Evaluation of Machine Learning Tools for Predicting Sand Production

NGWASHI, Ronald Afungchwi (2021-03-12)


Data analytics has only recently picked the interest of the oil and gas industry as it has made data visualization much simpler, faster, and cost-effective. This is driven by the promising innovative techniques in developing artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools to provide sustainable solutions to ever-increasing problems of the petroleum industry activities. Sand production is one of these challenges faced by the oil and gas industry. Understanding whether a well will produce sand or not is the foundation of every completion job in sandstone formations. The Niger Delta Province is a region characterized by friable and unconsolidated sandstones; therefore, it is more prone to sanding. It is economically unattractive in this region to design sand equipment for a well that will not produce sand. This study is aimed at developing a fast and more accurate machine-learning algorithm to predict sanding in sandstone formations. A two-layered Artificial Neural Network (ANN) with backpropagation algorithm was developed using PYTHON programming language. The algorithm uses 11 geological and reservoir parameters that are associated with the onset of sanding. These parameters include depth, overburden, pore pressure, maximum and minimum horizontal stresses, well azimuth, well inclination, Poisson’s ratio, Young’s Modulus, friction angle, and shale content. Data typical of the Niger Delta were collected to validate the algorithm. The data was further split into a training set (70%) and a test set (30%). Statistical analyses of the data yielded correlations between the parameters and were plotted for better visualization. The accuracy of the ANN algorithm is found to depend on the number of parameters, number of epochs, and the size of the data set. For a completion engineer, the answer to the question of whether or not a well will require sand production control is binary-either a well will produce sand or it does not. Support vector machines (SVM) are known to be better suited as the machine-learning tools for binary identification. This study also presents a comparative analysis between ANN and SVM models as tools for predicting sand production. Analysis of the Niger Delta data set indicated that SVM outperformed ANN model even when the training data set is sparse. Using the 30% test set, ANN gives an accuracy, precision, recall, and F1- Score of about 80% while the SVM performance was 100% for the four metrics. It is then concluded that machine learning tools such as ANN with back-propagation and SVM are very simple, accurate, and easy-to-use tools for effectively predicting sand production.