What is Sand Control?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Sand control is a technique which is used during extraction of petroleum deposits to prevent sand from interfering with the extraction. There are several different measures which can be used for sand control. Companies which offer consulting services to keep oil fields running efficiently may offer sand control services, and large oil companies may handle this need independently with their own staff.

Gravel packing may be done to keep sand stable near flushing systems.
Gravel packing may be done to keep sand stable near flushing systems.

The concern with sand and petroleum extraction is that sand could get into the well bore. This could potentially foul drilling devices, in addition to contaminating the materials being extracted. Both of these issues contribute to a decline in efficiency, adding to the costs of extraction. This increase in expense is passed on to consumers, which can make a company's prices less competitive. Thus, steps are taken to prevent and from getting into the well bore to avoid these issues altogether.

Screens and filters can be used to keep sand, gravel, and other materials back so that they do not fall into the well bore. Sand control can also include measures such as gravel packing which are intended to solidify sand deposits to keep them stable along with valves and flushing systems used to keep sand away from the well bore. Increased stability also means that the well bore is less likely to collapse. Sand control systems come in a variety of styles to meet different needs and environments.

Before sand control methods can be explored, a geologist is usually retained to study the properties of the extraction site. This information is important to have when establishing a control plan, as different sites have different properties which can impact the choice of system. The geologist may use software to simulate various options and to explore potential problems which might arise for the purpose of designing a system which will be as effective as possible.

Once a sand control system is installed, computer systems may be used to monitor the system for the purpose of identifying emerging problems quickly. The system can issue an alert or alarm if an issue which needs attention from someone arises. The computer system can also control things like valves which are used to release sand, and other aspects of the sand control system which may need to be adjusted as conditions change.

Control of sand and debris can be an issue with other types of drilling operations as well. Companies which focus on the petroleum industry may also make consulting services available to other resource extraction industries which may have sand control needs.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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