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What Are Produced Solids and Sand in Oil & Gas Production? (B-FSM007)

Chalk Particles Agglomerated by Scale to Form “Gravel” that Settled in a Production Separator

(Note: This is the seventh weekly blog on the topic of Facilities Sand Management. For past articles please check out my LinkedIn page.)

We’ve discussed sand production from wells and its effects on recovery and facilities. We’ve also discussed the skillful approach of Facilities Sand Management (FSM) and where to remove these solids from the facilities.

However, in these discussions I’ve left the definition of sand and solids somewhat open. Each operator and facilities engineer has in mind his or her definition of these solids primarily based on what has shown up in the company facilities. The variety and properties of these solids can vary widely and to focus this training I will start defining solids and sand as they pertain to oil & gas production.

Produced solids are;

  • Inorganic, insoluble, particulate material that are produced from oil & gas wells
  • Not asphaltene, paraffin, wax, hydrate, or resin (organic materials)
  • Not precipitates (soluble solids)
  • Not scale (non-particulate solids)
  • Primarily “sand” by ISO/ASTM definition
  • Includes reservoir material, scale debris, corrosion products, proppant and frac sand, and junk

Sand is a term that is generically applied to these produced solids. However, sand has a specific definition from soil classification terminology, and applies to a size range of particulate material. There are three scales or codes that define “sand”.

  1. Wentworth Scale: Solids from 63-2000 microns (with 5 gradations)
  2. ISO 14688-1:2002: Solids from 63-2000 microns (with 3 gradations). See chart below.
  3. ASTM D2487-06: Solids from 75-4750 microns (with 3 gradations).

Sand contains particles that are smaller than gravel and larger than silt or clay. The practical separation or treatment limit of solids with FSM equipment is 10 microns (medium-silt range).

My preferred definition for produced solids is “solid particles that are separable in facilities equipment”. These are the solids that cause problems (erosion, filling, interference, and increased OIW). The two classes of produced solids (natural vs. artificial) will be discussed in the next article).

Bibliography:

  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.

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