Injector wells in thermal field developments in Western Canada are usually completed by slotted liners. The purpose of liner installation is preventing sand production after a shut-in, keeping a stable wellbore, and providing an appropriate steam distribution. The objective of this paper is to quantify the role of slot width and slot density on the sanding performance of the liner in cycles of injection and shut-in in a SAGD injection well, through a series of laboratory sand control tests.

A large-scale sand retention testing facility was developed and employed to conduct a series of tests on slotted liner coupons with different slot widths and densities. These tests were tailored to simulate steam injection and backflow during the shut-in. Three representative particle size distributions for the McMurray Formation were used in this study ranging from coarse to fine sand. The experimental set-up allows to measure the amount of produced sand.

Since the produced sand in steam injection wells is not usually cleaned out, the acceptable threshold for sand production in the injector should be more conservative than the same for producer wells. Testing results indicate that the sand control performance of the liner is governed by the slot width and density, and formation particle size distribution. Results indicate a negligible amount of produced sand with gas backflow for a properly designed liner even at very high gas velocities.

Historically, there has been little attention to the sand control design for injector wells. This work highlights the significance of slot density and slot width in the sand control performance for steam injection wells. The paper provides the basis for the proper design of an effective sand control in SAGD injectors.

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