Method and apparatus for operating oil wells
US 1790450 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
`Vim. 27, 1931.
W. J. TQRRANCE METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR OPERATING OIL WELLS Filed March 5,l 1927 fifa. 3
I TTORXE) '.5'
Patented Jan. 27, 1931 UNITED STATES PATENT oFFicE l WILERED J. 'roma-ANCE, or CLEVELAND,- onro, Assrenon or cnn-THIRD To EDMUND BURKE MAGNEB, or oLEvELAND, omo
5 inserte METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR OPERATING OIL WELLS Application led March 5,
-More particularly yit comprises a method of causing a non-flowing oil well to produce oil with accumulated gas pressure without resorting to pumpingair or gas into the well.
At present pumpingmethods are used throughout a large lield. T his involves forcing air or gas down one of the-tubes of the well and permitting the oil to flow through another of the tubes. The air and gas is ordinarily forced down through a larger tube and the oil is received througha smallertube concentric with the -first tube. Thismethod involves the installation of expensive compressor mechanismas well as careful attention to the condition of the pipe line. For wells producing small quantities, the expense of such installation would be prohibitive, and therefore such wells would have to be abandoned.
The presentl invention has in view the utilization of the depleted gas pressure of a well to produce an automatic flowing of the well, and while particularly adapted for small wells which could not be operated profitably by other means, is by no means limited to use with small producers.
The present invention has been applied to aswell which has ceased to How through its naturalYgas-pressure and in which the total production is'ins'iiiiicient to warrant the 1nstallationrot` an expensive pressure system, and, at very smallv expense, has converted non-productive well into a well which produces regularly in small quantities and wholly through its own automatic action.
The annexed drawing and the following description set forth in detail certain means and one mode of carrying out the invention, such disclosed means and mode villust-rating, however, but one of various ways in which the principle of the invention may be used.
In said annexed drawing: Fig. 1 of the drawing is a diagnammatic view-partly in section showing an oil well' operated by an apparatus and a method embodying the principles of my invention; Fig.
2 is a sectional View 011 an enlarged scale showm the valve and assoclated structure within a well tube of usual con- 1927. Serial No. 173,029.
the lower end is provided with a pluralitynoti Vapertures 4. The. tube-i'naiy'fbeofpipe sections of two inch diameter having one-half inclr'apertures. Extending upwardly from its -lower end a distance variable with the character of the'well, within the main tube 1, a pipe section 5 of smaller diameter, preferably one inch, having a valve seat 6, isprovided, said seatcompdring an annular beveled surface against which the lower end of a plug or plunger 7 mayrest when the same is inserted within the pipe. A packer 10 of rubber or other suitable material `is provided around the lower outer surface of the valve seat member beneath a shoulder formed thereon. By screwingthe tube section against theV packer the diameter of the latter may bc varied. This adjustment may be made sovas to provide a close sliding lit when the smaller tube carrying the valve seat isfdropped through the main tube 1 of a well to place it in operative position.
swell andprovidea fluid tight connection with the walls of the 'ma-inV tu Y From the oil sand strata to the surface, the central tube may be surrounded by a tube 8. of larger diameter, preferably five inches, after the usual practice, but instead of thc larger tube extending to the full depth of the well and serving as a means foiconducting oil therefrom orV gas or air pressurethereto, it is intended'principally to serve asa protective casing to extend below the second'wa-4 'thus form it into a storage reservoirfor ex- After the devicev vreacl1es,.the bottom of the well the packer will cess gas and oil. When an oil Well is to be adapted for operation as herein described, before the packers 11 and 12 are placed in position, a short liner tube 46 is dropped through the tube 8, and the packer ring 11 is 1to1-ced against the upper end thereof. The packer ring 12 is then placed above the first packer to provide a complete seal for the larger tube. VThe liner has small wall perforations to serve as a strainer.
The upper end of the larger tube 8 may surrounded adjacent the surface of the ground by any desired length of a pipe 13 of still larger diameter, preferably ten inches, to form a further storage reservoir 14 for gas or oil, the lower end of said larger tube being driven into the earth which packs tightly between the outer surface of the intermediate tube and the inner surface of the driven tube, forming another storage reservoir 20. The upper ends of each ofthe tubes are provided with suitable caps 16, 17, 18 which make them air and gas tight.
The central tube with the valve seat and its extension tube, as has been indicated, serves as the essential operating tube of the apparatus inasmuch as the other tubes serve merely as protective casings and as reservoirs for the storage of gas and oil, and equivalent reservoirs might be positioned on the surface or underground at any convenient point Without affecting the operation of the apparatus.
The cap on the upper end of the main tube may be provided with a removable section 44 Yas shown in Fig. 1, which may be provided witlap'ressure gauge 19 at its extreme end. A pair of outlet pipes 21, 22 are preferably connected at either side of the cap 16. One of such pipes is connected with an oil and gas tank23 and the otlie'r`i`s-a n.lt'oridirectgcliscltmgge, when desired, into any suitable receptacle Vsuch asa tank wagon 24 for the reception of oil when the well is caused to fiow, and after the gas has first been received in a storage reservoir.
Each ot said outlet pipes is provided with a valve 25, 26. The oil and gas tank is preferably provided with an outlet conduit 27, adjacent its upper end for accumulated gas and adjacent its lower end with an outlet conduit 28 for accumulated oil. Suitable valves 3 32 are provided in each of said conduits. A pressure gauge 33 is preferably mounted on the top of the tank. The tank is also provided with a pressure relief or blow off valve (not shown) to relieve excess gas pressure in the system ot storage reservoirs. The tank may also have a direct connection with a gas supply line 34 with which domestic or industrial gas burners are connected so that gas may be used directly from this supply with out further apparatus. The gas line will also have a suitable control valve 35. In order to prevent particles of oil or dirt from entering the domestic gas supply line 34, a number of beY screens (not shown) of fine mesh are inserted therein, preferably at a point adjacent the gas tank 23.
As is shown in the drawing, the outlet conduit connected with the top of the gas and oil tank. is connected with the intermediate or five inch pipe of the well and the outlet conduit 28 connected with the base of said tank is connected with the larger or ten inch pipe of the well. Another pipe 36, of small diameter, having a valve 37, extends downwardly within the reservoir 2O to a point adjacent the bottom and serves as an outlet through which the oil is ordinarily discharged into the receptacle or tank wagon. The reason for not dischargingr the oil directly from the well into the tank wagon is due to the large amount of gas carried in the oil, which gas escapes in the storage reservoirs and the oil remaining is commercial degassed crude oil. Thus themain gas and oil tank 23 ordinarily will contain only gas, the oil passing into the reservoir 20, and the excess gas into the reservoir 9. The gas will be at such pressure as may have been in the well at the time the last supply thereof Was received. The pressure gauge at the top of said tank serves to indi 'ate the amount of gas pressure 1n three or more tanks and obviously through the control of the valve connection with the main or two inch pipe, this pressure may be made to correspond with that ofthe oil well.
As has already been stated, a plug 7 is inserted within the main well tube 1. T his plug preferably is formed of solid rubber having a resilient consistency and having a central bore 4.1 extending almost completely through the same from its lower end. T his central bore permits the gas pressure, below `-outlet pipevtleplug, to/act expansively thereagainst and cause the plug to frictionally engage the inner walls of the well tube, when the pressure above the plug is relieved, and to elevate the oil and other matter above the plug, and at the same time to prevent the escape of oil and gas and other mattei' past the plug as it travels toward the surface. The frictional engagement of the plug with the inner wall of the tube may also be the result of its dcformation into an element of greater transverse dimension through the action ot' the weight and pressure above the same, and the pressure below the same, it being as stated a solid rubber plug of resilient consistency. There will also be improved operation. over a well without a plug, with a plug of nonexpansible material but with small clearance from the wall of the tube, but an expansible plug has been found the only means of keeping some wells clear of sediment and satisfactory as con'nnercial producers. The upper end 42 of the plug preferably is of slightly concave shape and the lower end 43 is rounded into semispherical contour. The lower end is adapted to descend into the main proportionately.
Thev plug is inserted Within the main tube by removing the upper section 44 of the cap 16 and engaging the plug therein before replacing the same. When the pressure is equalized the plug will descend to the valve seat. A buffer spring 45 is provided within the top of the cap to modify the shock'to the apparatus when theplug is forced upwardly by the gas pressure. A perforated cylindrical plate 46 within the cap serves to guide the plug past the outlet orifices.
The procedure in flowing the well will now be indicated, so far as ,the action is understood from observat-ion vof a well in actual operation, as stated. The position of the valve within the main tube is preferably as shown in-Fig. l, although it may be at a higher point. Then the valves at the top of the well are closed, the gas pressure will increase and the valve will be heard to move on its seat as gas and oil enter the main tube and pass tothe upper porti-on of the main tube above the valve. As further time elapses, the gas pressure will continue to increase, carrying with it, additional increments of oil to a point above the rubber plug, and establishing a high pressure of gas within the central tube. When the pressure has reached an amount, satisfactory to the operator, the well may be flowed by opening the valve 26 to the oil receptacle or oil wagon 24 but as stated this involves the loss-of gas and the flow is therefore directed into the reservoir system unless in ari emergency it is desired to receive the iiow directly into the tank wagon. f
Therefore, the well is usually flowed by first opening the valve in the line from the main tube into the oil and gas tank 23 vand the gas and oil is allowed .to enter said tank, from which the oil Hows into the storage reservoir 20 and the excess gas into the'storage reservoir 9. The oil freed of most of its gas'is then flowed into the tank wagon from the reservoir 20.
As the oil within the main tube is carried over to the reservoir system, the rubber plug will be forced upwardly through the main tube striking the buffer spring with consid erable force. The pressure will thereafter drop as the plug will be above the outlet ori lires.
W'hen the outlet pipes adjacent the upper end of the main. pipe are closed` the rubber plug will automatically fall to its seat, and the process may be repeated whenever the accumulated gas pressure of the well reaches the desired amount.
The effectiveness of the operation def scribed is believed to be due to the coinhined effect of confining the as within the shot hole kand withdrawing t e oil and gas and associated matter from a point adjacent the oor of the shot hole or preferabl from an under-cut recess or basin in the the shot hole, through a pipe of small diameter capable of maintaining a head over a considerable period, in conjunction with aplug acting as a check valve andas a piston to force the oil, water and shale particles lorother foreign matter upwardly. For certain installations, where adequate pressure exists 1n the well and where there 1s very little sediment and the like to be'removed,
it might be desirable to omit the plug, thus dependingon the velocity of the flow produced through the pipe of small diameter to carr to the surface particles of shale or other oreign matter which would tend to accumulate at the baselof kthe pipe and thus in time cut down or totally pre-ventany yield from the well. In most instances, however, the plug is absolutely essential tothe satisfactory and continuous operation of the well. The plug, as stated, acts first as a check valve, and then as an elevating pis-j ton` the pressure expanding the plug to frictionally engage the side walls of the well tube, and to raise the oil and other material which is accumulated above it as well as to retard the escape of gas and inter- Inixed oil and gas and other material, following behind the plug. The use of the plug, it is believed, serves to remove from the Well at each time the well is iowed, not only the'oil but water and particles of matter which would tend to close the main well tube. Through the provision of a plurality of screens the entrance of large quantities of foreign matter into the well tube is prevented. The well thus is self cleansing and the necessity of stopping operations to clean out the well tube periodically is unnecessary.
The method involved in this invention comprises essentially the accumulation of gas pressure within the shot hole and within a tube opening into the shot hole adjacent its floor, such tube being of relatively small diameter and releasing the pressure at the surface end of such tube in order that discharge of high velocity' may take place.l In another aspect the lnethod involves the withdrawing of oil and associated matter from a shot hole through a tube of relatively small diameter so as to insure high velocity vof discharge and the reception of such oil and associated matter through a screened aperture in said tube at a point' below the oil yielding sands. The method also involves withdrawing oil from au oil well through atube of small diameter extending to a. point adjacent the floor of the shot hole and accumulating said oil above a plug acting 'as a check valve during `periods of substantially normal pressure within the tube and shot hole and acting as a piston to force the oil and associatrd matter upwardly upon the release of pressure at the surface end of said well tube. It also includes the use of a pluo' adapted to be expanded by gas pressure 2:beneath the same so that its walls will frictionally engage the inner walls of the well tube and prevent the escape of oil or associated matter past the same as the gas pressure forces the plug toward the surface. It also includes the utilization of means such as a piston plug to maintain the gas pressure to the greatest possible extent until the matter above the plug has been carried to the surface.
The method herein outlined, it is believed, is applicable to other uses than the operation of an oil well, inasmuch as with a small quantity of gas it may be possible to move quantities of oil through horizontal pipe lines at much less expense than where straight oil pumping operations are resorted to.
Other modes of applying the principle oi my invention may e employed instead o the one explained, change being made as regards the mechanism herein disclosed, provided the means stated by any of the following claims or the equivalent of such stated means be employed.
I therefore particularly point out and distinctly cla-irri as my invention:
l. In a method of the character described, the steps of providing a discharge pipe in an oil well, closing the outlet end of said discharge pipe, mechanically swabbing or plugging the interior of said pipe until a given head or pressure is built up in the pipe, and thereafter opening the outlet end of the pipe to permit a sudden release of the pressure and a sudden upward movement of the swabbing or plugging means so as to discharge the liquid a ove such means from the pipe.
2. In a method of the character described` the steps of providing a discharge pipe of relatively small cross-section in `an oil well, closing the outlet end of said discharge pipe, mechanically swabbing or plugging the interior of said pipe until a given head or pressure is built up in the pipe, and thereafter opening the outlet end of the pipe to permit a sudden release of the pressure and a sudden upward movement of the swabhing or plugging means so as to discharge the liquid above such means from the pipe at a high velocity.
8. A method of continuously operating an oil well normally subject to having the discharge passageway plugged with shale drippings, which comprises the steps of contining the gas pressure within the shot hole of said oil well against communication with the surface except through a passageway of small diameter connected with the base of said shot hole at a point beneath the source of oil supply, mechanically plugging said passageway adjacent to its lower end, protecting said discharge passageway from the entrance of particles of foreign matter without obstructing the flow of oil to said passageway, and thereafter at intervals relieving the accumulated gas pressure within said well by opening said narrow discharge passageway to the atmosphere, whereby said gas pressure will act expansively to move the plugging point toward the surface to force the accumulated oil within said shothole at high velocity hrough said narrow passageway to the surace.
4. In a method of the character described, the steps of sealing an oil well against the escape of gas or oil adjacent to the top of the shot hole, providing a discharge passageway of small diameter extending to the base of said shot hole, mechanically plugging the discharge passageway until a predetermined amount of gas pressure has accumulated within said well and within said passageway above the plugging point, and suddenly releasing the pressure at the upper end of said discharge passageway to permit the plugging point to be moved progressively to the surface to carry oil and gas accumulated thereabove to the surface.
5. In a method of the character described, the steps of accumulating a supply of oil in 'a narrow passageway above a plugging point and thereafter plugging said passageway at said point and permitting gas pressure to act to move said plugging point progressively to the surface together with the oil accnmulated thereabove and simultaneously maintaining said plugging effect.
6. In a method of the character described, the steps of carrying a passageway of small diameter into the base of the shot hole of an oil well, sealing the top of said shot hole against discharge to the atmosphere, capturing oil above a plugging point adjacent to the lower end of said passageway, establishing substantially equalized pressure within said passageway past the plugging point, and thereafter unbalancing the pressure at the plugging point by opening the upper end of said passageway to the atmosphere, whereby the accumulated gas pressure will serve to mechanically plug said passageway and progressively move the plugging point toward the surface and discharge thc accumulated oil thereabove from said passageway.
7. An apparatus of the character described, having in combination a gas and oil discharge tube extending from the surface to a point adjacent the floor of the shot hole of the well, having an opening at the base providing the only discharge passageway from said shot hole to the atmosphere, a plug for sealing said discharge tube at different levels adjacent to its lower end, and means at the surface for opening 'or closing said discharge tube to the atmosphere to progressively move said sealing plug toward the surface.
8. An apparatus of the character described, having in combination', a gas and oil discharge tube extending from the surface to a point adjacent to the floor of the shot hole of the well, having an opening at the base providing the only discharge passageway for said shot hole, means at the surface for opening and closing said discharge tube, a valve plug adapted to slidingly engage Within said discharge tube, a valve seat adjacent to the lower end of said discharge tube, and means permitting the accumulated gas within said Well to act against the lower side of said plug to expand the plug and cause the same to act as a check to seal the tu-be and move progressively toward the surface.
9. An apparatus of'the character described, having in combination, a gas and oil discharge tube extending from the surface to a point adjacent to the' fioor of the shot hole of the'well, having an opening at the base providing the only discharge passageway for said shot hole, means at the surface for opening and closing said discharge tube, an expansible valve plug adapted to slidingly engage within said discharge tube, a valve seat adjacent to the lower end of said discharge tube, and means permitting the accumulated gas within said lwell to act expansively against the lower side of the plug and cause the same to act as a check to seal the tube and move progressively toward the surface.
10. An apparatus of the character described, having in combination,a main well tube of small diameter extending to a po-int beneath the source of oil supply within said 4 well and having an opening adjacent to it-s lowerend, a valve seat positioned within said tube at a point above said opening, an expansible' plug adapted to coact with said valve seat, and means onA said discharge tube for controlling the pressure within said well upon said plug, to cause the saine to act as a check to sea-l the tube and move progressively tof ward the surface.
lvl. An apparatus of the character de' throu h the accumulated gas pressure within n extending from thesurface into saidbasin.'
a valve' seat adjacent to the lower end of said tube, means for screening said tube from solid particles of large diameter, a cylindrical plug in combination, an oil welladapted to `be slidably engaged within said ltube and'to rest against said valve seat, and
means adjacent to the surface end of said tube for controlling the pressure within said tube and shot hole.
13. In an apparatus of the character described, a discharge pipe for an oil Well, a
valve seat adjacent the lower end thereof, a
single plug having an internal bore open only 'at its under side, said plug being positioned within said pipe, and coacting with said seat, and serving as a check valve and an oil carrying piston, and adapted to be actuated solely by 1tlhe accumulated gas pressure within said we 14.111 an apparatus of the character described, a discharge pipe for an oil well, a valve seat adjacent the lower end thereof, an expansible plug having an internal bore open only at its under side, said expansible plug being positioned within said pipe, and coactL ing with said seat, and serving as achecl: valve and an oil carrying piston and adapted to be actuated solely by thegas pressure acmumulated within said. well.
15. ln an apparatus of the character deyscribed,'a discharge pipe for an oil well, a
valve seat adjacent4 the lower end thereof, a plug having an internal bore open only at its under side, said' plug being positioned within said pipe, and coact-ing with said seat, and serving'as a check valve under conditions of substantiallyequalized pressure, and as a gas and oil seal and an oil carrying piston, when subjected to increased pressure on its under side and to reduced pressure on its vup er side.
2)Yigned by me this 5th day of January, 19
WLFRED J. TOR-RANCE.
means for screening said discharge tube from the entrance of solid particles of large dimension, an elevating plunger within said tube adapted to travel substantially the entire length thereof, means adjacent to the surface end of said discharge tube for controlling the pressurethereon andfor opening said discharge tube to the atmosphere, whereby discharge of high velocity will be produced