Sand production is a major issue facing many operators in the mature Southern North Sea gas fields. Historically, sand control completion decisions have often been based on the assumption that sand control will occur and have been constrained by the restrictions imposed upon sand entering the gas transport pipeline. The inherent conservatism of this approach leads to significant increases in completion costs and misses potential productivity gains.

A holistic sand management strategy has been developed for the Southern North Sea to challenge the conservative paradigm. This is based on a complete understanding of SNS reservoir rock properties and sand control completion performance in gas wells and has been tuned by learnings from SNS and analogue fields. It couples sand failure prediction, methodical and structured sand control selection (including consideration of production performance, longevity and risks) with novel solids lifting and erosion assessment models to better quantify the risk and consequences of sand production on wells and facilities. Key selection criteria are utilised rather than an arbitrary decision based on limited and often unaudited data. The role of an asset focal point with clear ownership of all relevant sand production data and issues is fundamental to the success of the integrated strategy.

Tools are available to predict when, where and even how much sand will be produced; how much sand will be lifted to surface; and how much erosion it will cause. Methodologies are available to evaluate and rank the available sand control techniques in a consistent and systematic manner.

This more systematic and integrated approach to sand management has enhanced well productivity and reduced completion costs without compromising sand management or exceeding sand production constraints. Challenging sand management convention in the demanding environment of the Southern North Sea compels operators to use these methodologies to much greater effect.

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