Technical Paper: Unraveling the Myths Associated With Selecting Standalone Screens and a New Methodology for Sand-Control Applications

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 158922
Presentation Date: 2013
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Many completion engineers use laboratory sand-retention testing as a tool to select a screen for standalone sand-control applications, some focusing on prepack and others on slurry testing. Those who use slurry tests for screen selection typically do so on the basis of the conventional wisdom that slurry testing is more challenging; thus, it represents the worst-case scenario for sand production. Furthermore, the general belief in the industry has been that metal-mesh screens with a "pore structure" are better for sand retention compared with wire-wrap screens (WWSs) of slot geometry, although they are more prone to "plugging." These are just a few of the many myths that exist in screen selection for standalone screen (SAS) applications.

Recent papers on the modeling of sand retention by screens of various geometries, and supported by laboratory experiments, provided the tools for predicting sand production in both prepack and slurry conditions, as well as allowing for a systematic performance comparison of various screens by use of the entire particle-size distribution (PSD) of formation sands (Mondal et al. 2011 and 2012; Chanpura etal. 2012, 2013).

In this paper, we discuss and challenge many myths in the screen selection for SAS applications and substantiate our findings with modeling and experimental data. The conditions under which a slurry or a prepack test would be more conservative are identified, highlighting the mechanisms of sand retention (size exclusion or bridging dominated). Wedemonstrate that the current thinking that prepack tests are always more conservative from a sand-production standpoint is incorrect. We also show that the concept that metal-mesh screens are always superior for sand retention than WWSs is incorrect, highlighting the factors that affect sand production through various screens (e.g., open flow area (OFA), wire thickness, and fraction of bridging-sized particles in the formation sand). Finally, a methodology for screen selection in SAS applications is proposed.

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