In this paper, we present the results of an experimental investigation on the effect of pH and salinity on slotted liner performance in terms of sanding and retained permeability for heavy oil thermal production. This work is an advancement of the existing knowledge in the literature which indicates that pH and salinity could highly affect the mobilization, flocculation and deflocculating of clays (mainly Illite and Kaolinite) in oil sands formations.

Water with different pH, in the range of 6.8 to 8.8, and salinities, in the range of 0 to 1.4 % was injected into sand pack samples supported with multi-slot coupon in a Sand Retention Testing (SRT) facility. Measurements included pressure drops along the sand pack and across the slotted liner coupon as well as the produced sand/fines for different flow rates. These measurements were used to assess the effect of the pH and salinity on fines migration within the sand pack, capability of the slotted liner to produce the fines, pore and slot plugging, sand production and the retained permeability.

We observed that the pressure drops, fines production and the retained permeability are highly dependent on the pH and salinity of the injected fluid. In low pH and high salinity environment, clay is not mobilized resulting in low pressure drops and high retained permeabilities. On the other hand, an increase in pH value or a decrease in salinity leads to significant clay mobilization and a remarkable reduction in retained permeability.

This paper provides a thorough experimental investigation of the pH and salinity effect on slotted liner performance. The effect of the pH and salinity is usually ignored in screen control testing while it could highly control the clay mobilization and retained permeability. Results of this study could trigger wide reconsideration in sand control approaches particularly by altering the pH in the near wellbore zone.

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