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Practical Sand Management

22 – 24 April 2013

Dubai, UAE | The Address Dubai Marina

Technical Agenda

Session 1: Fundamentals of Sand Management––Know Your Enemy

Session Chairs: Colin McPhee, Senergy World; Tracey Ballard, Weatherford

Facilitators: Hani Qutob, Senergy World; Mansour Shaheen, Baker Hughes

Sand production and sand management are critical challenges in reservoir management and production operations. It is estimated that 70% of the world’s conventional oil and gas reserves are contained in sandstone reservoirs where sand production is likely to become a problem at some point during the life of the field. Sand production results in high removal/ disposal costs, equipment erosion, and significant maintenance expenditure. Sand production issues arise at the reservoir appraisal stage, where the risk of sand production must be quantified to formulate and cost the reservoir management strategy or to satisfy regulatory authorities, and in fields where sand production has been encountered and must be economically managed. Sand production strikes with varying degrees of severity, not all of which require action with time at constant production conditions and is frequently associated with clean up after stimulation. In other cases, sand production may lead to a well becoming seriously damaged, production being killed, or surface equipment becoming seriously damaged leading to catastrophic accidents (blow out).

The goal of sand management is to limit sand production to a level acceptable to wells and facilities while maintaining economic production over the asset life. It is essential to consider all viable options to find the best sand management strategy for the asset.

Key questions are:

  • Will my well produce sand? If so, where, when, and how much?
  • Can I live with sand, or do I have to exclude it?
  • If I don’t want to exclude sand, are there other options?
  • If I have to exclude sand, what is the optimum sand control technique for my wells?

Factors controlling the onset of sand production include inherent rock strength, naturally existing earth stresses, and additional stress caused by drilling, drawdown, and depletion.

The first part of the session recognises that accurate characterisation of the reservoir sand, in terms of strength and particle size variability, is the starting point for designing effective sand management strategies. This is easier said than done. Rock strength measurements are destructive and constrained by available core condition and geometry. Non-destructive strength index testing can aid in sample selection and rock strength modelling. Particle sizing is not necessarily straightforward—how do you select the samples to measure for lab testing? There are currently various methods for sand retention testing—how valid are these and how do you interpret the results?

The second part of the session is a breakout session to discuss and define the key issues and challenges in sand management.

Session 2: Sand Prediction

Session Chairs: Colin Jones, Chevron; Eddie Bowen, Superior Completion Services

One of the most important factors in any practical sand management strategy is the full understanding of whether a rock will fail during the production life cycle of a well and if the failed sand will be produced. There are many tools, philosophies, techniques, and methods for understanding the failure mechanisms like 1) Empirical—testing the well 2) Analogical—use of offset well data from nearby or similar reservoir data 3) Analytical—by performing strength test on cores or deriving strength from log based correlations, and 4) Finite Element Analysis—which can predict the onset of sand production and, for some models, the volume of sand produced.

In this session, we will present some of these proven methods and techniques as well as explore newer methods of predicting sand failure mechanisms. How does the way in which we drill, complete, and produce these wells affect these failure modes?

Session 3: Sand Management Strategies

Session Chairs: Jeffrey Bode, Resman; Ying Huo, Schlumberger

This session offers a perspective of how the sand control method is chosen based on economic reservoir development. The strategy ranges from managed production of well rates to control sand production, oriented perforation, and downhole methods of controlling sand such as gravel packs and fracpacks. However, the strategies that worked in the past may not be the right solution today. Optimisation should be part of the strategy in order to find the fit-for-purpose solution. Topside equipment (sand detector, separator, and sand disposal options) will also be incorporated in this session. Hence, we will focus not only on sand management downhole but on the surface as well.

Session 4: Sand Control Design and Selection Process

Session Chairs: Eddie Bowen, Superior Completion Services; Tracey Ballard, Weatherford

Facilitators: Colin Jones, Chevron; Sami Akel, Baker Hughes

Now that we have a better understanding of the failure mechanisms, strategies for managing sand control, and explored the fundamentals of sand management, it is time to unravel the sand control selection and design process. As with any completion, this process has several economic and operational concerns. Some of the economic concerns include cost of sand control, potential productivity reduction/increase caused by sand control, cost and risk incurred when ignoring/using inadequate sand control including lost production. Operational concerns include, but are not limited to expected well life, complexity of the completion, and environmental and safety concerns.

It is the proper evaluation of each of these concerns which will direct us to the right sand control solution for each application. Despite advances in technology, there is a tendency to stick to conventional, tried and tested techniques rather than try anything new. We will take a look at the various technological solutions available and how each of these solutions is selected based on the concerns at hand.

Proper sand control completions, installation, and design techniques should lead to reduced production costs and should consider the following points:

  • Provide efficient sand retention
  • Minimise cost and time
  • Design for well life to minimise workovers and interventions
  • Have a large bore to maximise the capability for future selective completions

Session 5: Practical Implementation

Session Chairs: Aaron J. Bonner, Halliburton; Jorge Rezende, Schlumberger

Sand production presents a major economical challenge to the industry and has a variety of different approaches and systematic solutions. Operators are constantly seeking the most economical solution which has to balance operational costs and well productivity.

Normally the common approach for those problems is kept within the scope of a project due to its complexity and costs. Solutions are available throughout the industry and sometimes more than one approach can be used for a specific sand production issue. The implementation of any solution is very complex and needs to address several interfaces and different levels of reservoir and production information. For the successful management of those projects, seeking the optimum solution requires a great effort from several groups in the industry. The objective of this session is to describe tools and processes which can lead to the implementation of different sand management methods.

Session 6: Life Cycle Management

Session Chairs: Chris Kalli, Chevron; Erik Schrama, Petroleum Development Oman

Sand management doesn’t stop after the wells have been completed and the surface facilities have been commissioned. For the entire lifetime of the field, sand needs to be managed proactively. This session addresses operating practices that have proven to be successful in extending run life of and minimising production upsets related to sand production.

Session 7: Topside Sand Management

Session Chairs: Basker Murugappan, Taqa E&P; George Varughese, Emerson

Topside sand management or surface sand management has the same key objectives which are:

  • Transporting sand without deposition in the surface system
  • Erosional constraints of sand transport and monitoring
  • Removal and disposal of sand with surface equipment

The goal here is to reduce the downhole sand control system and to allow the wells to produce and remove sand to surface. This will remove the downhole complexity of sand control installations and more importantly remove a major portion of the downhole pressure drops which in turn would increase well productivity.

A majority of these problems is directly related to our basic mindset of surface sand management. In general, topside facilities have a base case of no sand production at surface. 90% of topsides are initially designed with none or very little sand production from the wells. It is difficult to break down or change this mindset.

In recent years, new technologies have been used to address a number of these issues. However, there has been no concerted effort to develop a full topside management system using the newer monitoring, evaluations, and sand removal technologies.

Topside sand management has almost the same productivity value (or more value) as downhole sand management and yet it has had very little or no focus from the sand control industry.

This session will attempt to connect the dots between equipment and monitoring software to show how to set up a surface sand management system.

Session 8: Well Intervention and Sand Remediation

Session Chairs: Aaron J. Bonner, Halliburton; Erik Schrama, Petroleum Development Oman; Sami Akel, Baker Hughes

In this interactive session, the workshop attendees are asked to participate in a discussion and share experiences on well interventions related to sand management. Possible discussion topics are: retrofitting downhole sand control, sand clean outs in low pressure wells, workovers to remove and install another form of sand control, etc.