Abstract

This study presents an evaluation of Wire-Wrapped Screens (WWS) performance for SAGD production wells based on Pre-packed Sand Retention Testing (SRT). The impacts of features such as flow rates, water cut, steam-breakthrough events and fluid properties on flow performance and sand production are analyzed. The aim is to obtain a better understanding of WWS performance under several SAGD operational conditions for typical sand classes in the McMurray Formation in Western Canada.

The study employs a large pre-packed SRT to assess the performance of WWS with different aperture sizes and standard wire geometries. The testing plan includes sand samples with two representative particle size distributions (PSD's) and fines contents. Testing procedures were designed to capture typical field flow rates, water cut, and steam-breakthrough scenarios. The amount of sand production and pressure drop across the zone of the screen and adjacent sand were measured and used to assess the screen performance. Furthermore, fines production was measured to evaluate plugging tendencies and flow impairment during production.

The experimental results and data analysis show that aperture selection of WWS is dominated by their sand retention ability rather than the flow performance. The relatively high open flow area (OFA) makes WWS less prone to plugging. There is an increase in flow impairment after finalizing the injection scheme (oil+water+gas); however, it is controlled over the acceptable margins even with a narrow aperture. Further, a comparison of initial and final turbidity measurements showed that fines mobilization and production during single-phase brine flow was higher than in two-phase brine-oil flow at the same liquid flow rate. Excessive produced sand was observed for wider slots during the multi-phase (brine, oil, and gas) flow when gas was present, highlighting the impact of the breakthrough of wet steam on sand control performance. Flow impairment and pressure drop evolution were strongly related to the mobilization and accumulation of fines particles in the area close to the screen coupon; it is critical to allow the discharge of fines to maintain a high-retained permeability. Results also signify the importance of adopting adequate flow rates and production scenarios in the testing since variable water cuts and GORs showed to impact both sanding and flow performances.

This research incorporates both single-phase and multiphase flow testing to improve design criteria for wire-wrapped screens and provide an insight into their performance in thermal recovery projects. An improved post-mortem analysis includes fines production measurements to correlate these to the retained permeability caused by the pore plugging, which has hardly been evaluated in previous studies.

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