Sieve Distribution vs Sand Retention: The Impact of Mono-Sieved Gravel on Sand Control
Traditional sand control sizing has typically been based on "standard", wide-sieve gravel distributions (i.e. 20/40, 16/30, etc). Historic sand retention testing has therefore been limited to these standard gravel (i.e. proppant) sizes. With the emergence of new proppant technologies, extensive testing has recently been performed to evaluate the impact of mono-sieved gravel on sand retention performance.
Sand retention testing was performed using a number of industry test protocols [Martch 2012] to ascertain the impact of sieve distribution on gravel sizing rules. The testing involved multiple formation particle size distributions (PSDs) and compared the sand retention characteristics of standard-sieve gravel, to comparably sized mono-sieve gravel. Over a dozen PSDs were taken from actual formations containing both uniform and non-uniform distributions, over a wide range of mean particle diameters (d50). Multiple gravel sizes were also tested. Performance indicators measured include produced solids, size of largest produced solids and retained gravel permeability.
Comparison of the mass of produced sand through various combinations of formation/gravel are useful in identifying the preferred gravel to manage solids production. This study will show that sand control performance of mono-sieved gravel is comparable to that of standard-sieve distribution gravel. This is illustrated by comparing the mass of produced sand and measurement of permeability in the various formation/gravel combinations. The paper will demonstrate that numerous "rules of thumb" employed for gravel sizing (including use of "Saucier's ratio") during the gravel- and frac-pack design process can be applied to any sieve distribution gravel, whether standard- or mono-sieved. In addition to the test results, this paper will reference multiple GOM applications with frac-pack completions in which sand control is performing as designed using mono-sieved gravel.
This paper is critical for all completions engineers who are designing gravel or frac-pack completions. Sand retention testing on mono-sieved gravel is novel, and these results complement existing testing. The results of this testing have already been applied by several exploration and production companies, and this paper will allow others to benefit from the work.
Authors: Michael Fuller (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Terry Palisch (CARBO Ceramics) | Christine Fischer (Constien & Associates)