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Publication numberUS20110056706 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/872,260
Publication dateMar 10, 2011
Filing dateAug 31, 2010
Priority dateSep 10, 2009
Also published asWO2012030638A1, WO2012030638A4
Publication number12872260, 872260, US 2011/0056706 A1, US 2011/056706 A1, US 20110056706 A1, US 20110056706A1, US 2011056706 A1, US 2011056706A1, US-A1-20110056706, US-A1-2011056706, US2011/0056706A1, US2011/056706A1, US20110056706 A1, US20110056706A1, US2011056706 A1, US2011056706A1
InventorsRobert T. Brooks
Original AssigneeTam International, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Longitudinally split swellable packer and method
US 20110056706 A1
Abstract
A swellable packer (10) includes upper and lower end rings (20, 22) and elastomeric bodies (12, 14) spaced between the upper and lower end rings to expand and thereby close off an annulus about the downhole tubular. The elastomeric body may be positioned such that a slot (26) in the body receives a control line (28).
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Claims(19)
1. A swellable packer for use in a well, comprising:
a lower split end ring including two or more lower end ring sections for circumferentially surrounding a downhole tubular;
an upper split end ring including two or more upper end ring sections for circumferentially surrounding the downhole tubular;
an elastomeric body spaced longitudinally between the upper split end ring and the lower split end ring to expand and close off an annulus about the downhole tubular;
the two or more lower split end ring sections being fixedly connected to the downhole tubular;
the two or more upper split end ring sections being fixedly connected to the downhole tubular; and
the elastomeric body split such that a side face of a C-shaped elastomeric body section substantially abuts a side face of another C-shaped elastomeric body section.
2. A swellable packer as defined in claim 1, wherein the elastomeric body is manufactured as a unitary sleeve-shaped member, and is longitudinally split.
3. A swellable packer as defined in claim 2, wherein the split between the elastomeric sections of the body forms a castellated slot defining a tooth pattern.
4. A swellable packer as defined in claim 1, further comprising:
one or more control lines extending axially through the elastomeric body.
5. A swellable packer as defined in claim 4, further comprising:
each of the one or more control lines pass through one or more of lower split end ring and the upper split end ring.
6. A swellable packer as defined in claim 1, wherein each of the two or more C-shaped elastomeric bodies has a side face adjacent a side face of another C-shaped elastomeric body.
7. A swellable packer for use in a well, comprising:
a lower split end ring including two or more lower end ring sections for circumferentially surrounding a downhole tubular;
an upper split end ring including two or more upper end ring sections for circumferentially surrounding the downhole tubular;
an elastomeric body spaced longitudinally between the upper split end ring and the lower split end ring to expand and close off an annulus about the downhole tubular;
the two or more lower split end ring sections being fixedly connected to the downhole tubular, and an inner surface of the lower split end ring configured for secured engagement with the downhole tubular;
the two or more upper split end ring sections being fixedly connected to the downhole tubular, and an inner surface of the upper split end ring configured for secured engagement with the downhole tubular; and
the elastomeric body split such that a side face of a C-shaped elastomeric body section substantially abuts a side face of another C-shaped elastomeric body section.
8. A swellable packer as defined in claim 7, further comprising:
one or more control lines extending axially through the elastomeric body.
9. A swellable packer as defined in claim 8, further comprising:
each of the one or more control lines pass through one or more of lower split end ring and the upper split end ring.
10. A swellable packer as defined in claim 7, wherein the tubular has an elastomeric wrapping adhered to an outside of the tubular, and the C-shaped elastomeric body sections cover the elastomeric wrapping.
11. A method of positioning a swellable packer on a tubular for use in a well, comprising:
providing a lower split end ring including two or more lower end ring sections for circumferentially surrounding a downhole tubular;
providing an upper split end ring including two or more upper end ring sections for circumferentially surrounding the downhole tubular;
providing two or more c-shaped elastomeric bodies each spaced longitudinally between the upper split end ring and the lower split end ring to expand and close off an annulus about the downhole tubular;
fixedly connecting the two or more lower split end ring sections to the downhole tubular, and an inner surface of the lower split end ring configured for secured engagement with the downhole tubular;
fixedly connecting the two or more upper split end ring sections to the downhole tubular, and an inner surface of the upper split end ring configured for secured engagement with the downhole tubular; and
providing a side face of one elastomeric body adjacent a side face of another elastomeric body.
12. A method as defined in claim 11, wherein the elastomeric body is manufactured as a unitary sleeve-shaped member, and is longitudinally split.
13. A method as defined in claim 12, wherein the split between the elastomeric sections of the body forms a castellated slot defining a tooth pattern.
14. A method as defined in claim 11, further comprising:
extending one or more control lines through the elastomeric body.
15. A method as defined in claim 14, further comprising:
each of the control lines pass through one or more of lower split end ring and the upper split end ring.
16. A method as defined in claim 11, further comprising:
positioning each of the two or more elastomeric bodies about the tubular such that a control line passes through a slot in an elastomeric body for receiving the control line.
17. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein an elastomeric wrapping covers the tubular and the elastomeric bodies cover the wrapping.
18. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein the slot is provided in a radially internal portion of the elastomeric body.
19. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein each of the upper split end ring and lower split end ring includes radially internal teeth for gripping engagement with the tubular.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/241,093 filed on Sep. 10, 2009, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a swellable elastomer element packer that may be placed around a tubular at any location and may be used in both conventional completions and intelligent well completions.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Various types of swellable packers have been devised, including packers which are fixed to the OD of a tubular and the elastomer formed by wrapped layers, and designs wherein the swellable packer is slipped over the tubular and locked in place. If the operator desires to have control lines pass through the packer for intelligent well completions, the control line typically was axially aligned with a slot, generally in the exterior of the packer, since the packer was otherwise fixed to the casing or pipe. Manipulation of a control line to obtain proper alignment with a slot in the packer may be difficult, and may risk damage to the control line. An alternative solution is to cut the slot in the exterior of the elastomer cover at the rig site for alignment with the control line. This practice is complicated by the size variance in the cross-section of the control line and/or the encapsulation of the control line.

Swellable packers are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,472,757 and 7,552,768. U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,788 illustrates control lines on the exterior of a packer, and Publication 2007/0012436 discloses a control cable within the elastomeric body of the packer. Other patents of interest include U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,024,916, 5,137,970, and 6,431,282, 6,474,414, 6,828,531, 6,923,283, and 7,562,710.

The disadvantages of the prior art are overcome by the present invention, and an improved swellable packer and method of installing a packer is hereinafter disclosed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a swellable packer includes a two piece swellable element manufactured as a single unit and then split longitudinally into two halves. Each of the two halves includes swellable rubber between split end rings. Since the packer may be split in two halves, any control lines are visible from the bore of the respective packer half during installation of the packer on a tubular.

According to the method of the invention, a lower split end ring and an upper split end ring may be provided for surrounding the downhole tubular. The method includes providing two or more C-shaped elastomeric bodies each spaced longitudinally between the end rings to expand and seal the annulus about the downhole tubular. The end rings are fixedly connected to the downhole tubular, and a side face of one C-shaped elastomeric body is positioned adjacent a side face of another C-shaped elastomeric body to form an elastomeric seal when the elastomer is expanded.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of one embodiment of the packer according to present invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional side view of the packer shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an end view of the packer shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the packer shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a front view of an alternate embodiment of a packer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 depicts a swellable packer 10 with an elastomeric element formed as a unit and split into two halves 12, 14 after manufacture. These two halves each include the swellable elastomer body 18, and split end rings 20, 22. The swellable packer 10 may be fabricated conventionally from elastomer layers which are repeatedly wrapped around a mandrel, and then the elastomeric body is cured at an elevated temperature. The split elastomeric bodies and end rings may be slid off the mandrel, which may be reused for manufacturing another packer. Each end ring has wicker type grooves 24, as shown in FIG. 2, so that when the end rings are bolted together, the wickers are embedded into the tubular, thereby restraining the packer halves from moving circumferentially or axially. When the two packer halves are locked together on the tubular, there is no visible gap between the rubber halves, which are butted up against each other. The halves may have a straight cut axially separating the two halves, as shown in FIG. 1, or a castellated type slot 32, as shown in FIG. 5. The tooth pattern of the slot may vary considerably, depending on the application. An advantage of the latter embodiment is that this provides a more tortuous path for any potential leak down the swelled joint at higher pressures and temperatures. Either or both of the halves 12, 14 may include a slot 26 (see FIG. 2) for a suitable control line 28. Alternatively, the control line may be encapsulated into the molded elastomer. The control line may be visible from the lower bore of the swellable packer, which allows the control line to be run in a normal manner on the outside of the tubular going down hole, then the split half swellable packer aligned with the control line, rather than aligning the control line with the slot in the packer. In this design, the control or encapsulated lines may be run along the outside of a downhole tubular, in a conventional fashion, and each swellable packer half aligned to a control line, not the other way around. Once the two packer halves are placed over the capsulated lines, the two halves are bolted together with the inner faces containing the wickers gripping the tubular. The inner face of each split end ring may be configured for reliable gripping engagement with the base tubular on which the packer is mounted. Various types of gripping teeth may be provided on the inner face of an end ring. In some applications, a C-shaped inlay may be provided, thereby effectively forming an inlay sleeve for gripping the base tubular without damaging the tubular. In other applications, one or more of the inner faces of a split end ring may be manufactured with a slight “wave” to the otherwise cylindrical inner surface of a split ring, thereby again concentrating forces to provide reliable gripping engagement without damaging the tubular.

FIG. 3 is the end view of the packer 10 shown in FIG. 1, and illustrates the position of two control lines spaced circumferentially 180° apart. The lower end rings 22 and the mating faces of the two split end rings are also shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view through the elastomeric body 26, and shows the circumferentially opposing control lines 28 and the tubular 40 on which the packer is mounted.

As the swellable packer is run into the well, the swelling fluid, whether an oil or a water based fluid, will act on the surface of the split elastomer sleeves. When the elastomer swells, it will touch the borehole, or the bore of the casing or other tubular in the hole, with continued swelling by absorption and adsorpotion of the fluid exposing the swelled areas between inner and outer diameters of the elastomeric element and the OD of the tubular and the ID of the outer tubular or borehole wall, and between the two mating side faces of adjacent split elastomeric elements, thereby continuing to have the swell fluid enter the swellable elastomer through those exposed areas. When the packer halves are fully swelled, the split faces will be swelled into one homogenous piece of elastomer and also swelled around the control lines. If pressure is applied from either or both ends of the packer at the same time, both ends of the swellable elastomeric element move simultaneously toward each other, thereby providing bi-directional sealing capability. For the FIG. 5 embodiment, the packer 10 need not include control lines. The packer may be fabricated as discussed above, then the two halves simply bolted or otherwise secured together on a tubular.

The packer as disclosed herein has significant advantages compared to the prior art. There is no need for well operations involving packer setting, and the packer has no moving parts and is thus simple and highly reliable. The packer may be shipped to the field and placed at any position on a tubular, as desired by the operator. As shown in FIG. 4, the base tubular (pipe) may be wrapped with a thin layer 45 of swellable elastomer that adheres to the base tubular. The split halves of the elastomeric body abut during assembly, engage the thin elastomer layer 45 on the base tubular, and provide additional swell/seal around the control line.

Control line slots may be cut in the interior of the elastomeric body at a manufacturing facility, since in most cases the size, type and position of the control lines, e.g., control lines 180° apart, will be known as the packer is manufactured. In other situations, the control line gap may be cut in the field. Expansion of the elastomeric material fills any voids around the control line. The control lines may also be passed through apertures or slots in the upper and lower end rings.

The term “control line” as used herein includes any type of control line, encapsulated line, or other line comprising cable of any type, including fiber optic or electrical conductor, which conducts power or signals between the surface and downhole points.

A reliable swellable packer is obtained without having to ship the customer the tubular on which the swellable elastomer is molded and/or which there is a wrapping. This allows a substantially thicker rubber to be used compared to embodiments which slip an entire packer body over the end of the material, since the inner sleeve has size restrictions and overcoming the size of the tubular ends is not necessary. This allows for much higher flexibility to the operator, who may maintain a stock of packers of a selected size and promptly install and use the packer of this design on any proper size tubular.

Although specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein in some detail, this has been done solely for the purposes of explaining the various aspects of the invention, and is not intended to limit the scope of the invention as defined in the claims which follow. Those skilled in the art will understand that the embodiment shown and described is exemplary, and various other substitutions, alterations and modifications, including but not limited to those design alternatives specifically discussed herein, may be made in the practice of the invention without departing from its scope.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20080210418 *Jan 3, 2008Sep 4, 2008Knippa Jeffrey LSplit Body Swelling Packer
US20090205841 *Feb 6, 2009Aug 20, 2009Jurgen KlugeDownwell system with activatable swellable packer
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7997338 *Mar 11, 2009Aug 16, 2011Baker Hughes IncorporatedSealing feed through lines for downhole swelling packers
US8083000 *Feb 26, 2009Dec 27, 2011Swelltec LimitedSwellable packer having a cable conduit
US8225861Jul 11, 2011Jul 24, 2012Baker Hughes IncorporatedSealing feed through lines for downhole swelling packers
US8371374May 1, 2012Feb 12, 2013Baker Hughes IncorporatedSealing feed through lines for downhole swelling packers
US8459367Dec 27, 2011Jun 11, 2013Swelltec LimitedSwellable packer having a cable conduit
US8464800 *Feb 26, 2009Jun 18, 2013Swelltec LimitedExpandable member for downhole tool
US8627894 *Dec 12, 2011Jan 14, 2014Swelltec LimitedRing member for a swellable downhole packer
US20120103634 *Dec 12, 2011May 3, 2012Swelltec LimitedRing Member for a Swellable Downhole Packer
EP2725187A1 *Oct 25, 2013Apr 30, 2014Weatherford/Lamb Inc.Inwardly swelling seal
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/387, 166/134
International ClassificationE21B33/12
Cooperative ClassificationE21B33/1208, E21B17/105
European ClassificationE21B17/10F2, E21B33/12F
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 31, 2010ASAssignment
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BROOKS, ROBERT T.;REEL/FRAME:024916/0790
Effective date: 20100827
Owner name: TAM INTERNATIONAL, INC., TEXAS