Removing sand fills from wellbores is one of the major applications for coiled tubing (CT). For the fills cleanout process, the fluid could be circulated in two different modes: forward circulation and reverse circulation. In the forward circulation mode, the carrying fluids are pumped through the CT down to bottom and flowed back to surface in the CT/casing annulus. For reverse circulation, fluids are pumped down the CT/casing annulus and back up the coil. In many cases with large completions and low reservoir pressures, the forward circulation mode cannot effectively clean the fills out of the annulus with only a limited available flow rate or without circulating expensive gel fluids, especially for the heavier particulates in deep and/or highly deviated wells. Due to the smaller flow areas and therefore higher velocities, fills may be more readily transported inside the CT flow channel. Therefore, reverse circulation may be an option to overcome the above constraints associated with forward circulation.

Several major risks for reverse circulation with CT include coil collapse, loss of well control and sand bridging in the coil. Controlling the rate of penetration (ROP) of the CT into the fill is very critical for the reverse circulation sand cleanout process. There is a lack of knowledge on the effect of as well as optimum ROP during reverse circulation. In this paper, the maximum ROP for different sand types at different deviated angles and water flowrates for reverse circulation cleanouts are investigated with a full scale flow loop test facility. Based on these test results, empirical correlations have been developed and incorporated into an existing proprietary solids transport computer algorithm, which can now be used to optimize the hole cleaning process for both the forward and reverse circulation modes of solids transport.

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