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Removing Sand from Heavy Oil Wells

Industry Challenge:

The use of horizontal wells in primary heavy oil operations offered the promise of higher flow rates due to the much greater length of reservoir exposure offered by the horizontal section of the well.

Unfortunately, this also introduced the challenge of transporting the sand produced with the oil along the horizontal section.

Typically, flow rates within the wellbore were generally too slow to transport the sand during normal production.

In addition, during well shutdowns, sand would settle in the horizontal section which would require a well cleanout, often using a jetting/vacuum system deployed on coiled tubing.

How We Help:

C-FER developed a process called Gas Purge Production System (GPPS) whereby a U-shaped well is drilled that would allow liquids and solids that accumulate in the well to be pushed from one end of the well to the other by a stream of compressed gas.

The system required the development of specialized valves installed in the well liner that allowed fluid and sand into the well during production, preventing the outflow of gas into the reservoir when the well was being purged.

A variety of concepts for valve designs were developed and tested in full-scale lab trials to evaluate the feasibility of the concept.

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