Unconsolidated sand reservoirs, with the characteristics of high permeability, large porosity, and low fracture gradient, are common and present challenge sand control tasks facing completion engineers. Avoiding fracturing such formation and preventing excessive fluid leakoff are the primary concerns to achieve successful gravel placement during job execution. Gravel packing these wells needs innovative technologies and practices. The light and ultra-light weight proppants, with their unique properties and advantages over conventional gravel, are important options to ensure wellbore be successfully packed under low pump rate.

Light and ultra-light weight particles transport phenomena and their Alpha and Beta wave packing behaviors were studied. An unified particle transport model is developed to accurately model Alpha and Beta wave behaviors. The paper presents the validation of unified model by wide ranges of field case histories under different pump rates and particle over fluid density ratios. Particle density and geometry, fluid properties, and wellbore configuration are the dominant factors to affect wave building up process. The paper presents the guidelines to design proper pumping schedule and optimal Alpha wave dune height under given well condition.

Carrying fluid leakoff and excessive Alpha wave dune height are the causes of many early time screenout and job failures. Underachieved gravel packing will reduce the effectiveness of sand control and result in screen damage during early production. Job histories are presented in the paper to demonstrate the practical considerations of job design and execution, and the use of light and ultra-light weight proppant over conventional gravel to ultimately increase the effectiveness of sand control.

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