Using coiled tubing (CT) to clean sand from wellbores to improve production is a field proven, practical, and effective method. However, large CT units are often unavailable and unsupported by the wellhead platform (WHP), or may require a workover rig to support their use offshore, which can also have limited availability, causing non-productive time (NPT) and delayed production. In addition, other technical concerns related to CT, such as potential formation damage while circulating in low-pressure reservoirs or a lack of solid lifting ability at low circulating rates mean that it is not suitable for every situation.

In August 2011, an operator tried a new approach to clean out sand from an oil-producing offshore well using an electric-line (e-line) cleaning tool as an alternative to CT sand cleanout. The main benefit of the e-line system is avoiding the 24hr heavy duty CT operation on the remote, unmanned wellhead platform, especially in the unfavorable weather condition offshore. The e-line cleaning tool was applied and successfully cleaned 1,456 m of sand-bridge interval in the wellbore, recovering a total of 881 liters of sand to surface. Full flow path was re-established and the well was re-instated to normal production.

This paper describes the review of the alternative e-line solution compared to CT operations, planning and execution of the e-line cleaning tool operation, and the results of this first successful application in offshore Vietnam. Furthermore, the e-line cleaning tool has been used successfully in other fields and wells. It can be applied in nearly any field or well with sand problems or to remove similar kinds of debris.

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