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Recommendations for Sand Removal in Heavy Oil Production (B-FSM-192)

Bringing together the last several posts we now can make recommendations for using Facilities Sand Management technology in heavy oil and viscous fluid production.

Recommendations Based on Node (@ Step 1: Separation)

Node 1/2: Multiphase Desander (WHD/WSD)

  • Install at highest pressure, temperature, and gas content
  • Needs 15-20 psi pressure drop
  • In-situ liquid viscosity <100 cP (not dead oil viscosity)
  • High gas content will reduce mixture viscosity
  • Can inject gas and/or liquid diluent upstream to reduce viscosity
  • In many cases provide sufficient/helpful separation performance

Node 1/2: Multiphase Screen viable technology

  • Separation unaffected by viscosity, but may have very high pressure drop

Node 3: Separator Jetting

  • Automate operation of jetting and sand removal
  • Remove sand more frequently (don’t let get cold, consolidate, or bind)
  • Combine jets with cyclonic evacuation devices

Node 4: Produced Water Desanding per normal use

  • 15-25 psi pressure drop and located on water outlet leg of separator upstream of oil-water separation equipment

Recommendations Based on Step Methodology


  • Always fill accumulator with hot/clean water bath – prevents sand binding and consolidation, and aids further cleaning and transport


  • Follow previous guidelines: 50°C water, 30 minute shear processing time, and NaOH and/or surfactant


  • Gravity drain in filter bin/bag only works if sufficient oil removed
  • May be best to let sit and decant


  • Vacuum truck works well
  • May not be able to re-use filter bags (dispose with sand)
  • Local use (road surface) or slurry injection in many cases
  • Pressure Drop and Separation Size from FSM-M4


  1. Rawlins, C.H. 2019. “Enhanced Production Through Surface Facilities Sand Management.” SPE Distinguished Lecturer presentation. Link here

Next week I will finish the discussion for sand removal in heavy oil production.

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