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Solids Handling for Upstream Oil & Gas Industry: Introduction (B-FSM034)

15K Multiphase Screen-Filter and Desander with Solids Disposal Bin at Well-Test Site

This article introduces material from Facilities Sand Management (FSM) training Module 3 entitled “Solids Handling”. Content from Module 3 will be covered over the course of eight articles that will take us through the end of May 2018. This material will also be covered in detail at the training course conducted at the upcoming SPE Western Regional Meeting on April 22, 2018 in Garden Grove, CA.

The goals for FSM-M3 module on Solids Handling;

  • Define a Methodology for Solids Handling System Design
  • Detail the Five-Steps of Sand Management
  • Introduce Options for Solids Disposal

The Five-Steps of Sand Management

The core of solids handling for the upstream oil & gas industry – whether onshore or offshore – is to follow the Five-Steps of Sand Management. Most approaches for sand management focus on finding a piece of equipment to separate the sand – and assume the work is done. That is only Step 1. It is critical to follow all the steps.

The five-steps are introduced in the graphic below, with further description following. Each step will be detailed in subsequent article.

  1. Separate: Partition the solid particles from the liquid, gas, or multiphase stream
  • Hydrocyclone desander, filters, or existing three-phase separator
  1. Collect: Gather partitioned solids into one central location and remove from process pressure
  • Desander accumulator vessel or vessel drains
  1. Clean: Removal of adsorbed hydrocarbon contaminants
  • Recycle sand-wash systems
  1. Dewater: Removal of free water to minimize disposal volume
  • Hanging mesh bags or screen lined bins
  • Reduce the disposal volume by 90% and produce sand “cake” of <10 wt.% water
  1. Transport: Bring solids to disposal location
  • Dependent upon the facilities location (onshore/offshore) and disposal requirements
  • Options: Overboard discharge, landfill, ship-to-shore, slurry injection, etc.


  1. Rawlins, C.H., “Sand Management Methodologies for Sustained Facilities Operations,” paper 164645-MS, North Africa Technical Conference & Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt, Apr. 15-17, 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.

The next article will detail Step 1 on Separation. 

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