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Publication numberUS3220245 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 30, 1965
Filing dateMar 25, 1963
Priority dateMar 25, 1963
Publication numberUS 3220245 A, US 3220245A, US-A-3220245, US3220245 A, US3220245A
InventorsWinkle Denzal W Van
Original AssigneeBaker Oil Tools Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Remotely operated underwater connection apparatus
US 3220245 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Nov. 30, 1965 D. w. VAN WINKLE 3,220,245

REMOTELY OPERATED UNDERWATER CONNECTION APPARATUS Filed March 25, 1965 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Pa. l.

BY F MMM rrolQ/VEYS.

Nov. 30, 1965 D. w. VAN WINKLE REMOTELY OPERATED UNDERWATER CONNECTION APARATUS 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed March 25 1963 INVENTOR. W Vw PWN/LE ,0r roe/VE Ys United States Patent O 3,220,245 REMOTELY GPERATED UNDERWATER CUNNECTION APPARATUS Denzal W. Van Winkle, La Mirada, Calif., assigner to Baker Oil Tools, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., a corporation of California Filed Mar. 25, 1963, Ser. No. 267,537 8 Claims. (Cl. 73--46) The present invention relates to well apparatus, and more particularly to apparatus for establishing well connections in the absence of a person at the point of connection.

An object of the present invention is to provide improved apparatus for making a sealed underwater connection at a substantial distance below the surface of the water without the need for a diver.

Another object of the invention is to provide apparatus capable of establishing an underwater leakproof pipe-like connection controlled from a location above the surface of the water or adjacent land, the connection remaining in its leakproof state without dependence upon any aids, such as the continued application of fluid pressure thereto.

A further object of the invention is to provide apparatus capable of connecting opposed elements of an underwater pipe-like joint to one another, sealing the joint against leakage, and disconnecting the opposed elements from one another, all without the necessity for providing a diver.

An additional object of the invention is to provide apparatus for making a sealed underwater pipe-like connection at a substantial distance below the water surface without the aid of a diver, and for testing the connection at high pressures, if desired, without applying pressure to the interior of the connection.

This invention possesses many other advantages, and has other objects which may be made more clearly apparent from a consideration of a form in which it may be embodied. This form is shown in the drawings accompanying and forming part of the present specification. It will now be described in detail, for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention; but it is to be understood that such detailed description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, since the scope of the invention is best defined by the appended claims.

Referring to the drawings:

FIGURE l is a diagrammatic view of a fully connected underwater well bore apparatus and an asso-ciated floating barge;

FIG. 2 is a longitudinal section on an enlarged scale taken along the line 2--2 of FIG. 1, but disclosing the apparatus prior to completing the underwater connection;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, fragmentary longitudinal section of the apparatus after completion of the connection;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged front elevation of the lower portion of the apparatus disclosed in FIG. 1, the pipe connecting portion being shown in section;

FIG. 5 is a view taken along the line 55 on FIG. 4, with the clamp portion of the apparatus in closed position;

FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 of the clamp portion in open position.

As illustrated in the drawings, it is desired to make a leakproof underwater connection substantially below the surface of a body of water W, the establishing of the connection being controlled from a remote point above the surface of the water. The connection can also be disestablished whenever desired, under the control of the operator above the surface of the water. Moreover, if desired, the testing of the connection, to ascertain its ability to withstand high pressures, can also be accom- ICC plished from a remote location above the surface of the water.

As shown by way of illustration, it is desired to connect a tubular member 10 to another tubular device 11 previously installed in a well bore 12, such as a string of surface casing or pipe extending into the well bore and projecting a short distance above the ocean floor F. A suitable pad 13 may also have been provided on the ocean floor surrounding the pipe 11, the lower end of vertical guide cables 14 having been suitably secured to the pad, the cables extending upwardly to a barge or platform B floating in the water. As shown, the guide cables extend through an opening C in the barge and pass around sheaves S and winding drums D of Winches, for the purpose of maintaining the guide cables in tension. The floating barge or platform B has a suitable derrick E mounted thereon by means of which equipment may be lowered in and out of the well and through the ocean or corresponding body of water W.

The surface casing or pipe 11 terminates in an upper flange 15 having an inner seal ring groove 16, the opposed walls of which taper downwardly toward each other, and also an external groove 17 extending downwardly from the upper surface 18 of the flange. The upper corners 19 of this outer groove 17 may be beveled, and a bleeder hole or holes 20 may extend from the base of the groove through the lower end of the flange 15.

As shown by way of example, it is desired to lower a tubular member 10, such as a string Iof casing, from the barge or platform B through the body of water W and connect such tubular member in leakproof relation to the surface pipe or casing 11. The lower end of the tubular member has a horizontal flange 21 lsu-itably secured t-hereto, this flange having an inner lower groove 22, the side walls of which converge upwardly toward each other, and also having a depending circumferential skirt 23 adapted to fit downwardly within the outer groove 17 of the lower flange. The inner and outer edges 24 of the skirt may be beveled to facilitate entry `of the skirt intro the outer groove 17. The skirt 23 may also have an inner groove 25 receiving a suitable seal ring 26, such as a rubber [or rubberlike O ring, which is adapted to seal against the inner wall of the outer `groove 17. Carried by the upper flange 21 is a seal ring 27, the upper portion 29 of `which is tapered to conform to the inclination of the side walls of the upper groove 22 and being disposed therein. The seal ring is suitably secured to the upper flange, as by attaching tabs 28 to the flange, as by welding, the tabs being integral with the ring 27. The lower portion 30 of this seal ring is tapered to conform to the taper of the walls of the lower flange groove 16, the seal ring being adapted to fit therewithin. The seal ring 27 may be made of any suitable material. However, it is preferred that it be made of metal, such as mild steel, adapted to fit within the opposed flange grooves 16, 29 and firmly seal against their respective side walls.

A tubular string T, such as a string of tubing or drill pipe, may extend from the barge B into the surface casing 11. Such tubular string can serve as a guide for lowering the tubular string 10, carrying the upper flange 21 and metal seal ring 27, downwardly through the water to the flange 15 of the surface casing or pipe 11. The tubular string 10 is lowered until the skirt 23 enters the outer groove 17 and the seal ring 27 enters the inner groove 16 of the lower flange. When this occurs, the flange 21, 15 are forced firmly toward one another in order to provide a leakproof metal-to-metal seal between the ring 27 and the upper flange 21 and lower flange 15.

As shown, the clamping action between the flanges 15, 21 and the seal ring 27 is obtained mechanically, being controlled from the barge or platform B. As disclosed,

a frame 40 is fixed to the tubular member or casing 10 adjacent to the flange 21. This frame includes a horizontal cross member 41 suitably secured to the casing 10 and extending outwardly therefrom in diametrically opposite directions. The guide cables or lines 14 can be used for guiding the tubular member down through the body of water W to the flange on the lower surface casing 11 in the absence of the tubing string or pipe T. To utilize such guide lines or cables for this purpose, vertical tubular guides 42 are secured to the end portions of the cross member 41 through which the guide cables or lines 14 pass.

Rotatably mounted in the cross member 41 of the frame on opposite sides of the tubular member 1li and its flange 21 are a pair of horizontal drive shafts 43, 44, these -drive shaft-s also being journaled in horizontal end Vframe supports 45 substantially parallel to the cross member. Each drive shaft 43, 44 has a right-hand threaded feed screw portion 46 on one side of the cross member 41 and a left-hand threaded feed screw portion 47 on the other side of the cross member, these feed screw shaft portions being threadedly received within companion threaded bosses 48 secured to and extending outwardly from opposed clamp jaws 49, 50 adapted to receive the upper and lower flanges 21, 15, the clamp jaws initially being disposed in their radially outward position (FIG. 6). Each clamp jaw 49, 50` is arcuate in shape, the clarnp jaws having opposed Varcuate grooves 51 therein conforming to the curvature of the upper and lower flanges 21, 15, the upper and lower side walls 52, 53 of each arcuate groove diverging from one another in an inward direction and being adapted to engage companion tapered surfaces 54, 55 on the upper and lower flanges 21, 15. The feed screw shafts 43, 44 are rotated by a motor 6G, such as a fluid motor, coupled to one of the shafts 43, the rotary motion of such shaft being transmitted to the opposite shaft 44 in any suitable manner, as by securing sprockets 61 on the end portions of such shafts outwardly of one of the end frame supports 45 and interconnecting such sprockets through .an intervening endless chain 62.

The fluid motor is of any suitable type, such as a vane or gear type, fluid under pressure being pumped from the barge B through flexible tubing 63 t-o th-e motor, the fluid passing back from the motor to the barge through a second line or tubing 64. If desired, high pressure hoses can be used for the lines 63, 64.

When it is desired to connect the upper tubular string 10 to the lower tubular string 11, the tubular string 10 is supported by the derrick E and is lowered through the water W, using the tubing string or drill pipe T as a guide,

,or the cables 14 as a guide, -or both, until the skirt 23 enters the groove 17 in the lower flange 15. During such lowering motion and prior to entry of the skirt into the groove,'the clamp jaws 49, 50 are in their open position, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 6, so that the lower portions of the clam-p jaws will clear the lower flange 15. The upper tapered surfaces 52 of the clamp jaws are always disposed in alignment with the tapered surface 54 of the upper flange 21, being in position for inward movement into engagement therewith.

After the skirt 23 enters the groove 17, the fluid motor 60 is actuated in the proper direction by pumping fluid, such as a hydraulic liquid, through the lines l63, 64 to rotate both yof the drive or feed screw shafts 43, 44. The jaws 49, 50 are shifted inwardly toward one another, the upper tapered jaw surfaces 52 engaging the companion tapered surface 54 of the upper flange 21 and the lower tapered jaw surface 53 moving inwardly into engagement with the tapered surface 55 of the lower flange 15. As the jaws move radially inwardly toward each other, the upper flange v21 is forced downwardly toward the lower flange 15, exerting substantial axial pressure on the seal ring 27 and seating it firmly against the tapered Walls of both the upper flange groove 22 and the lower flange groove 16. When a firm leakproof seal has been thus provided, the side seal ring 26 of the skirt will be disposed in sealing engagement with the inner wall of the outer Vgroove 17 of the lower flange, there being an annular seal space 70 present between the .skirt 23 and the metal seal ring 27 (FIGS. 3, 4, 5).

The fluid or hydraulic pressure can now be relieved, if desired, the clamp jaws 49, 50 remaining in their inward position to hold the flanges 21, 15 clamped firmly against the intervening seal ring 27, providing a leakproot connection between the upper tubular member 10 and the lower surface casing or pipe 11 through which fluid cannot pass between the interior of the casing or pipe 10, 11 and its exterior.

After the connection has been established, the etlicacy of the seal can be tested. A flexible tubula-r test line 71 extends from the barge or platform B to the upper flange 21, communicating with a test port 72 opening into the annular space 7l) between the metal seal ring 27 and the skirt 23. Suitable pressure through the test line 71 can be imposed on the Vfluid in the space 70. If no loss of pressure occurs, there is, of course, no leakage through the metal seal 27.

Not only has a metal-to-metal seal been established between the flanges 21, 15, but a second seal is provided in View of the fact that the skirt 23 of the upper flange 21 has been sealed against the lower flange 15 through the agency of the side seal ring 26. Thus, there are two seals between the flanges insuring against leakage of fluid between the interior and the exterior of the several members of the joint or connection.

In the event disconnection of the joint is desired, fluid pressure need merely be pumped down through the line 64 to reverse the direction of rotation of the fluid motor 60 and move the jaws 49, 50 laterally outwardly of the flanges 21, 15. When the jaws have been shifted outwardly to their maximum extent clear of the flanges, the upper tubular string or casing 10 can be elevated to remove the seal ring 27 from the lower flange 15, the .skirt 23 from the outer groove 17 of the lower flange, and the enti-re hydraulically operated mechanism with the tubular string 10 upwa-rdly through the water W.

Reconnection can again be established, if desired, by lowering the tubular string 10 with its hydraulic actuating mechanism mounted thereon to the location of the lower flange 15, until the skirt 23 again moves into the cuter groove 17 of the lower flange and the seal ring 27 into the inner groove 16 `of the lower flange, after which the hydraulic motor 60 can again be actuated to move the clamp jaws 49, 50 inwardly toward one another into clamping relation with the flanges 21, 15 to shift the upper flange 21 axially toward the lower flange 15 and again establish a leakproof metal-to-rnetal seal relationship between the upper and lower flanges.

Although the apparatus has been described specifically with respect to effecting a connection between an upper tubular string `10 and a lower surface casing or pipe 11, other devices could be connected in leakproof relation through use of the apparatus. As an example, the upper tubular member 10 could be constituted as a blow-out preventer, well head, or Christmas tree, which is to be connected to another device 11 previously linstalled substantially -below the surface of the water, as adjacent to the ocean floor F. In the absence of the tubing string or pipe T to function as a guide, the apparatus would be lowered through the Water into appropriate relation to the previously installed equipment 11 through use of the gunde cables 14.

I claim:

1. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the well bore and `disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first joint means; guide means extending from a locati-on adjacent to said first joint means to a location externally of the body lof water; a second `device having a -second joint means and movable along the guide means to place said second joint means adjacent to and confronting said first joint means; inner seal means between said first and second joint means adapted to be axially compressed therebetween; outer seal means between said first and second joint means spaced radially from said inner seal means, said outer seal means comprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said joint means, said other of said joint means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second joint means with respect to each other, and a side seal between a wall of said skirt and a wall of said groove; one of said devices including clamp means, and means connected to said clamp means and controlled from a location externally of the body of water to engage said clamp means with said first and second joint means to move said first and second joint means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second joint means.

2. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first joint means; guide means extending from a location adjacent to said first joint means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second joint means and movable. along the guide means to place said second joint means adjacent to and confronting said rst joint means; inner seal means between said first and second joint means adapted to be axially compressedv therebetween; outer seal means between said first and second joint means spaced radially from said inner seal means, Said outer seal means comprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said joint means, said other of said joint means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second joint means with respect to eachother, and a side seal between a wall of said skirt and a wall of said groove; one of said devices including clamp means, and means connected to said clamp means and controlled from a location externally of the body of water to engage said clamp means with said first and second joint means to move said first and second joint means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second joint means; and means communicating with the space between said inner and outer seal means for applying fluid pressure thereto to test said inner and outer seal means for leaking.

3. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first flange means; guide means extending from a location adjacent to said first flange means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second flange means and movable along thel guide means to place said second flange means adjacent to and confronting said first flange means; inner seal means between said first and second flange means adapted to be axially compressed therebetween; outer seal means between said first and second flange means spaced radially from said inner seal means, said outer seal means comprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said flange means, said other of said flange means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second flange means with respect to each other, and a side seal between a wall of said skirt and a wall of said groove; one of said devices including laterally movable clamp means, and means connected to said clamp means and controlled from a location externally of the body of water to move said clamp means laterally into engagement with said first and second flange means to move said first and second flange means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second flange means.

4. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first flange means; guide means extending from a location adjacent to said first flange means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second flange means and movable along the guide means to place said second flange means adjacent to and confronting said first flange means; inner seal means between said first and second flange means adapted to be axially compressed therebetween; outer seal means between said first and second flange means spaced radially from said inner seal means, said outer seal means comprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said flange means, said other of said flange means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second flange means with respect to each other, and a side seal between a wall of said skirt and a wall of said groove; one of said devices including laterally movable clamp means, and means connected to said clamp means and controlled from a location externally of the body of water to move said clamp means laterally into engagement with said first and second flange means to move said first and second flange means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second flange means; and means communicating with the space between said inner and outer seal means for applying fluid pressure thereto to test said inner and outer seal means for leaking.

5. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the Well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first joint means; guide means extending from a location adjacent to said first joint means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second joint means and movable along the guide means to place said second joint means adjacent to and confronting said first joint means; inner seal means between said first and second joint means adapted to be axially compressed therebetween; outer seal means between said first and second joint means spaced radially from said inner seal means, said outer seal means comprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said joint means, said other of said joint means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second joint means with respect to each other, and a side seal between a wall of said skirt and a wall of said groove; one of said devices including opposed clamp members on opposite sides of its joint means adapted to be disposed on opposite sides of said other joint means when said first and second joint means are adjacent to each other, threaded shaft means threadedly connected to said clamp members, a prime mover connected to said shaft means, and means for transmitting energy from a location externally of said body of water to said prime mover to rotate the same and said shaft means to shift said clamp members toward each other and against said first and `second joint means to move said first and second joint means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second joint means.

6. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first joint means; guide means extending from a location adjacent to said first joint means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second joint means and movable along the guide means to place said second joint means adjacent to and confronting said first joint means; inner seal means between said first and second joint means adapted to be axially compressed therebetween; outer seal means between said first and second joint means spaced radially from said inner seal means, said outer seal means comprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said joint means, said other of said joint means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second joint means with respect to each other, and a side seal between a wall of said skirt and a wall of said groove; one of said devices including opposed clamp members on opposite sides of its joint means adapted to be disposed on opposite sides of said other joint means when said first and second joint means are adjacent to each other, threaded shaft means threadedly connected to said clamp members, a fluid motor connected to `said shaft means, and means for conducting fluid under pressure from a location externally of said body of water to said motor to rotate the same and said shaft means to shift said clamp members toward each other and move said first and second joint means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second joint means.

7. In underwater apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the iioor and having a first joint means; guide means extending from a location adjacent to said first joint means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second joint means and movable along the guide means to place said second joint means adjacent to and confronting said first joint means; inner seal means between said iirst and second joint means; outer seal means between said rst and second joint means spaced radially from said inner seal means; one of said devices including opposed clamp members on opposite sides of its joint means adapted to be disposed on opposite sides of said other joint means when said first and second joint means are adjacent to each other, threaded shaft means threadedly connected to said clamp members, a fluid motor connected to said shaft means, and means for conducting fluid under pressure from a location externally of said body of water to said motor to rotate the same and said shaft means to shift said clamp members toward each other and move said first and second joint means toward each other and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and second joint means; and means extending from a location externally of the body of water and communicating with the space between said inner and outer seal means for applying uid pressure thereto to test said inner and outer seal means for leaking.

8. In underwater apparatus for .use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a iioor below a body of water: a first device operatively associated with the Well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor and having a first joint means; guide means extending from .a location adjacent to said first joint means to a location externally of the body of water; a second device having a second joint means and movable along the guide means to place said second joint means adjacent to and confronting said first joint means; inner seal means between said first and second joint means; outer seal means between said first and second joint means spaced radially from said inner seal means, said outer seal means cornprising a longitudinally extending skirt on one of said joint means, said other of said joint means having a groove receiving said skirt to align said first and second joint means with respect to each other; one of said devices including opposed clamp members on opposite sides of its joint means adapted to be disposed on opposite sides of said other joint means when said first and second joint means are adjacent to each other; threaded shaft means threadedly connected to said clamp members, a fluid motor connected to said shaft means, and means for conducting fiuid under pressure from a location externally of said body of water to said motor to rotate the same and said shaft means to shift said clamp members toward each other and move said first and second joint means towardv each otherv and hold said inner and outer seal means in leakproof relation to said first and Second joint means; and means extending from a location externally of the body of water and communicating with the space between said inner and outer seal means for applying iiuid pressure thereto to test said inner and outer seal means for leaking.

References Cited by the Examiner l UNITED STATES PATENTS 436,915 9/1890 Fischer 285 2,350,867 6/1944 Bean et al. 73-49.l X 2,956,818 10/1960 Dickerson et al. 285-367 X 3,032,125 5/1962 Hiser 166-66.5 3,052,299 9/ 1962 Geer et al. 285 3,096,999 7/'1963 Ahlstone et al 285 3,098,525 7/1963 Haeber 285 ISAAC LISANN, Primary Examiner.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification285/27, 285/18, 285/367, 285/364, 73/46, 166/113, 166/341, 285/93
International ClassificationE21B33/038, E21B33/03
Cooperative ClassificationE21B33/038
European ClassificationE21B33/038