A significant proportion of worldwide production comes from sand prone reservoirs and is increasingly dependent upon the performance of sand control completions. However, sand control screens can fail which may lead to lost production or untimely abandonment of the well. In many cases remedial action may be possible, but the advanced design of sand control devices presents a considerable challenge to many inspection techniques, leading to a gap in understanding the failure mechanism. This paper documents the application of an innovative ultrasound-based technology for the inspection of sand control screen failures, including results and conclusions derived from an extensive testing program.

The objective of the testing was to prove the feasibility of using phased array ultrasound technology to locate sand entry points and assess the integrity of the screen in the down hole environment. Specifically, the aim was to assess the ability to provide integrity information from the internal surface of the base pipe to the outermost surface of the screen. During testing, several types of sand control screens were methodically damaged, simulating the defects observed in screens recovered from sand producing wells. The damaged screens were deployed in a test well and logged with a wireline setup.

The data indicates that damage resulting in enlarged base pipe perforations is detectable and the internal surface of the base pipe imaged in all screen types. Dependent upon the screen type, the ability to detect damage to the external layers of the screen, without any base pipe damage, has been demonstrated. In conclusion, in a test well environment the application of phased array ultrasound has been validated for the investigation of damaged sand control screens.

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