Sand-Control Completion Failures: Can We Talk the Same Language?


Several operators have recently launched a new industry-wide initiative on sand control reliability. The aim of the initiative is to gain a better understanding of Sand Control Completion (SCC) systems, equipment performance, and reliability in a variety of applications. It focuses on assisting the industry to improve SCC performance and service life through sharing of reliability and failure information, operational practices, and other pertinent data. One of the key challenges in this effort is how to achieve consistency in the data collected by several operators.

This paper presents an approach to establish consistent practices for collecting, tracking and sharing SCC reliability and failure information. The approach is based on two key elements: (1) common data set; and (2) a standard nomenclature for coding SCC failure information. The general data set contains basic information on operating conditions, SCC systems and equipment, and the observed failures. While this data set is not overly detailed, in that the information is typically already collected by most operators and relatively easy to obtain, it is comprehensive enough so that meaningful analyses can be performed. The nomenclature standard builds on the International Standard IS0 14224 that stipulates broad definitions and failure attributes related to collection and exchange of reliability and maintenance data for equipment used in the petroleum industry.

The paper also provides a review of past industry efforts to track SCC system reliability in terms of the types of data collected, and the main types of analyses performed with the data. Comments are included on difficult issues such as how to define failure of a sand control completion.

It is hoped that the paper will encourage discussion on the topic, and help the industry share SCC reliability and failure data in a more consistent manner. The ultimate goals of this work are to assist the industry in improving SCC service life; improving the basis for selecting sand control systems and equipment; and better realizing the full potential of SCC technologies.


Operators face a major challenge when trying to determine which sand control completion method to choose to provide the best economics over the life of a field. This is especially true because of the increasing cost and complexity of well designs required for hotter and deeper wells. There are now several new options for sand control available with which the industry has very little experience on which to base these decisions. Operators would like to: have a better understanding of the factors affecting SCC performance in a wide range of applications; be less reliant on a few highly experienced staff for effective SCC decision making; and be able to very quickly climb the learning curve associated with new SCC methods, in both new and existing applications. Unfortunately, while there are many competing forms of sand control performance information, both from service providers and operators, a direct, relatively unbiased comparison between the reliability of sand control types, under a broad range of operating conditions, has not been available.

As a result, many operators have identified that having a failure tracking system in place is key to reducing failure rates of SCC systems. Problems with system design, equipment specification, manufacturing, installation, and day-to-day operation could be identified and corrected, contributing to increased service lives, lower operating costs and increased profits.


Author: Wagg, B., Heseltine, J. L., Faga, A. T., & McKinzie, H.

Publisher: SPE International Symposium and Exhibition on Formation Damage Control, 13-15 February, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA

Year: 2008

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