New generation reservoir drill-in fluids are allowing wells to be drilled and completed in one stage, thus potentially reducing the cost and time to first oil. Since these minimum solids fluids are designed to drill the reservoir section, they must remain in the hole while the completion assembly is being positioned. Therefore, it is critical that the fluid system properties, in particular the particle size distribution and concentration, be perfectly compatible with the planned method of completion. In Natural Sand Pack completions, an assortment of production screens has been developed for sand control. At the initiation of production, it is imperative that the drilling fluid flow back unrestricted through the screen when breakers are not utilized. Otherwise, there exists the real possibility of screen plugging, which not only minimizes production, but raises the risk of screen erosion, which may result in exorbitant remediation costs and reduce the productive life of the well. The paper describes the development and application of a unique rig site apparatus that now makes it possible to determine in real-time if the drilling fluid remaining in the annulus will flow back freely through the production screen. The authors will describe the joint development of the testing apparatus that is robust, simple to use and configured to test invert emulsions and water-based fluids. The test equipment is designed to be fitted with samples of all the various completion screens currently available. The design criteria used in the development of the equipment, including the effect of fitting actual screen samples into the apparatus, will be described. Additionally, the accuracy of the device will be documented through field results on a variety of screens, from the simple to the exotic.

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