Modeling of Wormhole Growth in Cold Production

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Cold production is a non-thermal process in which sand is intentionally produced with the oil in order to enhance oil recovery. Two experiments were performed to investigate the effect of producing large quantities of sand on the overall permeability of a formation. A large high porosity channel (wormhole) was observed in both experiments. A model of wormhole growth was successfully tested in two sand production experiments simulating the growth of a wormhole from a perforation in a vertical well. The produced volumes of oil, sand and gas, the pressure distribution along the pack and the final length of the wormholes were well predicted. The two sand packs had significantly different cohesive strengths. The strength of the sand did not have a significant effect on the growth of the wormholes. The formation of tensile failure bands at the wormhole surface, as observed in the experiments, may weaken the sand and allow it to be fluidized more easily. This weakening effect would explain the lower pressure gradients calculated at the surface of the wormhole while it developed compared to the critical pressure gradient for sand production predicted by Bratli and Risnes (1981).

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