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SPE 39437

New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control
Tiffin, D. L., King, G. E., Larese, R. E., Britt, L. K., Amoco E&P

Copyright 1998, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Inc.
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1998 SPE Formation Damage Control Conference held in Lafayette, LA, 18-19 Feb. 1998.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not
been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers,
its officers, or members. Papers presented at SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage
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Guidelines for sand control completion technique and gravel
size selection are presented. These new criteria are based
primarily on reservoir sand size distribution. Emphasis is on
formations with very high fines content and a wide distribution
of grain sizes. Upon failure and/or particle movement, these
formations can exhibit very high skins and reduced production
capacity with traditional control methods. Guidelines are also
discussed for formations with little fines and a very uniform
grain size distribution.
Proposed criteria are based on field experience and
experiments conducted with reservoir cores from different sand
formations worldwide. Experiments were conducted by
“packing” different gravels at the effluent end of core plugs and
surging fluids through the plugs and gravel. Cases are presented
where traditional methods would lead to an overly restrictive
gravel pack and advantages are obtained with use of larger
This work attempts to provide easily determined guidelines to
help address the question of “What is the optimal sand control
technique for a weak or unconsolidated sand?” The guidelines
are based solely on reservoir sand size. No attempt is made to
determine when or if a reservoir will fail. The guidelines here
are for the case where the reservoir will fail during its producing
life and some type of sand control will be needed. Guidelines
are based on operating experience and simple lab testing.
Emphasis is on formations containing large amounts of fines,
since these fines can contribute to very high skins and reduced
production capacity with traditional control methods.
Current gravel pack completion designs generally do a good
job at preventing reservoir sand invasion with reservoir sand that
has a “normal” distribution pattern, but questions linger whether

rates could be increased and costs lowered with screen-only
completions. For reservoir sand distributions that are skewed
towards finer sands and/or where large amounts of fines
predominate, skins from traditional gravel pack and screen
completions can be high and failures have occurred.
Although gravel packing is a well established completion
mechanism, the amount of damage seen after packing is often
severe. The cause of this damage takes many forms, but
increasingly, the size and presence of formation fines is
recognized as one of the major contributors to this damage.* The
action of fines as a flow restriction in a gravel packed
completion is known, but often only considered as an existing
condition immediately after the completion. Often however,
skins increase over time with production, with migrating fines
blamed as a major culprit. Part of this work is based on a
hypothesis that the gravel pack design may actually be a
contributor to this damage in some cases. The basic hypothesis
that is presented and defended here is that some formations have
the “right” size of fines and sufficient quantities of the fines to
seal against the gravel pack, causing severe restrictions in flow.
The principle fines suspected are sub 325 mesh grains (clay
sized fines) from the formation. The origin of the fines is still a
point of research, but a few causes are understood about what
turns these fines loose in the formation. When these fines are
present in the right size or in large quantities, or when the
formations are poorly sorted (a very wide size range between
minimum and maximum grain size), the result is often invasion
by the finest particles into the pores, reducing permeability in
the critical near-wellbore area.
Background from published literature in this area is
extensive, but most of the data from field operations has focused
on near well damage caused by screen damage from drilling and
completion fluids, perforation flow dynamics, gel damage from
packing or fluid loss control fluids or out-of-specification
gravel. Related work to this study appear to be limited to a few

but identifying zones with the problem is key. based on size range and quantity. and not perforating zones of smallest sand (since the permeability is lowest there anyway) has appeal. What is proposed here is a conditional method of gravel and screen selection that is still based upon the 50% distribution. Mobility of Fines. unpublished accounts of the completion behavior immediately before the screen failed showed several cases where the pressure inside the screen fell sharply while the reservoir pressure remained the same (or built up?). few investigators have looked in detail at the sizing of the gravel relative to the formation for a large variety of formation samples. Reference 9 offers a good review of gravel sizing criteria. the quantity of .SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control authors that recognize some component of the contribution to flow restriction of fines along the gravel pack interface or the screen. In practical engineering investigations of screen failures in several parts of the world (both vertical and horizontal wells). in effect. blank pipe sections. however. One explanation for this behavior is that the screens.1-5 Current Gravel Pack Design Methods and Problem Identification Saucier and others solidified gravel pack selection criteria with several studies in the 1960’s and 70’s that led to the often applied gravel sizing criteria based on 6 times the 50% particle size. poor field coring or sampling procedures or poor test procedures will loosen fines. One key consideration needing to be considered is the mobility of fine particles. but is not popular. Variation within the formation has long been recognized as a severe problem in design of gravel “containment” systems. It is rather. Use a completion mechanism that will either pass the fines or confine them so far away from the wellbore that the conductivity damage they cause has a minimum effect on production. Additionally.10-12 In looking at these papers. It is important to remember that both a particular fine particle size and a sufficient amount of fines are necessary. as an added piece of design information. Figure 1. becoming. measuring smaller sizes to get the full range must be measured by laser or other methods. 3. This same occurrence may take place in vertical wells. were plugging with fines. large masses of particles in this size range can plug the formation/gravel pack interface. Test Accuracy and Measurement Problems In many cases. Additionally. The use of this criteria has proven effective for stopping sand in most formations. the average skin damage values to gravel packed completions are ranging from a low of around +10 to over +50 even on completions that do not report obvious completions based problems. and should be useful in more intelligently selecting candidates for various sand control completions. when the fines are absent or the formation is well sorted. This size and smaller particles can enter the pores and can bridge inside the pack. One historical approach was to design for the worst (smallest grain) zone. Because the fines are easily attracted to charged surfaces. converting this weight percent to number of particles can be quite alarming. The best way to handle variation is arguable. a feat that has been documented on small grained formations. to help determine the relationship of the “fit” of the gravel to the formation sand. When fine particles are present. thus the failures may have been more related to hydraulic collapses than mechanical crush events. or frac packs. that the size. This approach may produce a “worst case” completion in some cases as reflected by near well skin and turbulence. there have been a number of papers in the 1990’s investigating productivity impairment to sand control completions in general and gravel packed completions in particular.6-8 The resultant plot. Note that sand size analyses are reported in weight percent. An evaluation of gravel pack failures identified several cases that support a change in the way gravel and screens are sized. suspended in liquids or blown away in air from equipment cooling fans. is a typical design aid used in most current gravel sizing studies. 2 The proposed solution is to: 1. type and quantity of “fine” particles (sub 325 mesh = 0. because the average pore size of the 40/60 mesh gravel (smallest common gravel pack gravel) is about 45 microns. Splitting the pay up with different completions methods has been done. What is needed is a new selection criteria for completions that recognizes both the damaging potential when fine mesh particles are present and when large numbers of the fine particles create significant plugging potential. The sub 325 mesh is selected here. Additionally. most mechanical screening tests only test to 325 mesh. conventional designs based solely on a 50% number may be too restrictive. The basis of this paper is not to try to disprove the Saucier criteria. The created pressure drop at the interface is also a catalyst for scale formation. causing significant damage skins. Although only a few weight percent of sub 325 fines sounds harmless. Recently published data has shown that the average skin calculated for frac-packed completions ranges from a skin of -2 to 5. When large quantities of fine mesh grains are present. Identify these formations by a particle sorting criteria. Handling variation of sand sizing and sorting in the formation can take several forms. a significant amount can be lost under normal processes. high rate packs. but takes into account the sorting and sub 325 mesh fines content of the formation.0017” = 44 microns) may play a starring role in plugging both gravel packs and screens. The data is interesting. and in some cases the gravel packs. creating conditions that lead to high pressure drop and rate limiting turbulence. and 2. the fines. and becoming more conclusive.13-18 Although the gravel packing carrier fluids have been studied closely. combined with medium and a few larger formation grains create a plugging potential likened to bridging technology. whether they are conventional gravel packs.

mutual solvents22 . For D40/D90 sorting values of 1 to 3. The smaller the ratio. consider bare screen completions.039 = 1. with a D40/D90 of 0.019 = 1. is the dissagregation of the matrix of the formation by change in water saturation or overburden increase. At first. along with the knowledge that the screen filtration level itself is important in the selection of a maximum level of the ratio.0041” (140 mesh). divided by the sieve opening (same measurement) above which 90% of the sand is retained.056”/0. Where fines only flow for short periods early in the life of the well.017” (40 mesh) and the D50% of the second formation is about 0. Very minor effect on most sands however. etc. horizontal wells. which yields a D40/D90 of 10. mm or microns) above which 40% of the sand is retained. The “D” designations in the table refer to the sieve size distributions (cumulative%). but permeability is preserved with the consistent pore sizes where plugging fines are absent (hence the low sorting ratios). The actual level of the sorting value.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control the fines available to move and form a seal is critical. Two formations may have similar sortings but very different sizing.). where fines are part of the producing challenge over the life of the well. The sub 325 mesh value may be misleading. has approximately the same sorting as a formation with a D40/D90 of 0. like the bridging and fluid loss control arguments from the Appendix. These ratios and other data do not say anything about the potential for fines migration. if the formation fails due to changes to the in-situ forces keeping a weak formation consolidated.4.0035” (170 mesh) to give a D40/D90 of 2.0017” (325 mesh). especially if the fines are bound in aggregates and are not free on an individual basis. well sorted formation yields a D40 of 0.often flocculates polymers. Levels of D40/D90 of 5 (from empirical data) and above are warning signs of fines size that could plug the . 20/40 mesh. handling by preventing their flow or passing them through the completion appears to be the best option. can the fines be stopped. But. gravel is sized in tight ranges. The larger the ratio. while the 200 micron version of the screen has a maximum D40/D90 of 8. Solvents that reduce viscosity of a trapped liquid layer that may be holding fines. acids . therefore is a measurement of the range of coarser to finer particles.8. with a D40/D90 of 0. or 40/60 mesh. by breaking the binding force to the formation host grain and by a chemical upset where the particles are held in suspension. A more poorly sorted example would be a D40 of 0. like 12/20 mesh. That very important piece of information is still to be addressed by a 3 sand strength model. fines greater than 5% or so would provide a sufficient quantity to bridge and seal against the medium and coarse particles at the interface of the gravel pack. but rough ranges are beginning to emerge. the difference in sizing in these two formations with essentially the same sorting may seem to invalidate the ratio sorting parameter.5. A formation with a D40/D90 of 0. Often liberates particles in the 1 to 5 micron size.the solvents can disperse fines by removing the liquid surrounding the grain that may be binding the fines to the host grain. open hole gravel packs. by chemical repulsion/attraction. 3. high rate water packing. hence the higher limit on the ratio for candidates. the more permeability is preserved.00.028/0. An example from a moderate size. Common causes of particle movement are: 1. keeping the drawdown low (limiting production). the most likely problem. And.pH shift is a chemical upset. For a typical formation. The advantage of the sieve analysis is that it can run easily on almost any sample regardless of the condition. where problems begin to show. Sand Sorting Considerations The following proposed sorting ratios and general data in Table 1 can be obtained from a simple sieve analysis. The sizing and the permeability of these gravels vary widely. Only by bridging the fines. divided by a D90 of 0. or spreading the drawdown out (improved reservoir contact by fracturing. by far. The sorting measurement.0098” (60 mesh). silica and some dispersed particulates such as asphaltenes. but the D50% of the first formation is about 0. Formations with low sorting values should be completed in a different manner from formations with high sorting values. where fines will plug off on screens or secondary (larger formation sand grains) matrixes over the screens. particularly if the permeability of the formation sand is high enough (1 to 2 darcies or higher) to prevent creation of significant pressure drops through sand packed perforations. 2. 4. rate limiting may be effective.3. where the D40/D90 ratio is about 0. but the real considerations that we are trying to describe are the ability of the formation to form blockages. for example. There are few practical methods of preventing fines from flowing in a producing formation where fines are naturally or easily liberated: the act of fluids production can be a strong fines mover. Particle movement in the formation can be triggered by physical force (drag forces on the particle from flowing fluids). The D40/D90 has been found to be useful for figuring out whether bare screen completions with woven mesh screens will work. the larger the range between the coarse and fine particles and the more likely the formation sand grains are to form bridges and lower the permeability. 6. 5.20 The coarser screens can pass more of the particles without plugging. is the sieve opening (in inches.most likely form of damage mechanism from Smectites and dispersible clays.02”/0.001” = 5. as is the 70. is not exactly known. For example.014/0.0049”/0.0049” = 5. individual fines would be available to plug flow paths and reduce flow capacity.000+ ppm equivalent chloride ion strength . especially at high flow rates and with high viscosity fluids. Fines can be loosened by other mechanisms short of formation failure and these factors need to be considered as well. It is important to note that the sorting minimum or maximum level may also change with the type of sorting definition. The level of the D40/D90 from Alex Procyk at Pall for the 80 micron absolute Stratopak screen is a maximum of 6. Careful geological analysis and testing should be undertaken to make this important determination. Certainly. Limited by contact.017” (40 mesh) and a D90 of 0. High shear force on the solids by flowing liquids. change in salinity of fluids invading formation .011 = 1. The D40/D90 ratio. Bridging the fines is usually very flow restrictive.

then the permeability will not recover as rate is decreased and the two curves diverge. Since other effects (like geometry) can reduce permeability with rate. In this case the core is mounted and loaded similarly.5 inch diameter reservoir core plug. The D10/D95 criteria was selected based on the ability to see distinct variation between the size and sorting ranges of formation sands. The second test is conducted in the same core holder. about 2 inches long. Laboratory Flow Tests Case A. the testing sequence is repeated at decreasing rates to see if the curves overlay. the formation and the interface layer between the formation and the gravel. The core plug is loaded into a Hassler type sleeve core holder and stressed to a net confining pressure approximating reservoir conditions. Case B. it is a good indicator of potential problems with ultra wide range of particle size. Surging was simulated by pressuring the core to the desired pressure and rapidly depressuring through the exit end. The addition of coarse sand particles over the gravel surface does not typically significantly reduce the system permeability. The actual sub-325 mesh is slightly greater than the proposed 10% threshold. Fluids are produced through a filter which can be examined later. however 1/2 to 1 inch of gravel is “packed” into the core holder on the core exit end. A thin section cut along the -40/+70 gravel/sand interface clearly shows a sharp delineation between the sand and gravel with no invasion in Figure 3a -20/+40 gravel allowed sand to infiltrate into and through the gravel pack with only 50 psi surge pressure as shown in Figure 3b. A base permeability is established at a low rate (1-2 cc/min) with a nondamaging brine at room temperature. damage to the gravel pack was determined by collecting and identifying sand produced and collected in a downstream filter and by making a thin section along the sand/gravel interface. D50 is . Generally only fines were produced above 300 psi surges with small amounts of sand between 600 and 900 psi surging. Core flood results confirm the mobility of the pyrite and siderite in this sand. The biggest impact on productivity of a gravel pack is a three way contrast between the permeabilities of: the gravel. -40/+70 gravel does a good containing the sand after surging brine at up to 700 psi. Other sorting methods mentioned in Table 1 have utility as well. permeability was measured at a low injection rate as in the previously described testing. The selection of the D10 level is a bit arbitrary.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control screen. In this case. Between surging. little invasion of the gravel by the sand has occurred.08 mm. For the permeability range studied here. D40/D90<5 and sub 325mesh<10%. -20/+40 synthetic gravel was used. the major impact is preserving the permeability of the otherwise thin interface layer. In addition to the permeability decline. The Case B sand is characterized by silt-size siderite and pyrite crystals approximately 15-20 microns in diameter. Brine is “surged” through the core at 50 psi increments until flow is restricted and/or formation sand is produced through the core and gravel. If permeability is decreased due to fines mobilization. pressure drops accross the cores were less than 15 psi. As can be seen. Pressure is applied both radially and axially. as proved by the Darcy beds-in-series relationship. although less so than the fines. As discussed below. From the beds-in-series relationship. one that can predict problems with a particle size range that is too wide. Note the even distribution with a little over 10% fines (-325 mesh). For this reason. The layer would only become important if the permeability of the layer was substantially lower than the gravel (<<10% of gravel permeability) or if the coarse sand layer was thick. If mobile fines are present. 4 however flow rates and stresses are much higher. Representative sand size distribution for the Formation A cores used in this testing is presented in Figure 1 while the sorting criteria are in Figure 2. The D10/D95 ratio increases sharply with a finer size of sand at the D95 position. Results are presented for one sample in Figure 4. but some of the fines in this sample may be agglomerated or immobile. D10/D95<20. The first test is conducted with a 1 to 1. and 2) to determine the effectiveness of different gravel packs with reservoir sand. once again. These crystals are loosely disseminated as cement throughout intergranular pore spaces. but it is a recognition of the importance of larger particles in building a second matrix over the gravel. Figure 3c demonstrates advantages of synthetic gravel. In a practical view. Permeability measurements are then obtained at higher rates (up to 10 cc/min) until a plot of permeability as a function of rate is determined. the ugly correlation between a wide particle size range and the potential to form a permeability-limiting bridge is evident. Core Test Procedures Two types of lab tests were conducted: 1) to determine the mobility of fines under minimal flow stress. laboratory tests with the fine sand on a woven screen showed declines in screen permeability. The factor that can most dominate on this layer is the presence of fines that can fill the pores of the larger grains and reduce permeability sharply. Although the D40/D90 ratio indicates that the formation may be a candidate for a bare screen completion. some of these thin sections were very useful in demonstrating the type of damage which can occur. there were simply too many fines and too much spread between minimum and maximum sand size values. For the D10/D95 ratio. From the section on bridging agent performance. As expected. permeability typically decreases as rate is increased because fines are turned loose and plug pore throats. This is an example of a case where a combination of larger gravel and a fines-passing screen might be applicable. This “coarse end” of the formation sand size spectrum is important. Testing was conducted as described earlier by measuring permeability at increasing flow rates and then decreasing flow rates using a non-damaging fluid (brine in this . levels above 10 are considered high.

Migration of sand into the gravel pack was minimal and very little sand was collected on the downstream filter. Case C. Case C sand differs significantly from the Case B sand even though both are from the same geographical area. Figure 7b depicts results with natural -20/+40 mesh gravel. There is no sharp boundary between the gravel and sand as with earlier samples and large amounts of formation sand (mostly fractured quartz) was collected on the downstream filter paper. As shown in Figures 5a and b.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control case). Since that work. higher permeability and flow rates would be expected with the synthetic gravel. This formation would appear to present a completion dilemma. Benefits of Larger Gravel The accepted basis for gravel sizing in gravel packing design focuses in on preventing invasion into the matrix created by the gravel. The lack of lithification by cementation/compaction has permitted lateral rotation/grinding. this formation easily defeated both -20/+40 gravel packs as shown in Figures 12a and b. rates could be severely impacted with brushpiling of fines at the gravel/sand interface. The formations . In addition to smaller sand grains.07 to . There was more residue on the filter paper with this gravel than either of the other two cases.) Of particular interest are the sorting factors presented in Figure 11. This brushpiling can severely limit permeability and production rate. D10/D95 is typically between 30 and 40. Results using -40/+70 gravel in this case were fascinating. but at the expense of severe “brushpiling” of fines at the sand/gravel interface. specifically those designs based on a bridging concept. Sorting factors in Figure 7 depict poorer sorting than Case A sand for all parameters. Saucier would predict -20/+40 gravel to be adequate for this sample. Thin sections of the Case C sand (Figure 8) clearly show mostly quartz and feldspar with no siderite. In the 1970’s. the smaller gravel does a good job at limiting reservoir sand from passing through the gravel pack. accounting for over 25% of the total porosity. The 50% sand size varies from . Sand and fines that entered the gravel pack were produced through the pack and onto the downstream filter paper as shown. Sand size distribution and sorting parameters for this sand are presented in Figures 5 and 6. Again thin sections were cut across the gravel/sand interface and particles were collected on the downstream filter to determine what passed through the gravel. The 50% sand size is about 0. Formation sand size varies widely in the 25 Sand as shown in Figure 10. One possible solution to this dilemma would be a completion in which one attempts to minimize flow surging by maximizing the area between the reservoir and wellbore. resulting in permeability decrease. As with the previous samples. Advantages of the synthetic -20/+40 gravel compared to the natural gravel were slight. surging was also carried out using various gravel packs at the core exit. Despite using cores with the better sand. Note also how sorting and the amount of fines gets worse with depth. If finer gravel is chosen. This poor sorting was evident from the tails on the sand size figures. resulting in grain breakage. Surge tests through gravel packs were conducted for this sand as well.2 mm with sand size generally decreasing with increasing depth. Chevron showed that too large a gravel. size and texture of additional material on the filter paper are consistent with siderite or pyrite. This sand clearly contains a large quantity of fines and presents a challenging completion problem. (This 5 presents some problems for selecting a gravel pack size for the entire interval. There is a critical need to enlarge the wellbore (move the gravel/formation sand interface away form the wellbore).2 mm) and sorting parameters were better.09 mm. Flow tests at low rates shown in Figure 9 clearly indicate that fines are not migrating at normal reservoir rates and pressure drops. Note also the long “tails” on these curves as particle size decreases. This sand is just slightly too fine to meet Saucier’s criteria for -20/+40 gravel. the large amount and nature of the fines could cause problems with plugging and cutting through the screen. Reservoir sand clearly invaded into and through the gravel pack. This can be accomplished by fracturing. so -30/+50 gravel if available. The loosely packed crystals move within pores and probably brushpile against pore throat apertures. especially the sub325 mesh fines which is over 20% in one of these samples. pyrite or similar fine material. several authors have proposed that certain formations could use larger gravels and proved the point by gravel packing with 7x through 9x sized gravels.21 The problem was created by filling of the pore spaces between the gravel with fines from the formation. or more commonly -40/+60 gravel would be the recommended conservative choice. If large gravel is chosen to maximize rates and allow fines to be produced. Fracture porosity is 8 volume percent of the entire sample. Samples chosen for this testing were all from the upper part of the Case C Sand where average grain size was larger (0. Detached slivers of broken quartz grains possess the potential for realignment into pore throat intervals thus restricting reservoir flow. Surges as high as 1000 psi were applied across the cores. horizontal or multilateral well technology or large volume prepacking to minimize the consequences to flow of severe permeability damage at the interface. Permeability is constant at increasing and decreasing rates. As expected the -40/+70 mesh gravel did an excellent job of stopping sand migration as shown in Figure 7a. Results with the synthetic -20/+40 mesh gravel are presented in Figure 7c. D40/D90 is over 10 and sub-325 fines varies to one sample over 50% by weight. As presented in Figure 12c. It is apparent in this case that if larger gravel is chosen. Of special significance for this sample however is the predominance of fractured quartz grains. would be invaded by formation sand and the gravel permeability would be sharply lowered. but care must be exercised in selecting a screen that allows the fines to pass into the wellbore without plugging. fines were mobilized with a minimal amount of flow. underreaming. but really stands out when comparing these numbers to the previous samples. Note the sharp interface between the sand and gravel and lack of significant amount of reservoir sand in the gravel pack.

-30+50 mesh. 32. L. J. with a tighter size range may be of value in improving flow capacity through lowering pressure drop and improving conductivity.. Hosseini. Oct. 3.: “Successful Sand Control Design for High Rate Oil and Water Wells. The . Christie. Markestad. R. The permeability of the gravel is controlled by the size of the pores that a stressed gravel pack presents to the formation and maintains between the formation and the screen. 1992. 1980. 5. sub 325 mesh>10%) the highest ratios. B.” SPE 31087. etc. an automatic way of achieving more permeability and less invasion. Practice (1937) Saucier. 4. but may offer tremendous advantages in either the case of abundant fines or low fines content. Ren. Y. because the naturally occurring gravels could be screened into commercially saleable quantities in these ranges and the ranges offered what was considered good permeability. Trampert.: “Plugging Potential of Gravel Carrier Fluids. Vol. D40/D90<5. Cost is minimal in comparison to benefits. P. SPE 27342. 4. Feb 7-10. more well sorted sands.. W. and O.. These ratio and comparison thresholds are: 1. 2. J. 1969 Penberthy. CO. 1996. F. References 1. These mesh sizes were selected.. D40/D90>5. La. 9. and B. Washington D. G. 1193.: “Selection of Screen Openings for Unconsolidated Sands. (D10/D95>20.23 When the sorting methods presented here indicate a well sorted formation that requires gravel packing. typically with little or no fines. “Investigation of Pore-Blocking Mechanism in Gravel Packs in the Management and Control of Fines Migration”. There is nothing magic about the presently available gravel sizes of -20+40 mesh. A. D40/D90<3. woven mesh screens. (Need >1 Darcy formation permeability for cased and perforated completion). or with fines just out of range may 3. H. Oyeneyin. Bouhroum. and Exhibition of SPE. Oyeneyin. Bigno. “A Critical Review of Existing Gravel-Pack Design Criteria”. D40/D90<5. the risk of damage is low where the formation sand is well described by the examined samples. sub 325 mesh<5%) medium ratio ranges may be served by larger gravel (7x or 8x 50%). rounder. sub 325 mesh<2%) the lowest sorting values with low fines content may be bare screen completion candidates. J. Synthetic gravel may offer advantages over natural gravel in optimizing production rates and minimizing sand invasion. Saskatchewan Section. horizontal or multilateral well technology underreaming. and Y. Denver. Jr. Civan. is an amazingly cheap method of obtaining gravel with more consistent pore sizes. placed in high rate water pack. and Exhibition of SPE.” presented at the Annual Tech Conf. (D10/D95<20. Before taking on the issue of gravel sizing in the special (well sorted) formations. The synthetic gravels offer much rounder profiles and greater strengths for only a small increase in cost over regular gravels. Resieving gravel. Sorting criteria and resultant completion techniques proposed here should be useful in selection of gravel and screen to optimize flow rates in a sand control completion. especially in synthetic gravels.” API Drill. (D10/D95<20. “Optimum Gravel Sizing for Effective Sand Control”. Conclusions 1. A. at least in part. (Need >1 Darcy formation permeability for cased and perforated completion. Lafayette.C. (D10/D95<10. presented at SPE Int’l Formation Damage Control.. (D10/D95<10.” JPT. “Laboratory Studies of Fines Movement in Gravel Packs. A. sub 325 mesh<10%) medium ratio ranges with too many fines may use a combination of larger gravel and a fines-passing screen. Peden. Feb 14-15.1996. Vol. and Samuel. Lafayette. P.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control that respond well to this approach are clearly in the minority. Contaminated by Satellite Particles Originating from Gravels. Using a gravel that contains less initial out-of-range particles.. particularly if the formation sand size is consistent over the zone (no laminations and minimum streaks). Oct 4-7. When all values are under the thresholds. M. 2. presented at 5th Petroleum Conference of the S. and F. J. A. SPE 24801. 7. -20+25 mesh or -30+35 mesh may seem unusual. 22-24. Cope: “Design and Productivity of Gravel-Packed Completions. sub 325 mesh<5%) low to medium sorting ranges.. There are really two types of formations that may benefit from gravel sizes larger than the standard 6x: those without significant fines and those with too many fines. 5. Selecting new ranges of say. M. 6. 3. Using a gravel with a narrower size range. A. Paper 24. presented at the 1996 SPE European Petroleum Conference halo in Milan Italy. 1679. & Prod. J. D40/D90<5. A quick study of their character shows that they are the larger grained. gravel. 21. or large volume prepacking to minimize severe permeability damage at the gravel/sand interface due to flow. particularly those coupled with large amounts of fines signal a critical need for enlarging the wellbore (move the gravel/formation sand interface away from the wellbore). Jennings. presented at SPE Int’l Formation Damage Control. Bigno.. 1996. “Selection of Screen Slot Width to Prevent Plugging and Sand Production. Coberly. especially synthetic gravels. presented at the 67th Annual Tech Conf. 8.22. larger.The sorting criteria presented in this paper suggest that the following applications data should work (with other factors as noted).” JPT. R.” paper SPE 36952. Long known methods of improving gravel permeability are: 1. and J. Oct 6-9. with possible use of prepacked screens). Using a gravel that produces less fines during handling and placement (stronger) 4. 1994. Reijnen. through fracturing. R. M. Peden. M. Proposed Sorting Criteria. La. The rounder gravel offers sharply higher permeability and less fines created in the gravel handling and placement steps. C. 6 best be served by bare screen completions with new technology. B. Using a rounder gravel (presents a more constant pore size and higher permeability) 2. it may be of use to consider ways of improving both interface control and gravel permeability. 2.

Mississippi Canyon 109 Field. C. B. R. Park. R.” SPE 22978. Shyrock. E. F. Beng-Swee Chuah. and J. Louisiana. J. R. P. L. and Exhibition of SPE. 18-20.”. A. and Exhibition of SPE.” JPT. W. D.” JPT. 22. and J. S. T.. 1992.”. presented at SPE Int’l Formation Damage Control.. presented at the Formation Damage Control help in Lafayette. R. La. presented at SPE Asia-Pacific Conference held in Perth. presented at the 60th California Regional Meeting of the SPE. Mullen. Hite. CA. J. Ramos. Ayoub.” paper SPE 27899. Shucart. 15. and P.” paper SPE 26562. presented at the 1997 Annual Tech Conf. R. Nov. 4-7. J. C. Alex. SPE 23767. and Troncoso... 18. Wong. Guillory. 20. B. 1991. TX. 144-150. K. 3-6. T. 11. Rustandaja. I.. Lafayette. Lafayette. W. Mana.. H. Black. C. SPE 20029. “Formation Fines and Factors Controlling Their Movement in Porous Media. La.” paper SPE 23777. Montgomery. R. R.: “Formation Damage in Gravel Packed and Non-Gravel Packed Completions: A Comprehensive Case Study. A.1993. Chan. Norman. N. Oct. J. SPE 38184. Powell. K. J. 13. “Productivity Performance Comparisons of High Rate Water Pack and Frac-Pack Completion Techniques. and Evaluation of Frac and Pack (F&P) Treatments in Unconsolidated Sand Formations in the Gulf of Mexico”. February 7-10. M.Evaluation of the Long-Termed Stability.. SPE 26563. Feb 14-15. R. R. Pall Well Screens. Porter.”. J.: “A Field Study of a Combination Fracturing/Gravel Packing Completion Technique on the Amberjack. R. W. Hannah.. presented at the SPE Western Regional Meeting held in Long Beach. G. 1996. Houston. February 26-27. Landrum... Oct 5-8. M. Netherlands. F.: “Gravel-Packing Studies in a Full-Scale Deviated Model Wellbore. A. 12. Samsudin. presented at the Formation Damage Control Symposium in Lafayette.1994. 7 Table 1: Formation Sand Sorting Values Considered in This Work Sorting or Comparison Proposed Purpose D50 Standard Saucier Criteria D40/D90 Screen Damage Ratio from Pall D10/D95 Size range between common min and max particle sizes sub 325 mesh Quantity of sub 44 micron particles . 17.” SPE 38592. TX. 16. 23. R. Parmley. presented at SPE Int’l Formation Damage Control. S. Ventura. D Barree. J. R. Muecke. R. Regina Oct.. “Gravel Packing in HighRate Oil Completions. Procyk. F. G. (Feb 1979). “Evaluations Completion Damage in High Rate..: “Optimizing Hydraulic Fracture Length to Prevent Formation Failure in Oil and Gas Wells. Fletcher. presented at SPE European Formation Damage Conference. W. SPE 31091. A. W. 19. 10.: “Frac-Pack: An Innovative Stimulation and Sand Control Technique. Baycroft.. Shlyapobersky. E. 2-3 June. of CIM.. and Francis.1994 14. April 4-6.” Paper SPE 27360. and W.. Oct 3-6. MacKinlay. D.. P. Burton.. and W. presented at the 68th Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition of the SPE held in Houston. E. 1997. CA. Casassa. Hasumi. Feb 26-27. J. “Gravel Sizing Criteria for Sand Control and Productivity Optimization: Part II . Western Australia. A. G. Leone. “Design. San Antonio. presented at the 68th Annual Tech Conf.1992. and A. Walsh. and Waters. A. A. Chu. M. Execution. 1990. (March 1983). M. and Matzain. D. M. L. “Gravel-Sizing Criteria for Sand Control and Productivity Optimization. March 23-25. The Hague.. pp 603-609. R. and J. Fors. K. “Evaluation of Frac and Pack Completions and Future Outlook”. C. TX. Hodge. 1993.. 1997.. Parmley. Hathcock. G. Louisiana. Hainey.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control Petroleum Soc. 1993. Gravel Packed Wells. Private Communication 21.

Figure 2. Case A distribution.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control Figure 1. 8 . Sorting factor Case A.

Thin sections across gravel/sand interface for 3 different gravels and Case A sand.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control 3a. 3c. Figure 4. 9 . Case B rate tests demonstrating mobility of fines under minimal flow. Case A sand with synthetic -20/+40 gravel. 3b. Figure 3. -40/+70 gravel works well. Case A sand with -40/+70 gravel. Case A sand with natural (Ottawa) -20/+40 gravel.

SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control Figure 5. Particle size distribution. 10 . Case B. Sorting factor comparison. Case B. Figure 6.

-40/+70 gravel works well.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control 7a. Figure 7. Sand invasion into the natural -20/+40 gravel. 7c. 7b. 11 . Thin sections across gravel/sand interface for 3 different gravels and Case B sand. The absence of retained fines in the synthetic -20/+40 gravel.

Case C fines mobility demonstrating that no fines move under minimal flow stresses. Photomicrographs illustrating potential for "grain/fines" movement and migration in selected sandstone core plugs subjected to step/surge flow tests. Figure 9. 12 .SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control Figure 8.

Formation fines sorting study. Case C. Figure 11. Case C.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control Figure 10. Formation sand distribution. 13 .

12c. 12b. Case C sand with natural -20/+40 gravel.SPE 39437 New Criteria for Gravel and Screen Selection for Sand Control 12a. Case C sand with synthetic -20/+40 gravel. Figure 12. Thin sections across gravel/sand interface for 3 different gravels and Case C sand. 14 . Case C sand with -40/+70 gravel.