Experimental Investigation of Gravel-Pack Sizing Performance in Open-Hole Gravel-Pack (OHGP) Applications

  • Author / Creator
    Bitencourt Zimmermann, José Henrique
  • This thesis presents a setup for open-hole gravel-pack testing and introduces the experimental results to assess Saucier's (1974) gravel sizing design criteria for gravel-pack applications. A Sand Retention Testing (SRT) was modified to simulate the open-hole gravel-pack (OHGP) scenario. Saucier's (1974) materials and operating parameters were first replicated to validate the SRT design. Next, the equipment was used to assess the gravel-pack performance for highly non-uniform and high fines content formation. The gravel-pack performance was assessed in terms of pressure buildup at the formation and gravel interface as well as gravel-pack impairment.
    The operational procedure consists of single-phase brine injection with three different flow stages proposed. The flow stages cover low, intermediate, and high flux rates commonly seen for OHGP applications. Furthermore, a consistent gravel and sand preparation method was followed to guarantee uniform samples. The packing procedure for gravel and sand formation was performed independently. Data analysis consisted of monitoring the differential pressure readings across the cell and gravel-pack structure, measurement of fine and sand particles production, and post-mortem analysis on formation sand and gravel-pack samples. The data generated allowed a better understanding of how fines migration, fines accumulation at the formation and gravel interface, and the accumulation of fines and formation particles inside the gravel-pack structure may vary according to the salinity level of brine injected and the flow rate.
    The test matrix includes one particle size distribution (PSD), which presents a uniformity coefficient (UC) equals 12 and fines content of 12%. Three salinity levels were considered, as the salinity level plays an important role in fines migration. The coupon screen used for the tests was a Wire-Wrapped Screen (WWS) as it is the most common type of screen used in gravel-pack applications.
    Measurements indicate that the pressure buildup at the formation and gravel interface is highly dependent on flow rate and salinity level. The gravel-pack impairment is mainly caused by fines even though formation sand particles may enter the gravel-pack structure. The gravel-pack impairment is mostly affected by the quantity of fine particles accumulating inside the gravel porous media. These findings lead to a better understanding of the limitations of Saucier (1974) design criteria for gravel-pack sizing.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.