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Effects of Produced Solids on Oil & Gas Facilities Equipment (B-FSM005)

As we continue our analysis of Facilities Sand Management (FSM), an initial step is to clearly identify the exact problem(s) that solids are causing with the facilities equipment or operability.

While sand is ubiquitous in oil & gas wells, not all sand causes a problem or causes the same problem. Sand particles may be of insignificant size or in insignificant amounts to interfere with production. When sand is present in size or quantity to have a negative effect, a clear statement of the problem is necessary to formulate a clear strategy for mending the problem.

Sand causes four primary problems in oil & gas facilities;

Erosion: Occurs in high velocity zones or regions

  • Examples include wellhead chokes, pipe contractions and elbows, valve cages, pump impellers, and deoiling hydrocyclones. Photo below shows erosion on inside of choke body on platform in North Sea.

Collection or Filling: Occurs in low velocity zones or regions

  • Examples include tie-back piping, separator vessels, storage tanks, flotation cells, heater-treaters. Photo below shows solids inside production separator on platform in North Sea.
  • Reduces unit process residence time and creates zones for bacteria to grow and accelerate corrosion

Interference: When solid particles prevent range of motion or operation of equipment

  • Examples include instrument orifices, valve movement, swivels, or any small gaps. Photo below shows effects of solids wearing away seal on FPSO swivel in deepwater Malaysia.

Oil-in-Water (OIW) Content: Adsorbed hydrocarbons on the solids increases produced water oil content

  • Small solids can stabilize emulsions that carry through to the produced water stream. Photo below shows oily solids emulsion from separator on platform in Turkmenistan.

What other problems have you experienced in the facilities from sand production?


  1. Rawlins, C.H., “Sand Management Methodologies for Sustained Facilities Operations,” paper 164645-MS, North Africa Technical Conference & Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt, 15-17 April 2013.
  2. Rawlins, C.H., and Wang, I. I., “Design and Installation of a Sand Separation and Handling System for a Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Facility,” SPE Production and Facilities, paper 72999, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2001, pp. 134-140.

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