Predicting Sand Production in HPHT Wells in the Tarim Basin

Wang, Haotian (The University of Texas at Austin) | Yang, Xiangtong (PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Company) | Zhang, Wei (PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Company) | Sharma, Mukul M. (The University of Texas at Austin)


The objective of the study is to determine the main mechanisms for sand production and to propose completion designs to minimize sand production for HPHT gas wells in the Tarim Basin. Sand production has been a very serious concern in these HTHP gas wells. This paper presents field results for several key wells which are prone to sanding and investigates the possible reasons and mechanisms responsible for sand production. A fully coupled 3D, poro-elasto-plastic sand production model has been developed and applied to study sand production issues for these wells. Sand production data from several wells were analyzed to better understand the conditions under which sand production occurs and conditions under which it is mitigated.

The sand production model was used to model the different completion designs and flow back strategies that were used in the field. The model couples multi-phase fluid flow and elasto-plasticity to simulate pressure transient and rock deformation during production. The sanding criterion is a combination of both mechanical failure (shear/tensile/compressive failure) and fluid erosion. A novel cell removal algorithm has been implemented to predict the dynamic (time dependent) sand production process. In addition, the complex geometry of the wells and perforations are explicitly modeled to show cavity propagation around hole/perforations during sand production.

For this study, triaxial tests on core samples have been conducted and the stress-strain curves under different confining stresses are analyzed to obtain rock properties for both the pre-yield and post-yield period. The wells were categorized into ones that had massive sand production and ones that showed much less sand production. Operational and mechanical factors that were empirically found to result in sand production were identified. The sand production model was run to verify the role played by different factors. It is shown that completion design, rock strength and post failure behavior of the rock are key factors responsible for the observed sanding in these wells. In addition, the drawdown strategy and the associated BHP change and the extent of depletion play an important role in the sanding rate. Several strategies for minimizing sand production are suggested for these wells. These include, drawdown management, completion and perforation design. In this study, we quantitatively show for the first time that data from HPHT gas wells that suffer severe sand production problems can be modeled and analyzed quantitatively to determine the mechanisms of sand production. This allows us to make operational recommendations to minimize sanding risk in these wells.