Sanding in Oil Well Reservoir Completions

Nwabueze, Vincent O. (Shell Nigeria) | Onikoyi, Abiola S. (Shell Nigeria) | Okoro, Felix O. (Shell Nigeria) | Ajienka, J.A. (Uniport)


Sand production in oil wells impairs full reservoir production capability, erodes sand face completions, down-hole tubular and surface equipment. The debilitating effects of sand production on surface production equipment are manifested in the plugging of flow lines, production manifolds and separators , leading to significant deferment in production due to downtime of facilities for sand clean out and component repair and replacement.

2000 oil wells in the Niger Delta area have been reviewed to understand the sanding tendencies of the oil well completions and establish the completion strategy and practices that have successfully reduced sand production and its impact. It is observed that over 100 Mbopd oil is locked in as a result of produced sand. A plethora of sand control mechanisms such as Internal Gravel Packs, External Gravel Packs, Stand-Alone Screens, Premium Screens and Sand Consolidation Chemicals have been installed to reduce sand production in oil wells to acceptable rates but several cases of failures have been observed reviewing the past history of the oil wells.

While several operators have developed guidelines to judge when sand control is required and how to operate the oil wells safely, there are still grey areas to be explored to understand the variation of formation consolidation indices from one Depo-Belt to another. The sand production performance of 2000 wells have been reviewed to examine whether the tendency for sanding can be attributed to oil well completion techniques or in-situ formation consolidation or a combination of both. It is also widely believed that formation burial depth can be used as a consolidation parameter to decide whether to include sand control in oil completion design or not.

This paper seeks to share the results of the review of a large population of wells located and completed in different Depo-Belts in the Niger Delta with a view to helping operators streamline their decision-making process to include or not to include sand control systems in their oil wells for efficient production performance at less deferment due to sand production and lower completion and operating cost.