A downhole tool, adapted to retain a shaped charge surrounded by a superatmospherically pressurized light gas, is employed in a method for perforating a casing and penetrating reservoir rock around a wellbore. Penetration of a shaped charge jet can be enhanced by at least 40% by imploding a liner in the high pressure, light gas atmosphere. The gas pressure helps confine the jet on the axis of penetration in the latter stages of formation. The light gas, such as helium or hydrogen, is employed to keep the gas density low enough so as not to inhibit liner collapse.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.