RGL’s Near Wellbore Physics Testing & Sand Control Design Group: proLAB


What is proLAB?

RGL’s proLAB is an elite technical team dedicated to developing successful completions by focusing on near wellbore conditions and sand control strategies for optimized production. RGL’s proLAB includes sand control and near wellbore physics experts with diverse industrial and academic background including physical modelling and experimental testing, petroleum geomechanics, rock mechanics and geotechnics.

Why proLAB?

  • Quick and cost-effective testing
  • Reliable and repeatable results
  • Increased confidence in engineering design and product selection
  • Potential to reduce operating costs and extend the life of the well
  • Full duplication of the Particle Sand Distribution (PSD), clay content, mineralogy, reservoir fluid chemistry, and liner geometry
  • Tailored Sand Control Device (SCD) to specific reservoir conditions
  • Test multiple sand control screens and specifications against our historical database and in-house design software
  • Test multiple flow rates
  • State-of-the-art, industry recognized facility
  • Industry leader in sand control engineering





What Does proLAB Offer?

RGL’s proLAB offers a three-phase sand control design and testing program (Fig. 1). This program seeks to evaluate SCD designs for PSD variations of a studied field, utilizing improved sand control testing methodologies.

Fig. 1: RGL’s sand control design workflow.

How Does Industry Benefit from proLAB?

Based on the results of RGL’s sand control design and testing program, which consider reservoir complexity and fluid parameters, we confidently design an optimum sand control solution for the well.

What are the proLAB™ Sand Control Evaluation Tests?

RGL’s proLAB provides services for sand characterization and screen evaluation. The main services for sand characterization are: 

Soxhlet Extraction: This specially modified and equipped unit cleans core samples for characterization in PHASE 1 and sand control evaluation in PHASE 2.
Sonic Sifting PSD Analysis: This analysis provides the PSD using the sieving method according to the ASTM standards.
Dynamic Image Analysis (DIA): This analysis measures the shape and particle size using pioneer QICPIC equipment.
Coulter Counter Analysis: This equipment measures the size of suspended particles down to clay size.  
Unlike common industry practice, proLAB considers the full particle shape and size analysis for all ranges of sand, fines, and clay for testing and SCD design.

The proposed sand control design by RGL’s screen design model in PHASE 1, and any proposed SCD by the client, are tested in our state-of-the-art experimental facility. RGL’s proLAB has developed different state-of-the-art and pioneer types of sand retention testing facilities. Developed facilities are explained here:

Linear-flow Sand Control Evaluation (LSCE) testing: This setup simulates the near wellbore condition for sand control evaluation purposes. It can simulate different types of completions such as standalone screen (Fig. 2a), gravel-pack (Fig. 2b), cased and perforated wellbore completed with standalone screen (Fig. 2c). This large-scale standalone completion testing set-up is a unique equipment for RGL. Standalone completion testing simulates both injection and production scenarios under multiphase flow condition. Unlike single-slot coupon experiments, testing the large-scale disk coupons and sand packs helps to minimize the size-related errors.

High-Pressure and High-Temperature (HP/HT) conditions can be considered to better simulate the temperature-related near wellbore phenomena (Fig. 2d).

Solvent injection can be also included in standalone completion testing (Fig. 2e). The solvent is injected along with oil and brine. The temperature at the sand-trap (below the screen), can be adjusted to simulate the flashing across the screen. The solvent assisted in-situ process poses a higher challenge to the SCD due to the potential of solvent flashing in the vicinity of the sand screen.

Modified standalone completion testing for operations that use solvent involves a modified testing protocol, which allows flow of the mixed bitumen solvent at various rates, desired temperatures up to 90⁰C, and controlled backpressure of up to 1,000 kPa. The drop in the backpressure induces the flashing of the solvent in the vicinity of the SCD.

Linear-flow Sand Control Evaluation (LSCE) testing set-up has also been modified to simulate the back-flow conditions in injector wells (Fig. 2f).

Another testing set-up is the pressure pulsation (Fig. 2g), which simulates surging and swabbing in oil wells. The gas, oil, and brine are introduced as pulsations in several multi-phase cycles into the cell, which simulates the near wellbore condition. The pressure pulsation testing has been used mainly to compare the performance of different screens under real cyclic pressure changes across the sand control screen over the well’s production history.

The development procedure and results using RGL’s standalone completion testing have been vastly published (SPE-190125-MS, SPE-189766-MS, SPE-189539-MS, SPE-189557-MS, SPE-193697-MS, SPE-189769-MS, SPE- 193375-MS, SPE-184999-MS, SPE-182517-MS, SPE-180756-MS).

Fig. 2a—Regular standalone completion testing.

Fig. 2c—Cased and Perforated standalone completion testing.

Fig. 2e—Solvent standalone completion testing.

Fig. 2b—Gravel Packing standalone completion testing.

Fig. 2d—HT and HP/HT testing.

Fig. 2f—Standalone completion testing for Injector.

Fig. 2g—Pressure pulsation testing.

Figs. 2a through 2g—Linear standalone completion testing rigs.

Dead-end Filtration Test: In addition to pre-pack standalone completion tests (Fig. 2), slurry standalone completion tests (Fig. 3) are available through proLAB. Dead-end filtration testing is specifically designed to evaluate the plugging tendency and flow performance of the mesh screens under different flow rates, fluid viscosity, solid concentration, and particle size. Development of the apparatus and testing results were published (SPE-198056-MS).

Fig. 3: Slurry standalone completion testing rigs.

Radial flow standalone completion testing: This test is designed to simulate the near wellbore condition under radial flow condition. Standalone screen, cased, and perforated with standalone screen can be simulated with this facility (Fig. 4). Development of the apparatus and testing results were published (SPE-199239-MS). Later, due to the increasing interest of operators working at High-Pressure-High-Temperature (HPHT) condition, a new version of the standalone completion test was designed as shown in Fig. 5 to cover the requirements of the thermal projects.

Fig. 4a—Cased and Perforated standalone completion testing.

Fig. 4b—Standalone completion testing.
Fig. 4a through 4b—Radial standalone completion testing rigs.

Fig. 5—High pressure/high temperature testing rig.

Perforation Testing: This set-up (Fig. 6) is designed to simulate the possible sanding from the perforations in the semi-consolidated formations. Both production and injection scenarios can be simulated. Different in-situ stresses, flow rates including oil, brine, and gas compositions can be applied.

Fig. 6—Perforation Testing rig.

Wellbore Simulator: This setup is designed to simulate tubing deployed devices (such as scab liner completion on the tubing (Fig. 7) and nozzles). The large-scale flow loop with real casing and tubing size provides a thorough understanding of the tubing deployed device’s performance. The wellbore simulator is a unique equipment, which was developed through a collaboration with a major operator in Canada (SPE-193366-MS).
Fig. 7—Wellbore simulator rig.

Nozzle Testing Rig: This testing apparatus (Fig. 8) is designed to test and characterize nozzle geometries used in FCDs through measurement of pressure loss and discharge coefficients. It can also help the operators to compare the performance of the nozzles with standard contraction geometries for empirical modelling. The loop is capable to experiment single- and multi-phase flow scenarios involving liquid, gas, and emulsions. Test results from this flow-loop could be used for quantitative determination of critical parameters for flow convergence, and chocked flow phenomena.
Fig. 8—Nozzle testing rig.

Screen Erosion Testing:  This setup (Fig. 9) is designed to simulate the erosion at well condition. Different sizes of the screen coupon can be tested in a specifically designed rig for assessing the erosion resistivity of the screen material under different flow rates and particle hardness. Tested screen samples are later scanned to measure the eroded surface.

Fig. 9—Screen erosion testing rig.
Bulk Scale Testing: The set-up (Fig. 10) is designed to evaluate the scaling on the screens and joints under HPHT condition. Actual produced water along with hydrocarbons can be used. The test cell can handle up to 50 psi @ 177 °C. The cell volume is 75 L with internal height 30 inch and internal diameter of 14 inch. This standard set-up is designed to test 3 ½ inch test coupons of 1 ft length. However, any type of the screen and joints, which could be safely contained in the cell, can be tested by customization of this equipment.Standalone completion testing and wellbore simulator experiments are performed at different flow rates with single phase, two phase and three-phase fluid composition (Fig. 8).
Fig 10—Bulk scale testing rig.

Standalone completion testing and wellbore simulator experiments are performed at different flow rates with single phase, two-phase, and three-phase fluid composition (Fig. 11). Standalone completion testing and wellbore simulator measures sand production (Fig. 12) and pressure drop across the screen and near liner formation (Fig. 13) for all SCDs of varying aperture sizes suggested by the RGL screen design model. Based on the information, corrosion/scaling/erosion, and mechanical considerations, proLAB provides customers with an optimized SCD.
In addition to novel standalone completion testing, the single slot testing, which has been historically used for the single-slot coupon test for slotted liner, is also provided by proLAB. This test can be run for other SCD types and due to the small amount of sand material required, can be performed using original core samples. If available, core samples can be used for LSCE and RSCE testing as well.

Fig. 11—Single-phase, two-phase, and three-phase testing procedure.

Fig. 12—Graph of the produced sand for a specific PSD, for different SCDs with different ASs (Aperture Size).

Fig. 13—Graph of the pressure drops for a specific PSD, for different SCDs with different ASs (Aperture Size).

Table below provides a list of the proLAB services:

Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour to see proLAB for yourself.

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