Summary

Tense economic situations push the demand for low‐cost oil production, which is especially challenging for production in mature oil fields. Therefore, an increase in the meantime between failure and the limitation of equipment damage is essential. A significant number of wells in mature fields are suffering under sand by‐production. The objective of this paper is to show the development process and the testing procedure of an in‐house-built, effective downhole desander for sucker rod pumps on the basis of a sophisticated analytical design model.

In weak reservoir zones, often the strategy to prevent equipment damage due to sand by‐production is the sand exclusion method using a gravel pack. Nevertheless, a certain amount of small sand grains still enter the wellbore and may damage the sucker rod pumping system over time. In early 2018, various types and sizes of downhole desander configurations were tested at the pump testing facility (PTF) at the University of Leoben (Montanuniversitaet Leoben). In a period of about 4 months, testing took place under near field conditions to find the optimum and most efficient design. The design optimization was focused on the geometry of the swirl vanes and the sand separation distance at the sucker rod pump intake. An analytical model provided the basis for geometric optimization. Concurrently, field tests of the in‐house downhole desander were performed in the Vienna Basin that confirmed the findings of the tests at the PTF.

The test results have shown that the downhole desander design and the pumping speed are the most influencing parameters on sand separation efficiency. Poor design in combination with a wrongly selected pumping speed can reduce the sand separation efficiency to lower than 50%, while if all parameters are chosen correctly, the sand separation efficiency can be 95% or higher. The grain size distribution is the additional parameter that enables a decision and ranks the performance. The sensitivity analysis, performed for several downhole desander types, has shown the high dependency of the sand separation efficiency on the major desander design parameters. Proper selection of the components and operating parameters will contribute to an increase in the meantime between failures.

This paper will present the testing configurations, the development of the high‐efficiency in‐house downhole desander, and the sensitivity analysis performed on the design.

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