Sand production during oil drilling can cause erosion and wear of production equipment, resulting in production downtime, expensive repairs, and potentially, serious safety risks. To minimize sand and fine production, sand control techniques are employed. In this article, we will discuss the advanced tools used in sand control and management during oil drilling.
Sand control refers to managing/minimizing sand and fine production during petroleum production . In many offshore regions, the geologic formations that produce oil and gas are unconsolidated . The traditional sand control means are not normally applied in these areas, and production is managed through monitoring and control of the well . This article aims to explore advanced tools for sand control and management in oil drilling.
2. Mechanical Methods of Sand Control
2.1 Slotted Liners
Slotted liners are used to prevent sand production from the reservoir. These liners are used as a standalone sand control device or in conjunction with other sand control techniques such as gravel packing or standalone screens .
Screens are used to prevent sand production and allow oil and gas to flow through. They are typically made of metal or plastic and come in a variety of configurations, such as wire-wrapped, woven, and wedge-wire screens .
2.3 Gravel Packs
Gravel packs are used to fill the perforations and casing to prevent sand production. This technique entails pumping the gravel into the well .
2.4 Ceramic Sand Screens
Ceramic sand screens efficiently control sand to help lower capital expenditures and maximize flow capacity, productivity, and well life. They are used in oil or gas wells with high production rates and the risk of erosion, depleted reservoirs with high gas velocity, and gravel pack completions prone to “hot spotting” .
3. Other Advanced Tools for Sand Control
Apart from mechanical methods, other advanced tools are also used for sand control and management during oil drilling.
3.1 Hydraulic Fracturing and Gravel Pack Completions
Offshore sand control technology combines two mature oil and gas technologies – hydraulic fracturing and gravel pack completions. The result has been a significant improvement in well life and reliability, productivity, and oil and gas recovery .
3.2 Single-Trip Multizone Completion System
The Single-trip multizone completion systems are used to control sand production and improve well performance. The enhanced single-trip multizone completion system can be used to treat multiple zones in a single trip, reducing the number of trips needed and improving the overall efficiency of sand control operations .
3.3 Sand Management System
A sand management system can be used to manage sand production during oil drilling. Sand from reservoir formations and proppant return is inevitable during oil and gas drilling, and it is estimated that more than half of wells require some form of sand management or sand control during operation. Wells with electric submersible pumps (ESPs) can be severely damaged by frac sand and other residual solids. A sand management system can help prevent this damage and extend well life .
3.4 Comprehensive Design and Manufacturing Solutions
Comprehensive design and manufacturing solutions are used for sand control and tooling toward enhanced oil recovery. These solutions involve designing and manufacturing sand control tools that can withstand the harsh operating conditions of oil drilling. The tools are designed to improve sand control and management during drilling operations .
4. Successful Design Conditions and Factors
Successful design conditions and factors must be considered when using advanced tools for sand control and management. The effects of viscosity and water cut on sand control must be taken into account, and general methods to control sand production must be identified. Saucier’s theory can be applied in the design of sand control systems. The results from the sieve analysis can be used to select gravel, slotted liners, and screens .
Advanced tools for sand control and management are essential in minimizing sand and fine production during petroleum production. The mechanical methods of sand control include slotted liners, screens, gravel packs, and ceramic sand screens. Other advanced tools for sand control include hydraulic fracturing and gravel pack completions, single-trip multizone completion systems, sand management systems, and comprehensive design and manufacturing solutions. Successful design conditions and factors must be considered when using advanced tools for sand control and management.