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Publication numberUS3050139 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 21, 1962
Filing dateJul 18, 1960
Priority dateJul 18, 1960
Publication numberUS 3050139 A, US 3050139A, US-A-3050139, US3050139 A, US3050139A
InventorsHayes William J
Original AssigneeShell Oil Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Underwater guide line system
US 3050139 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Aug. 21, 1962 W. J. HAYES UNDERWATER GUIDE LINE SYSTEM Filed July 18, 1960 3 Sheets-Sheet l as W e.

INVENTOR: w. J. BY:

Aug. 21, 1962 v w. J. HAYES UNDERWATER GUIDE LINE SYSTEM 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed July 18, 1960 H 5 4 5 3 4 6 H N 4 2 :i J 5% G v w i E Y. E E A G 7 7 7 O2 6 5 6 3 H l A 3 6 5 6 6 3 5 4 5 R H O S T J N Q E o 7 4 6 M w w A w M w 4 s a B 1E. m 5 J 2 I m v .0 F A 7 w 2 0s 5 a 6 3 5 4 5 w .5 I 1. ii: 4 m m 3 E: G 2 O l O 3 3 F 5 u Rn 1 3 x.) m m Aug. 21, 1962 w. J. HAYES UNDERWATER cum: LINE SYSTEM 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed July 18, 1960 FIG. 8

INVENTOR FIG. 7:

3,050,139 UNDERWATER GUIDE LINE SYdTEM William J. Hayes, Houston, Tex, assignor to Shell Oil Company, New York, N.Y., a corporation of Delaware Filed July 18, 1960, Ser. No. 43,576 9 Claims. (Cl. 1757) This invention relates to the carrying out of operations underwater and pertains more particularly to apparatus for guiding and aligning equipment through the water to a predetermined base of any suitable type, such as, for example, an offshore well which has been drilled and completed at a point adjacent the ocean floor.

Oil and gas wells drilled at offshore locations in waters over 100 feet or so in depth are preferably completed on the ocean floor with operations being carried out remotely from a drilling barge floating n the surface of the water. Since various pieces of equipment have to be lowered from the drilling barge to the ocean floor and must be accurately aligned at a predetermined position thereon from time to time, it is essential that apparatus be provided for guiding equipment of this type into place. One type of a guide system which has been used for drilling core holes in the ocean floor is shown and described in US. Patent 2,808,230 to McNeill. Another type of a guide system for offshore well drilling application, Serial No 830,538, filed July 30 1959, to Haeber et al. and entitled Underwater Well Completion Method.

In presently known systems the guide lines extend from a floating vessel on the surface of the water to a base positioned on the ocean floor when they are fixedly sedry well which has to be abanit has been the practice of running a wire cutter to the bottom along each cable to sever the cable near the ocean floor. Afterwards, the loose cables would be pulled up to the floating vessel. For Wells that were being produced, it was generally planned to connect the cables together and drop them to the ocean floor from which they would later be recovered by dragging operations. Alternatively, the upper ends of the cables could be connected to a float marker from which they could be readily disconnected when it was desired to carry out operations again at the wellhead. Handling of guide cables in this manner may be unsatisfactory at times due to the A further object of the present invention is to provide the guide cables can be readily disconnected remotely from the base on the ocean floor and subsequently reinstalled therein by remote operations.

These and other objects of this invention will be understood from the following description taken with reference to the drawing, wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a diagrammatic view illustrating a floating drilling barge anchored over a drilling location with guide cables extending from the barge to a guide base on the ocean floor;

FIGURE 2 is a diagrammatic view illustrating, in enlarged detail, a guide base on the ocean floor with a piece of equipment being lowered down the guide cables;

FIGURE 3 is a diagrammatic view taken partially in longitudinal cross-section of one guide column of the guide base with the lower end of the guide cable being anchored therein;

FIGURES 4 and 5 are views taken in cross-section of one form of a latching means, in operative and inoperative positions, for securing the guide cables to the guide base on the ocean floor;

FIGURE 6 is another arrangement of a cable being secured in the bottom of a guide column of the guide base of the present invention; and,

FIGURES 7 and 8 are schematic views of two arrangements of a cable being secured to the top of a post-like guide column.

Referring to FIGURE 1 of the drawing, a drilling barge or other vessel 11 of any suitable fioatable type is illustrated as floating on the surface of a body of water 12 and substantially and fixedly positioned above a preselected drilling location, as by being anchored to the ocean floor by anchoring lines 13 and shown) are attached and sunk carrying on well drilling operations in water varying from about feet to 1500 feet or more.

The barge 11 is equipped with a suitable derrick 16 as well as other auxiliary equipment needed for drilling a Well. The derrick 16 is positioned over a drilling slot or well 17 which extends vertically through the barge in a conventional manner. When using the equipment of the present invention the slot 17 in the barge 11 may be either centrally located or extend in from one edge. However, drilling operations may be carried out over the side of the barge without use of a. slot.

Positioned on the ocean floor 15 directly under the In the particular embodiment illustrated in well casinghead 24 is secured to the center The guide columns 21, 22 and 23' are at their upper ends to form cone-shaped flanges 26, 27 and 28. The

guide columns 21, 2,2 and 23 are tubular and are provided with a longitudinal slot 30 or 31 expreferably flared In FIGURE 2 the rectangular box 38 represents any piece of equipment being lowered into place, as by means of a pipe string which would extend to the drilling barge 11 on the surface of the water. The piece of equipment 38 isprovided with two or more guide arms 49 and 41 with cylinders having frusto'conical end portions and commonly known as guide cones 42 and 43 being attached to the outer ends thereof, preferably by swivel joints to facilitate aligning. The guide cones 43 and 44 are of a diameter slightly less than the inner diameter of the guide columns 21 and 23 and preferably have lower ends that taper downwardly. The coneshaped flanges 26 and 28 at the top of the guide columns 21 and 23 serve to align the guide cones 4-3 and 44 as they move downwardly into the guide columns or tubes. Each of the guide cones 43 and 44 is provided with a vertical hole therethrough of a diameter slightly larger than the guide cables 32 and 34, thus allowing the guide cones to pass freely down the cables and rest within their respective guide columns 21 and 23. The slot 31 in each guide column 22 is positioned normally in line with the axis of the easinghead 24. Generally, the guide columns 21, 22 and 23 are equally spaced from each other and equally spaced from a vertical line taken through the center casinghead 24.

One form of a guide column 21 is shown in greater detail in FIGURE 3. The guide column 21 is provided with a flange 45 at the lower end thereof for connecting it to the base member 20 of the guide assembly base 18. The latching mechanism 36 at the lower end of the guide cable 32 is shown as being provided with a pair of outwardly-extendible latching dogs 46 and 47 which are designed to engage the hold-down shoe 35 in the guide column 21. Positioned on the guide cable 32 above the guide column 21 is a device in the form of a tubular weight element 50 slidably mounted on the cable 32 and being adapted to drop down onto the latching mechanism 36 at the bottom of the cable for releasing the latching mechanism. The releasing weight element 50 is preferably provided with a fishing neck 51 so that in an emergency a fishing tool of any suitable type may be passed down the cable 32 to engage the fishing neck 51 of the weight element 50 and pull it back up the cable 32.

One form of a latching mechanism is shown in greater detail in its normally operative position in FIGURE 4, and in its retracted or its inoperative position in FIGURE 5. The body 36 of the latching mechanism contains a wedge-shaped element 52 which, when raised, causes the spring-loaded dogs 46 and 47 to be retracted within the body 36. Springs 53 and 54 are provided within the body in contact with the pivotal dogs 46 and 47 to urge normally the dogs 46 and 47 outwardly. A pair of shoulders 55 and 56 are formed on the body to engage the dogs .-6 and 47 and prevent them from expanding beyond the maximum desired position and to absorb any horizontal forces that may exist.

The wedge-shaped element 52 is connected to the bottom of a releasing rod 57 which e tends axially upward through the body 36 and is screw-threaded to the upper body portion 36a. A releasing sleeve 58 is slidably mounted on the outside of the releasing rod 57. A pair of locking balls 60 and 61 are carried in recesses 62 and 63, respectively, in a neck 64 formed in the body member 36. In the locking position the releasing sleeve 58 has a portion thereof that covers the recesses 62 and 63 and is in contact with balls 60' and 61 forcing them into an annular recess or portion 65 of reduced diameter in the releasing rod 57. A chamber or recess 66 is formed within the releasing sleeve 58 and is of a size to permit the locking balls to be forced thereinto, outside the releasing rod 57, when the locking dogs are being retracted, as shown in FIGURE 5. Thus, when the chamber 66 is in the form of an annular chamber within the releasing sleeve 58 and around the releasing rod 57, the width of the chamber between the rod 57 and the sleeve 58 must be at least equal to the diameter of the locking ball 61. A compression spring 67 is mounted in the chamber 66 4 to maintain the sleeve 58 in a normally upward position as illustrated in FIGURE 4. Positioned at the top of the latching mechanism 3636a1 is a rope or cable socket 63 by which the cable 32 is connected to the latching mechanism.

If desired, a latching mechanism having a diameter substantially equal to that of the interior of the guide column 21 may be employed as shown in FIGURE 6. In this embodiment of the invention the wall of the guide column 21 is provided with a pair of latching slots 70 and 71 in which latching dogs 46 and 47 may seat, with a guide ridge 72 being provided on the inside of the guide column 21 for guiding the dogs 46 and 47 into place within the slots 7t) and 71. In this embodiment the nnlatching mechanism is in the form of a telescopic unit comprising upper and lower portions 73 and 74. The lower unit 7 4 is firmly anchored within the guide column 2.1 and is connected through a hose 75 to a suitable source of pressure fluid. The upper end of the upper telescopic unit 73 is in the form of a cylinder having walls of sufiicient thickness to be allowed to pass upwardly between the inner wall of the guide conduit 21 and the outer wall of the latching mechanism 36 so as to be forced up against and cause the dogs 46 and 47 to be retracted within the body member 36. After retracting the dogs 46 and 47, the latching mechanism 36 and the cable to which it is attached could be withdrawn from the guide column 21.

In the operation of a preferred embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIGURES 2 and 3, the cables 32, 33 and 34 are originally latched in the guide columns 21, 22 and 23 preferably before the guide assembly base 13 is lowered into and through the water to the ocean floor. As the latching mechanism 36 (FIG- URE 3) passes through the lock-down shoe 35 in the bottom of the guide column 21, the spring-loaded latching dogs 46 and 47 are forced into the body of the latching mechanism 36 and they immediately expand radially when they have passed the lock-down shoe 35. The tensile load on the guide line 32 is transferred to these latching dogs 46 through the sinker or weight bar 37, to the releasing rod 57, and thence through the locking balls 60 and 61 to the body 36 and the latching dogs 46 and 47. So long as the releasing sleeve 58 is held in the upward position by the spring 67, the latching dogs 46 and 47 remain in the expanded position illustrated in FIGURE 4 and the latching mechanism 36 remains locked in the bottom of the lock-down shoe 35, thus firmly anchoring the lower end of the cable 32 within the guide column 21.

When it is desired to retrieve the guide lines 21, 22 and 23 from the guide assembly base 18, a tubular ,releasing weight element 50 is slipped over the top of the guide line at the surface on the barge and is allowed to drop freely to the bottom and into the guide columns 21, 22 and 23. When a weight element 50 reaches the bottom of the cable, it slides over the weight bar 37 and seats on the top of the releasing sleeve 58, forcing it downwardly and compressing the spring 67 as shown in FIGURE 5. When this is done, the upward force from the guide cable 32 is transmitted to the releasing rod 57 and the lock-down ball-s 60 and 61 are caused to move outwardly into the recess 66 within the releasing When the releasing bar 57 moves upwardly together with the wedge-shaped element 52 secured to the bottom end thereof, the sloping surfaces of the wedge-shaped element 52 contact the lower ends of the dogs 46 and 47 causing them to move outwardly against compression springs 53 and 54 while the tops of the latching dogs 46 and 47 are retracted within the body 36. With the latching dogs 46 and 47 retracted as shown in FIGURE 5, the guide cable 32 and its latching mechanism 36 connected to the lower end thereof may be withdrawn upwardly out of the guide column 21 (FIGURE 3) and pulled up to the barge at the surface. During normal operations with the guide lines in place as illustrated in FIGURE 1, the upper ends of the guide cables 32, 33 and 34 are preferably connected to constant-tension air winches 76, 77 and 78 mounted on the barge 11.

In the event that the latching mechanism should fail so that it was impossible to retract the latching dogs 46 and 47 and withdraw the cable from the guide column 21, in: creased tension on the guide cable 32 would cause the releasing rod 57 to be pulled apart at its neck 65 or portion of reduced diameter. This portion of the releasing rod 57 is designed and constructed to fail in tension before the guide cable 32 fails. This allows the guide cable 32 on the upper portion of the latching mechanism to be safely recovered by pulling it to the surface while the remainder of the tool drops through the lock-down shoe 35 and is out of the way when a new guide cable and its latching mechanism is run into place.

While the present invention has been described with regard to an equipment base assembly 17 (FIGURE 1) having guide columns or tubes 22 and 23 attached thereto, the term column is also used to include guide posts of the type shown in FIGURES 8 and 9.

In FIGURE 7, the top of a guide post 92) is illustrated as having a recess 91 formed in the top thereof, with a lip 92 in the recess 91 forming a hold-down shoe similar to shoe 75 of FIGURE 5. When the cable-latching mechanism 65a is dropped into the recess 91, the dogs 46a and 47a latch in the shoe 91. The weight bar 37a which forms the top of the guide post, is provided with a pro tective cap 93 which is secured by shear pins 94 and 95. The top of the protective cap 93 is in the form of a fishing neck 96. In order to retrieve the cap 93, an annular fishing tool (not shown) is dropped down to engage the fishing neck 96 of the cap which is pulled upwardly after shearing shear pins 94 and 95. An annular weight (not shown) is then dropped down the cable and over the weight bar 37a to depress the releasing sleeve 97 of the latching mechanism 36a and retract the dogs 46a and 47a. An upward pull on the cable then releases it from the post 9t Preferably, drain ports 98 and 99 are provided through the wall of the post 90 from the bottom of the recess 91 to allow any foreign material to drain away.

In FIGURE 8, the top of a guide post 100 is shown as having a ably having weight bar 76b, and 104 which are arranged to latch in an annular recess 105 in the top of the post, which recess forms a hold-down shoe. A spring-loaded releasing sleeve 106 is mounted on the outside of the latching mechanism and is normally protected against movement by a protective skirt member 107 releasably secured to the latching mechanism 102 in any suitable manner, as by shear pins 108 and 109. A fishing groove 110 is formed on the outside of the skirt member 107 near the top thereof for engaging a fishing tool (not shown) when the sleeve member is to be removed. Upon dropping an annular weight element (not shown) after removing the skirt member 107, the releasing sleeve 106 is forced downwardly compressing spring 111 and forcing the lower ends of the dogs 103 and 104 inwardly, thus retracting the dogs into the latching mechanism which can then be raised by an upward pull on the cable 32b. The weight bar 37b, if used, forms an upward extension of the guide post 100.

I claim as my invention:

1. Apparatus for guiding equipment to a predetermined position within a body of water, said apparatus comprising a floating vessel at a predetermined position on said body of water, guide assembly base means fixedly positioned below the surface of said body of water, anchoring means fixedly secured to said base means and extending into the water-covered earth formation for anchoring said base means thereto, at least two flexible guide cables in spaced relationship extending between said floating vessel and said base means, and disconnectible latching means connecting said guide cables to said base means.

2. Apparatus for guiding equipment to a predetermined position within a body of water, said apparatus comprising a floating vessel at a predetermined position on said body of water, guide assembly base means fixedly positioned below the surface of said body of water, anchoring means fixedly secured to said base means and extending into the water-covered earth formation for anchoring said base means thereto, at least two flexible guide cables in spaced relationship extending between said floating vessel and said base means, disconnectible latching means connecting said guide cables to said columns of said base means, a portion of each of said latching means being carried by said cable and a cooperating portion being car ried by said base means.

3. Apparatus for guiding equipment to a predetermined position within a body of water, said apparatus comprising a floating vessel at a predetermined position on said body of water, guide assembly base means fixedly positioned below the surface of said body of water, said guide assembly base means including horizontal support members and at least two vertically-extending guide columns fixedly secured thereto in spaced relationship with each other, anchoring means fixedly secured to said base means and extending vertically into the water covered earth formation for anchoring said base means thereto, at least two flexible guide cables extending between said floating vessel and said base means, the lower end of each guide cable extending separately to one of said guide columns, and disconnectible latching means connecting said guide cables to said base means within said columns, a portion of each of said latching means being carried by said cable and a cooperating portion being carried by said base means within a guide column thereof.

4. Apparatus for guiding equipment to a predetermined position Within a body of water, said apparatus comprising a floating vessel at a predetermined position on said body of water, guide assembly ba-se means fixedly positioned near the bottom of said body of water, and substantially directly below said vessel, said guide assembly base means including horizontal support members and at least two vertically-extending slotted tubular guide columns fixedly secured thereto in spaced relationship with each other, conduit anchoring means fixedly secured to said base means and extending vertically into the Water-covered earth formation for anchoring said base means thereto, at least two flexible guide cables extending between said floating vessel and said base means, the lower end of each guide cable extending separately into one of said guide columns, and disconnectible latching means connecting said guide cables to said base means within said columns, a portion of each of said latching means being carried by said cable and a cooperating portion being carried by said base means Within a guide column thereof.

5. Apparatus for guiding equipment to a predetermined position on an earth formation such as an ocean floor covered by a body of water, said apparatus comprising a floating vessel at a predetermined position on said body guide cable extending separately to one of said guide columns, disconnectible latching means connecting said guide cables to said base means, a portion of each of said latching means being carried by said cable and a cooperat= ing portion being carried by said base means, said latching means comprising seating means carried by said base means, a mandrel carried at the lower end of each guide cable, spring-loaded latching dogs carried by said mandrel and radially-extendible therefrom and adapted to engage the seating means of said base means, unlatching means carried on said mandrel for retracting said latching dogs, said unlatching means being adapted to be remotely operated by means of dropping a tubular weight bar down said cable to contact and actuate said unlatching means.

6. Apparatus for guiding equipment to the head of a well to be drilled at a predetermined position on an earth formation such as an ocean floor covered by a body of water, said apparatus comprising a floating vessel anchored at a predetermined position on said body of water, guide assembly base means fixedly positioned near the bottom of said body of water, said guide assembly base means including horizontal support members and at least two vertically-extending guide columns fixedly secured thereto in spaced relationship with each other and equally spaced from the center of said base means, conduit anchoring means fixedly secured to said base means and extending vertically into the water covered earth formation for anchoring said base means thereto, at least two guide cables extending between said floating vessel and said base means, the lower end of each guide cable extending separately to one of said guide columns, disconectible latching means connecting said guide cables to said base means, a portion of each of said latching means being carried by said cable and a cooperating portion being carried by said base means, said latching means comprising seating means in the form of a lock-down shoe carried by said base means in a column thereof near the lower end thereof, a mandrel carried at the lower end of each guide cable, spring-loaded latching dogs carried by said mandrel and radially-extendible therefrom and adapted to engage the lock-down shoe seating means of said base means, unlatching means fixedly carried Within each guide column for retracting said latching dogs, said unlatching means being adapted to be remotely operated.

7. Apparatus for latching a cable to a base element having latching shoulder means formed thereon, said apparatus comprising a body member, latching means carried by said body member and mounted for lateral extension therefrom, spring means carried by said body member and contacting said latching means for normally urging said latching means from said body element, a

mandrel longitudinally mounted for sliding movement to and from positions in which said latching means are in operative and inoperative positions with one end of said mandrel extending outside said body member, means for securing a cable to the end of said mandrel extending outside said body member, and unlatching means carried by said body member for disengaging said latching means from said body member.

8. Apparatus for latching a cable to a base element having latching shoulder means formed thereon, said apparatus comprising a body member, latching means carried by said body member and mounted for lateral extension therefrom, spring means carried by said body member and contacting said latching means for normally urging said latching means from said body element, a mandrel longitudinally mounted for sliding movement to and from positions in which said latching means are in operative and inoperative positions with one end of said mandrel extending outside said body member, means for securing a cable to the end of said mandrel extending outside said body member, and unlatching means carried by said body member for disengaging said latching means from said body member, said unlatching means including a portion of said mandrel having a reduced diameter of a size which will shear under a load less than the shear limit of the cable attached to the mandrel.

9. Apparatus for latching a cable to a base element having latching shoulder means formed thereon, said apparatus comprising a body member, latching means carried by said body member in recess means thereof and pivotally mounted for lateral extension therefrom, spring means carried by said body member and contacting said latching means for normally urging said latching means from said recess means of said body element, a mandrel longitudinally mounted for limited sliding movement to and from positions in which said latching means are in operative and inoperative positions with one end of said mandrel extending outside said body member, a portion of said mandrel bearing against said latching means in at least one of said positions, means for securing a cable to the end of said mandrel extending outside said body member, and unlatching means carried by said body member for disengaging said latching means from said body member, said unlatching means including a portion of said mandrel having a reduced diameter of a size which will shear under a load less than the shear limit of the cable attached to the mandrel.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2909359 *Dec 24, 1956Oct 20, 1959Continental Oil CoOff-shore drilling
US2923531 *Apr 26, 1956Feb 2, 1960Continental Oil CoDrilling
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3163228 *Nov 6, 1961Dec 29, 1964Shell Oil CoCable latching device
US3179178 *Apr 15, 1963Apr 20, 1965Shell Oil CoMethod and apparatus for stripping well pipes
US3358752 *Oct 23, 1965Dec 19, 1967Chevron ResDetachable coupling apparatus for attaching and detaching a guide cable to an underwater well base
US3384169 *May 17, 1966May 21, 1968Mobil Oil CorpUnderwater low temperature separation unit
US3452815 *Jul 31, 1967Jul 1, 1969Regan Forge & Eng CoLatching mechanism
US3709291 *Aug 31, 1970Jan 9, 1973Hanes JMethod and apparatus for reestablishing underwater guide lines
US4417830 *Feb 9, 1981Nov 29, 1983Constructors John Brown LimitedConnector assembly
US4523878 *Apr 13, 1984Jun 18, 1985Exxon Production Research Co.Remotely replaceable guidepost method and apparatus
US5560436 *Apr 25, 1995Oct 1, 1996Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. - PetrobrasSingle drilling guide base for subsea oil wells
US5722494 *Oct 18, 1995Mar 3, 1998Union Oil Company Of CaliforniaOffshore well structure
US5860477 *Dec 9, 1996Jan 19, 1999Gec-Marconi LimitedUnderwater oil field apparatus
US20110248229 *Nov 10, 2009Oct 13, 2011Justoy Pty LimitedFence post and fence formed therefrom
EP0034890A1 *Feb 10, 1981Sep 2, 1981JOHN BROWN ENGINEERS & CONSTRUCTORS LIMITEDConnector assembly, methods of forming connections and anchored marine structures
EP0338832A1 *Apr 20, 1989Oct 25, 1989Conoco Inc.Method and apparatus for retrieving a running tool/guideframe assembly
Classifications
U.S. Classification175/7
International ClassificationE21B41/10, E21B41/00
Cooperative ClassificationE21B41/10
European ClassificationE21B41/10