Sand control completions are an increasingly more significant part of the overall well cost as hydrocarbon developments are pushed into ever more challenging reservoirs. Successful project economics and performance hinges on reducing the risk and consequences of failure to a practical minimum. Erosion is often identified as the failure mode when investigating sand screen failures – even though the true root cause is often procedural or operational in nature. Determining the cause of such failures is nearly always problematical when the equipment cannot be retrieved to surface. Erosion is therefore perceived to be a major risk in cased hole sand control completions and even in high rate open-hole and water injection wells. The key to controlling this risk is an understanding of the erosion rate and how it affects the sand retention properties of the selected screen.

The results of a comprehensive set of erosion tests have been used to develop a erosion model which predicts probable time to screen failure based on fluid type, flux rate, solids loading and size distribution. The model has been verified against a number of actual screen failures and also to predict failure times based on specific completion designs.

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