This paper described a case study involved an investigation in a field in Libya, where massive unexplained fill had been reported accompanying obstruction of production for majority of production wells since the onset of production, indicating possible sanding issues for this field.

To investigate this problem, relevant data from different sources and different domains (i.e., wireline logs, laboratory test data, drilling data, well data and field data) were integrated to generate a Mechanical Earth Model (MEM). This model provided the descriptions of the rock strengths and in-situ stresses in the reservoir formation. Somewhat surprisingly, the model, backed up by the core laboratory test data, observations from core inspection and thin section analyses, revealed the rocks to be extremely hard and strong, and therefore highly unlikely to sand. These findings contradicted with initial impression and previous expectation on this sandstone that it should have been sand-prone formation. Facing these apparent inconsistencies, the investigation moved beyond an initial focus of sanding risk evaluation and sandface completion optimization. The final results revealed that the problems facing the field were other than conventional sanding and formation failure, and that they involved some rather interesting and misleading phenomena, such as precipitation of salt from production, tubing scale, spalling of borehole wall with drawdown and cavings bridge (cavings might fall into and become wedged in the openhole, forming a bridge with no material beneath).

The investigation concluded that installing sand control facilities were unnecessary, which otherwise would have cost millions of dollars without correctly addressing the real problem that this field was facing. The study highlighted the importance of a thorough investigation of the mechanism and source of sanding rather than premature conclusions based initial, and potentially misleading evidence. It also highlighted how the integration of information from different sources and disciplines were able to correctly identify and address a particular borehole fill problem, allowing for optimizing field operations, field management and workover strategies.

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