Allowing sand to be produced together with the oil is a field proven technique to economically produce heavy oil reservoirs. By doing this, the performance of the wells is increased owing to a number of factors including an increased near wellbore permeability and/or the development of cavities (wormholes) significantly improving the flow conditions in the reservoir. However, the combination of a limited understanding of the physically complex processes involved in this phenomenon and the economic drive to adopt a pragmatic approach has led to mixed rate of success for this type of projects.

One of the first issue to tackle in studying this phenomenon is the quantification of the sand production and, equally important, the impact it has on the well and reservoir behavior.

Building on already published work, a sand production model is proposed that accounts for the mechanical damage induced in the formation by the production of sand. This model has been deliberately kept simple to evaluate the potential of the approach for modelling sand production in heavy oil reservoirs. The framework of the model is that of elasto-plasticity including isotropic damage. Th emodel has been tested on a synhetic, though realistic, set of data and, despite the simplfying assumptions (single phase flow, constant fluid viscosity) could qualitatively reproduce the salient features of the behaviour of typical heavy oil wells.

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