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Publication numberUS20100163241 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/601,255
PCT numberPCT/US2008/070291
Publication dateJul 1, 2010
Filing dateJul 17, 2008
Priority dateJul 19, 2007
Also published asWO2009012365A1
Publication number12601255, 601255, PCT/2008/70291, PCT/US/2008/070291, PCT/US/2008/70291, PCT/US/8/070291, PCT/US/8/70291, PCT/US2008/070291, PCT/US2008/70291, PCT/US2008070291, PCT/US200870291, PCT/US8/070291, PCT/US8/70291, PCT/US8070291, PCT/US870291, US 2010/0163241 A1, US 2010/163241 A1, US 20100163241 A1, US 20100163241A1, US 2010163241 A1, US 2010163241A1, US-A1-20100163241, US-A1-2010163241, US2010/0163241A1, US2010/163241A1, US20100163241 A1, US20100163241A1, US2010163241 A1, US2010163241A1
InventorsDudley Iles Klatt, Alfred Lara Hernandez
Original AssigneeDudley Iles Klatt, Alfred Lara Hernandez
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular saddle flapper valve
US 20100163241 A1
Abstract
A flapper valve assembly is provided, of the type preventing downward fluid flow when the flapper is closed, which is sized, shaped and configured to provide a smaller maximum outer diameter to minimum internal diameter ratio, thus allowing a larger minimum ID for a given maximum outside diameter, when compared to currently available flapper valve assemblies. An insert assembly is used in the modular saddle flapper valve assembly which has a flapper seat, flapper valve and sleeve. The insert assembly is secured within a tubular housing and enclosed by standard top and bottom subs, either sub being easily removed and replaced with a sub having a different thread size or type, the removal being easily accomplished without disassembly of the insert assembly.
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Claims(17)
1. A flapper valve assembly for inclusion in a downhole tubular assembly, the flapper valve assembly comprising:
a tubular housing having an interior pocket, the pocket having an inside surface, the tubular housing further having a removable top member forming a tubular housing upper end, and a removable bottom member forming a tubular housing lower end, the bottom member having a top, the upper and lower ends each being attachable within the downhole tubular assembly; and
an insert assembly, the insert assembly being insertable into the tubular housing pocket when the top member is removed, and retained within the pocket when the top member is attached, the insert assembly, the insert assembly having:
a flapper seat, the flapper seat being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface;
a flapper having a curved portion, the flapper being movable between a down position and an up position;
a bias member biasing the flapper from the up position to the down position; and
a sleeve upwardly slidably from a sleeve first position upon the flapper seat, the flapper seat preventing downward movement of the sleeve, to a sleeve second position, such that the flapper is held in the up position when the sleeve is in the first position, the bias member moving the flapper to the down position when the sleeve is in the second position, the sleeve further having a top portion having an outside diameter, and a bottom portion having an outside diameter smaller than the top portion, the sleeve top portion being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface, the sleeve bottom portion being saddled by the flapper curved portion when the sleeve is in the first position;
wherein flow from the tubular housing pocket through the tubular housing lower end is prevented when the flapper is in the down position and allowed when the flapper is in the up position.
2. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the flapper seat further comprises side portions, the side portions having top, inwardly directed bevels; and further wherein the flapper is positioned between the flapper seat side portions when the flapper is in the down position, the flapper being guided by the flapper seat side portion bevels to the down position between the flapper seat side portions, the flapper seat side portions substantially preventing lateral movement of the flapper during flapper deformation.
3. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the flapper further has opposing side edges and a front edge, the flapper seat further having an elevation about least part of the flapper side and front edges, the elevation having a top, inwardly directed bevel; and further wherein the flapper is positioned within the elevation when the flapper is in the down position, the flapper being guided by the flapper seat elevation bevel to the down position within the elevation, the flapper seat elevation substantially preventing lateral movement of the flapper during flapper deformation.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of pins, and further wherein the flapper seat has side portions and a curved surface disposed between the side portions, each side portion having at least one pin hole for receiving at least one of the pins, and the flapper seat curved surface having at least one pin hole for receiving at least one of the pins, the flapper curved portion having first and second edges and a forward edge, the flapper curved portion being sized such that when the flapper is in the down position, the flapper curved portion first edge is proximate the at least one pin in the flapper seat first side portion, the flapper curved portion second edge is proximate the at least one pin in the flapper seat second side portion, and the flapper curved portion forward edge is proximate the at least one pin in the flapper seat curved surface.
5. The apparatus of claim 4, further comprising a pair of guide members, each guide member being attachable to one of the flapper seat side portions using the at least one pin received by such side portion, each guide member being shaped and attachably positioned such that one of the flapper curved portion edges is proximate the guide member when the flapper is in the down position.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein each of the guide members has an inside surface, the inside surface having a top bevel, the bevel being positioned to guide the descending flapper into the flapper's down position between the guide members.
7. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the sleeve has a minimum internal diameter and the flapper valve assembly has a maximum outer diameter, the ratio of the maximum outer diameter to the sleeve minimum inside diameter being 1.55 or less.
8. The flapper valve assembly of claim 6, wherein the tubular housing has a wall, the wall having a thickness, the wall thickness to flapper valve assembly maximum outer diameter ratio being 0.0625 or greater.
9. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein:
the tubular housing bottom member has a bottom end for attachment to a first downhole tubular assembly component, the bottom end having a first attachment configuration; and
the flapper valve assembly further comprises a tubular housing substitute bottom member, the substitute bottom member having a bottom end for attachment to a second downhole tubular assembly component, the bottom end having a second attachment configuration, the second attachment configuration being different from the first attachment configuration.
10. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein:
the sleeve top portion further comprises at least one channel, the at least one channel being positioned about at least a portion of the sleeve top portion circumference;
the tubular housing has at least one hole, the at least one hole being aligned with one of the at least one sleeve top portion channels when the top portion is supported by the flapper seat and the flapper seat is supported by the tubular housing bottom member top; and
at least one shear member for insertion into one of the at least one holes and protrusion into one of the at least one sleeve top portion channels;
wherein the inserted at least one shear member retains the sleeve within the tubular housing with the tubular housing top member removed.
11. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein:
the tubular housing top member has a top end for attachment to a first downhole tubular assembly component, the top end having a first attachment configuration; and
the flapper valve assembly further comprises a tubular housing substitute top member, the substitute top member having a top end for attachment to a second downhole tubular assembly component, the top end having a second attachment configuration, the second attachment configuration being different from the first attachment configuration.
12. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the tubular housing, the tubular housing top member and the tubular housing bottom member have substantially equal outside diameters.
13. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the insert assembly is attached to the bottom member top.
14. The flapper valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the bottom member top forms an upwardly facing interior shoulder, the shoulder supporting the inserted insert assembly.
15. The flapper valve assembly of claim 14, wherein:
the flapper seat further comprises at least one channel, the at least one channel being positioned about at least a portion of the flapper seat circumference;
the tubular housing has at least one threaded hole, the at least one hole being aligned with one of the at least one flapper seat channels when the flapper seat is supported by the tubular housing bottom member top; and
at least one threaded fastener for threaded insertion into one of the at least one threaded holes and protrusion into one of the at least one flapper seat channels;
wherein the inserted at least one fastener retains the flapper seat within the tubular housing with the tubular housing bottom member removed.
16. A flapper valve assembly for inclusion in a downhole tubular assembly, the flapper valve assembly comprising:
a tubular housing having an interior pocket, the pocket having an inside surface, the tubular housing further having a removable top member forming a tubular housing upper end, and a removable bottom member forming a tubular housing lower end, the bottom member having a top, the upper and lower ends each being attachable within the downhole tubular assembly; and
insert assembly means, the insert assembly means being insertable into the tubular housing pocket when the top member is removed, and retained within the pocket when the top member is attached, the insert assembly means having:
flapper seat means, the flapper seat means being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface;
flapper means having a flapper, the flapper having a curved portion, the flapper being movable between a down position and an up position;
bias means for biasing the flapper from the up position to the down position; and
sleeve means having a sleeve, the sleeve being upwardly slidably from a sleeve first position upon the flapper seat means, the flapper seat means preventing downward movement of the sleeve, to a sleeve second position, such that the flapper is held in the up position when the sleeve is in the first position, the bias means moving the flapper to the down position when the sleeve is in the second position, the sleeve further having a top portion having an outside diameter, and a bottom portion having an outside diameter smaller than the top portion, the sleeve top portion being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface, the sleeve bottom portion being saddled by the flapper curved portion when the sleeve is in the first position;
wherein flow from the tubular housing pocket through the tubular housing lower end is prevented when the flapper is in the down position and allowed when the flapper is in the up position.
17. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising means for substantially preventing lateral movement of the flapper curved portion during deformation of the flapper in response to pressure on the flapper curved portion.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION AND INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The field of the invention is subterranean well completions, or, more specifically, valve apparatus for preventing flow through a downhole tubular assembly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Description of Related Art

Flapper valves, which prevent downward flow when closed, are known to be useful as part of a casing string cemented into a wellbore. The typical flapper valve will be open as the casing string is run into the well and cemented into place. It is common in such applications, for a flapper valve to be run into a well having a 6.125 in. (15.56 cm) hole diameter, as part of a 3.5 in. (8.89 cm) outside diameter (OD) casing string having a nominal internal diameter (ID) of approximately 3.0 in. (7.62 cm). The 6.125 in. (15.56 cm) hole dictates that the flapper valve outside diameter cannot practically exceed 5.875 in. (14.92 cm).

In the foregoing field situation, it is desirable to use 4.5 in. (11.43 cm) outside diameter casing string, (grade P110, 13.5 pounds per foot (6.12 kg per 30.48 cm) having a nominal internal diameter (ID) of 3.92 in. (9.96 cm), in lieu of the 3.5 in (8.89 cm) OD casing. This ID dictates that a practical flapper valve minimum ID be at least 3.8 in. (9.65 cm) to substantially take advantage of the increased ID of the 4.5 in. (11.43 cm) OD casing. Similarly, anything less causes a restriction in the casing ID that unacceptably prevents the passage of typically associated tools such as bridge plugs, shifting tools, and mechanical packers, some of which have maximum outside diameters of as high as 3.66 in. (9.30 cm). However, no currently available flapper valves, with the required maximum OD of 5.875 in. (14.92 cm), can provide the minimum ID of approximately 3.8 in. (9.65 cm) that would be compatible with the desired 4.5 in. (11.43) OD casing. Operators using currently available flapper valves are limited to the 3.5 in. (8.89 cm) OD casing in a 6.125 in. (15.56 cm) well hole.

Again, with respect to flapper valve assemblies that prevent downward fluid flow when closed, it is not uncommon in current practice for various components in the casing string to require that flapper valves have top and bottom ends with varying thread sizes and types to accommodate the varying pins, collars and boxes to which flapper valves are sometimes attached as the string is assembled. Currently available flapper valves have ends integrated with housing and/or flapper seat structure, or additional structure, generally, which prevent the ready replacement of a flapper valve assembly ends with ends having a different thread size or type.

Additionally, the assembly of flapper valve assemblies is generally complicated when the flapper seat, with flapper attached, has been previously integrated with housing structure and the flapper must be held open by inserting temporary, elongated devices into the housing. As the sleeve is then inserted, it is impossible to see the interaction between the flapper, which is biased to close, and the sleeve which must encounter and move the flapper to its full open position as it is inserted.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art by providing a flapper valve assembly, of the type preventing downward fluid flow when the flapper is closed, which is sized, shaped and configured to provide a smaller maximum outer diameter to minimum internal diameter ratio, thus allowing a larger minimum ID for a given maximum outside diameter, when compared to currently available flapper valve assemblies. Additionally, the present invention provides a modular saddle flapper valve assembly which provides an insert assembly having a flapper seat, flapper valve and sleeve, the insert assembly being secured within a tubular housing and enclosed by standard top and bottom subs, either sub being easily removed and replaced with a sub having a different thread size or type, the removal causing no disturbance to or disassembly of the insert assembly.

In some exemplary embodiments of our invention we have provided, a flapper valve assembly for inclusion in a downhole tubular assembly, the flapper valve assembly comprising: a tubular housing having an interior pocket, the pocket having an inside surface, the tubular housing further having a removable top member forming a tubular housing upper end, and a removable bottom member forming a tubular housing lower end, the bottom member having a top, the upper and lower ends each being attachable within the downhole tubular assembly; and an insert assembly, the insert assembly being insertable into the tubular housing pocket when the top member is removed, and retained within the pocket when the top member is attached, the insert assembly, the insert assembly having: a flapper seat, the flapper seat being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface; a flapper having a curved portion, the flapper being movable between a down position and an up position; a bias member biasing the flapper from the up position to the down position; and a sleeve upwardly slidably from a sleeve first position upon the flapper seat, the flapper seat preventing downward movement of the sleeve, to a sleeve second position, such that the flapper is held in the up position when the sleeve is in the first position, the bias member moving the flapper to the down position when the sleeve is in the second position, the sleeve further having a top portion having an outside diameter, and a bottom portion having an outside diameter smaller than the top portion, the sleeve top portion being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface, the sleeve bottom portion being saddled by the flapper curved portion when the sleeve is in the first position; wherein flow from the tubular housing pocket through the tubular housing lower end is prevented when the flapper is in the down position and allowed when the flapper is in the up position.

In some exemplary embodiments, the flapper seat further comprises side portions, the side portions having top, inwardly directed bevels; and further the flapper is positioned between the flapper seat side portions when the flapper is in the down position, the flapper being guided by the flapper seat side portion bevels to the down position between the flapper seat side portions, the flapper seat side portions resisting and/or substantially preventing lateral movement of the flapper during flapper deformation.

In some exemplary embodiments, the flapper further has opposing side edges and a front edge, and the flapper seat further has an elevation about at least part of the flapper side and front edges, the elevation having a top, inwardly directed bevel; and further wherein the flapper is positioned within the elevation when the flapper is in the down position, the flapper being guided by the flapper seat elevation bevel to the down position within the elevation, the flapper seat elevation resisting and/or substantially preventing lateral movement of the flapper during flapper deformation.

In some exemplary embodiments, the flapper valve assembly further comprises a plurality of pins, and further the flapper seat has side portions and a curved surface disposed between the side portions, each side portion having at least one pin hole for receiving at least one of the pins, and the flapper seat curved surface having at least one pin hole for receiving at least one of the pins, the flapper curved portion having first and second edges and a forward edge, the flapper curved portion being sized such that when the flapper is in the down position, the flapper curved portion first edge is proximate the at least one pin in the flapper seat first side portion, the flapper curved portion second edge is proximate the at least one pin in the flapper seat second side portion, and the flapper curved portion forward edge is proximate the at least one pin in the flapper seat curved surface. In some exemplary embodiments, the flapper valve assembly further comprises a pair of guide members, each guide member being attachable to one of the flapper seat side portions using the at least one pin received by such side portion, each guide member being shaped and attachably positioned such that one of the flapper curved portion edges is proximate the guide member when the flapper is in the down position. In some exemplary embodiments, the each of the guide members has an inside surface, the inside surface having a top bevel, the bevel being positioned to guide the descending flapper into the flapper's down position between the guide members.

In some exemplary embodiments, the sleeve has a minimum internal diameter and the flapper valve assembly has a maximum outer diameter, the ratio of the maximum outer diameter to the sleeve minimum inside diameter being 1.55 or less. In some exemplary embodiments, the tubular housing has a wall, the wall having a thickness, the wall thickness to flapper valve assembly maximum outer diameter ratio being 0.0625 or greater.

In some exemplary embodiments: the tubular housing bottom member has a bottom end for attachment to a first downhole tubular assembly component, the bottom end having a first attachment configuration; and the flapper valve assembly further comprises a tubular housing substitute bottom member, the substitute bottom member having a bottom end for attachment to a second downhole tubular assembly component, the bottom end having a second attachment configuration, the second attachment configuration being different from the first attachment configuration.

In some exemplary embodiments: the sleeve top portion further comprises at least one channel, the at least one channel being positioned about at least a portion of the sleeve top portion circumference; the tubular housing has at least one hole, the at least one hole being aligned with one of the at least one sleeve top portion channels when the top portion is supported by the flapper seat and the flapper seat is supported by the tubular housing bottom member top; and at least one shear member for insertion into one of the at least one holes and protrusion into one of the at least one sleeve top portion channels; wherein the inserted at least one shear member retains the sleeve within the tubular housing with the tubular housing top member removed.

In some exemplary embodiments: the tubular housing top member has a top end for attachment to a first downhole tubular assembly component, the top end having a first attachment configuration; and the flapper valve assembly further comprises a tubular housing substitute top member, the substitute top member having a top end for attachment to a second downhole tubular assembly component, the top end having a second attachment configuration, the second attachment configuration being different from the first attachment configuration.

In some exemplary embodiments, the tubular housing, the tubular housing top member and the tubular housing bottom member have substantially equal outside diameters. In some exemplary embodiments, the insert assembly is attached to the bottom member top. In some exemplary embodiments, the bottom member top forms an upwardly facing interior shoulder, the shoulder supporting the inserted insert assembly.

In some exemplary embodiments: the flapper seat further comprises at least one channel, the at least one channel being positioned about at least a portion of the flapper seat circumference; the tubular housing has at least one threaded hole, the at least one hole being aligned with one of the at least one flapper seat channels when the flapper seat is supported by the tubular housing bottom member top; and at least one threaded fastener for threaded insertion into one of the at least one threaded holes and protrusion into one of the at least one flapper seat channels; wherein the inserted at least one fastener retains the flapper seat within the tubular housing with the tubular housing bottom member removed.

In some exemplary embodiments of our invention we have provided a flapper valve assembly for inclusion in a downhole tubular assembly, the flapper valve assembly comprising: a tubular housing having an interior pocket, the pocket having an inside surface, the tubular housing further having a removable top member forming a tubular housing upper end, and a removable bottom member forming a tubular housing lower end, the bottom member having a top, the upper and lower ends each being attachable within the downhole tubular assembly; and insert assembly means, the insert assembly means being insertable into the tubular housing pocket when the top member is removed, and retained within the pocket when the top member is attached, the insert assembly means having: flapper seat means, the flapper seat means being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface; flapper means having a flapper, the flapper having a curved portion, the flapper being movable between a down position and an up position; bias means for biasing the flapper from the up position to the down position; and sleeve means having a sleeve, the sleeve being upwardly slidably from a sleeve first position upon the flapper seat means, the flapper seat means preventing downward movement of the sleeve, to a sleeve second position, such that the flapper is held in the up position when the sleeve is in the first position, the bias means moving the flapper to the down position when the sleeve is in the second position, the sleeve further having a top portion having an outside diameter, and a bottom portion having an outside diameter smaller than the top portion, the sleeve top portion being substantially sealed against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface, the sleeve bottom portion being saddled by the flapper curved portion when the sleeve is in the first position; wherein flow from the tubular housing pocket through the tubular housing lower end is prevented when the flapper is in the down position and allowed when the flapper is in the up position.

In some exemplary embodiments of the present invention, the flapper valve assembly further comprises means for substantially preventing lateral movement of the flapper curved portion during deformation of the flapper in response to pressure on the flapper curved portion.

The foregoing features and advantages of our invention will be apparent from the following more particular descriptions of exemplary embodiments of the invention as illustrated, for some embodiments, in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of the tubular housing in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the insert assembly in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the flapper seat and flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, with the flapper in the down position.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the insert assembly in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the sleeve in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5A is a sectional side view of a sleeve in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of the flapper seat and flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a side view of the flapper seat and flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a top view of the flapper seat in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a top rear perspective view of the flapper seat in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a side view of the flapper seat in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a rear view of the flapper seat in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a top rear perspective view of the flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a side view of the flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a front top perspective view of the flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a bottom side perspective view of the flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a flapper seat in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a detail view of the portion of the flapper seat in FIG. 16, encompassed by circle A.

FIG. 18 is a side view of the flapper seat of FIG. 16, with pin holes shown in broken line.

FIG. 19 is a side view of the flapper seat of FIG. 16, with pin holes shown in broken line.

FIG. 20 is a top view of the flapper seat of FIG. 16.

FIG. 21 is a top view of a flapper in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a side view of the flapper of FIG. 211.

FIG. 23 is an end view of the flapper of FIG. 211.

FIG. 24 is a sectional side view of the flapper of FIG. 21.

FIG. 25 is a side view of a pin used in exemplary embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper open.

FIG. 28 is an exploded view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 29 is a perspective view of the flapper seat of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 30 is a top view of the flapper seat of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 31 is a side view of the flapper seat of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 32 is a rear view of the flapper seat of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 33 is a side sectional view of the flapper seat of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, viewed along section line 33-33 in FIG. 32.

FIG. 34 is a top view of the flapper of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 35 is a side view of the flapper of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 36 is a front view of the flapper of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 37 is a side sectional view of the flapper of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, viewed along section line 37-37 in FIG. 36.

FIG. 38 is a perspective view of the guide wall of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 39 is an end view of the guide wall of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 40 is a top view of the guide wall of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 41 is a side view of the guide wall of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 42 is a bottom view of the guide wall of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 43 is a top view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

FIG. 44 is a first side view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

FIG. 45 is a second side view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

FIG. 46 is a front view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

FIG. 47 is a top view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper open.

FIG. 48 is a first side view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper open.

FIG. 49 is a rear view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper open.

FIG. 50 is a second side view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper open.

FIG. 51 is a side view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 52 is a sectional side view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention cut along section line 52-52 in FIG. 51.

FIG. 53 is a sectional side view of the tubular housing of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention cut along its longitudinal center line.

FIG. 54 is a sectional side view of the top sub of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention cut along its longitudinal center line.

FIG. 55 is a sectional side view of the bottom sub of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention cut along its longitudinal center line.

FIG. 56 is a perspective view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

FIG. 57 is a perspective view of the insert assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention with the flapper closed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

The following discussion describes exemplary embodiments of the invention in detail. This discussion should not be construed, however, as limiting the invention to those particular embodiments. Practitioners skilled in the art will recognize numerous other embodiments as well.

Definitions

Unless specifically indicated otherwise, terms such as “up,” “upward,” “down,” “downward,” “highest,” “lowest,” “above,” “below,” and other terms suggesting a vertical movement, position or relationship, as used herein, refer to positions along, and/or with respect to, the wellbore axis, with the distal end of the wellbore being considered the lowermost, and the surface end being considered the uppermost. Accordingly, movement “up” is toward the surface within the wellbore, although the true path may actually be horizontal, or even downward, with respect to the surface. Similarly, a point “lower” than another point would be farther from the surface, along the wellbore axis, although the points may actually be on an equal plane with respect to the surface.

The term “running,” as used herein, refers to moving downward into the well with whatever is indicated as being run. The term “pulling,” as used herein, refers to moving upward within a well with whatever is indicated as being pulled.

The term “well,” as used herein, refers to holes drilled vertically, at least in part, and may also refer to holes drilled with deviated, highly deviated, and/or horizontal sections of the wellbore. The term also includes wellhead equipment, surface casing, intermediate casing, and the like, typically associated with oil and gas wells.

The term “target completion interval,” as used herein, refers to a portion of a subterranean formation from which an operator wishes to allow flow of fluids into the well. The term includes both a single formation having one or more such portions (typically the case in a horizontal well) and multiple formations penetrated by the wellbore (typically the case in a vertical well), with each formation being a targeted portion.

The term “frac job,” as used herein, refers to treatment of a hydrocarbon formation, whereby fluids are injected into the formation causing fractures to occur and to enlarge. In some instances, proppants, such as sand, are included in the injection fluid, the proppants being retained within the enlarged fractures, such that the fractures are prevented from fully closing after the injection of the fluid ceases.

As used herein, the term “downhole tubular assembly” means an assembly of components chosen to perform various downhole functions purposes in fluid producing wells, the functions being enabled, at least in part, by the ability of the present invention to be integrated within the assembly and act as a valve with an open and closed position. Such assemblies include, without implied limitation, a production casing string (or a liner) cemented in a drilled hole, which has an exemplary embodiment of the valve of the present invention fastened between two joints of the casing, the casing or liner extending through one or more target completion intervals. In such an example, the “downhole tubular assembly” will often include joints of casing, casing collars, casing centralizers, and the like. For this example, the valve of the present invention will be included within the other components, usually with a casing joint above (pin down) and a casing collar below, and will be open as the components are assembled and run into the well, and during cementing. An example of a flapper valve assembly being included within a downhole tubular assembly is disclosed, generally, in United States Patent Application 2006/0124315, which is incorporated herein by reference.

As used herein, the term “shifting tool” refers to a conventional tool run into a well, which when properly positioned and manipulated, will physically move a sleeve within a downhole tool from a lower position to an upper position. An example of such a tool is the Otis Type B Shifting Tool. A shifting tool will typically have expandable keys (“dogs”) which expand within a larger internal diameter portion of a sleeve and encounter an interior sleeve profile such that the sleeve is pulled as the shifting tool is pulled. This interaction with the sleeve interior is well known in the art.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Turning now to FIGS. 1-5, wherein an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this exemplary embodiment, and as illustrated in FIG. 1, a tubular housing assembly 10 has a tubular housing 20 having an interior pocket 22 with an inside surface 24. The tubular housing is threadably attached to a top member (“top sub”) 26 having a bottom end 28, a top end 30 with threads 32 usable for attachment to a downhole tubular assembly component, such as a casing joint pin. The top sub 26 attachment to the tubular housing is sealed using O-rings 34. The tubular housing 20 is further threadably attached to a bottom member (“bottom sub”) 40 having a top end 42, forming an upwardly facing shoulder 44 adjacent the interior pocket 22, and a bottom end 46 with threads 48 usable for attachment to a downhole tubular assembly component, such as a casing collar. The bottom sub 40 attachment to the tubular housing is sealed using O-rings 50. The tubular housing 20 further has six circumferentially spaced threaded holes 52 (four shown) extending through the tubular housing 20 into the interior pocket 22, and two circumferentially spaced shear member, i.e. shear screw holes 54 extending through the tubular housing into the interior pocket. The threaded holes 52 threadably receive conventional ¾ in. (19.05 mm) by ⅜ in. (9.52 mm) steel set screws (not shown), with machine threads in this exemplary embodiment. The shear screw holes 54 are sized to secure conventional ¾ in. (19.05 mm) by ¼ in. (6.35 mm) brass shear screws (not shown).

Turning now to FIG. 2, wherein an insert assembly 60 is depicted for an exemplary embodiment of the present invention (not necessarily to scale). The insert assembly includes a flapper seat 70, a flapper 80, a bias member (a spring 82 in this exemplary embodiment), a bias member pin 83 and a slidable sleeve 90. The flapper seat has a bottom 72, a curved upper face 74, two ears 76 a,b, the ears having holes 77 a,b for receiving the pin 83, a first circumferential channel 78 and a second circumferential channel 79. When the bottom sub 40 is attached, the insert assembly 60 is supported by the interior shoulder 44 formed by the bottom sub 40, and the first channel 78 is in vertical alignment with the six set screw holes 52, the first channel 78 being sized to receive the ends of the six set screws as the screws are threaded into place. When the set screws are in place within the flapper seat first channel 78 and bear upon the flapper seat 70, the flapper seat 70 is fixed within the tubular housing interior pocket 22. The flapper seat second circumferential channel 79 is sized to receive a conventional O-ring (not shown), the O-ring sealing the flapper seat 70 against the tubular housing interior pocket inside surface 24 as the insert assembly 60 is inserted into the interior pocket 22.

In the exemplary embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIGS. 2-5, the curved flapper 80 has a top surface 84, a bottom surface 86 and two ears 88 a,b having holes 89 a,b for alignment with the flapper seat ear holes 77 a,b, for insertion of the bias member pin 83 through both sets of ears 77 a,b, 89 a,b and the spring 82, as further illustrated in FIG. 2. The spring 82 has a first end 82 a extending onto the flapper top surface 84, and a second end 82 b extending into a hole 71 in the flapper seat 80, such that the spring 82 is forced into compression as the flapper 80 is lifted from the flapper seat 70. The flapper bottom surface 86 covers and seals the flapper seat 70, as illustrated in FIG. 3, when the flapper 80 is in the down position.

As illustrated in FIG. 2 and FIG. 4, the sleeve 90 is positioned on the flapper seat 70 with the flapper 80 in an open position as the insert assembly 60 is inserted into the tubular housing interior pocket 22 through the opening made by removing the top sub 26. The sleeve 90 has a top portion 92 with a larger outside diameter and inside diameter than the sleeve's bottom portion 94. As discussed above, the larger inside diameter of the sleeve top portion 92 allows for shifting tool dogs to expand and engage an sleeve top portion interior profile (not shown). The sleeve top portion 92 has a first circumferential channel 96 that is vertically aligned with the shear screw holes 54, and is sized to receive the ends of the shear screws as the shear screws are fixed in the shear screw holes 54. The sleeve top portion 92 also has a second circumferential channel 97 for receiving an O-ring (not shown) that causes the sleeve top portion 92 to seal against the interior pocket inside surface 24.

In such exemplary embodiments, when the shear screws are in place within the sleeve top portion first channel 96, the sleeve 90 is fixed within the tubular housing interior pocket 22. The shear screws prevent the sleeve 90 from moving upwardly within the tubular housing interior pocket 22, while the flapper seat 70 prevents the sleeve 90 from moving downwardly. Accordingly, the insert assembly 60 is secured within the tubular housing interior pocket 22 when the insert assembly 60 bears upon the interior shoulder 44 formed by the bottom sub 40 and the shear screws have extended through shear screw holes 54 in the tubular housing 20 into the sleeve top portion first channel 96. These shear screws are sheared when the sleeve 90 is pulled by a shifting tool. Additional securement is provided by the set screws that protrude into the flapper seat first channel 78. Further, the O-rings in the flapper seat second channel 79 and the sleeve top portion second channel 97 seal the flapper seat 70 and sleeve top portion 92 against the interior pocket inside surface 22.

In the exemplary embodiments of the present invention depicted in FIGS. 1-5, the sleeve lower portion 94 has a lower surface 98 that is shaped for bearing upon and covering the opening in the flapper seat upper face 74 when the flapper 80 is open. This protects the flapper seat from sand, during frac jobs, and cement slurry, during cementing operations. As a result, and in combination with the sealing of the sleeve top portion 92 and flapper seat 70 against the interior pocket inside surface 24, fluids entering through the top sub 26 are forced into the insert assembly 60 and held within the insert assembly 60 until discharged through the bottom sub 40. This substantially isolates the flapper 80 and spring 82 from well fluids while the flapper 80 is open.

Turning now to FIG. 5A, wherein a sleeve 90 is depicted for an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. During operation, where the sleeve 90 is internally pressured, it is beneficial to allow pressure equalization between the sleeve interior 120 and the interior pocket 22. Pressure equalization is accomplished through four weep holes 93 a-c (three shown) spaced circumferentially about the sleeve top portion 92, and, to some extent, through the interface between the sleeve lower surface 98 and the flapper seat upper face 74. The sleeve interior 120 includes an sleeve interior profile 122 formed by a reduced internal diameter of the sleeve interior. As discussed above, a shifting tool will typically have expandable keys (“dogs”) which expand within this larger internal diameter portion of the sleeve interior and will encounter the sleeve interior profile 122 such that the sleeve 90 is pulled as the shifting tool is pulled.

In such exemplary embodiments, it is to be noted that both the top sub 26 and the bottom sub 40 may be removed without disturbing the insert assembly 60. This modular construction allows an operator to readily exchange the bottom sub 40, for example, for another bottom sub having a different thread 48 size or type. The top sub 26 is analogously interchangeable with top subs with different thread 32 sizes and types on the top sub top end.

A notable advantage of the present invention, made possible by the provision of the insert assembly 60, is that manufacturing assembly is greatly simplified by the simultaneous insertion of the flapper seat 70, open flapper 80, and positioned sleeve 90. It is not necessary to hold a pre-integrated flapper in an open position while a sleeve is inserted, as is currently the case.

Turning now to FIGS. 6-15, wherein an exemplary embodiment of a flapper seat 100 and an attached flapper 110 are illustrated, along with individual depictions of the flapper seat 100 and the flapper 110. The relative dimensions of the flapper seat 100 and the flapper 110 are substantially to scale, and illustrate the relative shapes of the flapper lower face 112 and the flapper seat upper face 102. Also illustrated is the flapper seat first channel 106, second channel 107, bottom end 108, and flapper top surface 116. [In this exemplary embodiment, the flapper ears 114 a,b are positioned inside the flapper seat single ear 104. The spring is not shown, but is of analogous function to that of spring 82.] In this exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the above-described field situation is specifically addressed in which it is desirable to run a downhole tubular assembly having 4.5 in. (11.43 cm) outside diameter (OD) casing (3.92 in. (9.96 cm) nominal internal diameter (ID)) into a 6.125 in. (15.56 cm) diameter hole. As indicated above, this hole size dictates that the maximum outside diameter of a flapper valve assembly, of any type, is limited to approximately 5.875 in. (14.92 cm), and no current flapper valve assembly having such an outside diameter can provide the required minimum internal diameter of approximately 3.8 in. (9.65 cm). In accordance with the limitations dictated by the conditions of this field situation, it is clear that an acceptable ratio of the maximum outside diameter of the flapper valve assembly to the minimum internal diameter of the flapper valve assembly will be equal to approximately 1.55 (5.875 in. (14.92 cm) divided by 3.8 in. (9.65 cm). As this ratio becomes smaller, larger and larger casing sizes are usable for a flapper valve assembly having a fixed maximum outside diameter. Similarly, as the ratio becomes smaller, and the casing size is fixed, a smaller and smaller well hole size will be available for the casing. Conversely, as the ratio becomes larger a larger maximum outside diameter is required for a given casing size.

Exemplary embodiments of the type depicted in FIGS. 6-15, are shaped, sized and configured, such that the flapper seat 100 will be insertable into a tubular housing having a maximum OD of 5.875 in. (14.92 cm) with an acceptable tubular housing wall thickness of approximately 0.5 in. (12.7 mm) adjacent the flapper seat 100. The sleeve in such embodiments has a minimum ID of approximately 3.8 in. (9.65 cm) and a lower portion wall thickness of approximately 0.025-0.125 in. (0.63-3.17 mm) The minimum ID of the flapper seat 100 is 3.8 in. (9.65 cm). Accordingly, when the flapper seat in such exemplary embodiments is constructed with components having dimensions proportional to those shown in FIGS. 6-15, the finished flapper valve assembly will be usable with the 4.5 in. (11.43 cm) OD casing in the 6.125 in. (15.56 cm) hole as described above.

A wall thickness of at least approximately ⅜ in (9.5 mm) will be acceptable for the tubular housing in exemplary embodiments of the present invention, depending on the material used in its construction.

Table 1 below provides information relevant to the foregoing ratio with respect to the prior art and exemplary embodiments of the present invention represented by FIGS. 6-15. The prior art includes the disclosures of representative patents and published patent applications, where a flapper, flapper seat and sleeve are present, where downward flow is prevented by the closed flapper. [Inclusion of such prior art devices herein does not imply that a particular prior art example is usable in a manner similar to the present invention.] Maximum outside diameter (“MOD”) was set at 5.875 in. (14.92 cm.) with the minimum internal diameter (“MID”) being determined by scaling from the assumed 5.875 in. (14.92 cm.) outside diameter, using measurements taken from an appropriate figure in the patent.

TABLE 1
5.875 INCH (14.92 CM.)
EQUIVALENT
MAXIMUM INTERNAL
DIAMETER
AVAILABLE WITH
RATIO - 5.875 INCH (14.92 CM.)
TOOLS MOD/MID MOD LIMITATION
Hernandez & Klatt 1.55  3.8 in. (9.65 cm)
US App. 2006/0124315 1.65 3.56 in. (9.04 cm)
(FIG. 4)
US App. 2006/0124311 2.57 2.29 in. (5.82 cm)
(FIG. 2)
U.S. Pat. No. 6,328,109 1.69 3.48 in. (8.84 cm)
(FIG. 3B)

From Table 1 it shown that only the present invention can satisfy the 3.8 in. (9.65 cm) minimum internal diameter required.

For some exemplary embodiments of the present invention, construction materials include 4140 steel for the top sub 26 and bottom sub 40, nitride frac hardened steel for the flapper seat 70 and sleeve 90, cast iron for the flapper 80, and 4340 steel for the tubular housing 20.

Prospectively, it is anticipated that the torsion spring 82 will be constructed from 0.0720 in. (1.83 mm) oil tempered steel spring wire (heat number 307096; ASTM-A-229-99 Class 1) in some exemplary embodiments.

Turning now to FIGS. 16-25, wherein an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is shown to include a flapper seat 200 and flapper 250, the flapper seat having an upper face having a curved portion 204 and opposing, substantially flat, first and second side portions 206,208, the first side portion 206 having two, substantially vertically oriented pin holes 210 a,b, the second side portion 208 having two, substantially vertically oriented pin holes 212 a,b. In exemplary embodiments of the type illustrated in FIGS. 16-25, the flapper seat upper face curved portion 204 has a pin hole 214 positioned opposite from bias member first and second ears 216,218, the bias member ears being contoured and shaped such that the ears outer edges 220,222 are substantially flush with the flapper seat exterior side surface 224. As shown in FIG. 25, pins 260 are insertable in the pin holes 210 a,b, 212 a,b, 214, each pin having an upper end 262 protruding from the pin hole. In some exemplary embodiments the upper end is beveled, and in some exemplary embodiments, the bevel is formed at approximately 30 degrees from horizontal. In some exemplary embodiments, a conventional adhesive, is used to secure the shear member pins 260 in the pin holes 210 a,b,212 a,b,214, with the bevels declining inwardly.

As illustrated in FIGS. 21-24, the flapper 250 in exemplary embodiments of the type illustrated in FIGS. 16-25, is shaped in substantially similar fashion as shown in FIGS. 21-24. The flapper has a curved surface 252, first and second edges 254,256, and a forward edge 258, the distance between the first edge 254 and the second edge 256 being no larger than the distance between the flapper seat side portions 206,208, such that when the flapper is lowered to a position where the flapper curved surface 252 is against the flapper seat curved portion 204, the flapper first edge 254 is proximate the pins 260 in the flapper seat first side portion pin holes 210 a,b, the flapper second edge 256 is proximate the pins in the flapper seat second side portion pin holes 212 a,b, and the flapper forward edge 258 is proximate the pin in the flapper seat upper face curved portion pin hole 214. The pins 260 are originally positioned in the pin holes 210 a,b,212 a,b,214 with the bevels declining inwardly, such that as the flapper 250 closes, it will be guided, if needed, to the proper position and will not come to rest upon the upper end 262 of any pin 260. In operation, when the flapper 250 is so positioned with respect to the pins 260, and pressure is applied through the sleeve 90 to the flapper, the pins prevent the movement of the flapper first and second edges 254,256 in an outward direction, i.e. flattening of the flapper is prevented. Use of the pins 260 for this purpose allows the flapper thickness to be reduced from a thickness otherwise required to prevent flattening in the absence of the pins at higher pressures.

Pins 260 for use in the flapper seat pin holes 210 a,b,212 a,b, 214 are constructed from conventional drill rod in some exemplary embodiments. In some exemplary embodiments the pins are constructed from plain hardened steel having a double shear strength of approximately 12,800 pounds (5,806 kg), with a Rockwell hardness of C50, as described in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers specification ASME B 18.8.2, effective as of the date of this application. In some exemplary embodiments the pin diameter is approximately ¼ in. (6.35 mm) and overall length approximately ¾ in. (12.7 mm) In some exemplary embodiments the pin diameter is 5/16 in. (7.94 mm) In some exemplary embodiments the flapper 250 is constructed from cast iron bar stock, including heat treated ductile iron having approximately 100,000 psi (689476 kPa) tensile strength, approximately 70,000 psi (482,633 kPa) yield strength, and an approximately 3 percent elongation rating.

In tests, exemplary embodiments have been tested and shown to withstand approximately 7800 psi (53,7779 kPa) of differential pressure on the closed flapper, when the flapper was 0.35″ at its thickest point, and approximately 9800 psi (67,569 kPa) of differential pressure when the flapper was 0.44 in. (11.18 mm) at its thickest point.

Turning now to FIGS. 26-50, wherein an exemplary embodiment 300 of the present invention is depicted and shown to include a flapper seat 302 and flapper of 350 of similar construction to the flapper seat 200 and the flapper 250 depicted in FIGS. 16-25, and also includes five pin holes 310 a,b, 312,a,b, 314 corresponding to the five pin holes 210 a,b,212 a,b,214 shown in FIGS. 16-25. Five pins 260 are also shown. In some exemplary embodiments guide walls 370,372 are pinable to the first and second side portions 306,308 as further illustrated in the exploded view provided in FIG. 31. As illustrated in more detail in FIGS. 38-42, each guide wall 372,374 has a substantially flat inside surface 376,378 extending upwardly to a downwardly sloping bevel 380,382, with a substantially flat top surface 384,386 and bottom surface 385,387. Each guide wall has an exterior curved surface 388,390 shaped to follow the exterior circumference of the flapper seat 300. Penetrating each of the guide walls 372,374 are two pin holes 392 a,b,394 a,b. each pair alignable with corresponding pairs of pin holes 310 a,b,312 a,b for receiving a pin 260 through the guide wall 372,374 and then into the flapper seat 350. As shown in FIGS. 26-28, the guide walls so pinned are substantially flush to the flapper seat first and second side portions 306,308, and to the outer surface of the flapper seat.

As further illustrated for exemplary embodiments of the type illustrated in FIGS. 26-50, the closed views provided in FIGS. 43-46, in particular, illustrate that the flapper 350 is closely received during and after closing, with the first and second edges 354,356 being proximate the guide wall inside surface 376,378, while the flapper's forward edge 358 is proximate the pin 260 in pin hole 314. Such proximity to the guide wall inside surfaces 376,378 provides lateral resistance to any lateral movement and/or deformation of the flapper 350. In some exemplary embodiments the pins 260 are constructed from 4140 or 4340 alloy steel and the flapper 250 is constructed from cast iron bar stock, including heat treated ductile iron having approximately 115,000/130,000 psi (792,897/896318 kPa) tensile strength, approximately 76,000/85,000 psi (524001/586054 kPa) yield strength, and an approximately 4 percent elongation rating.

Turning now to FIGS. 51-55, wherein an exemplary embodiment 400 of the present invention is shown to have, a tubular housing assembly 410 having a tubular housing 420 having an interior pocket 422 with an inside surface 424. The tubular housing is threadably attached to a top member (“top sub”) 426 having a bottom end 428, a top end 430 with threads 432 usable for attachment to a downhole tubular assembly component, such as a casing joint pin. Threads 429 are provided on the lower exterior of the top sub. The top sub 426 attachment to the tubular housing is sealed using conventional O-rings in O-ring grooves 433 a,b in the top sub 426. The tubular housing 420 is further threadably attached to a bottom member (“bottom sub”) 440 having a top end 442, forming an upwardly facing shoulder 444 adjacent the interior pocket an interior surface 424, and a bottom end 446 with threads 448 usable for attachment to a downhole tubular assembly component, such as a casing collar. The bottom sub 440 attachment to the tubular housing is sealed using O-rings in O-ring grooves 449 a,b in the bottom sub 440. The bottom sub 440 further has interior threads 452 for receiving flapper seat threads 453 in such a manner that the flapper seat 302 is secured within the tubular housing 420. This attachment does not interfere with the removeability and/or interchangeability of the bottom sub 440, such that the bottom sub may be chosen to match the downhole tubular assembly component that is otherwise being used in the well.

The tubular housing 420 also has interior threads 456 for threadable attachment of the top sub 426 using threads 429. The tubular housing also has four (two shown) circumferentially spaced holes 458 a,b for positioning four (two shown) shear members, i.e. screws 460 a,b for retaining the sleeve 90 in its original position against the flapper seat 300 with the flapper 350 in the open position.

Turning now to FIG. 56, wherein is depicted an exemplary embodiment 500 of an insert assembly of the present invention, wherein structure substantially similar to the pinned guide walls 372,374 is integrated into the flapper seat 502 during original manufacture, eliminating the need to pin additional structure on the flapper seat.

Turning now to FIG. 57, wherein an exemplary embodiment 600 of the present invention is depicted and shown to include a flapper seat elevation 604 encompassing the flapper on three sides, and having a bevel 606, directed inwardly toward the interior of the flapper seat 602) to guide the flapper 350 within, i.e. partially encompassed by, the elevation as it moves to the down position. The elevation functionally replaces the five pins 260, discussed above in other exemplary embodiments, and resists and/or substantially prevents lateral movement of the flapper 350 toward the front edge 608 or side edges 610, 612 of the flapper seat 602 in response to pressure on the flapper curved surface. In some exemplary embodiments, the elevation is separated into two or more sections, for example, two side portions and one front portion.

All equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention. The descriptions in this specification are for purposes of illustration only and are not to be construed in a limiting sense.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification166/332.8
International ClassificationE21B34/00
Cooperative ClassificationE21B34/06, E21B2034/005
European ClassificationE21B34/06