Application of the GasGun™ in Kansas Oil and Gas
Dwayne McCune, North Midcontinent PTTC
Richard Schmidt, J Integral Engineering, Inc.
The frequency of using the GasGun™ to stimulate oil and gas wells
in Kansas has increased significantly in the past two years. Explosive
stimulation of wells is nearly as old as the oil business. However, the
GasGun™ incorporates modern science and techniques to provide a
safer, more controllable stimulation, which is also relatively inexpensive.
Kansas operators have applied the GasGun™ in over 240 wells with
a wide range of results. The technique has been applied in limestone and
sandstone in widely scattered regions of the state. Many wells which were
uneconomical have been revived and many years of commercial production
Not all wells are candidates, nor are all treatments successful. The
developer of the process has relied upon the successes and failures to
establish screening criteria for determining logical stimulation candidates.
The GasGun™ is a stimulation treatment for oil and gas wells that
utilizes a low, solid- propellant explosive to generate high-pressure
gas and create fractures in reservoirs. Developed by J Integral Engineering,
Inc., of West Linn, Oregon, and Sandia National Laboratories, the process
has had reasonable success in the Illinois Basin and recently, over 240
applications have been conducted in Kansas.
The tool, which is normally run on wireline, contains a solid propellant,
that rapidly generates high-pressure gas when it burns. Multiple fractures
radiating 10 to 100 feet from the wellbore are created by the progressively-burning
propellants, which are much more effective at creating fractures than
high explosives such as nitroglycerine.
The GasGun comes in a standard diameter of 3¼” and in lengths
of 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 feet. The treatment can be performed in cased wells
or open-hole completions.
The advantages of the GasGun over hydraulic fracturing is that there
is minimal vertical growth of fractures, multiple fractures are created,
the entire zone is stimulated, there is no need to inject fluids, less
equipment is needed, and the cost is much lower. While not considered
as a complete replacement for hydraulic fracturing or acidizing, it has
applicability in many marginal wells where the expense of a fracture treatment
can not be justified, or as an initial treatment prior to acidizing or
In Kansas, one operator has been successful in utilizing the GasGun to
stimulate tight sections in the Arbuckle, allowing for low-pressure acid
treatments. In a recent application, six wells were shot with the GasGun,
and only one was considered to be unsuccessful, as it broke into the water
zone. Three of the treatments were obvious successes. Over a period of
two months, the combined production of the three wells rose from 8.7 BOPD
prior to treating to 30 BOPD. Due to the relatively inexpensive cost of
the treatments, payout often occurs in days or weeks. The operator is
continuing to monitor the wells and will soon be performing similar treatments
on additional wells.
The same operator utilized the process to complete a Simpson sandstone
well that was tight in the producing zone and was underlain by an aquifer.
After perforating and stimulating the well with the GasGun, the well was
hydraulically fractured at lower than normal pressure and no communication
with the aquifer occurred.
A well in Russell County was stimulated with two 4’ GasGuns on
top of a bridge plug at depth of 2385’. This Tarkio limestone well
went from 0 to 5 barrels of oil per day with a considerable quantity of
Other zones treated include the Mississippian, Pawnee, Fort Scott, Altamont,
Bartlesville, Burgess, and Cherokee.
Experiences in other states indicate the process has applicability in
limestone, sandstone or shale, and possibly coal.
Stimulating Arbuckle producers presents special challenges. Apply too
much horsepower and, even if just acidizing, one can easily find the ocean.
Hydraulic fracturing produces a fracture that follows the path of least
resistance, and, in the Arbuckle, experience shows that that path is vertically
down into the water-bearing zone. Gas-generating, solid-propellant stimulation
treatments using GasGunTM technology are proving to be one option that
can produce fractures that stay in the zone treated and avoid finding
For many formations, a GasGun treatment alone may be enough stimulation.
In the Arbuckle, producers are using these treatments to produce a fracture
network in the formation that provides a conduit for a subsequent acid
treatment. The acid typically goes in on vacuum and increases oil production
with little or no change in the percentage of water production. As of
July 2003, 240 GasGun treatments have been conducted in Kansas including
70 in the Arbuckle dolomite. Economic success has been achieved in approximately
70% of these wells with a two- to three- fold increase in oil production
normal. In a few cases, production increase has been 10 to 22 times the
Early in the history of the oil industry, many wells were stimulated
with high explosives. But problems of wellbore damage, safety hazards
and unpredictable results caused usage to decline. Extensive research
on solid propellants that deflagrate rather than detonate has led to safe
and more effective options.
Building on research conducted at Sandia National Laboratories in the
early 1970s and a DOE Small Business Innovation Research grant, one such
option, known as the GasGun™, became commercially available in July
Updated February 2003