Extended Acoustic Sand Monitoring Helps to Understand Ceramic Sand Screen Failure: A Case Study

Riyanto, Latief (PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd) | Sidek, Sulaiman (PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd) | Hugonet, Vincent (PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd) | Yusuf, M Hafizi (PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd) | Salleh, Nurfarah Izwana (PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd) | Ambrose, Jonathan Luke (SMS Oilfield)



Many oil and gas fields have long been suffering from sand production due to either the absence or failure of primary well sand control. To avoid mobilizing costly work-over rig to pull out the tubing, operators have tried various thru-tubing remedial sand control. The well's condition such as sands accumulation and space constraints due to small inner diameter of tubing always make this remedial job challenging. It is not surprising that the results are not all satisfactory.

Among the industry-recognized remedial sand control, Stand Alone Screen (SAS) is the simplest and the cheapest method. Many SAS have been installed but most were failed with screen erosion as the main failure mechanism. Flowing high velocity fluid with sands wears out the screen fast making it impossible for the sands to bridge and to create formation sand pack around the screen.

Ceramic Sand Screen (CSS) technology which was recently introduced to the industry aims to address this erosion issue. Having more than ten times hardness of stainless steel, sintered silicon carbide ceramic material in CSS offers superior resistance to wear. The pilot was conducted by installing CSS in three (3) selected wells with sand production history. While waiting for acoustic sand monitoring installation, the wells were put on production with the same choke size and regular manual samplings were conducted to monitor the sand production.

The acoustic sand monitoring campaign began in November 2017. Sands production was carefully monitored during the process to determine the final choke size at which the wells would continuously produce. In the middle of the campaign due to adverse weather conditions, all non-essential personnel had to be abruptly demobilised from the field leaving acoustic sensors hooked-up to the respective flow line. This gave opportunity to have unplanned extended sand monitoring window.

Loss of Primary Containment (LOPCs) occurred in two CSS wells not long after that. In one the choke body was heavily eroded and the other well had a punched hole at the first elbow of the flowline. These incidents prompted full investigation to be conducted. This included pulling out the installed CSS and performed tear down analysis. Acoustic sand monitoring that just happened to be available in one of the wells proved to be critical in understanding the CSS failure.

The paper presents briefly on the CSS pilot project, the chronology of events until the incident, sands production trend from the acoustic sand monitoring. Using all available information, the paper provides details analysis on CSS failure mechanism.