A Mechanistic Model for Horizontal Gravel Pack Displacement
- Andre L. Martins (Petrobras S.A.) | Joao V.M. Magalhaes (Petrobras S.A.) | Agostinho Calderon (Petrobras S.A.) | Carlos M. Chagas (Petrobras)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- September 2005
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 229 - 237
- 2005. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.7.7 Cuttings Transport, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 1.8 Formation Damage, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 2 Well Completion, 4.3.4 Scale, 2.4.5 Gravel pack design & evaluation, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant)
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This article presents the detailed formulation for each of the three stepsof a horizontal gravel-pack displacement operation, including sand injectionand alpha/beta waves propagation. The main core of the model, aiming to definealpha wave height, is based on a well known two-layer model. Initiallydeveloped for hydrotransport applications, this kind of model has been adaptedby several authors for drilled cuttings transport analysis. Additionally, acomparison between theoretical predictions and pumping charts from a fieldoperation performed in Campos basin is presented.
Gravel packing is today the most frequently applied sand control techniquein Campos Basin, offshore Brazil. Because of the critical conditions, such asthe deep and ultradeep waters and low fracture gradients, great precision isrequired to assure gravel-packing success. Several models available in theindustry for horizontal gravel pack design are essentially empirical, resultingin imprecise predictions for extrapolated conditions.
These aspects were the primary motivators for the development of amechanistic model to describe the whole operation.It is a consensus amongdesign and operation engineers that a physically based software is a necessaryrigsite tool for determining operational parameters, especially whenlast-minute data have to be considered. Reliable and fast results are requiredto enhance the chances of a successful operation.
Several authors present experimental results of horizontal gravel packingperformed in test facilities: Forrest1 presents a correlation to estimate packlength limits in highly inclined and horizontal wells based on a full-scalemodel wellbore tests with viscous fluids and water.
Nguyen et al.2 developed a 3D numerical simulator based on thefinite-volumes method, which can monitor the transport process of the slurry inboth axial and angular directions. Conservation of mass and momentum isconsidered in each sector element (finite-volume cell) to evaluate its fluidtransport process. Each sector element is assumed to process homogeneousproperties within its control volume. The model considers rheologicalproperties of fluid, effect of gravel settling, and friction pressurecalculation.
Penberthy et al.3 present several field tests in a 1,500-ft-long simulatorto identify the main variables that govern the phenomenon.Extensivefield-scale testing has aided in the development of procedures and operationalguidelines that are still today relevant. Software has also been developed thatis based on correlations to determine gravel transport velocity and mechanisticmodels to determine pressure drop and friction factor.
Sanders et al.4 present a numerical model based on a pseudo-3D approachaiming to simulate of an alternative flow path concept during the horizontalgravel-pack placement.The model solves the equations of volume andmomentum conservation for the incompressible slurry in the wellbore.Inorder to validate the flow-path concept both small-scale and large-scaleexperimental tests using models ranging from 5 to 1,000 ft in length wereperformed.
The dynamics of data acquisition to run gravel-packing simulations requirescontinuous updating, and part of the information is accurately available only afew hours before pumping starts. Other data, such as detailed caliperinformation, remain unavailable in several cases. Considering the several inputuncertainties for the process, the necessity to run simulations in a shorttime, and the limited processing capacity of portable computers, a majorpremise for the development was to consider simplified models that couldfullfil the operational requirements. Of course, such models should be able tocapture the major phenomena governing the process and predict pressuresproperly.
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