Standalone screens (SAS) have been widely employed as the main sand control solution in thermal projects in Western Canada. Most of the test protocols developed to evaluate screen designs were based on the scaled screen coupons. There have been discussions regarding the reliability of such tests on scaled coupons. This paper presents the results of the tests on full-scale wire-wrapped screen (WWS) and slotted liner coupons for typical McMurray Formation sands.

A large-scale sand control evaluation apparatus has been designed and built to accommodate all common SAS with 3 1/2″ in diameter and 12″ in height. The set-up provides the capability to have the radial measurement of the pressure across the sand pack and liner, for three-phase flow. We outline certain challenges in conducting full-scale testing such as establishing uniform radial flow and measuring the differential pressure. Produced sand is also measured during the test. The main outputs of the test are to assess the sand control performance and the mode of sanding in different flow direction, flow rates and flow regimes.

We were able to establish uniform radial flow in both high and low permeability sand packs. However, the establishment of the radial flow in sand packs with very high permeability was extremely challenging. The pressure measurement in different points in radial direction around the liner indicated a uniform radial flow. Results of the tests on a representative PSD from McMurray Formation on the WWS and slotted liner coupons with commonly used specs in the industry have shown similar sanding and flow performances. We also included aperture sizes smaller and larger than the common practice. Similar to the previous large-scale tests, narrower apertures are proven to be less resistant to plugging than wider slots for both WWS and slotted liner. Accumulation of the fines close to screen causes significant pore plugging, when conservative aperture sizes were used for both WWS and slotted liner. On the other hand, using the coupon with larger aperture size than the industry practice, resulted in excessive sanding. The experiments under linear flow seems more conservative as their results show higher produced sand and lower retained permeability, in comparison to the full scaled testing under radial flow.

This work discusses the significance, procedure, challenges and early results of full-scale physical modeling of SAS in thermal operation. It also provides an insight into the fluid flow, fines migration, clogging and bridging in the vicinity of sand screens.

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