Topic: Intervention

Addressing marginal field production challenges with ceramic sand screens

Region: Asia Pacific
Content Types: Report, Interview
Date: June, 2021

3M presentation

Presenting in a virtual webinar, Bhargava Ram Gundemoni, 3M Global Solutions Specialist Ceramics & Glass, Ceramic Sand Screens, showcased how operators can enhance their production from marginal fields through the use of ceramic sand screens. Using a case study to highlight how an Operator in Asia achieved a 70% cost saving compared to chemical sand consolidation methods, Ram presented the technology and application detail.

Beginning the presentation, Ram stated that marginal fields can pose a variety of challenges to operators which can have disastrous economic and HSE consequences if not properly operated. For one of the field/assets in Asia, Operator A had to contend with low reserves, ranging from just 0.05BCF to 2BCF natural gas production per reservoir zone; high operational costs due to offshore and near shore delta locations; complex geography such as stacked thin-bed reservoirs and unconsolidated and poorly sorted sand distributions; and the fact that hotspotting erosion is often a high risk. Many of these are common challenges that operators must overcome, which they must do in a safe and cost-effective way. It is for this reason that selecting the right sand control completion is absolutely imperative.

Traditional Sand control

Operator A was struggling to achieve economic viability for their fields. Previously, it had used traditional methods of sand control for their marginal fields such as multi-zone single trip gravel packs, chemical sand consolidation, or metallic stand-alone screens. The operator had found that such approaches each had drawbacks relating to high cost (often related to additional rig time being required due to the increased complexity), HSE risks (especially using chemicals), loss of productivity before the reservoir life had been depleted, increased chance of hotspotting and difficulty achieving sand mapping due to wide reservoir sand facies. All these led to higher capex, longer payback times and generally lower returns.

Technology unlocks application scope through material change

To economically unlock marginal well production across the field, new sand control technological advancements needed to be considered. Operator A therefore selected the 3M ceramic sand control solution to enable a standardised field wide approach.

The solution featured a much simpler design with ceramic rings (with spacers on one face) stacked on top of each other to create v-shape gap openings to enable any particles stuck to be pushed into the tubing. The rings were stacked onto a base pipe with two end caps with a pin and box connection on each side which was then covered by a metallic shroud for protection during transportation and downhole running. This was a monobore completion approach which addressed the complex geography of heterogeneous reservoir sand properties by having one solution and was easily installed via a slickline rigless deployment. Ceramic parts were chosen due to their excellent corrosion and erosion resistant properties.

Across the field, 13 installations were implemented and all achieved sand-free production rates. Max production achieved was 4.4mmscfd with 36ft/s insitu velocity of gas (Vg) at perforation hole which was the reservoir production limitation compared to 13ft/s when using sand consolidation method in the past. Additionally, the operator reported the successful implementation of stand-alone screen application for volume shale (Vsh) greater than 35% with further deployments currently being made to address expansion of the application scope to Vsh less than 35%.

Operator A achieved a 70% cost saving compared to chemical sand consolidation methods. Further enabled simplified approach, optimising right through drilling to completion with lower capex, faster ROI and higher production rates achieved the fast and simple deployment (only five and a half days) enables the execution of a higher number of reservoirs per year, it was successfully proven to safely retain and control post frequent restart of wells and it addressed the challenge of erosion and hotspotting. Ram also noted that the solution met the full lifetime of each reservoir which, in these cases, ranged from six to nine months with no failure of the sand control.

Offshore Network took the opportunity to speak with Ram in order to understand this innovative technology in more detail:

Do any specialist personnel need to come out to deploy the solution or are you able to direct this?
It is a simple Stand-alone screen design which can be run like an industry Stand-Alone Screen deployment. 3M provides guidelines for handling and run-in hole (RIH), for the Operators and Service provider. 3M can support well on paper (WOP/IWOP) to onshore support as identified.

How compatible is the ceramic solution with different types of cables?
In terms of deployment, ceramic sand screen has already been successfully deployed on wireline, slickline, coil tubing and on a pipe. This offers operators flexibility and cost-effective approach in deployment to meet the operational and application needs.

Can you give some more details relating to the cost saving which can be achieved?
By using ceramic stand-alone screen deployment via slickline unit, Operator A mitigated the need of coil tubing, pumping of chemicals, time required for deployment and curing of chemicals. Operator A calculated this saving contributed 70% against the chemical sand consolidation methodology.

There are other cases globally, where operators have benefited from running 3M Ceramic Sand Screen as a stand-alone system which has demonstrated faster returns on investment to cover the costs. Ceramic sand screens offer an alternative downhole sand control methodology as a simple Stand-alone screen method, which enhances production improvement, operational simplicity and reduced HSE

How much this solution has been utilised in Asia and how has Covid-19 affected this?
This technology was first introduced in the field in 2010 and, since then, we have more than 110 deployments globally with the majority of them (more than 50%) in Asia.
Covid-19 really disrupted the market, with project sanctioning taking longer, and higher focus on cashflow.

Do you imagine this technology will become more widely utilised in the future?
Yes, we are confident that this technology is a “game changer” in the way operators control downhole sand, whilst enhances productivity. Maersk Oil stated, “This technology has the potential to completely change the way mechanical sand control screens are being developed.”

Additionally, Operator A said the technology was an “eye opener" (post deployments and production successes in multiple wells) to safely tackle and push boundaries of shallow sandy reservoir production in a challenging economical context. Foreseeing wider applications in near future subsurface sand control…”

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