The paper is an update to the current status of laser drilling technique - the first fundamental change to rotary drilling. We begin with a brief note on history of physical tests in 60's and 70's which were limited by the laser technology and low power available at that time. Seven lasers have been identified for potential use in the upstream oil industry. Each rock type has a set of optimal laser parameters to minimize specific energy as observed in the linear track tests. Current efforts are focused on underwater laser drilling.

Next, stress has been put on the basic scientific principles that can bring laser drilling within reach of an industry-supported prototype. Hence, the methods of delivering laser radiation and rock removal from wells drilled followed by parameters like feasibility, economics, benefits and environmental impact related to laser drilling have been discussed.

Laser drilling is found to be more efficient, cleaner way to drill and perforate wells through hard rock formations encountered at greater depths. The effects of the laser rock interaction on permeability have also been studied. Laser perforation resulted in permeability improvements. One of the major advantages of laser drilling is its potential to reduce drilling time. Lasers cut drilling time by not contacting the rock, eliminating the need to stop and replace a mechanical bit. Finally, we end with a discussion on the wider scope of laser technology for on-site tasks including cutting windows for side exiting casing or laterals, extended perforations that connect additional reservoir rock to the well bore, and removal of objects lost down hole that would normally require drill out or fishing operations.

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