Kazakhstan owns one of the largest global oil reserves (~3%). This paper aims at investigating the challenges and potentials for production from weakly-consolidated and unconsolidated oil sandstone reserves in Kazakhstan.

We used the published information in the literature, especially those including comparative studies between Kazakhstan and North America. Weakly consolidated and unconsolidated oil reserves, in Kazakhstan, were studied in terms of the depth, pay-zone thickness, viscosity, particle size distribution, clay content, porosity, permeability, gas cap, bottom water, mineralogy, solution gas, oil saturation, and homogeneity of the pay zone. The previous and current experiences in developing these reserves were outlined. The stress condition was also discussed. Furthermore, geological condition, including the existing structures, layers and formations were addressed for different reserves.

Weakly consolidated heavy oil reserves in shallow depths (less than 500 m) with oil viscosity around 500 cP and thin pay zones (less than 10 m) have been successfully produced using cold methods, however, thicker zones could be produced using thermal options. Sand management is the main challenge in cold operations, while sand control is the main challenge in thermal operations. Tectonic history is more critical in comparison to the similar cases in North America. The complicated tectonic history, necessitates the geomechanical models to strategize the sand control especially in cased and perforated completion. These models are usually avoided in North America due to the less problematic conditions. Further investigation has shown that Inflow Control Devices (ICDs) could be utilized to limit the water breakthrough, as water coning is a common problem, which initiates and intensifies the sanding.

This paper provides a review on challenges and potentials for sand control and sand management in heavy oil reserves of Kazakhstan, which could be used as a guideline for service companies and operators. This paper could be also used as an initial step for further investigations regarding the sand control and sand management in Kazakhstan.

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