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Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand

In oil and gas, cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS) is a primary production technique for heavy oil. It involves the deliberate initiation of sand influx to improve well productivity and, in turn, production rates.

With this method, the continuous production of sand happens inside a perforated well, alongside the production of oil, water, and gas. The sand is then separated during the upgrading process, wherein the oil is refined into synthetic crude.

Key fact: In heavy oil fields that use CHOPS, ultimate recovery factors have improved from 2-6%, and 12-20% of OOIP

However, because of the large quantities of sand that are produced during CHOPS, sand influx management strategies are crucial. These outline appropriate disposal methods, including the deep injection of sand and fluid wastes, as well as separation and stockpiling techniques.

Key fact: Initial sand influx is between 10-40% of the volume of the (gas-free) produced liquids and solids. Over time, this decays toward a steady-state influx rate of 0.5-10%


  • Improves production rates

  • Cheaper than other recovery methods

  • Economic for thin reservoirs

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