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PROCEEDING SIMPOSIUM NASIONAL IATMI 2001 Yogyakarta, 3-5 Oktober 2001

SAND CONTROL FOR UNCONSOLIDATED RESERVOIRS


B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumuddin, & S. Palar
Unocal Indonesia Company

ABSTRACT Unocal Indonesia has several producing fields with unconsolidated reservoirs. These reservoirs present a challenge in producing oil and gas while controlling the sand production. Several methods have been tried with mixed results. This paper will highlight the recent practices in sand control in Unocal Indonesia. The practices include expandable sand screen, through-tubing gravel pack, horizontal well screen, plastic consolidation, etc. It will share Unocal experiences in the recent sand control. 1. INTRODUCTION 2.1. Onset of water production. There are 4 reasons on why sand production are worsened by increasing water production 4) : a. Capillary pressure holding sand grains are lost due to producing water. b. Flow frictional significantly increases due to more than one phase flow. c. High pressure gradient at the sandface due to higher flow rate for a desired net production. d. Water may dissolve cementing materials between sand grains. It is true that most of the East Kalimantan wells which produce sand are preceded by the onset of water production. However, it is noted that in some wells, no water production was noted prior to the sand up. Therefore, other factors such as the ones listed below might contribute to the causes. 2.2. Unconsolidated formation. The cementation of a sandstone is typically a secondary geological process and as a general rule, older sediments tend to be more consolidated than newer sediments. This indicates that sand production is likely from shallow, geologically younger sedimentary formations such as the Low Resistive Sequence in S Field or the Shallow and Deltaic Sequence in A Field. Unconsolidated formation refers to a formation in a fluid state. Grain to grain contacts are rare. Any attempt to produce formation fluid can result in production of large amounts of sand with fluid. Poorly consolidated sandstone formations usually have a compressive strength that is less than 1000 psi3). 2.3. Reduction of pore pressure. 2. CAUSES OF SAND PRODUCTION Some reservoirs are believed to aid in the support of overburden. Lowering the reservoir pressure creates an increasing amount of stress on the formation sand itself. Continuing reduction of reservoir pressure may cause the overburden to subside and crush a poorly consolidated formation and result in sand production and serious casing damage. As most reservoirs in this sequence are not supported by strong water drive, their pressures are declining quite fast with time and production. For example, some reservoirs in the

Most fields in Unocal Operation offshore East Kalimantan produce from Pliocene to middle Miocene-age Mahakam delta sediment in which the reservoir rock is unconsolidated. These sandstones consist of loose, fine to coarse, quartz grains and dispersed clay. From widespread producing experience in the deltaic environment, it is known that some wells produce sand and others do not. Also many wells, which produced oil or gas with no sand initially, start to produce large quantity of sand when water production begins. This experience is perhaps not surprising as sand control in the oil industry has been a big issue for many years. In developing sand control methods, either mechanical or chemical method have been used. Mechanical method deals with the design of screens, slotted liners and placement of gravel packs. Technology today introduces expandable screen completions for enhancing productivity. Chemical method deals with the plastic/ resin system, and techniques of applying them. Gravel packing was a blanket practice for controlling sand production since the mid 70s in Unocal Indonesia producing area of the Y field, because many of the unconsolidated reservoirs were sanding up, cutting up tubular and surface equipment. Recent practices in sand control are also considered in most of offshores wells, including the conventional, monobores and horizontal wells. Unocal has tried many horizontal completions in East Kalimantan utilizing wire-wrapped screen. Recent technique of Expandable Sand Screen (ESS) has also been tried for open and cased hole wells. Five wells have implemented the ThruTubing Gravel pack (TTGP) in low-pressure single reservoir. One well has tried a sand consolidation using resin-coated technique.

The solid material which is produced from a well consists of formation fines and load bearing sand1). The fines production, which can not normally be prevented, is preferred over the production of load bearing sand. Sand production will create a problem if the surface equipment can not handle it, if the sand blocks the tubing, or if the sand production detrimentally alter the formation (i.e. collapsed formation). Some well-known causes of sand production are listed below:

IATMI 2001-08

Sand Control for Unconsolidated Reservoirs

B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumudin, S. Palar

shallow sequences of the S field had been depleted to 3-4 ppg EMW and prove to sand production. 2.3. High production rates. The high production rate imposes excessive stresses on unconsolidated formations. If the stress exceeds the formation strength, sand production will commence. Increasing the production rate is usually done for a high water cut well, in order to maintain a desired rate of oil production. It is empirically experienced in some East Kalimantan wells that a threshold rate for sand production can be noted. Above the said rate, sand will be produced. However, most of the time, as the rate is below the economic rate, the wells have to endure with the sand production to be economic. Some authors7,8) discussed the presence of sand arches around each perforation in the casing. An arch is a hemispherical cap of interlocking sand grains that is stable at constant drawdown and flow rate, preventing sand movement2). Initial arch size was found to be a function of initial producing rate. The initial arch size increases with increasing initial production rate. Larger arches were resulted from higher flow rates. Changes in flow rate or production shut in may result in collapse of the arch, causing sand to be produced until a new arch form. It is also possible to relate sonic and density log data to estimate the maximum sand-free production rate from each arch9). Arch faces must remain in place if no sand production is to occur. 3. THE MECHANISM OF SAND PRODUCTION

In S field, several wells, completed without sand control (gravel pack) have been continuously producing sand (0-1%) for several years without sand-up. This can be attributed to the flow ability to transport most of the produced sand out of the wells. However, sand production can seriously damage the reservoir rock around the wellbore (i.e. collapse) and restress the reservoir during sand control application might reduce the permeability around the wellbore. Therefore, the best time to apply sand control, if needed, is right at the beginning together with the initial well design. 4. TYPES OF SAND CONTROL

There are many types of sand control, which are: 4.1. Mechanical Retention: A good example of this type of sand control is gravel pack. Formation sands are restrained from entering the wellbore. The underlying principle for the mechanical retention is to retain a certain portion of the formation material to prevent the remainder from entering the wellbore1). Mechanical retention uses screen and man-made sand to control formation sand. 4.2. Plastic Consolidation: The basic idea is to cement the formation sand with some chemical such as epoxies, etc. The chemical is injected to cover an area of several feet around the wellbore. Porosities and permeabilities of the area around the wellbore will be reduced once it is subjected to plastic consolidation. 4.3. Combination: This type uses gravel pack as well as the plastic consolidation. Resin-coated gravel pack is the good example of this combination type. 5. RECENT PRACTICES OF SAND CONTROL

The mechanisms of sand production are either grain by grain attrition or small masses of sand breaking away10). Veeken et al5) divides the types of sand production into three types: Transient sand production, continuous sand production and catastrophic sand production. 3.1. Transient Sand Production: This refers to a sand concentration declining with time under constant well production conditions. This is usually observed during clean-up flow after perforating, choke change, and water breakthrough. 3.2. Continuous Sand Production: The tolerated sand cut level depends on operational constraints with regard to erosion, sand disposal, etc. 3.3. Catastrophic Sand Production: Events where a high rate of sand influx causes the well to suddenly die. For the transient and continuous sand production, some of the continuously produced sand settles inside the wellbore and increases the hold-up depth. However, it will take time for sand-up to occur due to less sand production, especially if the majority of the sand is transported to the surface. If all the sand can be carried out of the wellbore, no sand-up will occur and no sand control is required, provided that the surface facilities can handle and process the sand production.

5.1. Horizontal Well Screen Horizontal wells became popular to develop the shallow reservoirs in most of Unocals fields in East Kalimantan as drilling costs significantly reduce with experience. As sand control is required in weakly consolidated to unconsolidated sandstones, open hole screens have been the primary 11) completion method over the years. More than 50 horizontal wells in Unocal Indonesia have been completed with wirewrapped screen without a gravel pack. The benefits of horizontal screen completions are as follows: A field: enlarging drainage, reducing drawdown of gas delivery and improving recovery of thin oil under gas cap and water support. S field: managing a strong bottom/ edge water to reduce coning and improving the sweep efficiency. Y field: enlarging reservoir drainage with viscous oil. M field: increasing recovery and reducing pressure drawdown.

IATMI 2001-08

Sand Control for Unconsolidated Reservoirs

B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumudin, S. Palar

Typically, the wells were drilled from offshore platforms across the highest part of the target reservoir. A real time log was used to determine where the casing landing point, from which a lateral section has to be placed. An open hole of 5001000 feet interval length11) with wire-wrapped screen is found cost-effective application in maximizing contact to formation. Eliminating gravel pack and minimizing screen-hole annulus prevent hole collapse as well as reduce formation damage. In general, the wire-wrapped screen completion was chosen as to filter formation fine from the produced fluid, with the assumption that formation material is continually being deposited on the outer surface. In order for the screen to function properly, it must provide high-sustained flow rates without being eroded. The screen is manufactured by wrapping a triangular shaped (keystone) wire into a section usually referred to as a jacket which the keystone shape minimizes plugging. The jacket can be welded to a pipe base containing 70-140 holes per foot which serves as a structural support and provides filtration. The slot opening can also be wrapped to a specified width, which is typically 0.002 to +0.001 inch15). Figure-1 shows a typical wire-wrapped screen after Penberthy. Figure-2 shows a horizontal well completion with wire-wrapped screen. Field experiences around Unocals field area using wirewrapped screen completion for horizontal open hole have been mixed. The success and failure seem to be related to the quality of the formation, the screen completion procedures and the way the well is brought on production (Table-1). Since the screen functions as a filter, completion procedures become critical issues, as it tends to plug. Drilling fluid and hole size selection for screen completion presumably might have been responsible for some failure (i.e. no production). The other factors are probably water blocking, immediate plugging, depleted pressure, or mechanical problems. A more common experience has been that initial production is good, but later screen plugging or erosion (screen cut) may prematurely sand-up the well. However, most wire-wrapped completions have been successful to mitigate sand problems in unconsolidated reservoirs. 5.2. Thru-Tubing Gravel Pack (TTGP) TTGP completions accomplish sand control by placing a down-hole filter (screen) across the perforated intervals. This filter forms when the gravel pack sand filters out the formation sand and the screen filters out the gravel sand12). In monobore or slim hole wells, screen is put in place by coiled tubing unit. There are two TTGP methods tried in A field. The pack off method and the vent screen method basically pack perforation tunnel and place gravel across it inside the 1.9-inch screen. This gravel will form a flow barrier to stop fine sand movement of unconsolidated sand. Pack-off case A well was re-drilled and completed as a monobore producer in the 55-9 sand where the 3-inch tubing is cemented and perforated. The peak production was 1367 BOPD, 10% BSW, GOR 1975 in April 2000. Afterward the well had been declining rapidly to 419 BOPD, 44% BSW, in 7 months before being shut-in due to sand-up. Sand control is

recommended to recover the remaining oil in the 55-9 reservoir. This technique utilizes coil tubing to foam wash sand across the perforation. As the hole has been cleaned across perforation, re-perforation with 12-18 SPF (shots per foot) big hole guns is conducted. A 3-inch bridge plug is set at least 10-ft below bottom perforation to properly place the pack-off screen BHA (bottom hole assembly). Wire-wrapped screen of 12-20 gravel size is installed. Figure-3 shows an example of pack-off method for TTGP applied. Production history afterward shows a stabilizing rate of 600 BOPD, 45% BSW, GOR 500-2000 for 8 months. Performance history is shown in Figure-4. Unocal has used pack-off screen (single and dual screen) method for three wells. Results from the method vary and depend upon how sand stability had been damaged by well production over time. In general, TTGP in monobore wells applied seems to give a better sand control, as being cost effective and increasing recovery, particularly in pressure depleting oil reservoirs. Vent screen case (dual screen) This technique was tried in three wells completed in the 7inch casing of the unconsolidated Deltaic sandstones. One of them was completed in October 1998, produced for less than 3 months before stopping production due to sand up. The last well test recorded in January 1999 was 96 BOPD, 17 % BS&W, GOR 208 on gas lift. An inexpensive vent screen sand control method was recommended to recover the remaining marginal oil from the 54-0 sand, which can not be economically justified using conventional gravel pack. The procedure is the same as in the previous method. It starts by foam washing sand to below perforation internals and reperforating with 12-18 SPF of big-hole guns. After setting 7inch MPBT (Mechanical Plug-back Tool) at some distance below perforation intervals, this technique uses a small OD through-tubing screen (strata-coil). The screen is placed to cover the perforation zone with approximately 5-ft overlap on top and bottom. A 60-ft blank pipe section is placed above with a 10-ft vent screen on top of blank pipe. This double screen assembly is then placed on bottom utilizing coil tubing and set across the perforations in the lower section. As the BHA has been properly placed, the predetermined volumes of sand (slurry) is then pumped down the coil tubing and around the double screen leaving about 100-ft of sand fill above the vent. The slurry is re-stressed by pumping from the annulus to pack around the lower section of the assembly. As screen out pressure is observed, the excess sand is removed from around the upper (vent) screen section. The well is then produced directly through the lower screen, up the blank pipe and out the vent screen. Coil tubing uses nitrogen to displace the completion fluid from the well bore. Figure-5 shows the vent screen method for TTGP. The well could produce back with the same rate as before. Figure-6 shows the production performance TTGP using the vent method. This method appears to be not satisfactory when applied in 7inch wellbore compared with the 3- in. monobore hole. Out of the three 7-inch wellbores, only one is considered as good

IATMI 2001-08

Sand Control for Unconsolidated Reservoirs

B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumudin, S. Palar

producer. This well has given a constant oil production rate for more than one year. 5.3. Plastic Consolidation As the reservoir pressure depletes, sand production becomes a problem to deplete reserves in a well with larger production casing (i.e. 9-5/8 inch). Plastic consolidation offers another alternate for restoring and enhancing the desire productivity. This method basically is a technique of stopping sand production by artificially bonding the formation sand grains near the wellbore perforations into consolidated mass. Because the treatment is designed to function on formation sand, this method is usually limited to a zone of 10-20 feet perforated intervals. 13) Unocal has tried the resin consolidation treatment in one well of the Shallow sequence of the A field. The well sanded up while producing oil. Sand consolidation technique utilizing coiled tubing for through-tubing workover and rigless completion was chosen as an inexpensive option to recover the remaining oil. Figure-7 shows the resin consolidation treatment. The resin treatment in a well of the A field could deliver approximately 400 BOPD initially from 10 feet thick intervals of the shallow unconsolidated reservoir, 7-inch cased hole well. It was then no longer produced as sand coated found breaking and sanded up again. 5.4. Expandable Sand Screen (ESS) The Expandable Sand Screen is a sand screen that is specially designed to be expanded in the wellbore in order to fit the wellbore diameter. The purpose of this expansion is to eliminate the annulus between the wellbore and the screen that generally could not be handled by the conventional sand screen. The ESS consists of 3 simple elements: expandable based pipe, filtration media and expandable protective shroud. Figure-8 shows an Expandable Sand Screen Construction. The ESS base pipe is a robust Expandable Slotted Tube (EST) which is capable of expanding up to 60% in diameter. The base expandable slotted tube provides a large inflow area for the produced fluids. Typically inflow areas for expandable EST are 30-60 % depending on the expandable diameter of the ESS 18). The medium filter is attached to the base pipe using a process that ensures the integrity and uniformity of the sand exclusion apertures. The filter media overlap each other along the length of the base pipe. These overlaps accommodate the increase in circumference during expansion yet remains sand tight. The outer protective shroud ensures the filter medium is not damaged when running the screen in hole. It also acts as the encapsulating layer, ensuring the filter media are tightly sandwiched together following expansion. Applications The ESS can be installed either in cased hole or open hole applications. In the cased hole application we have to consider pre-packing the perforations tunnels. This depends on reservoir sand distribution data. If the sand grain distribution is highly uniform, the pre-packing of perforations is not generally recommended, because smaller grains of sand

will be transiently produced until a stable bridge of the larger grains is established on the filter. For non-uniform sand distribution, a long tile of fines and poor sorting would not allow a stable bridge to be formed. Pre-packing of the perforations is recommended for such applications. Big-hole perforating charges are recommended for all cased hole ESS installation in order to maximize the available screen inflow area. Openhole applications have a different set of considerations because there is no casing, and no hydraulic isolation. Fundamentally, by eliminating the annulus, ESS avoids the wellbore collapse phenomenon seen with stand-alone screen designs which leads to poor near-wellbore sand sorting, reduce effective permeability and hence productivity loss. An in-gauge hole section is important in order to maximize the benefits of eliminating the annulus with ESS. Therefore, this should be considered as an objective of the drilling program and appropriate steps are required to achieve this. Clean up of the filter-cake is also an important consideration for openhole installations. However, this is dependent on the drilling fluid used. Unocal Indonesia has tried to use ESS in seven wells at three different fields. The first batch installation was installed in the Y field for two wells, while the second batch in the A field for two wells and followed with third batch in the S field with two wells. From these seven installations, four were completed in the open hole, while the other three in the cased hole. The summary of the ESS application is shown in the Table-2. In term of sand control, the application of ESS in the open-hole seemingly has better result compared to the casedhole. Reservoir quality, pre-packing job and perforation density contribute to success or failure of this completion, either in the cased-hole or open-hole ESS application. For instance, the failure of ESS installation in the cased hole is more likely due to no pre-packing job on the perforation tunnel. The prepacking job in this reservoir is probably needed prior to expanding of the ESS. In another case, even though the reservoir quality is good ( = 28%) but the reservoir pressure was severely depleted. The ESS-2, ESS-1 and ESS-4 wells are the examples of the success case of ESS application in the open hole. The reasons can be explained as follows: Good screen sizing for those three wells (230 micron weave for ESS-2 and ESS-1 and 150 micron weave for ESS-4 wells) Have good reservoir quality (based on log interpretation) No major loss circulation problem during drilling operation The failure case occurred in ESS-3 well. The well has a low productivity and produces with trace sands. The major loss circulation problem coupled with its low reservoir quality probably the contributing factor this failure. 6. CONCLUSIONS There is no particular sand control method that can work for all types of unconsolidated reservoirs. Experience with

IATMI 2001-08

Sand Control for Unconsolidated Reservoirs

B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumudin, S. Palar

the same type of reservoirs in the same field proves to be useful in the selection of sand control method. We can not shy away from using new technology despite steep learning curve in the beginning. Applying new sand control technology will broaden up our knowledge portfolio of sand control methods. This will help in selecting a particular fit for a particular reservoir. Need to talk about the design, the systematic planning, implementation, and evaluation, the batch approach, etc. REFERENCES 1. Penberthy, W.L. and Shaughnessy, C.M.: Sand Control , SPE Series on Special Topic, 1992. Carlson, J. et al.: Sand Control: Why and How? Schlumberger Oilfield Review, October 1992. Baker Inteqs Seminar: Completion Technology for Unconsolidated Formations , Jakarta, June 1995. Morita, N. et al.: Parametric Study of Sand Production Prediction: Analytical Approach, SPE Paper No. 16990. Veeken, C.A.M. et al.: Sand Production Prediction Review: Developing an Integrated Approach, SPE Paper No. 22792, 1991. Morita, N. and Boyd, P.A.: Typical Sand Production Problems: Case Studies and Strategies for Sand Control, SPE Paper No. 22739, October 1991. Tippie, D.B. and Kohlhaas, C.A.: Effect of Flow Rate on Stability of Unconsolidated Producing Sands , SPE Paper No. 4533, 1973. Hall, C.D. and Harrisberger, W.H.: Stability of Sand Arches: A Key to Sand Control, Journal of Petroleum Technology, July 1970, p. 821-830. Stein, N. et. al.: Estimating Maximum Sand-Free Production Rates From Friable Sands for Different Well Completion Geometries, Journal of Petroleum Technology, October 1974, p. 1156-1158.

15. Penberthy, W.L. : Sand Control Completion Options for Horizontal Wells in Soft Formations , Petroleum Engineer International, February 1999, p. 49-54. 16. Soepyan, F., Palar, S., Kuntjoro, B.: Sand Control in Balikpapan Bay Fields , IPA, 26th Annual Convention, May 1998, p. 97-107. 17. Zimmerman, J.C., Sargent, T.L., Coats, A., Clawson, G.: Applied High-Pressure Coiled-Tubing Technology Solves Resin Sand Problem in a Gulf of Mexico High Pressure Gas Well, OTC paper No. 8527, 1997. 18. The use of ESS as Sand-Control Solution for Multiple-Zone Completions, Weatherford Completion System , February 2000.

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3.

Table-1 Recent Completion in East Kalimantan Field Field A Oil Field A Gas Field S Field M Field Y Total Wells 26 20 16 5 11 Active Wells 23 17 14 4 11 Non-prod Wells 3 3 2 1 0

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10. Otis Corporation: Sand Control Handbook, Dallas, 1990. 11. Vo, D.T., Waryan, S., Dharmawan, A., Susilo, R.H., Wicaksana, R. : Lookback on Performance of 50 Horizontal Wells Targeting Thin Oil Columns, Mahakam Delta, East Kalimantan, SPE paper No. 64385, October 2000. 12. Freiman, O.L., and Johnson, K.J. :Use of The DualScreen Thru Tubing Sand Control Method, SPE paper No. 28698, October 1994. 13. Slimhole/ Monobore Technology Guidelines , Unocal Spirit Energy, October 1998. 14. Sparlin, D.D., Hagen, Jr, R.W. : Controlling Sand in a Horizontal Completion, World Oil, November 1988, p. 54-60.

IATMI 2001-08

Sand Control for Unconsolidated Reservoirs

B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumudin, S. Palar

Table-2 ESS Installation In Unocal Indonesia-Balikpapan

Figure-1 A typical wire wrapped screen design and performance is shown Figure-4 An example Pack-off production after TTGP

Figuire-2 Horizontal well completion with Wire-wrapped screen

Figure-5 Vent screen method for TTGP.

IATMI 2001-08

Sand Control for Unconsolidated Reservoirs

B. Kuncoro, B. Ulumudin, S. Palar

Figure-6 An example production performance TTGP with Vent method Figure-3 Pack-off Method for TTGP

resin-coated sand

Figure-7 Resin Consolidation in wellbore

Figure-8 Expandable Sand Screen Construction.

IATMI 2001-08