Most of the test protocols developed to evaluate sand-screen designs were based on scaled‐screen test coupons. There have been discussions regarding the reliability of such tests on scaled test coupons. This paper presents the results of tests on wire‐wrapped screen (WWS) and slotted liner (SL) test coupons for typical onshore Canada McMurray formation sand.

A unique sand control evaluation apparatus has been designed and built to accommodate all common stand‐alone screens that are 3.5 in. in diameter and 12 in. in height. This setup provides the capability to have a radial measurement of pressure across the sandpack and screen for three‐phase flow. Certain challenges during testing such as establishing uniform radial flow and measuring the differential pressure are outlined. Produced sand is also measured during the test. The main outputs of the test are to assess the sand control performance and the mode of sanding in different flow directions, flow rates, and flow regimes.

It was possible to establish uniform radial flow in both high‐ and low‐permeability sandpacks. However, the establishment of radial flow in sandpacks with very high permeability was challenging. The pressure measurement at different points in the radial direction around the screen indicated a uniform radial flow. Results of the tests on a representative particle size distribution (PSD) from the McMurray Formation on the WWS and SL test coupons with commonly used specifications in the industry (aperture sizes of 0.012, 0.014, and 0.016 in. for WWS and 0.012, 0.016, 0.018, and 0.020 in. for SL) have shown similar sanding and flow performances. We also included aperture sizes smaller and larger than the common practice. Similar to previous tests, narrower apertures are proven to be less resistant to plugging than wider slots for both WWS and SL. Accumulation of fines close to the screen causes significant pore plugging when conservative aperture sizes were used for both WWS and SL. In contrast, using the test coupon with a larger aperture size than the industry practice resulted in excessive sanding. The experiments under linear flow seem more conservative because their results show more produced sand and smaller retained permeability in comparison to the testing under radial flow.

This work discusses the significance, procedure, challenges, and early results of physical modeling of stand‐alone screens in thermal operation. It also provides insight into the fluid flow, fines migration, clogging, and bridging in the vicinity of sand screens.

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