Sand Management and Sand Control

Topics: Sand management/control

I suppose that many of us are taking a deep breath just now.  Many of us could be revisiting how we have been completing wells and what we might be able to improve. These improvement areas often involve some sort of trade-off between well deliverability and well/completion costs (in terms of equipment and rig time to deploy these various alternatives). I suspect that we all have been involved with completions where these two areas are debated.

In my experience, it seems that much of our discussion revolves around what the various participants “feel” is the best approach. Much of the decision eventually hinges on what we will do in the short term (deployment) rather than in the long term (deliverability). The reason is, in my opinion, that we are fairly sure about the near-term items (related to cost) but often very uncertain about the longer-term items (deliverability as a result of how well we deployed the lower completion). Why is it that many of our completion quality decisions are focused on cost and not deliverability?

I can think of two primary reasons: (a) We lack the metrics to support our decisions and (b) we do not have consistent practices (e.g., laboratory and design work, deployment processes) across our wells to allow us to compare our results.  I suspect that you can think of ­others. Both of these areas offer improvement opportunities.

For those of us who have a robust set of metrics to evaluate our overall sand-control planning and deployment process, if the preparation work (e.g., core testing, compatibility testing, equipment selection) is not carried out in a consistent fashion, the variation in results as depicted in our metrics would not lead us to a specific course for improvement because the variation from well to well might simply be explained away by the differences in planning and execution.

Given the preceding idea, could the development of consistent practices be a critical first step on our journey toward achieving improvements in completion quality? The list of those practices that we should carry out in a consistent manner is quite long.  For sand-control applications, we could start with those activities that occur early in the design process.

After reviewing the many high-­quality technical papers written over the past year, I have found a few that I think offer a good place for you to start your journey toward consistency. The three summarized papers are all related to the selection of proppant and screens in your sand-control completions. I am not promoting any one of these papers over the others. However, I am suggesting that whatever your organization does in this area, your organization should do it consistently. You may find your organization’s new, preferred approach to proppant and screen selection in one or more of the presented articles.

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 178966 Sand-Retention Testing: Reservoir Sand or Simulated Sand—Does It Matter? by Tracey Ballard, Weatherford, et al.

SPE 179036 Sand-Screen Design and Optimization for Horizontal Wells Using Reservoir Grain-Size-Distribution Mapping by Mahdi Mahmoudi, University of Alberta, et al.


R.J. Wetzel, SPE, is a drilling and completions senior adviser and the team lead for the SandFace Completions Team at Chevron Energy Technology Company. He has 36 years of experience, in all geographic areas, in various aspects of drilling, completions, and workover. Wetzel has performed technical, operations, and management roles. In addition to supplying technical support for Chevron’s business units through the SandFace Completions Team, he also participates in numerous design reviews of Chevron’s major capital projects, with specific focus on drilling and completions design selection and deployment plans. Wetzel also manages the SandFace Completions technology-development program focused on improving Chevron’s lower-completion reliability and performance. He holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and serves on the JPT Editorial Committee. Wetzel can be reached at rjwetzel@hotmail.com.

Sand Management and Sand Control

R.J. Wetzel, SPE, Drilling and Completions Senior Adviser and Team Lead, Chevron Energy Technology Company

10 September 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 10