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Properties of the Two Classes of Produced Solids in Oil & Gas Production (B-FSM008)

Produced Sand Sample with Seeds, Newspaper, and Chicken Feathers

There are two classes of produced solids associated with oil & gas production: Natural Solids and Artificial Solids.

Natural Solids Production

  • Reservoir material flowing to surface
  • Primary Mode: Completion in place and functional, low concentration of solids at steady-state production
  • Failure Mode: Completion failure or production step change (e.g. water breakthrough) which leads to long-term production of transient rate high-concentration solids
  • Natural solids production is an unplanned event

Properties of Natural Solids

Density: ~2650 kg/m³

Shape: High angularity

Particle Size:

  • 100-150 micron median size
  • Up to 5000 µm top size
  • Generally low amount of fines
  • Looks/feels like beach sand
  • May form friable agglomerates

Concentration: 100 ppmw at primary mode and up to 1 weight % at failure mode

Color: white, brown, or gray

Mineralogy: mostly silica quartz

Artificial Solids Production

  • Solids introduced from external intervention (e.g. something put downhole that comes back up)
  • Includes fracture sand, proppant, corrosion products, gravel pack particles, drill mud, cement fines, injection fines, etc.
  • Primary Mode: Short-term production of high-concentration solids at transient rate
  • Artificial solids production is a planned event

Properties of Artificial Solids

Density: 2800-3500 kg/m³

Shape: Less angularity, rounder

Particle Size:

  • >1000 micron median size
  • Up to 5000 micron top size
  • Negligible fines

Concentration: up to 5 weight % for short-periods

Color: varies widely

No consistent “mineralogy”

Often full of contaminants

All oil & gas wells produce solids. To handle these solids, it is critical to follow the 1st Rule of Sand Management: “Know what comes out of your well.” The information above is a guideline for initial characterization of these solids. Further details on full physical, chemical, and mineralogical characterization of produced solids will be published in future articles.


  1. Rawlins, C.H., Hewett, T.J. “A Comparison of Methodologies for Handling Produced Sand and Solids to Achieve Sustainable Hydrocarbon Production.” paper SPE-107690, European Formation Damage Conference, Scheveningen, The Netherlands, 30 May – 1 June 2007.

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