Openhole sand-control technique selection has been a topic of interest since the late 1990s and was discussed most comprehensively in SPE 85504 (Price-Smith et al. 2003), which proposed guidelines for selection between standalone screens (SASs), α/β packing, and shunt-tube packing. Proposed guidelines were based on formation characteristics such as formation strength, particle-size distribution (PSD), mineralogy across the well path; risk factors involved in execution as well as reliability/longevity; and cost considerations. From a PSD standpoint, their guidelines were based on the criteria proposed earlier in SPE 39437 (Tiffin et al. 1998), whereas risk evaluation was based on the technologies available at that time. Since then, significant advancements were made in understanding sand-retention mechanisms and failure modes of SASs, and in technology development to extend the limits of openhole gravel packing. These combined with the field experience in the last decade certainly warrant re-examination of their guidelines, which is the objective of this paper.
In this paper, we begin with a critical review of the current sand-control technique-selection methodologies for openhole completions, including the way some of the risk factors are being evaluated to eliminate a given completion technique. On the basis of the technologies developed in the last decade, we propose a new approach for selecting sand-control technique, along with techniques/tools for proper evaluation of the risk factors. The proposed approach significantly extends the application limits of SASs and α/β packing compared with what was proposed in SPE 85504 (Price-Smith et al. 2003).