Sand control has evolved over the years; however, the fundamentals of screen sizing have not changed. Particle-size distribution remains the basis for most designs. Laser diffraction has provided better definition of fines, and greater focus is placed now on particle-shape characterization.
Our industry currently is challenged with developing more and more complex and difficult-to-produce reservoirs. Exploration and production companies are now compelled to develop assets that were not deemed viable in the past. Deepwater, remote, deep, hot, and viscous oil comes to mind; however, sand-producing reservoirs also rank high on this list. As reservoirs age, sand production becomes more difficult to manage, and is perhaps one of the most-difficult tasks engineers face today.
Sand control has evolved over the years; however, the fundamentals of screen sizing have not changed. Particle-size distribution remains the basis for most designs. Laser diffraction has provided better definition of fines, and greater focus is placed now on particle-shape characterization. For those of you interested in delving into these topics, paper SPE 199335 provides a good overview. Testing remains a key element of any sand-control endeavor. Several derivatives of screens are now on the market; however, the original wire-wrapped screens are still used extensively. The so-called segmented completions are a relatively new addition to the engineer’s arsenal. Splitting the wellbore into several sections, along with flow-control devices, offers benefits where heterogeneities are prevalent. Several operators have attempted through-tubing sand remediations—consolidation, gravel pack, straddle screens—with mixed results. Suffice to say, every job is unique and must be engineered as such. Job planning is the key.
Technology trends that hold promise include materials that conform to the borehole behind screens (i.e., shape-memory polymer) and downhole wireline logs to identify sand-producing intervals. To date, these technologies are not as mature as one would like. During my time as a production technologist, I craved these tools and did not have them. I’m glad to see this is beginning to change.
A final thought: Keep your sand control simple if you can. Complex is not necessarily better. I have managed to flow unconsolidated sands with simple slotted liners with great success.
This Month's Technical Papers
Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 196250 Unlocking Potential of Handil Shallow Oil Reservoir by Using Resin Sand Consolidation Technique by Aen Nuril Hadi, Pertamina, et al.
SPE 197351 The First Application of a Novel Cased Hole Selective Multizone Sand-Control Completion in the Gulf of Thailand by Thanudcha Khunmek, Mubadala Petroleum, et al.
SPE 199062 Sand-Control Optimization for Rubiales Field: Tradeoff Between Sand Control, Flow Performance, and Mechanical Integrity by Edgar Alberto Mayorga Cespedes, Ecopetrol, et al.
||Imran Abbasy, SPE, has 35 years of industry experience with a major service company and several midsized and large operating companies. He has held technical and leadership roles in production technology, drilling, completion engineering, and operations. Abbasy has worked in the North Sea, Middle East, Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, supporting completion design, artificial lift, well integrity, and production optimization. Currently, he is managing a mature producing asset in west Africa. Abbasy has authored several SPE papers and participated in SPE Applied Technology Workshops. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.|