Ceramics have long held significance as a prime material to humans and today can be found in any industry. This paper discusses the successful application of standalone ceramic screens as an emerging technology solution for well restoration and sand control in Columbus Basin offshore fields. In well sand screens, they are proposed to significantly boost erosional limits and durability, when compared to traditional metallic screens. This hypothesis was tested in oil and high-rate gas wells in highly unconsolidated and low volume reservoirs which were previously shut-in or undeveloped for various reasons. In all cases, development through traditional rig-based sand control techniques would have been uneconomic. This paper presents the job design approach including candidate selection, screen selection, erosion testing, and deployment. Well performance post implementation is also examined.

Initial screening for up-hole recomplete candidates showed that a sand control completion was required to access reserves from the unconsolidated reservoirs. Additionally, the proposed reservoir intervals were short and resulted in high flow velocities challenging even traditional sand control techniques such as cased hole gravel packs. Applying a ceramic standalone screen as a solution was based on the building of a natural sand pack to retain the formation sand with screen slot sizing designed to minimize plugging. Various screen slot sizes, geometries and analogous cores were tested in laboratory sand retention tests to retain the largest sand particle sizes and allow a natural sand pack to develop. Interpretation of the results was often challenging due to the wide variabilities in particle size distributions inherent to the nature of the sands being tested – non-uniform, poorly sorted and high fines content.

Deployment of the screens was performed rig-less and was further complicated by aged offshore infrastructure with de-rated cranes, limited deck space and compact well bays. Bespoke solutions were developed to allow screen deployment without the use of the platform crane and straddle systems to enable downhole connection of multiple screen sections. Standalone screen designs were developed for failed sand control repairs and newly perforated sections.

Start-up of the wells was performed with a bean-up strategy allowing for a stabilized natural sand pack development. Both oil and high-rate gas wells showed similar results with sand free production from the onset with minimal plugging on most applications. This paper will discuss the importance of candidate selection to minimize same. Utilizing job data and flowing measurable parameters, the ceramic screens flow velocity performance was estimated to be between five and ten times greater than those associated with traditional metallic sand screens under the same standalone application. Further laboratory erosion work was also performed to de-risk the flow rate potential of installed ceramic screens, significantly improving understanding of the failure mechanisms of the ceramic screen. This resulted in doubling previous flux velocity thresholds for the screen from 100 ft/s to 200ft/s.

The performance of ceramic screens highlights their applicability as a viable sand control technique once properly aligned to expected well performance. It now widens the toolbox of non-rig sand control applications beyond the conventional rule of thumb provides a lower cost alternative to rig completions.

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