Sand Control Screen: The Ultimate FAQs Guide

This guide covers all the vital aspects of sand control screen such as components, features, material type, design and size, just to mention a few.

So, before importing sand control screen, read this guide.

It will help you become an expert in sand control screen.

What is a Sand Control Screen?

A sand control screen is a device that you use to prevent impurities such asrocks and sand from getting into the wellbore.

Sand control screen

Sand control screen

What is the function of a Sand Control Screen?

Sand control screens are a must for applications involving oil, water, gas, steam production, or any other production activity that is located deep underground.

Sand can be produced either as a result of dragging force resulting from injection fluid or dragging force.

Similarly, mechanical failure close to the wellbore is also a common cause of sand production.

Installing sand control screens will help you mitigate the negative impacts of sand and the potential harm it can cause to your system.

You should insert sand control screens on bores drilled deep below the surface to capture sand particles and excepting only very fine particles.

It acts as a separator that removes sand from the process fluid.

Consequently, installing a sand control screen will help you with:

  • Reducing machinery impairment as a result of sand plugging
  • Protecting surface facilities such as separators, pumps, piping from erosion and damage
  • Eliminating risks of downhole cavities
  • Reduced cost of cleanup, sand disposal, and maintenance
  • Eliminating sand bridging problems

What types of Sand Control Screens are there?

You can choose from a wide selection of the available sand control screens available.

Choose a sand control screen after doing a proper analysis of formation sand for a specific wellbore.

You can also custom engineer a sand control screen to match the specificity of individual wellbore conditions.

The most common types of sand control screens include:

i. Standalone Screen

These types of screens will initially allow fine silt and sand to pass through.

After a while, the sand packs form around the screen enabling it to act like filtration media, preventing the entry of fine and coarse sand into the wellbore.

Some types of standalone screens include:

ii. Slotted Liner

It is the most common and oldest type of sand control screens.

It is also the simplest and the cheapest.

It constitutes a series of slots axially cut through a wall of a tubular cylinder.

These slots width are designed to form inter-particles bridging across the slots.

These types of screens have an average flow area between 3% and 6% of the total pipe area.

However, a higher flow area has detrimental effects on the tensile strength of the pipe.

You can select between straight and keystone slots.

The straight slots are more economical and have a higher resistance to wear and tear but also have a higher probability of clogging compared to keystone.

Keystone slots can self-flush and hence a better choice compared to the straight slot.

In essence, the shape ensures that all the sand grains that get into the hole completely go through the wall.

Keystone slots have increased work efficiency and a lower probability of clogging hence more expensive than straightslots slotted liners.

Generally, the slots can be customized between 0.012 to 0.250 inches in width and 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length to suit the special needs of the customer.

iii. Wire-Wrapped Screens

This type of sand control screen constitutes a wire wrapped jacket welded around a perforated pipe.

There are three main types of wire-wrapped perforated screens including:

  • Pipe-bases direct build screen
  • Pipe based slip-on and
  • Rod-based screens

Ideally, it is constructed through helically wrapping a keystone wire around the vertical ribs and welding every point of contact.

The design helps reduce sand plugging the screen, flow friction, and supports self-cleaning.

Wire wrapped screens havea larger flow area, better slot opening, and strength compared to slotted liners.

You must have a well-sorted formation with these types of screens for maximum production and performance.

iv. Pre-packed Screens

This type of sand control screen resembles a wire wrapped screen though the filtering media is different.

It constitutes a perforated base pipe, support rib, gravel pack, inner, and outer screen jackets.

It is a modified wire wrapped screen used in standalone or well-sorted sand completions where conventional gravel packing is not economical or feasible.

The packed gravels help stabilize the borehole while filtering sand from the process fluid excepting only very fine particles.

It is best suited for maximum production and sand removal.

Where there is a concern of plugging with drilling mud and completion fluid, you can use Carbiliteproppant in place of re-sieved gravel.

Carbolite offers more precise grain size sorting, larger pore throats, and higher permeability compared to standard re-sieved gravels.

v. Metal Mesh Sand Screen

These screens can be either single or multiple layered sintered laminate.

They offer a wide range of opening ratings varying from 40 to 1000 microns.

You can select from a wide range of materials including stainless steel, Monel, Inconel, etc. and has to be keenly considered to improve on the wellbore performance.

The main advantages of a metal mesh screen include:

  • Reduced pressure drop
  • Higher flow area
  • High strength and degree of flexibility
  • Lightweight
  • Reusable and
  • Controlled pore sizes

vi. Wedge Wire Screens

This device is commonly used in oil, water, and gas industries.

The structure wires forming V shape profiles that are welded to a support rib.

It comes with greater slot tolerance and superior strength.

It has no clogging and offers higher production due to continuous slot placement.

They have a high open area, very low-pressure drop, uniform, and precise slot spacing.

vii. Premium Screens

These screens are all-metal designs with metal mesh filtration and outer metal shroud.

These screens have a higher ability to resist plugging and backflow of drilling fluid through the screens.

You can customize the premium screens to meet your specific desires with a pore ranging between 60 to 300 microns.

Initially, the screens will only capture large sand particles which build up to form a filtration cake which proceeds and capture both large and fine particles.

viii. Expandable sand Control Screens

These types of screens constitute a filter media, base pipe, integral expandable connector, and outer protection shroud.

With these types of screens, you have to run them into a wellbore then place the expansion insert to expand them to fit the production hole.

Consequently, they offer more effective sand control because of the maximum hole diameter, increase in flow area, and wellbore support.

ix. Gravel Pack and Frack Packs

Gravel pack uses filter media made from sized sand to prevent sand production.

There are two types of gravel packs, that is, case hole and open hole gravel packs.

Frack packs screens combine both the gravel packs and fracturing techniques to create long and wide conductive fractures.

The technique improves productivity as well as suitably controls sand production in the wellbore.

What are the Components of a Sand Control Screen?

Parts of sand control screen

Parts of sand control screen

The components of sand control screens vary from one type of sand control screen to the other.

The simplest sand control screen, the slot liner only has a base pipe and the slots.

Some like the wire wrapped pre-packed sand screen have a perforated base pipe, gravel packs, support rib, and inner and outer screens.

What types of Applications use Sand Control Screen?

You can use sand control screens in diverse types of applications that involve drilling deep below the surface.

Some of the applications which require sand control screens include:

  • Gas-sand separators
  • Conventional sand screens
  • Pump strainer screens
  • Gravel and frack packaging
  • Industrial filters
  • Extreme-reserve and long contact wells
  • Sand face sensor installations
  • Standalone completions
  • High rate screens in water wells
  • Screens for domestic water wells
  • SAGD horizontal sand screening
  • Horizontal, vertical and deviated completions in injector wells, oil and gas industries

What are the Features of a Good Sand Control Screen?

A good sand control screen should possess the following qualities:

Section of sand control screen

Section of sand control screen

  • Should have a more open area
  • Capable of being produced in customized design
  • Uniform and precisely placed slots
  • Precision slot opening
  • Resist plugging
  • Reduced pressure drop
  • Economical
  • Minimal energy usage by energy and drawdown
  • Great mechanical and tensile strength
  • Easy to install
  • Large open area
  • Increased flexibility
  • Lightweight
  • Reusable
  • Robust support shroud
  • Uniform pore/slot sizes
  • Stable over a wide range of temperature and pressure

Why should you use a Sand Control Screen?

When you drill into underground oil, water, or gas reservoir, you produce fluids that are contaminated with several impurities.

You need to remove these impurities at the drilling point to avoid transferring them to the refining facility.

Unfortunately, rarely do these facilities have the capability of removing the heavy-duty contaminants.

When the contaminants reach builds up in the machinery and equipment, you will suffer heavy economic losses as a result of downtime, revenue loss, cleanup, and repair.

The whole wellbore can also get capped resulting in loss of millions of dollars.

What Types of Materials are Suitable for Constructing Sand Control Screens?

The choice of a specific material will depend on the special conditions of a specific wellbore which is pre-determined from the geological analysis.

The material will also depend on the design and type of sand control screen you want to use.

Generally, you can use any of the following materials to construct a state of art sand control screen:

  • Stainless steel 304, 304L,316, 316L, 904
  • Alloy 825/625/C276
  • High strength carbon steel
  • ST37-2
  • Inconel
  • Monel
  • Titanium etc.

What is Screen Bonding?

Screen bonding is constructing a sand control screen using multiple layers of woven wire mesh.

This helps in combining the filtration-specific needs of a more robust and specialty woven products.

A bonded sand screen has the following benefits:

  • Fixed pore geometry to ensure effective sand control when the operating pressure is high
  • Increased service since it has low porosity and low-pressure drop
  • A monolithic structure for precise particle retention and superior mechanical characteristics.
  • A broad micron rating for effective sand control over a wide spectrum of formation sand.

What Factors should you Consider when Selecting Sand Control Screens?

There are several types of sand control screen which vary in their suitability and superiority to specific conditions of wellbore applications at hand.

The secret to achieving the optimal performance of a sand control technique is to find a balance between sand retention and productivity impairment.

When selecting a sand control screen, you should consider the following factors:

Sand control screen type

Sand control screen type

  • The micron rating of the screen/aperture size
  • Permeability of the screen
  • Particle size distribution

How can you test the efficiency of a Sand Control Screen?

You can test the effectiveness of a sand control screen through sand retention testing.

There are two sand retention tests that you can conduct.

They include:

· Slurry Test

The test simulates noncompliant wellbore conditions.

Consequently, you will suspend sand on a slurry and flow it through the screen.

Take the weights of particles produced through the screen.

Also, record the rate of pressure build-up across the screen against the quantity of sand contacting the screen

· Sand Pack Test

This test simulates a collapsed borehole or a compliant sand control.

Place sand directly on the screen then flows a wetting fluid through the screen and sand pack.

Weigh the quantity of sand going through against the pressure drop/pressure builds up across the screen.

What Factors Affect the Efficiency of the Sand Control Screen?

The performance of a sand screen depends on multiple factors including but not limited to:

  • The screen permeability
  • The reservoir particle size, distribution, and uniformity
  • The type/design of the screen
  • The fluid flow rate
  • The pressure gradient
  • Micron rating of the sand screen
  • Sand formation conditions
  • The size of flow and open areas

How can you Analyze the Properties of Sand Particles?

You can measure the particle size and particle size distribution using two methods: laser particle size analysis (LPSA) and dry sieving.

Sand control screen

Sand control screen


This method employs light diffraction to measure sand particle properties.

Using this method, you place your sample on a fully automated laser diffraction analysis unit and get your readings on the computer.

· Dry Sieving

The method relies on cleaning, crushing, drying, weighing, and sorting your samples using sieves conforming to requirements of ASTM E1170 standards.

You should record the weight of sand retained through successive sieving down to mesh size of 44 micrometers.

Consequently, you can determine the sand distribution plot by plotting the cumulative percentage weight for each sample against the sieve aperture on semi-log coordinates.

Can you Clean Sand Control Screens?

Yes, you can clean and reuse sand control screens.

Cleaning is done through dissolving sand, scales, and fines from plugged screens.

You can achieve this through pumping fluids using high-energy jetting tool coiled tubing for maximum penetration.

How Long can a Sand Control Screen last?

A good sand control screen should be durable.

The length of the service life of a sand screen significantly varies from one application to the other.

The type of sand screen, operating conditions, frequency of use, and maintenance also plays a very influential role in determining how long the sand screen will last.

Generally, a sand screen constructed using a strong material can take several years if it doesn’t get physically damaged through ‘hotspot’.

Some sand control screens like gravel packs can even last the entire life of the wellbore.

In some cases, the manufacturers recommend that you replace slotted liners, wire wrapped screens, and pre-packed screens every two years.

Gravel packed screens take longer and can be replaced every four years.

What is the Gravel Packing?

Gravel packing is a technique you can use to control production sand in a wellbore.

The aim is to maintain well productivity through a stabilized formation.

Through proper design, this type of sand control screen can provide sufficient sand control throughout the service life of the wellbore.

In this type of operation, you first place a steel screen inside the well then pack it with gravel of standard size to help prevent the passage of sand.

You have to determine the median grain size and the grain size distribution of the formation sand to come up with the most appropriate size of gravel pack sand.

How can you Design and Size a Sand Control Screen?

The first step you have to do is collect reservoir sand and analyze it for grain size distribution, particle size, grain consolidation, range of grain sizes, and uniformity.

You can do the analysis using a laser particle size analysis technique.

You should consider the following factors when designing your sand screen control:

Section of sand control screen

Section of sand control screen

  • The type of sand screen control
  • Strength of construction material
  • Adequate size
  • The flow rate and size of the well
  • The inflow capacity
  • Screen permeability
  • The micron rating or the size of the screen aperture

How do you Maintain a Sand Control Screen?

You should schedule regular wellbore surveillance to enable you to detect any signs of screen erosion.

Also, you should increase the wellbore test frequencies upon any signs of increasing sand concentrations and/or flow velocities.

You can also establish an intelligent well system (IWS) to enable you to conduct multi-rate tests on specific zones to detect any changes in completion pressure.

This will let you know whether your screens have lost their integrity.

You should also conduct sand screen cleaning, chemical sand treatment, through-tubing screen or patching, and through-tubing gravel pack as appropriate.

How much can a Sand Control Screen cost?

The cost of owning a sand screen control varies to the type, design, and size of the screen selected.

Slotted liners are the cheapest and cost approximately $ 300 followed by wire wrapped and prepacked screens at $ 800 and $ 1200 respectively.

The gravel packed is the most expensive and can cost about $8000 to replace.

You should also include manpower, rig time, and workover operations costs.

FilSon offers competitive prices on all sand control equipment.

With our high quality material, and robust construction, FilSon sand control screen offers exceptional performance.

Contact us now for the best prices on sand control screen.

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