Sandtinel Case Study: North Dakota Bakken

Posted on July 23, 2023
By webroiboim
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What’s the value of a sand separator?

We set out to answer that question in one of the most challenging environments in the US for sand removal, in the heart of the Bakken in North Dakota. On a day by day basis, the volumes of sand that come back from Bakken flowbacks are some of the highest around. In a recent 4-day field trial, we put our Sandtinel Defender and Sandtinel Maverick sand separators to the test in a head-to-head flowback comparison to see how they handled the high oil cut fields of North Dakota. In 4 days, the two vessels removed over 23,400 lb of sand from the system. The efficiency was measured by independent testers with hourly samples upstream and downstream of the separators, who saw an overall efficiency from the Sandtinel Defender of 95% and from the Sandtinel Maverick of 99% sand removal.

The sand volumes themselves don’t even tell the full story – we took samples of sand upstream and downstream of our Sandtinel Maverick to study the change in particle size. Using our in-house laser diffraction services, we were able to analyze these samples to see the particle size distribution before and after the Sandtinel unit. The sand entering into the vessel had a large d50 (median sand size) of 236 microns. Between these two wells, that’s over 5,800 lb of sand per day rushing through the system at almost a 60 mesh size. That kind of sand volume and size is hugely destructive to piping, valves, and other surface equipment, resulting in costly chargebacks and downtime.

After the Sandtinel though, we see a totally different story. Not only was the separator able to remove over 99% of the sand in the system, but the median particle size in the remaining sand in the system was only 73 microns, or about 200 mesh in size. As most experienced people in the industry may know, erosion is proportional to sand size, with larger sand being more damaging. These remaining sand fines, on a pound per pound basis, are only about 30% as damaging and wearing for the flowback iron as the original 60 mesh sand grade. Combined with the 99% overall sand removal, we reduced the overall erosion in the system by 99.7% with a single 48” Sandtinel Maverick.

Sandtinel is able to achieve this kind of reduction in wear and erosion without the use of any filters, external power supply, or sacrificial parts, thanks to the power of the VL-TEK Vapor Lock. Spherical separators with the Vapor Lock system achieve a level of sand separation efficiency unheard of in other mechanical separators on the market, all while also maintaining the lowest fugitive gas emissions of any sand separator on the market today. At Sandtinel, we believe that efficient sand separation shouldn’t come with a compromise to safety, production, or the environment. Talk to our knowledgeable sales team today to find out what the value of a Sandtinel sand separator can be for your application.

Check out the field trial.

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