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Several published articles mention sand control problems in deep water Gulf of Mexico projects.' In problems in deep water Gulf of Mexico projects.' In the Fall of 1990 Oryx Energy, while preparing for a deep water platform decision, conducted an in-depth study of deep water sand control techniques. At the time of the study, there were eleven platforms in water deeper than 700', and they were operated by six companies. Each company permitted an interview with their engineers. This allowed us to trace the history of these platforms from conception through current operations, with special emphasis on sand control. This paper presents the specific techniques for wellbore preparation, perforating, stimulation, gravel packing, and completion hardware used by these six companies (companies only identified as A through F).


There are only eleven platforms in the Gulf of Mexico in water greater than 700' deep (Dec. 1989). They are operated by six companies. We interviewed the engineers who were responsible for the gravel packing on each project. During the interview, we attempted to follow a prepared list of questions which traced the history of the project from conception to current operations. A spreadsheet summarizing key responses is included as Figure 1.

Some questions went unanswered because the engineers being interviewed either did not know the answer or did not have the information readily available. In addition to the deep water projects under discussion, the companies sometimes shared information about their practices elsewhere in the Gulf.

The survey found that all deep water operators are using gravel packing as their method of sand control. Although every aspect of a completion is important, certain key items pertaining directly to the success of gravel packing are discussed below.


All companies used tubing conveyed perforating (TCP).


All companies achieved 12 shots per foot (SPF) when possible, even if that required making multiple gun possible, even if that required making multiple gun runs in small casing sizes. There was one exception. When wells met the individual company threshold for lowside perforating, 10 SPF was used (maximum available with single lowside gun run).


Company A and Company E used only deep penetrator charges, while Company C and Company penetrator charges, while Company C and Company F only used big hole charges.

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