly, liquid explosives detonate in very thing layers (~0,05 mm.), which provides the entry of LE detonation energy into thing cracks and pores of productive strata.

The operating temperature in modern oil and gas wells may reach 100-200 °С.

The preliminary research work, conducted by project participants regarding physical, chemical and detonating properties of various liquid explosives allows to conclude that LE may be used at temperatures in the well not less than 150 °С.

According to Project authors’ data, liquid explosive transfers detonation to practically any solid explosive very effectively. These LE characteristics can be used for perforating equipment performance reliability improvement. At present perforators’ shaped charges based on powerful solid explosives are widely used in gas-and-oil producing industry for secondary opening-up of oil and gas wells. The initiation of charges’ detonation is done in series by means of a detonating cord. Due to some reasons such initiation is not reliable enough. In particular, for instance, the majority of detonating cord’s sheaths are made of polyethylene, the deformation (lengthening) of which at temperatures about 100 °С may reach ~40 mm/m, which fundamentally weakens the contact between detonating cord and cumulative charge casing and thereby may decrease the value of initiating pulse even to the failure. In the improved cumulative charge design the solid explosive is detonated due to the detonation of liquid explosive, which is located in a small ampoule in solid explosive’s pole. Here, the liquid explosive itself is initiated by high-voltage electric pulse to which no great demands are made regarding duration and energy (<1 Joule). It provides application of small-size blasting generators of simplified design and to refuse the detonating cord.

To give the final answer regarding the reliability of liquid explosives application in oil and gas wells, it is necessary to conduct the following study:

- to determine chemical compatibility of liquid explosives’ components in a mixture and with structural materials at high temperatures and pressures;
- to choose the optimal composition of liquid explosive;
- to study the ability to preserve physical, chemical and detonating properties when the temperature and pressures are increased;
- to study the changing of impact sensitivity depending on temperature;
- to study the ability to initiate after random transmission of guided electrostatic charge;
- to trace the fluctuation of all parameters, being investigated, with time;
- to determine minimum thickness of detonating layer of the chosen liquid explosive at elevated temperatures and increased pressure.

Experimental and theoretical work, conducted within the frames of the Project will enable getting of fundamental data on physical-chemical and detonating features of liquid explosives under elevated temperatures and increased pressures conditions as well as data on how to utilize liquid explosives to intensify oil and gas recovery.

RFNC-VNIIEF has got wide experience in complicated manufacturing method development, study and creation of new materials, including explosives, and a base for experimental processing of explosives.

Participation of RFNC-VNIIEF weapon specialists in the project will redirect their creative and scientific potential towards solution of commercial tasks, establishment of business contacts with foreign scientists and integration of Institute staff into world scientific community.


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