Sand retention tests have often been used to select optimal screen aperture for standalone sand screen applications. The purpose is to select a sand screen that maximizes hydrocarbon production and minimizes sand production. There are two types of sand retention tests currently used in the industry, i.e., slurry and prepack sand retention tests. The former aims to simulate gradual sand production condition with an open annulus between the sandface and the screen, and the latter to simulate the condition where no such annulus exists. There are, however, no agreed industry standards on how sand retention tests should be performed and test results interpreted.

This paper presents a combined experimental and numerical modelling study on sand screen performance. The objective is to develop an improved methodology for optimal sand screen aperture selection by addressing some of the limitations presented in the existing sand retention tests. A new sand retention test facility has been developed at CSIRO, incorporating a number of improvements into the design and experimental procedure. A key component of the improvements is the ability to separately measure retained screen permeability and sand pack permeability. Correlations have been developed between sand screen performance and key parameters of the sands and screen based on a large number of sand slurry retention tests. Furthermore, the sand retention process was simulated numerically using a 3D fully coupled Discrete Element (DEM) – Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model. Parametric studies have been conducted to assess screen performance and to gain a better understanding of sand retention and production mechanisms.

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