Sandtinel Case Study: Delaware Wolfcamp Field Trial

Producers in the Permian and Delaware are seeing liquid volumes and sand returns increase year over year. In this challenging environment, it can be nearly impossible to find a sand separator which can keep up with the operational requirements. Sandtinel sand separators have been deployed with success all across the USA in the last 3 years, providing higher separation efficiency than any other mechanical sand separator on the market today. Our equipment does away with costly cleanouts and sacrificial filters, saving operating expenses right at the wellhead. Sandtinel’s spheres use the Vapor Lock system to dramatically improve sand removal and reduce back pressure across the sphere body. One field trial in the Wolfcamp Shale in the Delaware Basin saw our equipment go head to head against four generic competitor’s spheres.

This field trial used three Sandtinel Defenders and a single Sandtinel Maverick to tackle a high producing well with large sand returns. Due to the high liquids volumes of over 19,000 BBL/day, the well was split into two trains. Two Defenders were used in parallel to handle the first train, achieving over 95% separation efficiency combined; each Defender saw about 5,000 BBL/day. On the second train, a single Sandtinel Maverick was used which provided between 95% - 98% separation efficiency at flow rates of up to 9,000 BBL/day and 5 MMSCFD. A Sandtinel Defender was placed downstream of the Maverick to verify the Maverick’s performance, which saw virtually zero sand over the entire 30 day trial. Over the course of the trial, the two parallel Defenders captured 11,600 lb of sand, and the single Maverick captured nearly 5,900 lb of sand on its own.

By comparison, four competitor spheres were used on a neighbouring wells, also split in two trains between a parallel separator train and a series separator train. The captured sand was approximately half that from the Sandtinel lines, and the separation efficiency was approximately 60% from the upstream sphere in series. More significant, though, was the restriction in flow which these spheres imposed. The well using Sandtinel units saw 2000 BBL/day higher returns than the neighbouring well with generic spherical separators. Not only do these generic spheres provide lower separation efficiency, but they also restrict the well’s liquid returns. Data collected from this trial suggests that the competitor spheres developed a high back pressure across their vessels, which inhibited the overall production of the well.

We also used this trial to investigate the performance of parallel and series layouts of sand separators – here, parallel layouts were a huge success. Splitting the flow between multiple sand separators allowed for more time between clean-outs, as the sand accumulates evenly in both vessels. Each parallel separator also sees lower flow rates, which results in higher overall separation efficiency. Parallel sand separation can be a very effective solution, as long as the sand separators being used provide a high enough separation efficiency to be a single line of defense. Lower efficiency separators will typically need a backup unit as a second pass, which is one reason for the current accepted strategy of using serial separators.

Sandtinel modeled identical cases using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and the results agreed closely with the measured field results. We are pleased to provide modeling of our sand separators in advance of every job to make sure that when we promise success, our sand separators are up to the task.

Check out this field trial at our Sandtinel Library and see how this producer was able to maximize their well’s EUR (Estimated Ultimate Recovery) while keeping more sand than ever out of their downstream systems!

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