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Practical Approaches to Sand Management

Andrew Acock Sand production is a serious problem in many oil and gas assets worldwide. It can
Tom ORourke
Daniel Shirmboh drastically affect production rates; it can damage downhole and subsea equipment
Aberdeen, Scotland and surface facilities, increasing the risk of catastrophic failure; and it costs producers
Joe Alexander tens of billions of dollars annually. Sand management is a complicated issue that
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
cannot be addressed by a one-size-ts-all approach. Instead, operators have
Greg Andersen embraced a multifaceted approach, exploiting the vast array of technologies and
Sugar Land, Texas, USA expertise available to manage this problem.

Toshinobu Kaneko
Adi Venkitaraman
Houston, Texas

Jorge Lpez-de-Crdenas
Rosharon, Texas

Masatoshi Nishi
Islamabad, Pakistan Failure at the sand-grain scale during hydro- being produced, sand-particle velocity and
carbon exploitation can cause wellbore-stability impact angle.2 Erosion from sand production
Masaaki Numasawa problems, casing collapse, reduced production, sandingdamages downhole tubulars, subsea
Katsuhei Yoshioka and in extreme cases, the loss of a wellbore.1 hardware, pipelines and other facilities, possibly
Japan Petroleum Exploration Company, Ltd. Loose sand grains are mobilized at certain pres- causing catastrophic well failure and harm to
(JAPEX) sure-drawdown levels, fluid velocities and fluid personnel and to the environment.
Tokyo, Japan viscosities; once produced into the wellbore, Sand accumulations can choke off production
these particles can create havoc downstream. anywhere along the flowline, reducing produc-
Alistair Roy
Produced in fast-owing conditions or great tion revenues and costing signicant amounts of
Allan Wilson
numbers, sand grains erode tubulars and can time and money to clean out. Remedial opera-
Aberdeen, Scotland become stationary or migrating obstructions. The tions on subsea wells and elds are particularly
erosive capability of produced sand depends on expensive. Produced sand that reaches produc-
Allan Twynam many factors, including the amount of sand tion facilities must be separated from produced
Sunbury, England
For help in preparation of this article, thanks to Mark Alden, CHFR (Cased Hole Formation Resistivity), ClearPAC, CNL
Houston, Texas, USA; Andrew Baker, Quito, Ecuador; (Compensated Neutron Log), DataFRAC, DSI (Dipole
Mario Ardila, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; John Cook Shear Sonic Imager), ECLIPSE, FMI (Fullbore Formation
and Juliane Heiland, Cambridge, England; John Fuller, MicroImager), GVR (geoVISION resistivity sub), InterACT,
Gatwick, England; Anwar Husen, Cairo, Egypt; Andy Martin, LiteCRETE, MDT (Modular Formation Dynamics Tester),
Aberdeen, Scotland; and Juan Carlos Palacio, Stavanger, MudSOLV, OBMI (Oil-Base MicroImager), OrientXact,
Norway. Thanks also to BP and their partners, Eni UK ProCADE, ProFIT, PropNET, PURE (Perforating for Ultimate
Limited, Noex UK Limited, Shell and ExxonMobil, for the Reservoir Exploitation), QUANTUM, RockSolid, RST
release of the Mirren eld example. (Reservoir Saturation Tool), SPAN (Schlumberger perforation
analysis), STIMPAC, TDT (Thermal Decay Time), USI
(UltraSonic Imager) and WellWatcher are marks of
Schlumberger. AllPAC is a mark of ExxonMobil and is
licensed to Schlumberger.

10 Oileld Review
uids and disposed of. Although the exact cost is hardware may represent an important part of the by using Mohrs circle. To determine the condi-
difcult to quantify, experts agree that produced solution, but greater knowledge engenders a tions at which failure occurs, the Mohr-Coulomb
sand costs the oil and gas industry tens of more thorough and longer-lasting solution. For failure model is used to relate principal stresses
billions of dollars annually. example, the ability to model and predict the and pore pressure to the cohesion and internal
Sand production has always been a problem, sand-production tendencies of a reservoir allows
but the manner in which the exploration and engineers and scientists to move beyond a trial- 1. Fjaer E, Holt RM, Horsrud P, Raaen AM and Risnes R:
Petroleum Related Rock Mechanics, Developments in
production (E&P) industry manages this prob- and-error methodology to resolve sanding issues. Petroleum Science, 33. Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
lem has become more sophisticated. This article A successful sand-management strategy can start Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (1992): 257267.
2. Selfridge F, Munday M, Kvernvold O and Gordon B:
briefly reviews the basic principles of sand during the drilling stage and carry through to Safely Improving Production through Improved Sand
production and the technologies available to reservoir depletion. Management, paper SPE 83979, presented at the SPE
Offshore Europe 2003 Conference, Aberdeen, Scotland,
help predict, prevent and monitor sand produc- In the subsurface, the main factors that September 25, 2003.
tion. Case studies show that sand management is control whether a reservoir will fail mechanically 3. Desroches J and Woods TE: Stress Measurements
best achieved when operators understand sand- are rock strength, the effective stress on the for Sand Control, paper SPE 47247, presented at the
SPE/ISRM Eurock 98, Trondheim, Norway, July 810, 1998.
production mechanisms within the reservoir and formationa combination of principal earth
use an informed decision-making process to stresses acting on the rock minus pore pres-
select the appropriate technologies and methods sureand the stresses introduced by drilling,
for addressing the problem. completion and production.3 Rock strength can
be determined through laboratory uniaxial and
The Nature of Sand Production triaxial tests, and can be represented graphically
Understanding why reservoirs produce sand is by a failure curve, or envelope. The shear and
the crucial rst step toward managing sand pro- normal stresses on a specied plane under three
duction. The installation of downhole completion perpendicular principal stresses are determined

Spring 2004 11
friction angle of the rock (right). Failure occurs 1
under tension, compression or, most commonly,
when the difference between the maximum and
minimum principal stresses becomes large
enough to produce excessive shear stress.
The strength of a rock under downhole condi-
tions depends on several factors. The most 3
important are the cohesion, the internal friction
angle, the maximum and minimum principal
stresses and the pore pressure. Cohesion is
strongly inuenced by the degree of cementation
of the rock. Well-cemented, consolidated sedi-

Shear stress ()
mentary rocks tend to be stronger, while poorly
cemented, unconsolidated rocks are weaker.
Internal friction angle is influenced by the
volume fraction of hard particlestypically
quartz or feldspar grainsin the rock. Forma-
tion grains in weak sandstone reservoirs become
disaggregated, or loosened from the rock matrix,
because of shear, tensile and volumetric failure.4 3 n 1
During production, shear failure caused by Principal effective stress
either drawdown or depletion can result in a
> Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion. The Mohr circle (red) represents the state of stress at any
catastrophic quantity of produced sand. Increas-
orientation in a material body, ranging from the smallest principal effective stress, 3 , to the largest,
ing the drawdown generates higher effective 1. If the Mohr circle intersects the failure condition (blue), the material will fail in shear. Mohrs
stresses around the well or perforation tunnel, circle also provides the normal stress (n) and shear stress () across the failure plane, and the
and if these exceed the strength of the rock in failure angle , measured from the direction perpendicular to maximum principal stress (inset).
this geometry, the rock will fail and sand may be
produced. Increasing depletion can change the increasing water saturation, with the largest Choosing a method to reduce or eliminate
in-situ stresses in the Earth, which can also decrease in strength occurring after only slight sand production in moderately weak reservoirs
generate higher shear stresses around the bore- increases in water saturation from a dry state.8 is less straightforward. Underestimating the
hole, possibly leading to sand production. Not all disaggregated sand grains are mobi- sand-production potential may lead to costly
Tensile failure occurs in weak sandstones lized by produced fluids.9 They may stay in the sanding problems in the future, while overesti-
primarily because of a high uid-ow rate, which perforation, or in the well, and eventually cover mating the sand-production potential may result
is a function of drawdown. This type of failure is the producing interval. The degree to which sand in unwarranted and expensive installations of
often sporadic, produces relatively low volumes grains are mobilized depends on factors such as downhole hardware, or unnecessary reductions
of sand, is aggravated by rapid changes in well uid viscosity and uid velocity, in complex and in production rate. Predicting the extent of sand
production rates, and often stabilizes with time. relatively poorly understood ways.10 When trying production in moderately weak reservoirs is
Volumetric failure, or pore collapse, is associ- to predict when and where sand production will crucial to minimizing uncertainty when design-
ated with both drawdown and depletion and occur, the failure of a rock and the resulting ing a completion. Furthermore, correctly
occurs in high-porosity, low-strength reservoirs. disaggregation of sand grains must be considered predicting sand production can save operating
In weak but consolidated rocks, this phenomenon in conjunction with particle erosion and mobi- companies millions of dollars per well.
causes subsidence and has been studied exten- lization into the production stream. In many moderately weak reservoirs,
sively in North Sea chalk reservoirs.5 There are many ways to avoid or minimize screenless-completion methods provide an
Not all sandstones yield disaggregated sand sand production. In very weak, unconsolidated optimal solution.11 Techniques such as oriented
grains under stress. Tests have shown that even reservoirs, large-scale sand production may be perforating, selective perforating, screenless
weak sandstonesas determined by uniaxial- inevitable, so downhole methods to exclude sand hydraulic fracturing and consolidation treat-
compression tests and confined triaxial production or to consolidate the formation near ments have reduced sand production, sometimes
testscan have wide-ranging sand-production the wellbore are practical. Sand-exclusion tech- dramatically. There are also ways to manage sand
behaviors that are primarily related to rock type.6 niques include cased-hole gravel packs, high-rate production at the surface by using appropriate
Many events in a reservoir rocks history can water packs, frac packing, openhole gravel packs sand separators and through careful monitoring
change its strength, eventually resulting in the and stand-alone screenssuch as slotted liners of erosion and accumulation. In such cases, the
onset of sand production. Additional stresses are and expandable screens. economics of cleanout and disposal of the sand
placed on the rock matrix when drilling, complet- Consolidation techniques involve the injec- must be taken into account in the nal choice of
ing and stimulating a reservoir. Also, rock strength tion of resins to stabilize the rock while leaving sand-management techniques. In conjunction
can be reduced by production events, such as acid enough of the original permeability intact to with all sand-management methodsexclusion,
stimulation, reservoir compaction or increases in allow the production of reservoir fluids. These screenless and surfaceproducing the well at
water saturation.7 In weak and unconsolidated resins are sometimes used prior to hydraulic- an optimal rate can be essential to controlling
rocks, rock strength generally decreases with fracturing techniques for sand control. sand production.

12 Oileld Review
Focal mechanisms
Drilling-induced fractures
Borehole slotter
Hydraulic fractures
Geological indicators
Normal fault
Strike slip
Thrust fault
(2003) World Stress Map

> World stress map. Stress data are compiled from a variety of sources and displayed on stress maps. Downhole measurements, such as borehole
breakout and induced-fracture data, are an important source of this stress information. Hydraulic-fracturing data are also useful but often contain no
stress orientation details.

A Need To Know
7. Carlson J, Gurley D, King G, Price-Smith C and Waters F: Vaziri H, Barree B, Xiao Y, Palmer I and Kutas M:
Proper sand management seeks to optimize the Sand Control: Why and How? Oileld Review 4, no. 4 What Is the Magic of Water in Producing Sand?
completion of wells with sand-production (October 1992): 4153. paper SPE 77683, presented at the SPE Annual Technical
8. Han G, Dusseault MB and Cook J: Quantifying Rock Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas, USA,
problems. Accomplishing this goal requires Capillary Strength Behavior in Unconsolidated September 29October 2, 2002.
understanding the reservoir and the forces that Sandstones, paper SPE/ISRM 78170, presented at the Vaziri HH, Lemoine E, Palmer ID, McLennan J and
SPE/ISRM Rock Mechanics Conference, Irving, Texas, Islam R: How Can Sand Production Yield a Several-Fold
affect formation stability. USA, October 2023, 2002. Increase in Productivity: Experimental and Field Data,
Earth-stress data have been compiled from a Hawkins AB and McConnell BJ: Sensitivity of Sand- paper SPE 63235, presented at the SPE Annual Technical
stone Strength and Deformability to Changes in Moisture Conference and Exhibition, Dallas, Texas, USA,
variety of sources. The magnitude and orienta- October 14, 2000.
Content, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology 25
tion of horizontal stresses can be displayed on (1992): 115130. 11. Acock A, Heitmann N, Hoover S, Malik BZ, Pitoni E,
local or global stress maps (above).12 The pre- Dyke CG and Dobereiner L: Evaluating the Strength Riddles C and Solares JR: Screenless Methods to
and Deformability of Sandstones, Quarterly Journal of Control Sand, Oileld Review 15, no. 1 (Spring 2003):
dominant source of horizontal stress information Engineering Geology 24 (1991): 123134. 3853.
West G: Effect of Suction on the Strength of Rock, Riddles C, Acock A and Hoover S: Rigless, Screenless
4. Nouri A, Vaziri H, Belhaj H and Islam R: A Comprehensive Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology 27 (1994): Completions Solve Sand Control Problems in Two
Approach to Modeling Sanding During Oil Production, 5156. Offshore Fields, Offshore 62, no. 6 (June 2002): 4850, 98.
paper SPE 81032, presented at the SPE Latin American 9. Tifn DL, Stein MH and Wang X: Drawdown Guidelines Pitoni E, Ripa G and Heitmann N: Rigless, Screenless
and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference, for Sand Control Completions, paper SPE 84495, Completions Solve Sand Control Problems in Two
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, West Indies, April 2730, 2003. presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference Offshore Fields, Offshore 62, no. 7 (July 2002): 6468, 109.
5. Andersen MA: Petroleum Research in North Sea Chalk. and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, USA, October 58, 2003. 12. Reinecker J, Heidbach O and Mueller B. The 2003
Stavanger, Norway: Rogaland Research, 1995. 10. Palmer I, Vaziri H, Willson S, Moschovidis Z, Cameron J release of the World Stress Map is available online at
6. Nicholson ED, Goldsmith G and Cook JM: Direct and Ispas I: Predicting and Managing Sand Production: (accessed February 18, 2004).
Observation and Modeling of Sand Production Processes A New Strategy, paper SPE 84499, presented at the
in Weak Sandstone, paper SPE/ISRM 47328, presented SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition,
at the SPE/ISRM Eurock 98, Trondheim, Norway, Denver, Colorado, USA, October 58, 2003.
July 810, 1998.

Spring 2004 13
An alternative to this procedure was devel-
Orientation North
0 120 240 360
oped using the MDT Modular Formation

Depth, m
Bedding Dynamics Tester tool on wireline.14 The MDT tool
FMI Dynamic Image True Dip
Resistive Conductive uses a straddle-packer arrangement to perform
Maximum horizontal 0 deg 90 openhole microhydraulic-fracturing tests on
stress direction Minimum horizontal Drilling-induced small intervals. The MDT device injects uid into
stress direction fractures S45E
an interval at a constant rate until a fracture is
initiated. The fracture propagates perpendicular
breakout Induced to the direction of the minimum in-situ stress.
fracture Similar to the DataFRAC service, this technique
Borehole measures pressure responses after fracture initi-
breakout N45E ation to determine the minimum principal stress
and can be used with other logging toolsfor
example the DSI Dipole Shear Sonic Imager and
FMI toolsto provide a more comprehensive
analysis. Microhydraulic-fracturing tests have
been used successfully to define the formation
stresses prior to performing frac packing and
screenless hydraulic fracturing sand-control
operations. Stress information, along with other
data, is used to build models of the minimum
principal stress versus depth. These models are
important in both the design and analysis of the

> In-situ stress direction from borehole images. Borehole imaging data provide detailed stress- 13. Anderson J, Simpson M, Basinski P, Beaton A, Boyer C,
direction information (right). For example, in a vertical well, borehole breakouts typically are oriented Bulat D, Ray S, Reinheimer D, Schlachter G, Colson L,
Olsen T, John Z, Khan R, Low N, Ryan B and
along the minimum horizontal stress direction, while drilling-induced fractures are aligned with the
Schoderbek D: Producing Natural Gas from Coal,
maximum horizontal stress direction (left). Induced fractures frequently are near-vertical because the Oileld Review 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2003): 831.
minimum stress is usually horizontal. Inaba M, McCormick D, Mikalsen T, Nishi M, Rasmus J,
Rohler H and Tribe I: Wellbore Imaging Goes Live,
Oileld Review 15, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 2437.
Almaguer J, Manrique J, Wickramasuriya S, Habbtar A,
is earthquake focal mechanismscompression, Accurate determination of stress directions is Lpez-de-Crdenas J, May D, McNally AC and
tension or strike-slipdetermined from the seis- crucial in the proper deployment of oriented per- Sulbarn A: Orienting Perforations in the Right
Direction, Oileld Review 14, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1631.
mic waves arriving from earthquakes. A small forating gun systems. Perforating in the direction Cheung P, Hayman A, Laronga R, Cook G, Flournoy G,
amount of data comes from strain-relaxation and of maximum stress makes hydraulic fracturing Goetz P, Marshall M, Hansen S, Lamb M, Li B, Larsen M,
Orgren M and Redden J: A Clear Picture in Oil-Base
stress-metering techniques. Local stress informa- more efcient by reducing tortuosity effects dur- Muds, Oileld Review 13, no. 4 (Winter 2001/2002): 227.
tion in oil and gas development areas often ing pumping. For sand prevention, oriented Peterson RE, Warpinski NR, Lorenz JC, Garber M,
comes from boreholes and includes sonic log perforating in the direction of maximum stability Wolhart SL and Steiger RP: Assessment of the
Mounds Drill Cuttings Injection Disposal Domain,
data, borehole breakout patterns, induced-frac- has produced good results. Oriented perforating paper SPE 71378, presented at the SPE Annual Technical
ture directions, and hydraulic-fracturing and can be achieved with wireline, coiled tubing or Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA,
September 30October 3, 2001.
microhydraulic-fracturing data. tubing-conveyed methods in vertical, deviated or Bargach S, Falconer I, Maeso C, Rasmus J,
An important source of earth stress direc- horizontal wells. Regardless of the method used, Bornemann T, Plumb R, Codazzi D, Hodeneld K, Ford G,
Hartner J, Grether B and Rohler H: Real-Time LWD:
tional data is wireline and logging-while-drilling oriented perforating has helped minimize Logging for Drilling, Oileld Review 12, no. 3
(LWD) images and measurements.13 Typically, sand production, particularly in the presence of (Autumn 2000): 5878.
the largest principal stress is vertical and stress anisotropy. 14. Desroches J and Kurkjian AL: Applications of Wireline
Stress Measurements, paper SPE 58086, revised
attributed to the weight of overburden. Sonic, Modeling a reservoirs tendency to produce for publication from paper SPE 48960, prepared for
density and pore-pressure data are used to gen- sand also requires knowledge of principal stress presentation at the SPE Annual Technical Conference
and Exhibition, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA,
erate a vertical stress prole. Borehole imaging magnitudes. To physically measure the September 2730, 1998.
devices, such as the FMI Fullbore Formation magnitude of horizontal stress downhole, a 15. Desroches and Woods, reference 3.
MicroImager, the OBMI Oil-Base MicroImager hydraulic-fracturing technique called the 16. Brie A, Endo T, Hoyle D, Codazzi D, Esmersoy C, Hsu K,
Denoo S, Mueller MC, Plona T, Shenoy R and Sinha B:
and the GVR geoVISION resistivity tools, provide DataFRAC fracture data determination service New Directions in Sonic Logging, Oileld Review 10,
orientation of induced fractures and borehole is often used on wells requiring hydraulic- no. 1 (Spring 1998): 4055.
17. Ali AHA, Brown T, Delgado R, Lee D, Plumb D, Smirnov N,
breakouts. The minimum principal-stress direc- fracture stimulation. After hydraulic-fracture Marsden R, Prado-Velarde E, Ramsey L, Spooner D,
tion is perpendicular to these fractures and initiation, pressure measurements record the Stone T and Stouffer T: Watching Rocks Change
Mechanical Earth Modeling, Oileld Review 15, no. 2
aligned with the elongation of the borehole fracture-closing pressure, which is related to the (Summer 2003): 2239.
caused by breakouts (above). minimum in-situ stress acting perpendicular to
the fracture.

14 Oileld Review
hydraulic-fracturing treatment. However, Static rock properties are derived from labo- cal models that dene tectonic features, such as
mechanically weak zones may fail due to the ratory tests. In the laboratory, the effective stress faults and folds. Reservoir models that describe
drawdown between the MDT packers (see Test- on the rock sample governs failure, but sample field-depletion or pressure-maintenance
ing Weak Sands, page 24). To avoid this, the size, shape, moisture content and defects also responses can also be input to an MEM. A well-
MDT technique can be used in cased holes.15 influence failure. A failure envelope is con- constructed three-dimensional (3D) MEM allows
To predict how a sand-management comple- structed using data from several compression engineers and geoscientists to determine the
tion will perform over the life of the reservoir, tests, in which peak axial stress points are typi- state of stress in a reservoir and surrounding
information is also needed about the impact of cally plotted against the different confining strata at any location within a eld.
depletion on reservoir stresses. This information, pressures used during the tests (below). Labora- Sand-prediction models focus on failure of
usually a single number called the reservoir- tory test data greatly enhance the overall reservoir rock and migration of disaggregated
stress path, can be calculated approximately knowledge of reservoir rock strength and can be sand grains resulting from well-completion
from the elastic properties of the reservoir and used to calibrate log-derived values. However, practices. Information about the mechanisms
surrounding rock, or calculated more accurately performing these tests requires specialized that drive sand production is not easily obtained
using a full-eld geomechanical model, or mea- equipment, and acquiring representative rock from downhole observations, so much of the
sured by examining hydraulic fracture records samples may be difcult, if not impossible. knowledge relating to sand prediction has come
from different stages in the development of the from laboratory research.
eld, if such data exist. Model Behavior Scientists at Schlumberger Cambridge
Modern sonic logging devices, such as the Predicting sand-production behavior starts with Research Center (SCR) and Schlumberger
DSI tool, measure shear-wave anisotropy to developing a mechanical earth model (MEM) to Reservoir Completions Technology Center (SRC)
determine in-situ stress directions in both hard, understand a fields geomechanics. 17 These conducted perforation-stability experiments on
fast formations and soft, slow formations.16 These models are especially important when trying to rock samples of different strengths, providing
tools also provide crucial rock-mechanics param- assess the impact of a given completion method data to develop simulation software that predicts
eters to assess formation strength and predict on weak rocks. In its most basic formone sand failure in weak rocks. These experiments
sand-production problems. Measured values of dimension (1D)an MEM contains information examined sand-production tendencies at various
compressional traveltime (tc) and shear travel- on vertical and horizontal stresses, pore pres- stresses and ow rates to study the effects of per-
time (ts) are used to calculate dynamic elastic sure, rock strength, rock properties and geologic foration hole size, formation grain size and
properties, including Poissons ratio () and data, such as formation dip. An MEM can use completion geometryperforation and wellbore
Youngs modulus (E). additional inputs from geological and geophysi- orientationin relation to the principal stresses

Red Hollington sandstone: porosity ~28%

200 40
Axial stress, MPa


10 Red Hollington sandstone: porosity ~28%

5 200
Peak axial stress, MPa

0 150

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6
Axial strain, %

Confining pressure Peak axial stress

MPa MPa 50
0 31
5 71
10 100 0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
20 151 Confining pressure, MPa
30 174
40 196
50 224

> Constructing a failure envelope. Reservoir rocks are tested in the laboratory to acquire axial stress and strain data at different
conning pressures (top left). Normally, each conning pressure used during testing is plotted against the peak axial stress that
occurs before failure (right), allowing the internal friction angle to be estimated.

Spring 2004 15

Light guide
Endoscope and ring mirror

Pressure vessel
Kerosene out Kerosene in

> Laboratory testing designed to visualize sand disaggregation and sand transport mechanisms. A rock sample
containing a simulated perforation tunnel is placed in a pressure vessel (top). A light guide and ring mirror are used in
combination with an endoscope to observe the tunnel while kerosene ows through the tunnel. When possible, cores
from representative reservoir outcrops have been used for axial ow testing, in which the displacement of the tunnel
walls was documented by imaging (bottom). Extensive work at SCR identied different mechanisms across a wide
range of rock strengths. This information is compared to sand-production modeling results.

> Determining the critical drawdown limits. Sand prediction modeling in the Sand Management Advisor software calculates
critical drawdown pressure for different openhole or perforated completion options and orientations. Given certain reservoir
pressure and bottomhole pressure ranges, the green region denes the sand-free window, while the red area signies sand
failure. Uncertainties associated with input data (left) can be applied to the critical drawdown computation to generate
uncertainties in the sand-free window. In addition, the cumulative uncertainty distribution is plotted to the right for a reservoir
pressure of 4,500 psi [31 MPa].

16 Oileld Review
Completion optimization

Yes Formation- No
stability issues

management Stimulated
method or natural

Customized integrated technologies Customized integrated technologies

Sand exclusion Manage sand at surface Screenless completions Natural Stimulated

Gravel pack Artificial lift Oriented perforating
High-rate water pack Downhole desander Selective perforating
Frac and pack Screenless fracturing
Openhole gravel pack Consolidation
Expandable screens

> Completion options to balance sand control with production requirements. If formation-stability concerns exist, operators
can choose between downhole sand-exclusion technologies or screenless-completion methods. They may also choose to
manage existing sand production by careful selection of articial-lift techniques and practices.

(previous page, top). This work has greatly The sand-prediction tool calculates the From Prediction to Practice
enhanced sand-prediction modeling, which is critical drawdown pressure for different With knowledge of a reservoir, its stresses and
based on the peak strength of a rock in a perfora- user-provided completion scenarios and identi- the probability of encountering sand production,
tion tunnel or wellbore. Schlumberger uses this fies the sand-free production window. Two operating companies can make informed deci-
information to optimize completions to ensure models are used in computing the critical draw- sions about the best approach to optimize well
that wells produce at economic rates with an down pressure at which a formation will fail. A completions and limit the impact of producing
acceptable risk of sand production. wide range of methods has been used in the past sand (above). Initially, the question is whether to
Similar to wellbore-stability analysis, sand- for sand production prediction, for example, control or to prevent sand production. Sand-
production analysis differs in that the using elastoplastic models.18 Sand Management exclusion methods may be required when sand
perforation-tunnel pressure is less than reservoir Advisor uses a proprietary method developed by production is certain, or when the risk associated
pressure, allowing fluid flow. Or, in the case of Schlumberger that takes into account the with unforeseen sand production is highfor
openhole completions, wellbore pressure is less well-known increase in the strength of holes in example, in subsea completions or high-rate gas
than reservoir pressure. Stress calculations are rocks as their diameters decrease. The sand-free wells. One of a variety of screenless-completion
made at the appropriate perforation orientation window defines completion and artificial-lift methods may offer the best option when sand
and phasing to determine minimum drawdown design limits, for example the maximum allow- production can be avoided or at least limited.
that does not promote shear failure, or the able drawdown produced by an electrical Regardless of the method, proper sand manage-
maximum sand-free drawdown. This drawdown is submersible pump (ESP). Uncertainty can also ment is the vehicle needed to balance sand
then used to calculate production rates and be considered on six input parameters: Poissons control with the desired production results
to establish whether minimum production ratio, unconfined compressive strength, mini- through optimized completions.
requirements are achieved. If they are not, the mum horizontal stress, minimum horizontal Gravel packing is a common sand-exclusion
completion design must be modied. stress direction, ratio of the maximum and mini- technique that has been used since the 1930s.19
Schlumberger developed proprietary software mum horizontal stresses, and grain size. For a This procedure involves pumping a designed
called Sand Management Advisor to accomplish given completion scenario, this sand-free window slurry, comprising gravel of a specic size and an
this analysis. This 3D sand-prediction modeling is displayed graphically by plotting reservoir appropriate carrying fluid, to fill the annular
software requires MEM inputs and exploits the pressure versus bottomhole flowing pressure
outputs from other analysis tools, such as SPAN (BHFP), highlighting the sand-free drawdown 18. Bradford IDR and Cook JM: A Semi-Analytic Elastoplastic
Model for Wellbore Stability with Applications to
Schlumberger perforation analysis and ProCADE window and the various levels of uncertainty Sanding, paper SPE 28070, presented at the SPE/ISRM
well analysis software tools. It also links to the (previous page, bottom). This and other tools Rock Mechanics in Petroleum Engineering Conference,
Delft, The Netherlands, August 2931, 1994.
Formation Completion Selection Tool (FCST), a can also be used in the selection of sand- 19. Ali S, Dickerson R, Bennett C, Bixenman P, Parlar M,
proprietary knowledge-based completion-plan- management candidate wells. Price-Smith C, Cooper S, Desroches L, Foxenberg B,
Godwin K, McPike T, Pitoni E, Ripa G, Steven B, Tifn D
ning tool, so that experts can optimize and Troncoso J: High-Productivity Horizontal Gravel
completions by screening and ranking the most Packs, Oileld Review 13, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 5273.
appropriate completion technologies available. Carlson et al, reference 7.

Spring 2004 17
Cased-Hole Gravel Pack Openhole Stand-Alone Screen Openhole Gravel Pack

Blank pipe casing

Screens Filtercake

Gravel Screens

Production Open hole


> Cased-hole and openhole gravel packs. Cased-hole gravel packing requires perforating of the completion interval and is often used in vertical, or near-
vertical, wells producing from laminated reservoirs (left). Openhole stand-alone screens are used to control sand production in clean reservoirs that have
relatively short production lives (center). Openhole gravel packs are common in horizontal wells, require no perforations, and are a viable option in highly
productive, risky deepwater completions (right).

space between a carefully selected centralized Borehole Stresses Near-Vertical Well

screen and perforated casing, or the formation in Maximum
the case of an openhole gravel pack (above).
Cased-hole gravel-pack design should include High stress
perforating optimization. The selection of the on perforations
most suitable perforating-gun system and perfo-
rating method can also improve gravel-pack
effectiveness by minimizing perforation damage.20 stress
In moderately competent reservoirs, the PURE
Perforating for Ultimate Reservoir Exploitation Damage occurs Wellbore
at stress damage
system produces the optimum amount of under- concentrations Minimum
balance for a given reservoir pressure, generating stress
improved perforation cleanup.21
Openhole gravel packs require removal of stress
ltercake from the completion in addition to the
standard design considerations. Careful selection
> Stress concentration around a borehole. Perforated completion designs for sand control should
of proper drilling and completion fluids helps
consider the stresses around the borehole to help prevent perforation-tunnel failure (left). Unlike
ensure adequate ltercake development and its perforating for hydraulic fracturing, perforations should avoid the highly stressed regions typically
subsequent removal. It is imperative to remove aligned with the maximum horizontal stress in vertical wells, which is the vertical direction in
as much filtercake as possible to maximize horizontal wells (right). Perforating in the minimum horizontal stress direction should also be avoided
to minimize perforation-tunnel failure. Oriented perforating allows the perforations to be aligned
gravel-pack permeability. This is best accom-
based on perforation stability models to optimize a completion.
plished by using a fully integrated process such
as the MudSOLV ltercake removal service and
antiswab tools to maintain hydrostatic pressure soft rocks, this method produces a short, wide uid velocities and unstable perforations. In the
on the wellbore during the gravel-packing opera- hydraulic fracture and relies on achieving a tip past, separate operations included wellbore
tion. The MudSOLV service includes full screenout (TSO) fracture. Unlike conventional cleanout, sand-exclusion screen installation and
consideration of the completion, selection of the hydraulic fracturing, TSO designs limit fracture gravel packing, all conducted after fracturing.
chemistry with the lowest risk, the use of perfor- length by dehydrating the proppant pack within However, advances in downhole hardware associ-
mance metrics, economic analysis and laboratory the fracture early in the treatment. This helps ated with the STIMPAC fracturing and
verication testing.22 prop the fracture near the tip, creating a short gravel-packing service now allow the fracturing
In low-permeability reservoirs, reservoirs pro- but conductive ow path to the wellbore. operation to be completed with the screen
ducing high-viscosity uids, or layered reservoirs This technique increases the effective com- already in place, and then followed by
with low net-to-gross pay intervals, the technique pletion radius and the area open to flow, and gravel packing.
of frac packing has been widely successful.23 In reduces sand production associated with high

18 Oileld Review
There is also a screenless method of frac wellbore ow during hydraulic fracturing. Today, Oriented Perforating Success in the North Sea
packing that involves oriented perforating, unsurpassed accuracy, repeatability and verica- Stress contrasts, or high deviatoric stresses, are
injecting resin to stabilize the formation and tion are available with the OrientXact the source of many borehole-stability and sand-
using resin-coated proppants and ber technol- tubing-conveyed oriented perforating system production problems and can be made more
ogy to prevent proppant flowback (see Going (see Perforations on Target, page 28). severe by local geologic features such as salt
Screenless in Japan, page 21). This technique However, for wells with perforated-only com- diapirs. Given the complex state of stress in the
joins a growing list of screenless options when pletions in weak reservoirs, alignment with the strata adjacent to a salt diapir, BP was
operators choose to prevent failure rather than PFP will not necessarily result in the most concerned about the potential for sand produc-
to exclude sand production. stable perforation tunnels and may instead lead tion to jeopardize well productivity and integrity,
In moderately weak but consolidated zones, to increased sand production. With a 3D and production facilities at Mirren eld, east of
screenless-completion techniques offer effective sand-prediction model, the state of stressthe Scotland in the North Sea. Moreover, as the
solutions to reduce or eliminate sanding, often at magnitude and direction of the three principal wells produce, depletion causes the effective
lower cost and risk and with increased hydro- stressesaround the wellbore is modeled, stress in the reservoir to increase, raising the
carbon production. 24 As an important part allowing completion experts to select the perfo- potential for sand production. With only two sub-
of sand management, screenless techniques ration orientations that minimize stress contrast sea horizontal producing wells planned for eld
draw from a range of individual or combined and maximize perforation stability (previous development, BP needed to select a completion
technologies such as selective, dynamically page, bottom).26 New oriented perforating tech- method that would avoid potential sand
underbalanced, optimally phased and oriented nologies have allowed the industry to exploit an production and minimize future intervention
perforating techniques, TSO fracturing designs increased understanding of the relationship requirements.
and indirect vertical fracturing (IVF) techniques, between near-wellbore stresses and sand pro- To simulate the principal stress conditions in
proppant-flowback control, and resin injection duction. This technique has now been applied the presence of a salt diapir, BP constructed a
for formation consolidation. worldwide and its use continues to grow. comprehensive MEM for the Mirren eld (below).
Extensive research and eld experience have
demonstrated the importance of perforation
orientation to perforation stability and sand pro- 0

duction. When hydraulic fracturing is planned to

help prevent sand production, perforations
should be aligned with the preferred fracture 1,000
plane (PFP), or parallel with the maximum in- Salt
situ stress direction.25 Orienting perforations
Depth, m

along the maximum in-situ stress direction 2,000

reduces tortuosity, or the restrictions on near-

20. Venkitaraman A, Behrmann LA and Chow CV:

Perforating Requirements for Sand Control, paper 3,000
SPE 65187, presented at the SPE European Petroleum
Conference, Paris, France, October 2425, 2000.
21. Bakker E, Veeken K, Behrmann L, Milton P, Stirton G, 0 to 1 MPa 1 to 2 MPa 2 to 5 MPa 5 to 10 MPa 10 to 20 MPa
Stress contrast
Salsman A, Walton I, Stutz L and Underdown D: 20 to 30 MPa 30 to 40 MPa >40 MPa Surfaces
The New Dynamics of Underbalanced Perforating, 4,000
0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000 6,000
Oileld Review 15, no. 4 (Winter 2003/2004): 5467.
Stenhaug M, Erichsen L, Doornbosch FHC and
Offset, m
Parrott RA: A Step Change in Perforating Technology
Improves Productivity of Horizontal Wells in the Norway
North Sea, paper SPE 84910, presented at the SPE Mirren
International Oil Recovery Conference in Asia Pacic, field
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 2021, 2003.
22. Ali et al, reference 19.
23. Ali S, Norman D, Wagner D, Ayoub J, Desroches J,
Morales H, Price P, Shepherd D, Toffanin E, Troncoso J a
and White S: Combined Stimulation and Sand Control, S e
Oileld Review 14, no. 2 (Summer 2002): 3047. r t h
N o
24. Acock et al, Riddles et al, and Pitoni et al, reference 11.
25. Behrmann L, Brooks JE, Farrant S, Fayard A,
Venkitaraman A, Brown A, Michel C, Noordermeer A,
Smith P and Underdown D: Perforating Practices
That Optimize Productivity, Oileld Review 12, no. 1
(Spring 2000): 5274.
Almaguer et al, reference 13.
26. Sulbaran AL, Carbonell RS and Lpez-de-Crdenas JE: UK 0 km 200
Oriented Perforating for Sand Prevention, paper 0 miles 200
SPE 57954, presented at the SPE European Formation
Damage Conference, The Hague, The Netherlands,
May 31June 1, 1999. > Location of Mirren eld (bottom). Complex stresses surround a salt diapir in Mirren eld and must
be considered in both drilling and completion operations (top). 3D modeling predicts that the maximum
stress orientation near the diapir is tilted 20 to 40 from horizontal, making perforated completion
design more complex.

Spring 2004 19
4,500 This 3D model, originally developed to provide
4,000 wellbore-stability information, enabled the suc-
cessful drilling of two wells in the field. 27

Critical bottomhole flowing pressure, psi

Openhole Significantly, the 3D model predicts that the
3,000 maximum stress orientation near the diapir is
tilted 20 to 40 from horizontal, potentially
impacting BP sand-avoidance efforts in two
2,000 planned horizontal production wells, the East
and West wells. Building on the MEM, BP con-
Horizontal structed a geomechanical model along the
1,000 planned trajectories of two of the wells using log
dataincluding gamma ray, compressional
Vertical traveltime, tc, and density datacore measure-
0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500 4,000 4,500
ments, leakoff tests and reservoir pressure
Reservoir pressure, psi measurements from offset wells. Shear data, or
> Critical drawdown pressures for three scenarios of perforated completions ts, were estimated using compressional informa-
in a Mirren horizontal well. The rst scenario considered an openhole tion from the sonic tool. The dynamic rock
completion (red). The second scenario examined drawdown conditions properties calculated from the sonic and density
when perforations are shot horizontally (green), and the third case shows measurements were converted to static proper-
the drawdown conditions when vertical perforations are used (blue). The
vertical perforations clearly produce the largest sand-free window and ties and then calibrated to rock strengths
suggest the reservoir sand should not fail until the reservoir pressure measured in cores from offset wells. In addition,
declines to less than 500 psi [3.4 MPa]. BP analyzed the average grain size in cores of the
Mirren eld reservoir rock.

Openhole Horizontal Perforation Vertical Perforation

Vertical Sandface Failure Sandface Failure Sandface Failure

Perforation Inclination
Critical Drawdown at Critical Drawdown at Critical Drawdown at
10 deg -90
Initial Reservoir Pressure Initial Reservoir Pressure Initial Reservoir Pressure
Compressive Strength Critical Drawdown at Critical Drawdown at Critical Drawdown at
Depth, m

2,000-psi Depletion 3,000-psi Depletion 3,000-psi Depletion

0 kPa 60,000
Bulk Density Critical Drawdown Critical Drawdown Critical Drawdown
1.95 gm/cm3 2.95 -1,000 psi 5,000 Shale -1,000 psi 5,000 -1,000 psi 5,000



> Continuous critical drawdown data. Track 1 displays vertical perforation orientation, computed
unconned compressive strength (UCS) and bulk density data. The three scenarios are presented in
Tracks 2, 4 and 5. The openhole case is run using a depletion of 2,000 psi [13.8 MPa], while the
perforated scenarios use a depletion of 3,000 psi [20.7 MPa]. The light green area represents the
critical drawdown at depletion, and the critical drawdown at the initial reservoir pressure (dark green)
is also presented.

20 Oileld Review
With the Schlumberger Sand Management design recommended that engineers avoid perfo-
Advisor sand-prediction model, critical draw- rating them.
down pressures were calculated across the The East well was drilled and completed in
anticipated completion intervals for three differ- 2002. Critical drawdown pressures were recalcu-
ent horizontal completion scenarios: openhole lated using the East well log data, which
completion, horizontal perforations and vertical included density and tc and ts from an LWD sonic
perforations (previous page, top). Results indi- tool. A multidisciplinary team selected perfora-

cated that resistance to sand failure dramatically tion intervals from the revised analysis, and the oil field

e a
improves for perforated completions and sand oriented perforating job was completed success-

O c
n Niigata
production could be delayed for several years. fully. Later in 2002, the same procedure was pa
J a
Additionally, perforations oriented vertically followed on the West well. The wells were put on o f J A P A N

S e

were significantly more stable than those production in November 2002 and exhibited

oriented horizontally. slightly negative skin values, indicating no forma-

P a
The critical drawdown analysis showed that tion damage. With the exception of some initial
under openhole conditions, the reservoir sands ne-grained sand production resulting from per-

could withstand a drawdown of 2,175 psi foration cleanup, the wells are producing with
0 km 200
[15 MPa] at the initial reservoir pressure of only minimal sand inux, matching expectations

0 miles 200
4,550 psi [31.4 MPa]. However, simulation pre- from the modeling.
dictions for the eld-development plan indicated

that formation pressures would deplete to the Going Screenless in Japan
extent that any amount of drawdown would Amarume eld, operated by the Japan Petroleum
cause sand failure after one year of production. Exploration Company, Limited (JAPEX), is an > Location of Amarume eld in Japan.
Searching for an alternative to sand screens, onshore oil field close to Niigata on Honshu
which pose a high cost of installation and a risk Island, Japan (right). Produced since the early perforated completion parameters were examined,
of failure in later life, BP explored perforated 1960s, the eld has a reservoir pressure that has including perforation deviation from vertical, perfo-
completion options. dropped from 1,800 psi [12.4 MPa] to 650 psi ration diameter and perforation orientation. Plots
Horizontal perforationsthe worst of the [4.5 MPa]. Sand production observed in six wells show that sand failure would occur, regardless of
cased-hole perforation scenarioswould led JAPEX to reduce drawdown in all the wells to the perforating job design. The critical drawdown
improve the resistance to failure compared with 55 psi [0.4 MPa]. plots predicted sand production at any drawdown
the openhole case, allowing drawdown to During the planning stages of Well SK 74D, pressure and indicated a need for sand control. The
3,150 psi [21.7 MPa] at the initial reservoir pres- Schlumberger proposed a completion solution low reservoir pressure and predicted low well pro-
sure. After four and a half years of production, that would help limit sand production. Prior to ductivity made any sand-exclusion screen
once the reservoir pressure dropped below selecting the type of completion, the planning completion uneconomical and instead suggested
1,350 psi [9.3 MPa], sand failure would be team characterized reservoir stresses and the need for a less expensive, screenless hydrauli-
expected. When perforations are oriented in the completed a sand-prediction analysis. cally fractured completion.
more stable vertical direction, the 3D sand- Special software was used to translate the For a screenless fractured completion in
prediction model suggests that the formation gamma ray, density and sonictc and tsdata this well, the following steps were identied as
should not fail until the reservoir pressure from a vertical offset well, the AMR TRC-1, to the critical to treatment success:
declines to less than 500 psi [3.4 MPa], which is planned deviated SK 74D well. RockSolid High-quality well cementing ensures good
beyond the anticipated economic life of the eld. wellbore stability software was then used to zonal isolation across weak and depleted
The most stable perforation orientation is actu- construct a 1D MEM, which was calibrated with zones. The success of any fracturing treatment
ally angled slightly away from vertical to increase core-strength data from multistage triaxial tests. requires good zonal isolation to help pump
the distance between perforations, thereby Borehole images were not available, but because fracturing fluid and proppant to the desired
reducing the overlap of stress concentrations the zone of interest was shallow, it was thought zone. Achieving zonal isolation is even more of
around each perforation. that the orthogonal horizontal stresses were sim- a challenge when cementing across depleted
The critical drawdown analysis was extended ilar in magnitude. However, a previously acquired reservoirs where loss of circulation is antici-
to include the entire completion interval to vertical seismic prole (VSP) and the DataFRAC pated. For this well, a two-stage cementing
examine the long-term effects of reservoir deple- pressure data indicated stress anisotropy operation with 1.6-specic gravity LiteCRETE
tion (previous page, bottom). The three scenarios did exist. slurry was used.28 Cement bond logs and USI
were again examined and compared at the ini- The Sand Management Advisor sand- UltraSonic Imager logs indicated good bonding
tial reservoir pressure, at 2,000-psi prediction software, using the 1D MEM as input, over the cemented intervals.
[13.8-MPa] depletion for the openhole case, and provided the critical drawdown pressures to iden- Optimized perforating helps ensure that for-
at 3,000-psi [20.7-MPa] depletion for both the tify potential sand-production zones. A mation fluid is filtered through the proppant
horizontal and vertical perforation scenarios. combination of low unconfined compressive
27. Ali et al, reference 17.
The weakest sands and shaly intervals within strength (UCS) between 100 and 500 psi
28. Al-Suwaidi A, Hun C, Bustillos J, Guillot D, Rondeau J,
the section were predicted to fail regardless of [0.7 and 3.4 MPa] and 60% reservoir depletion Vigneaux P, Helou H, Martnez Ramrez JA and
perforation orientation, so the completion meant that shear failure could occur at the sand- Resndiz Robles JL: Light as a Feather, Hard as a Rock,
Oileld Review 13, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 215.
face in the perforations. During the analysis,

Spring 2004 21
pack in the fracture prior to exiting the perfo- Proppant-flowback control improves as channelized, siliciclastic turbidites that
rations. The perforated interval was limited to the longevity of the packed fracture. For this formed interbedded to massive sandstones.
6 ft [1.8 m] at zero-degree phasing and well, PropNET hydraulic fracturing proppant Reservoirs range in porosity from 20 to 30%, have
oriented at 180 degrees on the low side of the pack fibers were added to all stages of permeabilities of 500 to 2,000 mD and produce
borehole. The perforation entrance-hole size the proppant.29 26 API gravity oil. Reservoir characteristics,
was selected to be less than the designed At Well SK 74D, the upper and lower B2 such as heterogeneity and varying productivity,
fracture width. zones were completed using the screenless contribute to wide-ranging reserve estimates. In
In-situ consolidation stabilizes unconsoli- hydraulic-fracturing technique (below). Early the P110 well, the T25 reservoir target was best
dated rock around the perforations by injecting results indicate sand-free production. JAPEX exploited by completing a 3,075-ft [937-m] hori-
a resin into the formation. operations, completions and reservoir teams zontal openhole section.
Tip-screenout (TSO) fracturing ensures tightly considered this a successful application for con- Completing the long, horizontal openhole
packed proppant from the fracture tip to the trolling sand production. section remained a challenge; even with precise
wellbore. This is essential for ltering any sand well placement, unstable shales and sand
from uids during production. A key to achiev- Integrating Technologies production can severely impact well and field
ing a TSO fracture is determining fluid Successful sand management requires an economics in this area. A major concern for BP
efficiency, fluid-loss coefficient and closure integrated approach to problem-solving and and Schlumberger was a 530-ft [162-m] unstable
pressure, which can be obtained from appropriate utilization of the latest technology. shale section between two sandstone reservoirs.
DataFRAC calibration and step-rate tests. A This was clearly demonstrated by BP and This shale had the potential to slough into the
large difference between the assumed values of Schlumberger on Well P110 in the deepwater hole during gravel-packing operations, possibly
fluid efficiency, fluid-loss coefficient and Foinaven field, West of Shetlands (next page, causing screenout or damage to the gravel-pack
closure pressure compared with the DataFRAC top).30 The Foinaven eld is a faulted anticlinal permeability. In previous wells, to help address
results demonstrated the importance of this structure, featuring dip closure, faults and strati- stability issues, oil-base mud (OBM) was used to
calibration to the success of this screenless graphic pinchouts as trapping mechanisms. drill horizontal sections, and stand-alone screens
sand-control method. Paleocene reservoir rocks have been classified were installed for sand control. In certain
instances, particularly with high water cut,
stand-alone screens required lower production
rates to keep sand production manageable and to
Proppant-flowback control
reduce erosion rates. Also, limited core data from
Proppant grains held in place the previously undeveloped T25 reservoir sug-
by PropNET fibers
gested these sandstones were much ner grained
and less sorted than typical sandstones in the
Foinaven eld. For these reasons, the BP team
worked with Schlumberger to improve sand man-
agement in the P110 well.
Several techniques contributed to a success-
ful completion. To reduce formation damage,
part of the solution included the first use of a
water-base drilling mud (WBM) in the P110 hori-
zontal well. After extensive testing, BP found a
WBM that fullled the requirements for drilling
the Foinaven reservoirs.
Resin Studies from earlier wells determined that a
Oil stand-alone screen would be inadequate to con-
trol sand production from the T25 reservoir, so
the new solution also involved an openhole
gravel pack (OHGP), the first ever for a deep-
water Foinaven eld horizontal completion. The
sand grain 29. Acock et al, reference 11.
Formation consolidation 30. Wilson A, Roy A, Twynam A, Shirmboh DN and Sinclair G:
Design, Installation, and Results from the Worlds
Longest Deep-Water Openhole Shunt-Tube Gravel-Pack
West of Shetlands, paper SPE 86458, presented at the
SPE International Symposium and Exhibition on Formation
Damage Control, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, February
1820, 2004.
> Screenless hydraulic fracturing for sand control. A combination of technologies is used to create a 31. Naturally occurring sand and synthetic proppants are
stable propped fracture that provides sand control with minimal proppant owback. The perforating specied according to sieve analysis based on particle-
job was designed to optimize the creation of the fracture. After perforating, injected resin was used to size distributions and percentage of particles retained by
consolidate the formation around the wellbore. A TSO fracture created a tightly packed fracture screens with standard US mesh sizes.
capable of providing sand control and limiting proppant owback. 32. Ali et al, reference 19.

22 Oileld Review
viscoelastic surfactant (VES) ClearPAC uid was
FPSO selected as the carrier fluid, reducing friction
while pumping the gravel-pack slurry, increasing
gravel-carrying capacity and minimizing damage
to the gravel pack. Schlumberger tested the VES
carrying uid for compatibility and productivity
with the WBM. The treatment incorporated the
MudSOLV service to ensure that cleanup would
be accomplished while gravel packing. The com-
patibility test showed that the ClearPAC fluid
maintained its uid properties when introduced
to the ltercake cleanup chemicals and the dis-
DC1 DC2 associated ltercake, which was essential for the
simultaneous treatment. Moreover, the ClearPAC
fluid provided excellent shear-thinning proper-
ties to the combined treatment, helping it to ow
across the troublesome shale sections without
causing sloughing.
BP fully characterized the reservoirs grain-
size distribution to select the optimal gravel and
screen sizes. This study included sieve, laser and
Clair scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis on
sidewall cores of the T25 reservoir from a 1994
Schiehallion appraisal well. The company developed an inte-
< Location of Foinaven eld in the North
Foinaven grated model that utilized the three different
Shetland Sea, West of Shetlands (bottom). Sub-
Islands sea production and injection operations methods for particle-size determination. The par-
are conducted in water depths from ticle-size distribution model was then used to
400 to 600 m [1,310 to 1,970 ft] from two create an articial core pack to test sand reten-
drilling centers, DC1 and DC2, each
tion and define the requirements of both the
having a gathering manifold and well-
Orkney cluster arrangement (top). A oating gravel and screen to be used in the completion.
Islands production, storage and offshore load- BP selected 30/50-mesh synthetic gravel for its
ing (FPSO) vessel receives the higher permeability and superior performance
production volumes through exible
risers. The Foinaven eld produces
during coreood ltercake liftoff tests.31 BP also
0 km 80
from ve Paleocene reservoirs within decided to run 8-gauge wire-wrapped screens
0 miles 80
a faulted anticlinal structure (center). because, unlike the ner screens, they retained
96% of the solids and resisted the tendency
Scotland to plug.
Another crucial aspect of installing this
OHGP completion was the need to maintain a
continuous overbalanced hydrostatic pressure
Slurry at total depth
Start adding gravel

Start displacement

during the packer-setting process so that the

Slurry to screens

operation experienced no ltercake or formation

Stop gravel

collapse. Schlumberger accomplished this, along

with simultaneous ltercake-cleanup treatment,
5,000 using the QUANTUM packer and the horizontal
openhole AllPAC screen system.32 The system
4,000 worked as designed, maintaining positive pres-
3,500 Pump pressure 5 sure on the formation and filtercake during
Pump rate, bbl/min

Pump rate the operation (left). The use of effective

Pressure, psi

Moving average 4
2,500 pump pressure
, Keeping up the pressure. The plot shows the surface pumping pressure
1,500 2 recorded during the installation of the openhole gravel pack in the P110 well.
Maintaining positive pressure on the formation and ltercake while pumping
1 was critical to the successful placement of an effective gravel pack. A total
500 of 527 barrels [83.8 m3] of slurry, carrying 100,000 lbm [45,360 kg] of gravel
0 0 was pumped in less than two hours and resulted in 100% pack efciency.
9:24:43 9:39:48 9:54:53 10:09:58 10:25:03 10:40:09 10:55:15 11:10:29

Spring 2004 23
Productivity Index Comparison in the West of Shetlands Area Total Skin Comparison in the West of Shetlands Area
5 30

Initial productivity index (PI)


3 15

Average PI = 1.5 Average skin = +4.8














0 -5
Production wells
Production slot

> Productivity index and skin comparison. After the new completion that included the MudSOLV
ltercake cleanup service, ClearPAC uid system, the QUANTUM packer and the AllPAC screen system,
technology, proper planning and an integrated
the P110 well performed much better than the majority of the wells in Foinaven eld. It exhibited a higher approach to sand management resulted in suc-
productivity index (left) with a skin of zero (right). The productivity index comparison was made on 35 cessful packing of the entire interval.
production slots, while the skin comparison was made on 28 production wells. In this case, production The new completion design in the Foinaven
slots and production wells are not comparable.
field performed extremely well compared with
the average performance of more than 30 hori-
zontal wells in the West of Shetlands area, for
Principal Stress X both oil production and sand-control effective-
Measured depth, ft

Principal Stress Y ness. An early buildup test revealed not only a

Clay Volume Poissons Ratio
Unconfined Principal Stress Z Critical Drawdown Pressure zero skin compared with a 28-well average skin
0 vol/vol 1 0.2 0.5
Porosity Youngs Modulus Strength Pore Pressure 0 psi 20,000 of +4.8, but also a higher productivity index
0 vol/vol 1 0 106 psi 5 0 psi 20,000 8,000 psi 18,000 Sand Safe Drawdown (above). During the initial production test, the
P110 well showed a rate of 20,500 B/D
[3,260 m3/d] with a fully open choke. This was
attributed to improved sand control and the
X,500 reduced damage associated with the drilling and
completion operations.

Testing Weak Sands
New applications for predicting sand failure con-
tinue to emerge with the growing understanding
of the relationship between stresses, reservoirs
and completions. Operators evaluating deep-
water wells in the Gulf of Mexico rely on a variety
G zone of downhole measurements to determine reser-
X,000 voir characteristics, potential reserves, required
production facilities and asset-development
strategies. In many deepwater fields, the MDT
tool has become a crucial provider of important
reservoir information. Using this device, an oper-
ator can determine reservoir pressure and
permeability, evaluate whether the reservoir is
X,000 damaged, and collect and analyze representative
uid samples.33
I zone In one of its many configurations, the MDT
tool deploys a small packer and probe device that
presses against the borehole wall, isolating the
> Critical drawdown log for Trident Well 1. The data from the Trident Well 1
probe from hydrostatic pressure so that forma-
indicated that the Wilcox G zone is a serious risk because of potential formation
collapse when exposed to excessive drawdown levels during MDT testing and tion pressure can be measured. In weak or
sampling. The Wilcox I zone was substantially more competent. Clay volume and unconsolidated formations, the probes can
porosity are displayed in Track 1, computed Poissons ratio and Youngs modulus become clogged, hindering testing and sampling.
are presented in Track 2, calculated unconned compressive strength (UCS) is
shown in Track 3, and the computed principal stresses and pore pressure are Depending on the specic well and reservoir, a
displayed in Track 4. Track 5 shows the critical drawdown pressures calculated dual-packer assembly may be preferable in weak
from the sand-prediction modeling tool.

24 Oileld Review
reservoirs to eliminate the clogging problem and reservoir pressure and to take uid samples on to perform sand-failure analyses on the rst two
because the operator can control the drawdown two wells, Trident Well 1 and Trident Well 2. How- wells to determine the critical drawdown pres-
pressure during testing to prevent formation ever, because many of the Wilcox zones are sures in the reservoir section prior to running the
collapse. Moreover, the larger volume of laminated and have low permeability, it was dif- MDT dual packers in Well 3. The Wilcox G zone in
investigation between the two packers yields cult to acquire representative test data and uid Trident Well 1 was identied as potentially weak,
more representative test results. samples using the MDT probe. Unocal investi- and could fail under too much drawdown during
In the deepwater Trident Gulf of Mexico gated the dual-packer assembly for use on the MDT testing (previous page, bottom).
prospect, water depths reach 9,800 ft [2,990 m] next well, Trident Well 3. To fully exploit the Sand-prediction modeling was not possible
and operating conditions are harsh. Unocal dual-packer capability and reduce risk of forma- on the third well because DSI data were not
Corporation used the MDT probe to measure tion collapse, Unocal asked Schlumberger experts acquired. Because the Unocal asset team was
condent in the correlation between wells, the
critical drawdown pressures from the first two
Resistivity 10-in.
wells were used to design MDT tests in Well 3.
Resistivity 20-in. With the drawdown limits defined for each
Wilcox zone, the MDT dual packer was posi-
True vertical depth, ft

Resistivity 30-in. Neutron Orientation North tioned and the pressure tests and sampling were
Porosity 0 120 240 360 conducted accordingly (left). During the testing,
Resistivity 60-in.
0.6 vol/vol 0 OBMI Static Image
Gamma Ray Permeability Resistivity 90-in. Bulk Density Resistive Conductive
0 API 150 0.1 mD 100 0.2 ohm-m 200 1.65 g/cm3 2.65
pretest Vertical
buildup interference
Packer pretest
drawdown test

Pressure at packer, psia


7,500 Vertical

X,520 6,500 Cleaning up


0 1 2 3 4 5 6
X,530 Time, hr

< MDT testing in the Wilcox G zone. Well-log

X,540 data, including borehole image data, are
displayed with the MDT test and sampling
conguration (left). The pressure at the dual-
packer module was recorded during the MDT
tool testing and sampling sequence, and shows
that the total drawdown was kept below the
limits that were established by sand-prediction
modeling (above). The testing and sampling
operations were successful and provided
X,560 Unocal with important data to help characterize
the Wilcox reservoirs for future development.



33. Betancourt S, Fujisawa G, Mullins OC, Carnegie A, Ayan C, Hafez H, Hurst S, Kuchuk F, OCallaghan A,
Dong C, Kurkjian A, Eriksen KO, Haggag M, Jaramillo AR Peffer J, Pop J and Zeybek M: Characterizing
and Terabayashi H: Analyzing Hydrocarbons in the Permeability with Formation Testers, Oileld Review 13,
Borehole, Oileld Review 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2003): 5461. no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 223.
Badry R, Fincher D, Mullins O, Schroeder B and Smits T:
Downhole Optical Analysis of Formation Fluids,
Oileld Review 6, no. 1 (January 1994): 2128.

Spring 2004 25
Client sites Weak rock, UCS = 20 MPa with different perforation diameters
Diameter of
perforation = 25.4 mm


Wellbore pressure, MPa

40 Diameter of
perforation = 12.7 mm

30 Diameter of
perforation = 7.62 mm



10 20 30 40 50 60
Pore pressure, MPa

WellWatcher service

Interpretation Center
> Real-time monitoring and control. The negative effects of producing sand and the impact of sand-control efforts can be observed by various downhole
and surface measurements. In todays connected oil eld, massive amounts of data can be transmitted and sent directly to asset teams and Schlumberger
experts for interpretation. The data can be used to update and verify sand-prediction models and reservoir simulators, and to facilitate complete and real-
time production optimization.

the MDT drawdown pressures were kept within important element of controlling the extent of sand production is increasing or decreasing, and
safe limits, as dened by the sand-failure analysis. sand production is managing the pressure draw- can facilitate the estimation of hardware erosion.
In combination with the dual packer, two down and production rate throughout the life of Periodic downhole measurements help evalu-
other MDT probes were positioned above the a well. Monitoring sand-production rates helps ate the effectiveness of sand-prevention methods
dual-packer module to conduct vertical interfer- optimize production rates, calibrate models, over time. For example, production logs or well
ence tests. These tests determined vertical improve sand-control methods and assess the tests record pressure and ow-rate data to evalu-
permeability along with the standard horizontal need for remedial work. This practice is central ate damage to the completion. Gravel-pack
permeability. The MDT operations were com- to proper reservoir management. But how do pro- characterization can be accomplished using one
pleted successfully and safely, with no evidence ducing companies know if their sand-exclusion or a combination of wireline measurements,
of sand failure. Armed with the MDT test results and sand-prevention efforts are paying off, or including RST Reservoir Saturation Tool, CHFR
and samples, Unocal is now better prepared whether and when remediation is required? Cased Hole Formation Resistivity, TDT Thermal
to exploit the Wilcox reservoirs in the Several methods are used to monitor sand Decay Time and CNL Compensated Neutron Log
Trident prospect. production, and the success of these depends on data. These devices allow completion and
the extent of the problem and the nature of the production engineers to locate the top of a
Monitoring Sand Production well and the completion. Surface-detection gravel-pack completion and determine its cover-
Determining the critical drawdown for various methods use sensors located at strategic posi- age and quality.34
stages of reservoir depletion at which wellbore or tions in flowlines. For example, nonintrusive
perforation failure begins to occur is a primary ultrasonic sensors that detect particles colliding
function of the 3D sand-prediction tool. An with the interior pipe wall can be installed after
bends in subsea gathering lines. Over time, these
recordings can be used to determine whether

26 Oileld Review
Monitoring the effects of sand production on Well-intervention techniques vary in type and The ability to predict surface sand volumes
a more permanent basis is accomplished by cost. An operator may choose a screenless accurately would be helpful. However, this
installing downhole sensors that record bottom- method that does not require a rig, such as remains a daunting challenge, especially in
hole owing pressure and temperature, offering adding perforations, reperforating or hydraulic- highly deviated and horizontal wells, because it
real-time monitoring and control capabilities fracturing techniques. 36 In some cases, vent requires that all modes of sand transport be con-
(previous page).35 Real-time data from downhole, screens can be installed without a rig. Major sidered. Moreover, there are added complexities
subsea and surface sensors can be delivered operations requiring a rig, like gravel packing or in accounting for completion types and for vary-
using the InterACT real-time monitoring and installing expandable screens, may be needed to ing flow regimes. Improving sand-monitoring
data delivery system to update modeling and sim- achieve the best result, but these operations techniques and learning how to better exploit
ulation tools, such as ECLIPSE reservoir add costs. monitoring data in models and simulators may be
simulation software. When well economics justify recompletions, a more practical approach.
many sand-exclusion and sand-prevention As with other oileld challenges, addressing
When Reservoirs Fail methods again become viable options. For this sand-production issues will require the collabo-
Many completed and producing wells are reason, recompletions mark a new opportunity ration of experts, the development of effective
experiencing sanding problems. Sand production for operators and service providers to and efcient processes, and the appropriate use
can be relentless, with damaging effects on incorporate the informed decision-making of technologies. Producing hydrocarbons from
production rates and hardware. Early detection process associated with thorough sand- weak reservoirs is a tricky business because the
through monitoring can detect problems and management practices. unknowns outweigh the knowns, but the balance
prompt intervention before problems become is clearly tipping towards more production with
severe. However, sometimes catastrophes occur The Sands of Time less sand. MGG
unexpectedly and result in total well Sophisticated sand-screen and gravel-packing
failure and a need for intervention. When inter- tool designs have drastically improved the sand-
vention is necessary, comprehensive sand- exclusion process, adding life to wells and
management practices help determine the reserves to assets. A new sand-exclusion system
best action. called expandable sand screens represents a fun-
When appropriate dataproduction, well- damental shift in methodology. As part of the
test, core and log dataare coupled with true monobore, or monodiameter, vision, expand-
sand-production and well-history information, able completions provide an efcient, single-trip
the need for, and the value of, remediation and alternative by expanding out to the borehole wall
production-enhancement efforts can be evalu- to reduce the annular space, thereby reducing
ated. In wells with multizone completions, annular flow, maximizing borehole volume and
proprietary Schlumberger production-allocation stabilizing the borehole wall. The technology
software allocates production for each zone using eliminates the need for other tubulars and gravel
production-log data. This allows engineers to packing, and it potentially offers higher produc-
evaluate each zone separately, making remedial tivity than cased-hole completions. While there
treatments more selective. have been mixed results with expandable-screen
In hydraulically fractured wells, proprietary completions, the technology continues to evolve
ProFIT production analysis software helps deter- rapidly, and so far, its applicability has primarily
mine fracture properties so that problems that been in horizontal wells that produce from well-
limit fracture effectiveness can be diagnosed and sorted sandstone reservoirs.
remedied. Lastly, ProCADE software allows the Technological advances across all facets of
analysis of well-production data to determine sand managementprediction, prevention,
near-wellbore reservoir properties and to predict monitoring and remediationreect the scale of
well performance as the completion scenarios the problem and the importance of solutions.
change. These powerful software tools can Modeling tools that predict when reservoir sand-
predict the impact of remedial efforts to gauge stones will fail help E&P companies address
both the economics and risks. problems downhole by preventing sand failure
using screenless methods or by impeding the
34. Carlson et al, reference 7. migration of sand into the flowstream.
Olesen J-R, Hudson TE and Carpenter WW: Gravel Pack
Quality Control by Neutron Activation Logging, paper Schlumberger continues the quest to more fully
SPE 19739, presented at the 64th SPE Annual Technical understand perforation and borehole geome-
Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas, USA,
October 811, 1989. chanics, and to continue to develop innovative
35. Al-Asimi M, Butler G, Brown G, Hartog A, Clancy T, perforating, fracturing and sand-control comple-
Cosad C, Fitzgerald J, Navarro J, Gabb A, Ingham J, tion solutions.
Kimminau S, Smith J and Stephenson K: Advances in
Well and Reservoir Surveillance, Oileld Review 14,
no. 4 (Winter 2002/2003): 1435.
36. Acock et al, reference 11.

Spring 2004 27