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S. XUE

University of Petroleum

Y. YUAN

Abstract

This paper first presents a consistent mathematical framework

to predict sand production volume, focusing on the coupling between hydro-mechanical factors, formation deformation and the

resulting permeability change. Two types of sand production

mechanisms are considered: production of coarse sands under

mechanical failure and production of fine sands under hydro-dynamical erosion. The Drucker-Prager constitutive law with cap

hardening is adopted to describe both dilative and collapsing deformation behaviour. The finite element method is used to solve

the coupled governing equation system.

After the model is validated with a field history case, it is used

to compute two examples of wellbore pressure drawdown and

the associated impact on the near-wellbore sanding process and

permeability change. The calculation indicates that the permeability can be modified any time during the sanding. For example,

under suitable reservoir depletion, the near-wellbore permeability

can increase by 30%. However, more drastic pressure depletion

under the otherwise identical in situ and operating conditions

causes compaction near the wellbore and permeability decline by

nearly 40%. Therefore, these simulated cases suggest that a balanced pressure depletion strategy should be used to manage the

sand production.

Introduction

Sanding becomes more critical as operators follow more aggressive production strategies. Sand production occurs when the reservoir fluid, under high production rates, dislodges a portion of the

formation solids leading to a continuous flux of formation solids

into the wellbore. As a result, the sanding may compromise oil

production, increase completion costs, and erode casing, pipes and

pumps, or plug the well if sufficient quantities are produced.

Moreover, the sanding process may cause complex temporal

and spatial changes in permeability in the near-wellbore region.

Generally, erosion during sanding increases permeability near the

wellbore and thus benefits the petroleum production. Therefore,

sand production has proven effective to increase well productivity,

both in heavy oil and light oil reservoirs.

However, stress concentration around the wellbore and/or perforation tips, if aggressive pressure drawdown is carried out, can

induce localized formation collapse and compaction. Such a collapse/compaction region may spread outwards deep into the formation as the fluid flow and sand production continues. The formation

compaction may lead to permeability impairment which is equivalent to formation damage, albeit mechanically induced. This is particularly serious for weakly consolidated sandstone reservoirs such

as in the Shengli Oil Field in China.

increase production, it is critical to design a proper production

strategy that minimizes the negative impact of sand production on

field operation and reservoir permeability change and/or maximize

its beneficial effect. This can only be achieved via an improved understanding of the sanding mechanism and associated permeability

changes; in particular, the need to understand the sanding process

under an integrated theoretical frame system(1, 2). The challenge is

to develop relevant mathematical models to quantitatively interpret the evolution of the sanding process so that the amount of sand

production can be predicted. A quantitative model will allow engineers to understand the complicated sanding phenomena, evaluate

the impact of sand production on reservoir production and provide an efficient measure to reduce unnecessary costs during field

operations.

From the mechanistic viewpoint, sand production mainly involves the following factors(3):

Inherent factors: including formation consolidation degree

and strength, failure properties, porosity, etc.

External factors: including in situ stress, fluid pressure and

flux, thermal effects, the wellbore structure and completion

technology.

Two types of sand production mechanisms are considered in this

paper: production of coarse sand grains under reservoir structure

failure and production of fine sand grains under reservoir erosion.

These two mechanisms have been proven in the field. In general, a

great amount of coarse sand grains in the produced sands indicates

a local formation structure collapse.

We further focus this paper on building a consistent mathematical framework describing the coupling influence between the

hydro-mechanical aspects of the sanding process and the wellbore

collapse or instabilities. Sand erosion is assumed to be a filtration

phenomenon in which transport of sand grains is initiated during

fluid flow through a porous solid matrix whose porosity, density

and permeability are being modified. The wellbore collapse model

includes fluid pressure, porosity factor and the associated rock

weakening, and stress concentration around the wellbore.

Sanding Process

Basic Assumptions

To evaluate the sand production and wellbore stress in the

framework of continuum mechanics, a series of governing equations and initial/boundary conditions should be derived. In so

doing, however, if we consider all the influential factors in an allencompassing way, the results obtained will be so complicated that

practically no solutions can be found. Therefore, we have to make

PEER REVIEWED PAPER (REVIEW AND PUBLICATION PROCESS CAN BE FOUND ON OUR WEB SITE)

April 2007, Volume 46, No. 4

33

some basic assumptions about the sanding process. The basic assumptions in our model are described as follows:

1. A continuum medium is made of a mixture of saturated solid/

fluid phase, including formation matrix or skeleton, fluid and

sanding solids called fluidized sand. Overlay and representative

element volume (REV) concepts are used to build mass conservation equations for each phase.

2. Fluidized sand and fluid flow have the same Darcy velocity.

3. The elastoplastic behaviour of the solid matrix can be characterized by a perfect Drucker-Prager constitutive law with cap hardening in a small deformation state.

4. There are two kinds of sand production mechanisms considered

in this paper: coarse sand production induced by reservoir

structure failure and fine sand production under hydro-dynamical erosion.

To develop an effective prediction model for the sand production, we classify the complicated governing equations into two

parts. The first mainly deals with deformation/failure of the porous

solid matrix and stress concentration, and the fluid flow and sand

transport are included in the second part.

Matrix

1. If small deformation is assumed and the Eulerian form employed, mass conservation equation for the solid matrix, can be

written as follows(4):

1 s

t

+ s 1 v = m

1 s v i

dv =

x j

such as gravity.

3. A general stress-strain constitutive equation for the porous solid

matrix is formulated in an incremental formula as follows:

d ij = Cijkl d kl dPij

sand concentration c and porosity , it can approximately be

treated as a constant and Equation (6) thus becomes:

q = 0 .................................................................................................. (7)

This simplified fluid flux Equation (7) is widely used in practical numerical analysis(5).

2. Fluid flux is expressed using Darcys law which establishes its

relation with the pressure gradient p. Thus:

ki

p

............................................................................................ (8)

where ki is the effective permeability in direction i. In the current work, the permeability is related to porosity via the CarmenKozeny correlation. For example:

3

k = k0

1

...................................................................................... (9)

which is written for the permeability in any direction. In Equation (9), subscript 0 denotes the initial state.

1. Similar to the fluid phase, a mass conservation equation for the

fluidized sand phase is derived as follows:

cs

t

dv + cs q dv =

......................................................................... (4)

1. A mass conservation equation for the fluid phase is derived according to the overlay concept. The whole porosity volume in the

field domain is dv. In a REV, this volume is saturated with two

phases: the fluid phase whose volume fraction is (1 c)dv and the

fluidized sand phase whose volume fraction is cdv. Here, c is the

v

md

................................................. (10)

m

c

+ cq =

t

s

( )

is the constitutive tensor and depends on the particular constitutive

model to be used. In the current work, a Drucker-Prager model

with a hardening cap is employed to encompass all the possible

deformation modes including strain softening with dilation and

strain hardening with compaction.

34

+ q = 0

t

........................................................................................ (6)

+ fi = 0

........................................................................................... (3)

...................................................................... (5)

and q is fluid flux with a unit of m/sec. Expressing the integral form

of Equation (5) into a differential Eulerian form results in:

....................................................... (2)

by setting the velocity component, vi, to zero. Therefore, its Eulerian form is as follows:

ij

................................................................. (1)

x ij + fi dv

t dv + (q )dv = 0

qi =

and v is volumetric strain.

2. A general dynamic mechanics equation for the solid matrix

system, based on the second Newtons law, can be represented

as:

of the fluid phase should be taken as the following:

..............................................................................(11)

2. Another important equation describes the sand erosion which is

driven by the discharge of the fluid flow and can be presented as

the following:

.

m

= 1

s

qi qi

cr

) c cc

................................................................. (12)

where is the sand production coefficient, m is the sand production rate, and ccr is critical sanding concentration.

From Papamichos and Malmanger, the erosion constant is defined

as(6):

Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology

= 1 p ppeak

if p ppeak

if ppeak p ppeak + 2 / 1

if ppeak + 2 / p

.......................... (13)

plastic shear strain, and ppeak is the value of p at peak strength.

3. Equations for Failure of Coarse Sands: As described earlier,

sand production also comes from the failed coarse sands and

therefore, another dedicated equation set is needed to describe

this mechanism. This is derived using a combination of strength

theory for the solid matrix and a dedicated numerical scheme. Two

classical rock strength criteria are presented as the following:

a) Shear failureDrucker-Prager criterion

f = I1 + J 2 xk = 0

=

2 sin

......................................................................... (14)

6c cos

xk =

3 3 + sin

is internal friction angle. 1, 2, 3 are the three principal stress

components, respectively.

b) Tensile failure

Because of the rock medias low resistance to tensile stresses,

it is always ruptured perpendicular to the direction of the maximum tensional stress, max,. For example:

f = +max Tcut = 0

Based on the incremental load scheme, the virtual displacement-based variation form for the general solid deformation equations can be written as follows:

....................................................................................... (16)

Two-dimensional geometry is assumed although it is straightforward to extend it to three-dimensional geometry. The finite

element method (FEM) is employed to solve the above derived

governing equations which uniquely determine the unknowns if

appropriate initial and boundary conditions are given. These include: stress components (x, y, xy), two displacement components (ux, uy), fluid pressure (P), fluid flux (qi), porosity () and

April 2007, Volume 46, No. 4

........................................ (17)

(ij ) ij dv

(ij ) ij dv + (ui ) fi dv

( )(

( )

+ ui Ti + ni p ds + ui ij p,i dv

....................................... (18)

Fluid Flow

The fluid flow and sand production Equations (5) to (12) are

numerically solved by a least square-based FEM formulation in

which the classical Lagrange shape functions are retained in the

spatial discretization, but a fully implicit finite difference scheme

is used in the time domain. Description of such a numerical scheme

can be exemplified using the following generic functional of:

F ri , xi , t = f0

...................................................................................... (19)

where ri denotes the unknown variable(s), xi is the space coordinate, t is time and f0 is a stationary function. Equation (19) is discretized in the space and time domain, rendering the following

generic form:

( )

( ) ...................................................................................... (20)

of strain components, 'ij are effective stress components at time

step tn, ij is increment of the effective stresses between time tn to

tn+1 and p is fluid pressure at time tn+1.

Taking stress increments ij as unknown variables, an initial stress

incremental load scheme leads to the following FEM formula:

v dt

M 2 = md

t0

(ui ) fi dv + (ui ) Ti ds

=

............................................................................... (15)

The coupled flow-deformation equations as outlined in the

above are solved by numerical methods which yield the state of

stresses. The rock failure criteria in Equations (14) and (15), can

recognize the failure point and type near the wellbore and perforations. With the ever-changing pressure gradient, porosity, sand

erosion and load history during reservoir production, the state of

stresses evolves near the wellbore and perforations. So does the

coarse sand failure and it is therefore important to simulate this

dynamic process in order to predict the sand production volume.

A concept of failure elements is developed, implemented and

verified to address the evolution of the failure process. Because

of limited space, the relevant details are not described herein.

As a final note to the governing equations, the sanding mass

being produced is the sum of the eroded fine sands and failed

coarse sands. For example:

M = M1 + M 2

3 3 + sin

is summed, which is integrated through space and time dimensions

as shown in Equation (16). Below, specific FEM formulations for

the various governing equation parts are discussed separately.

To solve the above equation system, an uncoupled numerical

scheme seems to be the only option available, i.e., the solid matrix

deforming part and the fluid flowing sand erosion part are devised

into two detached code modules(7).

in which Wn+1 and Wn are discrete functions for time steps tn+1 and

tn , respectively. Taking Wn+1 or Wn as the weighted residuals, a

new super-implicit iterative format about unknowns (ri) at time tn+1

is obtained as follows:

........................................................ (21)

or

W n W n+1dv = W n W n dv

............................................................. (22)

35

()

r = N j rj t

j

....................................................................................... (23)

where r stands for each of the field unknowns, r is the corresponding nodal unknown and Nj is the interpolation function. Summation is done over the number of elemental nodes.

Time discretization is accomplished by a fully implicit finite

difference scheme and therefore, the fluid flow and sand production Equations (5) to (12) are discretized into the following forms:

qin+1

xi

qin+1

6.00E-2

Predicted

Field data

4.00E-2

2.00E-2

0.00E+0

0.00

10.00

20.00

30.00

=0

.............................................................................................. (24)

k p n+1

= i

xi

................................................................................... (25)

c n+1 c n n n+1 n

c n+1

+c

+ n qin

t

t

xi

n+1 n

=

t

................................................ (26)

n+1 n

= 1 n+1

t

n+1 n

= 1 n+1

t

)

)

qin qin

.............................................................. (27)

cn

1 c n qin qin

c

cr

q n+1

W n+1 = i

1

xi

n

W

=

0

1

...................................................................................... (29)

k p n+1

W2N +1 = qxn+1 + x

x

N

W2 = 0

k y p n+1

N +1

n+1

W3 = q y +

y

W N = 0

3

current model and the field data. Y-axis has a unit of m3 per 1-m

reservoir thickness.

W N +1 = n c n+1 + c n n+1

4

c n+1 c n+1

t n+1

+ n qin

+

x

N

W4 = 2 n c n n

................................................. (31)

N +1

n+1

n n n+1

W5 = + t qi qi

W N = n + t q n q n

5

i i

............................................................. (32)

W N +1 = n+1 1 + t 1 c c n q n q n

i i

c

cr

cn

N

n

n

n n

W6 = + t 1 c qi qi

ccr

............................................. (33)

............................................. (28)

(28), the corresponding least square-based FEM discrete functions

expressed in the generic forms in Equations (21) and (22) are given

by:

36

Compared with the Newton-Raphson method, the above-derived least square-based FEM method does not need to calculate

the Jacobian matrix at every time step. At each element scale, the

unknown variables are approximated by using the classical Lagrange interpolation functions:

The above-described model is first validated using field sand

production data collected from ten wells in Gudong (Shengli,

China) over a period of 30 days. Figure 1 shows the prediction

using the current model and its comparison with the historical field

data. The latter is an average sand production volume per well collected from the ten wells. As many of the geomechanical parameters were not well defined, the numerical results may only be

considered as a semi-quantitative study. However, the comparison

shown in Figure 1 shows a reasonable match.

To illustrate the impact of reservoir depletion on the near-wellbore deformation and associated permeability change, two cases of

wellbore load are simulated and discussed below.

Case I

...................................................................... (30)

initial pore pressure is maintained at the outer boundary. The

model geometry and relevant FEM meshes are shown in Figure

2. Note that a group of perforations are included in the model.

The wellbore pressure load history being simulated is depicted in

Figure 3. Some other relevant simulation parameters are listed in

Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology

days, Case I).

25

Wellbore pressure

20

Wellbore stress

15

10

Case I).

Case I

5

Case II

0

0

10

15

20

25

30

Outer boundary dimension

Wellbore diameter

Initial Wellbore stress

Middle Wellbore stress

Final Wellbore stress

Reservoir pressure

Final Wellbore pressure

Initial porosity

Initial permeability

10.0 m

0.1 m

20 MPa

10 MPa

5 MPa

10 MPa

5 MPa

0.25

300 mD

Table 1. Figures 4a, 4b and 4c illustrate the evolution of near-wellbore deformation and failure during the depletion and Figure 5

shows the associated permeability change. These results are discussed in more detail below.

Stress concentration near the perforation tips enhances plastic

shear deformation. Initially, this effect is limited close to the tip

region (Figures 4a and 4b). However, over time, it gradually expands and may eventually connect with similar failure regions

around the neighboring perforation tips. As a result, a ring of shearfailed region, which is more or less concentric with the borehole,

may be formed at a certain distance (equivalent to the perforation

penetration) away from the wellbore (Figures 4b and 4c). As the

April 2007, Volume 46, No. 4

Case I).

may emerge eventually with another failure region progressing

from the borehole wall and consequently, a circular patch of failed

region around the wellbore is formed (Figure 4c).

The above-described plastic deformation phenomenon causes

sand detachment and boosts up sand production volume. Meanwhile, porosity and permeability of the reservoir rock are modified

by the deformation. As shown in Figure 5, average permeability

37

Average Permeability

Around the Wellbore (mD)

5.00E+2

4.00E+2

3.00E+2

2.00E+2

0.00

10.00

20.00

30.00

FIGURE 5: Computed permeability change vs. production time

(Case I).

Case II).

Average Permeability

Around the Wellbore (mD)

5.00E+2

4.00E+2

3.00E+2

2.00E+2

0.00

10.00

20.00

30.00

FIGURE 6: Computed permeability change vs. production time

(Case II).

around a well can increase by up to 30% in a short production period (5 to 10 days in the current simulated case).

Case II

To understand the mechanism of permeability decline under depletion(8), the bottomhole pressure is drawn down to 0 in the current case.

All other relevant parameters are identical to Case I.

When the near-wellbore pressure drops down to zero, the region enters into compaction. As a result, the formation permeability decreases

due to the formation collapse. Calculated according to Boutcas correlation(8), which was derived from lab experiments and based on a

Drucker-Prager cap-hardening model, a quantitative evaluation of the

permeability decline is shown in Figure 6 and the associated failure distribution is shown in Figures 7a and 7b.

Figure 6 shows that permeability near the wellbore may decline

to 60% of the initial value under the currently assumed production

strategy. However, Figure 6 also conveys that an episode of permeability increase precedes the eventual decline. This correlates to the complicated deformation process. Figures 7a and 7b depict the fact that the

shear and tensile failure modes alternate in space and time, especially

near the perforation tips. This is caused by the combined effect of perforations and fluid flow. In all, the simulation shows that the compacting

38

Case II).

permeability change.

Based on the theory of continuum mechanics, an integrated and

fully coupled flow-deformation sand production model is proposed

and its numerical calculation implemented. It also allows variation

of the permeability during the sanding process. The model is used

to simulate a field history case in Gudong (Shengli, China) and it

matches to the field data reasonably well.

The two simulation examples suggest a strong influence from

wellbore pressure drawdown on the near-wellbore permeability

change. The permeability increases by 30% in one computed case

involving a moderate pressure drawdown. However, more drastic

pressure depletion under the otherwise identical in situ and operating conditions causes compaction near the wellbore and results

in a permeability decline by nearly 40%.

Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology

pressure history and mechanical properties of the reservoir sands.

One should not blankly assume that sanding always enhances permeability near the wellbore and thus promotes oil/gas production. The currently simulated complete drawdown of the reservoir

pressure (i.e. drawdown to 0) may represent one extreme scenario

for the field production strategy. However, the simulated compacting deformation and the relevant permeability decline suggests that too much pressure depletion during production may

cause compaction near the wellbore. The associated permeability

decrease is similar to commonly seen formation damage, although

it is stress-induced. Therefore, a balanced pressure strategy should

be employed to avoid the permeability decline.

The simulated failure progression and its resultant impact on

sand production and porosity/permeability alteration depend on

the in situ and operating conditions. Depending on individual operational objectives, one may manipulate the field operations particular to the corresponding in situ conditions to limit or promote

such failure development. This is where petroleum geomechanics

can be proactively utilized for production enhancement or cost

savings. Further details should be studied/designed pertaining to

particular reservoir geology.

It is also noticeable from the current work that some strong coupling effects exist between the permeability change and sanding

process during reservoir production. The coupling can be characterized by the stress/deformation near the wellbore. The simulation

further shows that for sanding-prone reservoirs, a detailed geomechanical analysis about the reservoir deformation process can aid

in designing a rational production scheme.

REFERENCES

Acknowledgements

and Permeability Change (2004-118), first presented at the 5th Canadian

International Petroleum Conference (the 55th Annual Technical Meeting

of the Petroleum Society), June 8-10, 2004, in Calgary, Alberta. Abstract submitted for review December 3, 2003; editorial comments sent

to the author(s) November 23, 2006; revised manuscript received January

4, 2007; paper approved for pre-press January 4, 2007; final approval

March 1, 2007.

Ltd., the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the

CNPC Innovation Foundation is greatly appreciated. Shifeng Xue

also thanks Professor Hongkui Ge for his technical guidance on

the project.

1. CHIN, L.Y. and RAMOS, G.G., Predicting Volumetric Sand Production in Weak Reservoirs; paper SPE 78169 presented at the SPE/ISRM

Rock Mechanics Conference, Irving, TX, 20-23 October 2002.

2. WAN, R.G. and WANG, J., Modelling Sand Production Within a

Continuum Mechanics Framework; Journal of Canadian Petroleum

Technology, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 46-52, April 2002.

3. MORITA, N. and BOYD, P.A., Typical Sand Production Problems:

Case Studies and Strategies for Sand Control; paper SPE 22739

presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition,

Dallas, TX, 6-9 October 1991.

4. XUE, S.F. and SONG, H.Z., The Theoretical Formulation of Immiscible Saturated Two-Phase Flow in Deformed Porous Media II:

Uncoupling Equation by Finite Element Formulations; Seismological

Geology (Chinese), Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 253-260, 1999.

5. PAPAMICHOS, E. and STAVROPOULOU, M., An Erosion-Mechanical Model for Sand Production Rate Prediction; International

Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences & Geomechanics

Abstracts, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 531-532, June 1998.

6. PAPAMICHOS, E. and MALMANGER, E.M., A Sand Erosion

Model for Volumetric Sand Predictions in a North Sea Reservoir;

SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 44-50,

February 2001.

7. WANG, Y. and XUE, S.F., Simulating Cold Production by a Coupled

Reservoir-Geomechanics Model With Sand Erosion; paper 2002-171

presented at the Petroleum Societys Canadian International Petroleum Conference, Calgary, AB, 11-13 June 2002.

8. BOUTCA, M.J., SARDA, J-P. and VINCKE, O., Constitutive Law

for Permeability Evolution of Sandstones During Depletion; paper

SPE 58717 presented at the SPE International Symposium on Formation Damage Control, Lafayette, LA, 23-24 February 2000.

NOMENCLATURE

c

ccr

c0

Cijkl

fi

ki

k0

m , M

p

P

qi

t

t0

Tcut

ui

vi

V

v

1, 2

f

s

ij

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

sand concentration

sanding critical concentration

cohesion

constitutive tensor

body force component

permeability

initial permeability

sanding rate and sanding mass

fluid pressure

pore pressure

fluid flux

time

initial time

Cut-off strength

solid matrix displacement components

Poissons ratio

velocity component

sanding volume

Biot coefficient

shear strain

volumetric strain

sand production coefficients

fluid viscosity

fluid density

sand grain density

stress tensor

internal friction angle

porosity

friction and dilatant angles

Authors Biographies

Dr. Shifeng Xue is currently a professor

at the China Petroleum University in the

Peoples Republic of China. He has a

Masters degree in applied mechanics from

Tianjin University and received his Ph.D.

in geomechanics in 2000. His research

also includes multiphase flow and rock

deformation, wellbore stability and sanding

mechanism, casing collapse analysis and

protection, characterization of fractured

reservoirs and hydraulic fracturing in fractured reservoirs.

Dr. Yanguang Yuan, P.Geol., P.Eng. is the

founder and principal of BitCan Geosciences & Engineering Inc. BitCan specializes in the simulation of nonlinear coupled

geomechanical reservoir processes near

the wellbore at reservoir scale and fracture/failure processes in rock formations.

The company provides innovative solutions

to enhance in situ oil sands development,

analysis and design of overburden/casing

integrity and the development of low-permeability fractured reservoirs. Dr. Yuan was initially educated in

China and finished his Ph.D. at the School of Petroleum & Geological Engineering, University of Oklahoma. He has been an independent consultant to the petroleum industry worldwide since

2000. Dr. Yuan is a member of APEGGA, the Petroleum Society

and SPE.

39

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