As part of the overall Ichthys project there was a requirement to develop a remedial sand control application that would be suitable for installation should the sand production levels exceed the tolerance of the system. After an exhaustive review of available techniques, a remedial insert ceramic sand screen was selected as a potential option for these high rate gas wells. In order to be confident that the screen would be suitable for the application a comprehensive design and qualification plan was developed.

Due to the nature of the application and the technology itself the qualification programme was significantly more complex than typical oilfield equipment qualification; many of which can adopt standard API/ISO testing protocols with clear cut pass/fail criteria.

A number of specific elements were required to underpin the qualification. Firstly and perhaps most importantly was pre-qualification of the overall strategy itself. This can be thought of as the engineering work to endorse the approach, including the assessment of any inherent risks, and the development of the overarching qualification framework including understanding the dependencies between specific qualification work scopes.

Once the strategy was endorsed and the framework developed, a significant amount of time was spent maturing the testing programme and the subsequent pass/fail criteria, often involving extensive discussion with a number of specialised companies and especially the provider of the screen.

A thorough and extensive set of modelling and testing was conducted to endorse the final product for the application including fundamental FEA and CFD modelling through more traditional burst/collapse testing, end ring weld certification and corrosion studies to bespoke bending, impact and erosion testing.

In addition as this is a new technology and does not conform to any existing sand screen quality plan it was necessary to conduct a joint quality management system audit and screen manufacturing assessment. This led to the construction of an agreed Quality Control Plan; and specific production quality checks to ensure critical requirement conformance of the overall process and end product. The end result was a successfully qualified product for the Ichthys high rate gas remedial application.

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