The Sand Control challenge

Considering the significant cost of failure and loss of production, shouldn’t the industry ensure a data-driven approach to improve the reliability of their Sand Control equipment?

Sand Control Equipment is required in more than 70% of all hydrocarbon production wells around the world. We also know that sand control failures are in most cases catastrophic for the well, resulting in permanent P&A of the wellbore, and subsequently sidetracking and re-completion of the well. For a subsea well, the cost is easily 30 mill USD or even more.

Current situation and challenges

The diversity in available options (equipment and systems) for completing wells with various screen types, open hole or cased hole gravel pack completions, slotted liners, and more, has become significant. This makes it even more important to systematically capture and make use of experience data from wells with Sand Control when designing and selecting methods and systems for new wells.

Available industry data on Sand Control Equipment and systems based on operators’ experiences and failures are very limited. The only known source of this kind is the well-known but old George King database from 2003 (with its related SPE paper), so operators are prone to rely on their own (often limited) experience, if any.

Sand Control Equipment Reliability is influenced by many factors, where some are generic and some are specific for the application, the producing formation type, and the operational conditions of the well. In almost all cases, failures are only observed and determined without having the Completion/ Sand Control Equipment pulled for potential further failure investigation. Details are not always systematically captured and made easily available for others to use at a later stage for well design, planning and analyses purposes. Transferring and sharing of data and knowledge across various organizational units and business assets, and handover between staff personnel is in many ways difficult without a common base for capturing, storing and maintaining the data.

So, what can data tell you?

Access to quality reliability data enables a number of use cases for operators, including planning and evaluation during well and field developments, prediction of lifetime cost, and assess the potential impact failures may have during the operational phase by considering the different survival probabilities that two possible approaches and options for the required sand control offers. ExproSoft has over 30 years’ experience with similar analysis on other well completion equipment, and have seen first-hand the tremendous cost benefits reliability data has provided to the industry.

Below are two examples of how reliability analyses of Sand Control Equipment data are presented in ExproSoft’s well analytics solution, WellMaster RMS. The functions for analyses provide average failure rates, details on failure modes and failure cause categories, and reliability analyses are here based on the Weibull 2-parameter distribution model, with MTTF and survival probabilities as part of the main results.

Wire-wrap screens dataset; survival probability drops below 50 % when passing 6 years


CHGP (Cased Hole Gravel Pack) dataset; survival probability is still 80 % after 12 years

What should be done

Learning by sharing of experiences and data, not only between assets and organizational units within one company, but also between different operators who see the benefits of sharing knowledge and data, is considered by many to be increasingly important in today’s oil and gas upstream operational regime.

Since the performance of Sand Control methods and systems are influenced by a range of different factors during well design, planning, completion and operation, collecting experience and related failure/reliability data for Sand Control Equipment is thus a more challenging task when comparing with collecting reliability data for other types of downhole completion components such as Down Hole Safety Valves, Production packers etc.

Therefore, a Sand Control Equipment Reliability data model must be detailed enough for allowing relevant reliability assessments to be made, but without being too complex in trying to cover every detail and parameter of the various sand control applications. This to avoid a very resource-demanding and time-consuming data collection process in accordance with an un-necessary complex data model.

ExproSoft’s WellMaster RMS includes the features for collecting and analyzing reliability data, also for Sand Control Equipment. The WellMaster RMS database today contains Sand Control data from some North Sea assets, in addition to the available data from the previously mentioned old George King database. The WellMaster RMS may be applied as a platform/tool for more dedicated efforts among interested operators to capture, analyze and share data regarding sand control methods and equipment.

If you think there is a significant potential for establishing a common and dedicated source for Reliability data for Sand Control Equipment, let us hear from you!