Assessment of Glass Beads for Gravel Pack Application

Yiwen Xu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


From the early stage of oil and gas production, sand production is one of the biggest problems plaguing the petroleum industry. Sand production has a great impact on the entire production system, since it can damage the production equipment and affect the well productivity. There are different completion techniques to prevent and control the sand production. Among them, gravel pack is the most commonly used method. Any completion equipment that allows sand-prone reservoir to produce oil or gas may reduce the production efficiency. Our goal is to develop a new technology to retain the sand in formation and maintain the reservoir productivity. From the economical point of view, we want to find a solution which is not only technically workable, but also cost effective. This thesis yields a precise overview about the application of glass beads in gravel packs. The author of the thesis carried out technical and economic studies to analyze the performance of glass beads in comparison with other conventional gravel packing materials. For an effective gravel pack, gravel sizing and gravel quality are of the upmost importance. Nevertheless, many factors can affect the gravel quality. The technical assessment of glass beads application in gravel pack consists of several experimental sections. The grain shape, size distribution, the mechanical and chemical behaviors of glass beads were analyzed in comparison with other materials like natural sand and ceramic proppant. Different experimental systems were developed to evaluate the sand retention and scale formation performance of gravel materials. Preliminary experimental results indicate that the glass beads, due to its remarkable round profile, narrow size distribution and smooth surface, demonstrate an outstanding and durable filtration performance. In addition, different types of silane coatings of glass beads were evaluated to further improve the performance of filtration and scale elimination. In the economical evaluation chapter, a short overview of petroleum industry division and gravel pack market is presented. Technical conclusions are illustrated from an economical perspective. A well production simulation was carried out based on a virtual example. Technological and economic aspects are combined in a simple cost-benefit analysis, cost accounting and a sensitivity analysis with all the outcomes from the previous chapters. All executed studies prove that the application of glass beads is a promising solution to improve the gravel pack performance due to its outstanding technical behaviors as well as its economic benefits.
Translated title of the contributionBewertung von Glasperlen für die Anwendung in Kiespackungen
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Montanuniversität
  • Zsifkovits, Helmut, Assessor B (internal)
  • Hofstätter, Herbert, Assessor A (internal)
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

embargoed until null


  • Glass Beads
  • Gravel Pack
  • Oil and Gas Production
  • Completion Equipment
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cost Accounting
  • Sensitivity Analysis

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