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IMPROVING GAS WELL DRILLING AND COMPLETION WITH HIGH ENERGY LASERS Brian C. Gahan Principal Technology Manager Samih Batarseh, Ph.D. Petroleum Engineer Robert W. Siegfried, Ph.D. Associate Director, Earth Sciences Gas Technology Institute. Des Plaines, Illinois 60018, U.S.A. ABSTRACT Modern mechanical methods for drilling oil and gas wells have been used by the industry since the mid 1800’s, borrowing from techniques used in early China. The last radical change was implemented around 1900, as rotary drilling displaced cable tools. Since then, great strides have been made in refining the rotary technique, however, no fundamental revolutionary changes in making hole have been introduced. Alternative methods to mechanical well construction have been considered and reviewed at cursory levels since rotary techniques were first introduced, however none have been seriously considered as a displacing technology. Industry experts in the 1960’s and 1970’s considered the use of photonic energy in well construction, however the technical application of lasers was dismissed as energy intensive and inefficient. Their conclusions from 40 years ago continue to influence industry misperceptions of laser applications, despite massive developments in laser systems and applications, particularly those associated with the “Star Wars” laser development programs