SMS, Providing Real Time Sanding Data to Maximise the Efficiency and Increase the Safety of your Well Test

SMS Team / May 16, 2017

At SMS, we have consistently delivered high quality erosion and corrosion services to our clients in the Oil and Gas community. The complexity of each job varies from one to the next, but SMS’s commitment to deliver first class service does not. A perfect example of this was a recent engineering visit to Tunisia, North Africa where SMS were requested to provide real time sand monitoring  during well test operations for an International Operator.

The wells were openhole completions with minimal or no sand production expected from the initial DST results and the well test package was designed to include a dual pot sand trap. SMS deployed a Real Time Dual Acoustic Sand Monitoring System located upstream and downstream of the sand trap. The real time sanding identification was vital to the Operator as it allowed them to monitor and control drawdown with respect to sand production, particularly after suspending a previous well test due to tubing sand-up. We also worked closely with the Well Test Company and the Operator to mitigate erosion and optimise the well test results with efficient operation of surface equipment.

Sand production was almost instantaneously detected at surface and subsequent trending enabled timely decisions on drawdown and choke management. Data received from the acoustic sand detectors and outputted via SMS SMART Software  was classified into categories as low, moderate or high sand production with further sub-categorising as transient, stable or increasing rates. For instance, if sand production remained constant at moderate levels, the flowing condition was kept constant for a period of time to ascertain the sanding propensity prior to any further action. However, if sand production became unacceptably high, immediate action was taken to mitigate against the potentially dangerous consequences. Of course, this was only possible with the instantaneous and reliable data captured by the acoustic sand monitoring system and expertise of the SMS sand monitoring engineer.

The correlation between the upstream and downstream acoustic signals gave the indication of sand passing through the sand trap in what would have otherwise been considered as sand free, given the small differential pressure change across the sand trap. Added to this, the particle size apparently was much smaller than anticipated. Yes, the BSW would have given an indication of sanding. However, apart from the inherent inaccuracies, this information would not have been available in real time. Having the Real Time Acoustic Sand Monitoring System meant our SMS Engineer was able to provide the instantaneous sanding data so the client could make “on the fly” decisions that ensured the integrity of the facility was not at risk.

Also, being gas wells, at periods of 100% gas production with minimal or zero condensate, the ability to use the instantaneous sand information to manage drawdown was critical to the success of the well test. A previous well test which had no sand monitoring system installed had to be suspended due to sand being built up in the tubing. SMS were therefore required to monitor in real time the sanding propensity at every stage to control drawdown and prevent sand deposition.

Due to the critical nature of any sanding events the Operator frequently viewed the sanding data on the  SMS SMART Software,  with the SMS engineer providing data interpretation support. Immediate sanding identification was so critical that both SMS and the Operator personnel spent extended hours on site to focus on sand production vis-a-vis drawdown. Maximum sand free rates (MSFR) were established for the wells tested with SMS participation.

At the end of the well test, the Operator and Well Test Company commended the contribution of SMS. They stated that the sanding information and advice allowed them to maximise production safely and efficiently, contributing to the success of a very positive well test campaign. At SMS, we have the attributes that makes us experts in what we do.

SMS provide a range of Integrated Flow Assurance Packages to monitor Sand,  Corrosion  and  H2S during well testing. For more information on how we can add to the safety and efficiency of your operation, please get in touch for more information on +44 (0) 1224 583 525 or email us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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