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Publication numberUS20090218107 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/040,874
Publication dateSep 3, 2009
Filing dateMar 1, 2008
Priority dateMar 1, 2008
Publication number040874, 12040874, US 2009/0218107 A1, US 2009/218107 A1, US 20090218107 A1, US 20090218107A1, US 2009218107 A1, US 2009218107A1, US-A1-20090218107, US-A1-2009218107, US2009/0218107A1, US2009/218107A1, US20090218107 A1, US20090218107A1, US2009218107 A1, US2009218107A1
InventorsStephen J. Chauffe
Original AssigneeBaker Hughes Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Reservoir Tool for Packer Setting
US 20090218107 A1
Abstract
An external casing packer with a packer element is fashioned from materials that physically expand (“swell”) in response to contact by an appropriate swelling fluid. In preferred embodiments, the packer element is fashioned of a swellable elastomer, and the swelling fluid is an oil or water-based fluid that is effective to swell the particular elastomer used.
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Claims(15)
1. An packer device for providing a seal between a string of casing and a borehole wall, the device comprising:
a packer element substantially formed of a material that swells in response to contact by a swelling fluid;
a fluid reservoir containing a swelling fluid that causes the packer element to swell upon contact; and
a distribution conduit for transmitting the swelling fluid from the reservoir to the packer element.
2. The packer device of claim 1 wherein the distribution conduit further comprises a nozzle that is disposed within the packer element, the nozzle having a plurality of fluid openings.
3. The packer device of claim 1 wherein the swelling fluid comprises a water-based fluid.
4. The packer device of claim 1 wherein the swelling fluid comprises an oil-based fluid.
5. The packer device of claim 1 wherein the packer element is substantially formed of a swellable elastomer.
6. The packer device of claim 1 wherein there is a plurality of fluid reservoirs.
7. The packer device of claim 1 wherein the fluid reservoir further comprises:
a reservoir body containing the swelling fluid;
an opening in the reservoir body; and
a piston moveably disposed within the reservoir body between the opening and the swelling fluid, the piston forming a fluid seal against the reservoir body and moveable in response to annular fluid pressure.
8. A packer device for providing a seal between a string of casing and a borehole wall, the device comprising:
a central packer mandrel for incorporation into the string of casing;
a packer element radially surrounding the mandrel and substantially formed of an elastomeric material that swells in response to contact by a swelling fluid;
a fluid reservoir containing a swelling fluid that causes the packer element to swell upon contact; and
a distribution conduit for transmitting the swelling fluid from the reservoir to the packer element.
9. The packer device of claim 8 wherein the fluid reservoir further comprises:
a reservoir body containing the swelling fluid;
an opening in the reservoir body; and
a piston moveably disposed within the reservoir body between the opening and the swelling fluid, the piston forming a fluid seal against the reservoir body and moveable in response to annular fluid pressure.
10. The packer device of claim 8 wherein the distribution conduit further comprises a nozzle that is disposed within the packer element, the nozzle having a plurality of fluid openings.
11. The packer device of claim 8 wherein the swelling fluid comprises a water-based fluid.
12. The packer device of claim 8 wherein the swelling fluid comprises an oil-based fluid.
13. A method of forming a packer seal between a string of casing and a surrounding well bore wall, the method comprising the steps of:
integrating a packer device into the string of casing, the packer device comprising:
a) a packer element substantially formed of an elastomeric material that swells in response to contact by a swelling fluid; and
b) a fluid reservoir containing a swelling fluid that causes the packer element to swell upon contact;
disposing the string of casing and packer device into a wellbore;
flowing the swelling fluid from the fluid reservoir to the packer element to cause the packer element to swell and form a seal against the surrounding well bore wall.
14. The method of claim 13 wherein the step of flowing the swelling fluid from the fluid reservoir to the packer element further comprises urging a piston against the swelling fluid within the fluid reservoir.
15. The method of claim 14 wherein the piston is urged against the swelling fluid in response to increased fluid pressure within an annulus surrounding the string of casing.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to devices and methods for setting packers within a wellbore. In more particular aspects, the invention relates to the setting of swellable packers.

2. Description of the Related Art

Packers are used to create a fluid seal within a wellbore. One type of packer is an external casing packer. External casing packers are packer devices that are incorporated into a string of casing and used to secure the string of casing within an open borehole pending completion of a cementing operation which will permanently secure the casing string within the wellbore. External casing packers are intended to be permanently set and remain in the bore hole following cementing.

Typically, an external casing packer includes a central mandrel having a central axial passage the is the same diameter as the interior casing diameter. The packer device is located on the external diameter of the mandrel. The packer is actuated between an unset position and a set position. In the set position, the packer is expanded radially and makes sealing contact with the surrounding wellbore wall. Examples of conventional external casing packers are found in U.S. Pat. No. 5,201,369 issued to Berzin et al., which is owned by the assignee of the present invention and is herein incorporated by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a new type of external casing packer wherein the packer element is fashioned from materials that physically expand (“swell”) in response to contact by an appropriate swelling fluid. In preferred embodiments, the packer element is fashioned of a swellable elastomer, and the swelling fluid is an oil or water-based fluid that is effective to swell the particular elastomer used.

In a related aspect, the invention provides a mechanism for activating and radially expanding the packer element into sealing engagement with the surrounding borehole wall. In a preferred embodiment, the activating mechanism includes one or more fluid reservoirs which are mounted upon the exterior surface of the packer mandrel. In preferred embodiments, the fluid reservoir(s) are provided with one or more fluid injection nozzles which are operably associated with the packer element to provide fluid transmission from the reservoir(s) into portions of the packer element. The fluid reservoir(s) contain amounts of oil or water-based fluids that are sufficient to cause swelling of the packer element and radial expansion of the packer element into sealing engagement with the surrounding wellbore wall. In currently preferred embodiments, as well, the reservoir(s) contain a piston that is in contact with the fluid and moveable within the reservoir. In operation, external pressure within the annulus surrounding the casing string will urge the piston of each reservoir against the fluid contained therein and cause the fluid to flow out of the injection nozzles and into the packer element.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For detailed understanding of the invention, reference is made to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which reference characters designate like or similar elements throughout the several figures of the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a side, partial cross-sectional view of an exemplary casing string within a wellbore containing a packer device constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side, partial cross-sectional view of the packer device shown in FIG. 1, in an unactivated condition.

FIG. 3 is a side, partial cross-sectional view of the device shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, now in an activated condition.

FIG. 4 is a side, cross-sectional view of an exemplary activating mechanism used with the external casing packer of FIGS. 1-3, in accordance with the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 schematically depicts an exemplary open bore hole 10 which has been drilled into the earth 12. A string 14 of metallic casing sections 16, of a type known in the art, is shown disposed within the open hole 10. The casing string 14 defines an axial flowbore 18 along its length. An annulus 20 is defined between the exterior surface 22 of the casing string 14 and the interior wall 24 of the bore hole 10.

An external casing packer device 26 in accordance with the present invention is incorporated into the casing string 14. Construction and operation of the packer device 26 is better understood with further reference to FIGS. 2 and 3. The packer device 26 includes a central packer mandrel 28 that is generally cylindrical and defines a central flowbore 30. The mandrel 28 has first and second axial ends 32, 34 that have threaded connections to permit the mandrel 28 to be affixed to adjacent casing sections 16 and thereby incorporated into the casing string 14.

A packer element 36 radially surrounds the mandrel 28 and is secured thereto. The packer element 36 is formed of a swellable material. In preferred embodiments, the packer element 36 is fashioned of a swellable elastomer. Swellable elastomers are known materials that physically expand, or swell, in response to contact with certain swelling fluids. Swelling of the elastomer occurs due to absorption of the appropriate swelling fluid by the elastomer. Currently, there are two basic swellable elastomers: elastomers that are swellable in response to water-based fluids, and elastomers that are swellable in response to oil-based fluids.

A plurality of packer activation devices 40 are also mounted upon the outer radial surface of the mandrel 28. Although there are a plurality of activation devices 40 shown, there may in fact, be only a single activation device 40, if desired. FIG. 4 depicts an exemplary packer activation device 40 in greater detail. The activation device 40 includes a fluid reservoir 42. In the embodiment depicted, the reservoir 42 is substantially cylindrical in shape. However, other shapes may be used. A fluid distribution conduit with nozzle 44 extends downwardly from the lower end of the reservoir 42. The reservoir 42 is filled with a swelling fluid 46. In some preferred embodiments, the swelling fluid 46 comprises a water-based fluid such as fresh water. In other preferred embodiments, the swelling fluid 46 comprises an oil-based fluid, such as kerosene or diesel. The type swelling fluid 46 is determined by the type of swellable elastomer that is used to form the packer element 36.

The nozzle 44 includes a plurality of fluid openings 48. The openings 48 may be variously shaped, sized and spaced to ensure optimal disposition of the swelling fluid 46 within the packer element 36. The activation devices 40 may be secured to the mandrel 28 by straps (not shown), welding, connectors, or in other ways known in the art. When the activation devices 40 are secured to the mandrel 28, the nozzles 44 are disposed within the packer element 36. In a currently preferred embodiment, the nozzles 44 are disposed within the packer element 36 as the packer element 36 is formed onto the mandrel 28 by wrapping of several layers. As the layers of the element 36 are wrapped around the mandrel 28, the nozzles 44 are disposed between overlapping layers. In alternative embodiments, the nozzles 44 may be disposed within the packer element 36 by molding them into the element 36 as it is cast upon the mandrel 28 or by forming openings in the element 36 within which the nozzles 44 can reside.

A piston 50 is disposed within each reservoir 42 atop the swelling fluid 46. The piston 50 forms a fluid seal against the interior wall of the reservoir 42. An opening 52 is formed in the reservoir body 42, and the piston 50 is moveably disposed within the reservoir body 42 between the fluid 46 and the opening 52.

In operation, the packer device 26 is first incorporated into the casing string 14. The casing string 14 is run into the wellbore 10. Thereafter, fluid pressure is increased within the annulus 20. This may be accomplished by filling the annulus 20 with a fluid, such as drilling fluid or water, and then increasing fluid pressure within the annulus 20 from the surface using a pump (not shown) or hydrostatic pressure, in a manner known in the art. As fluid pressure rises in the annulus 20, it will act upon the piston 50 and urge the piston 50 against the swelling fluid 46 to cause the swelling fluid 46 to flow outwardly through the nozzles 44 and be absorbed into the packer element 36. The swelling fluid 46 will cause the packer element 36 to expand radially and thereby form a seal against the surrounding wall 10, as depicted in FIG. 3.

Those of skill in the art will recognize that numerous modifications and changes may be made to the exemplary designs and embodiments described herein and that the invention is limited only by the claims that follow and any equivalents thereof.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7823649 *Apr 2, 2008Nov 2, 2010Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.System and method for plugging a side pocket mandrel using a swelling plug
US7866408Nov 14, 2007Jan 11, 2011Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.Well tool including swellable material and integrated fluid for initiating swelling
US8047298 *Mar 24, 2009Nov 1, 2011Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.Well tools utilizing swellable materials activated on demand
US8453750Aug 4, 2011Jun 4, 2013Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.Well tools utilizing swellable materials activated on demand
US20120138315 *Sep 8, 2009Jun 7, 2012Swellfix B.V.Downhole Seal
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/387, 166/187
International ClassificationE21B33/12
Cooperative ClassificationE21B33/1208
European ClassificationE21B33/12F
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 15, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: BAKER HUGHES INCORPORATED, TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CHAUFFE, STEPHEN J.;REEL/FRAME:020952/0762
Effective date: 20080515