Abstract

In rod pump applications around the world heavy oil and sand production is believed to be a dangerous combination. This paper highlights a case study of a heavy oil well in the North Kuwait field where sand production was monitored closely to avoid flow line choke and down hole failures. This case study was used as a pilot for the neighboring wells producing from the same reservoir. In case of wells producing heavy oil with considerable sand production and that undergo cyclic steam stimulation the challenge is often at the end of the production cycle. While the oil is thin and has good viscosity the sand settles itself at the bottom. However, with time as the oil gets colder and thereby heavier, it carries the sand along with it to the surface causing plug in the flow line. This is due to the high viscosity of the oil. This is believed to be the end of production period beyond which it would have been impossible to produce any further even after sand cleanup. Certain operational procedures were established to ensure the integrity of the down-hole equipment and to avoid the failures. It has been observed that by effective sand monitoring it was possible to determine the next injection cycle with more precision. This standardized the injection and production cycle. The flow line choke up problems were completely eliminated as the production period would cease as soon as some sand would begin to appear at the surface. It was possible to establish API gravity cutoff for oil production thus avoiding rod and pump failures. This implementation has been undertaken for the entire field and has shown significant operational efficiency. A pilot was conducted to justify the use of sand production as an indication for the next production cycle for heavy oil well under cyclic steam stimulation.

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