US 20050241709 A1
The present system and method comprises an expandable device for use in wellbores. In one embodiment, the present device comprises a plurality of slots disposed within the device. The slots define expansion compensation portions, wherein the compensation portions facilitate radial expansion of the device while concurrently maintaining essentially constant the axial length of the device. The present technique also comprises a method of forming the device in accordance therewith.
1. A method of forming an expandable device, comprising:
cutting an expansion compensation portion into a wellbore device, the compensation portion being adapted to substantially retard axial contraction of the wellbore device during radial expansion of the device.
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5. A method of forming an expandable device, comprising:
forming slots in a sheet of expandable material;
orienting the slots to create strut members that enable expansion of the sheet in one direction without causing contraction in a generally perpendicular direction; and
rolling the sheet into a tubular sized for insertion into a wellbore.
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14. A method, comprising:
forming an expandable wellbore device with a plurality of slots to create an expansion section; and
orienting the plurality of slots to outline a plurality of first members coupled to a plurality of second members, the plurality of first members comprising rotational segments that enable expansion of the expandable wellbore device without contraction of the device in a direction generally perpendicular to the direction of expansion.
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18. A method, comprising:
forming at tubular sized for radial expansion within a wellbore; and
positioning slots in the tubular in an orientation that enables radial expansion of the tubular in the wellbore without axial contraction.
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This is a divisional of U.S. Ser. No. 10/452,322 filed Jun. 2, 2003, which claims the benefit under 35 C.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/385,778 filed Aug. 6, 2002.
The present technique relates to the field of expandable devices and methods. More particularly, the technique comprises an expandable device and a method related to an expandable device that has reduced axial shrinkage during radial deformation or expansion thereof.
In the production of sub-terrain fluids, such as oils or natural gas, a variety of expandable devices have been used to cultivate wellbore environments. For example, generally tubular devices, such as expandable liners, expandable sandscreens, well linings and well patches have been employed. These devices may be expandable devices which, under the proper stimuli, transition from a collapsed (small diameter) configuration to an expanded (large diameter) configuration. In many instances, expandable devices comprise a plurality of longitudinal slots or openings that increase in size as the device is expanded (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,366,012 and 5,667,011). These openings, if so desired, may be configured to permit the flow of desirable production fluids into the interior of the wellbore while simultaneously preventing the ingress of contaminants, such as sand.
Expandable devices are typically deployed downhole into the wellbore, while in their respective collapsed configurations. In other words, the diameter of the collapsed expandable device is less than that of the wellbore and, as such, the expandable device feeds easily into the wellbore. Once the expandable device is lowered to a desired location within the wellbore, a radial expansion force is applied to drive the device to an expanded configuration. Accordingly, the device may better conform to the interior surface of the wellbore.
If so desired, expandable devices may be coupled to form a conduit that extends for great distances below the Earth's surface. Indeed, wellbores may extend thousands of feet below the Earth's surface to reach production fluids disposed in subterranean geological formations commonly know as “reservoirs”.
In many traditional systems (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,366,012 and 5,667,011), however, an increase in the radial dimension of the device induces a decrease in the axial dimension thereof. In other words, as the device diameter increases, the device length decreases. Accordingly, it may be more difficult to properly position the device into the wellbore. Moreover, a change in axial length may lead to separation or damage of already coupled devices.
The present invention is directed to overcoming, or at least reducing the effects of one or more of the problems set forth above, and can be useful in other applications as well.
The present invention generally relates to a technique for forming an expandable device. The technique comprises forming an expansion compensation portion in an expandable device, e.g., an expandable tubular. The expansion compensation portion substantially limits axial contraction as the expandable device undergoes radial expansion.
The invention will hereafter be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements, and:
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Disposed along the interior surface of the wellbore 20 may be a casing 24. The casing 24 may provide structural integrity to the wellbore 20 and can be cemented into location if so desired. Indeed, the casing 24 may extend for thousands of feet into the wellbore 20 as well as into the lateral branch sections 22.
At least one expandable device 26 also is disposed within the wellbore 20. As further discussed below, devices 26 may comprise, casing patches, expandable packers, expandable hangers, expandable liners, expandable casings 24, expandable sandscreens or expandable control line conduits (i.e. conduits for fiber optic lines, electric lines, hydraulic lines, etc.). As is also further discussed below, devices 26 may be inserted into the wellbore in a collapsed configuration and subsequently expanded. By inserting devices 26 into the wellbore 20 in a collapsed state, a number of advantages may be achieved over traditional systems. For example, a device 26 in the collapsed state may have a diameter less than that of the wellbore it is to be inserted into, and, as such, require less effort for downhole insertion.
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For example, the compensation portions 38 may comprise spring segments 40 that facilitate axial expansion of the appropriate strut members 36. Thus, during radial expansion of the device 26, the spring segment 40 may flex, thereby allowing the strut member 36 upon which it is integrated, to contract or expand as necessary. In other words, the spring segment 40 changes length axially during device expansion, thereby enabling the device 26, as a whole, to radially expand without substantial axial contraction thereof. In some embodiments, the spring segment 40 may undergo both elastic deformation as well as plastic deformation.
Under expansion loads, relatively thick struts 34 remain essentially undeformed and, as such, maintain the overall axial length of the device 26. Contemporaneously, however, the expansion loads applied to the thin members 36 induce axial contraction lengthening thereof, thereby facilitating radial expansion of the device 26. Moreover, the spring segments 40 may also provide additional flexibility to the device 26 thereby reducing the expansion forces necessary to drive device 26 to its expanded configuration.
Additionally, compensation portions 38 may comprise rotational segments 42 disposed along respective strut members 36. Rotational segments 42 also substantially reduce axial contraction of the device 26 (
Disposed between adjacent, relatively, thick and thin struts 34 and 36 may be hinge portions 44. In the exemplary embodiment, hinge portions 44 facilitate the pivotal movement of the strut members 34 and 36 with respect to one another. The hinge portions 44 may be thinned sections of wall 30 disposed at the intersection of the respective ends of the struts 34 and 36. The thinner hinge portions 44 reduce the overall expansion force required to drive the exemplary device from a collapsed to an expanded configuration.
Various features of the expandable device 26, such as the strut members 34 and 36, compensation portions 38 as well as the corresponding slots 32 may be formed by a number of processes. For example, these features may be formed by targeting a high-pressure water jet stream against the stock material from which the device 26 is to be formed. The water pressure carves out desired features on to the device. In a similar vein, these features may be carved by laser-jet cutting the stock material. Additionally, the features may be formed by a stamping process. In this process, the flat stock material is placed into a press which then stamps the features into the material. Once stamped, the material may be rolled into a rounded or tubular form. To ensure structural integrity of the stamped material, the features may be at least as wide as the thickness of the material being stamped.
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During radial expansion of device 26 to the expanded configuration illustrated in
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While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and are herein described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the description herein of specific embodiments is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Indeed, the present technique may be employed in any number of oilfield applications such as umbilical or conduit repairs for example.