In Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) projects, it is essential to heat the reservoir evenly to minimize the potential for the localized steam breakthrough. Steam breakthrough can cause erosive damage to the sand control liner by the flow of high-velocity wet steam, and, in extreme cases, can compromise the mechanical integrity of the liner. This research investigates the sanding mechanism during the high-quality steam injection into the SAGD production wells.

A large-scale Sand Retention Test (SRT) was used to investigate the role of steam breakthrough in the sand control performance. Produced sand and pressure drops along the sand-pack were the main measurements during the tests. The test procedure and test matrix were designed to enable the examination of the impact of steam breakthrough on sand production for different steam rates.

Two possible sanding mechanisms are postulated in steam breakthrough events: (1) local grain disturbance caused by the high-velocity steam near the liner, (2) effect of the complex phase behavior of the steam and the subcool level. Two different testing procedures were designed to examine these mechanisms. The local grain disturbance mechanism was investigated by injecting air at a wide range of velocities. Results indicate that this mechanism could not lead to a significant sanding when there is a bit of effective stress near the liner. Hence, it looks like that the steam velocity poses a higher risk in early stages of SAGD production when the near-liner stress is very low. The effect of high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT), low- to high-quality steam flow and the subcool level will be investigated in the next phase of the study. This work addresses the effect of high-quality steam breakthrough on the sand control performance of the liner in SAGD producer wells. The findings in this paper help the researchers to direct their research to better understand the steam breakthrough. This research will eventually help the engineers in their liner design and evaluation for the entire wellbore life cycle as the near-well stress evolves.

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