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The effects of sand production are nearly always detrimental to the short and/or long term productivity of the well. Although some wells routinely experience “manageable” sand production, these wells are the exception, not the rule. In most cases, attempting to manage the effects of severe sand production over the life of the well is not an economically attractive or prudent operating alternative.


Accumulation in Surface Equipment.


If the production velocity is great enough to carry sand up the tubing, the sand may become trapped in the separator, heater treater, or production pipeline. If a large enough volume of sand becomes trapped in one of these areas, cleaning will be required to allow for efficient production of the well. To restore production, the well must be shut-in, the surface equipment opened, and the sand manually removed. In addition to the clean out cost, the cost of the deferred production must be considered.

If a separator is partially filled with sand, the capacity of the separator to handle oil, gas and water is reduced. For example, one cubic foot of sand in an oil/water separator with a 2 minute residence time will cause the separator to handle 128 fewer barrels of liquid per day. If the ratio of oil to water entering the separator is one to one (i.e., 50% water cut), the separator will deliver 64 fewer barrels of salable oil per day. At $18.00 per barrel, this adds up to $420,480.00 worth of oil per year that is not moving through the separator.


Accumulation Downhole.


If the production velocity is not great enough to carry sand to the surface, the sand may bridge off in the tubing or fall and begin to fill the inside of the casing. Eventually, the producing interval may be completely covered with sand. In either case, the production rate will decline until the well becomes "sanded up" and production ceases. In situations like this, remedial operations are required to clean-out the well and restore production.

One clean-out technique is to run a "bailer" on the end of slickline to remove the sand from the production tubing or casing. Since the bailer removes only a small volume of sand at a time, multiple slickline runs are necessary to clean out the well. Another clean-out operation involves running a smaller diameter tubing string or coiled tubing down into the production tubing to agitate the sand and lift it out of the well by circulating fluid. The inner string is lowered while circulating the sand out of the well. This operation must be performed cautiously to avoid the possibility of sticking the inner string inside the production tubing. If the production of sand is continuous, the clean-out operations may be required on a routine basis, as often as monthly or even weekly. This will result in lost production and increased well maintenance cost.























Erosion of Downhole and Surface Equipment.


In highly productive wells, fluids flowing at high velocity and carrying sand can produce excessive erosion of both downhole and surface equipment leading to frequent maintenance to replace the damaged equipment. Figure 2.3 is a photograph of a section of screen exposed to a perforation that was producing sand. Figure 2.4 shows a choke that failed due to excessive erosion. If the erosion is severe or occurs over a sufficient length of time, complete failure of surface and/or downhole equipment may occur, resulting in critical safety and environmental problems as well as deferred production. For some equipment failures, a rig assisted workover may be required to repair the damage.










                 Screen Failure due to erosion



  Surface Choke Failure due to Erosion by Formation Sand



Collapse of the Formation. Large volumes of sand may be carried out of the formation with produced fluid. If the rate of sand production is great enough and continues for a sufficient period of time, an empty area or void will develop behind the casing that will continue to grow larger as more sand is produced. When the void becomes large enough, the overlying shale or formation sand above the void may collapse into the void due to a lack of material to provide support. When this collapse occurs, the sand grains rearrange themselves to create a lower permeability than originally existed. This will be especially true for a formation sand with a high clay content or wide range of grain sizes. For a formation sand with a narrow grain size distribution and/or very little clay, the rearrangement of formation sand will cause a change in permeability that may be less obvious. In the case of an overlying shale collapsing, complete loss of productivity is probable. In most cases, continued long term production of formation sand will usually decrease the well’s productivity and ultimate recovery.

The collapse of the formation is particularly important if the formation material fills or partially fills the perforation tunnels. Even a small amount of formation material filling the perforation tunnels will lead to a significant increase in pressure drop across the formation near the well bore for a given flow rate.


 

Effects of Sand Production


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  2. Production Technology Foundation

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  35. Formation Damage

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  40. Causes and Effects of Sand Production

  41. Nature of Sand Production

  42. Effects of Sand Production

  43. Causes of Sand Production

  44. Predicting Sand Production

  45. Operational and Economic Influences

  46. Formation Strength Log

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  84. Well Preparation for Gravel Packing

  85. Drilling Practices

  86. Cleaning the Casing Open Hole Work String ; Surface Facilities

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  88. Completion/Gravel Pack Fluids

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