US 3251611 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
May 17, 1966 J. A. HAEBER ETAL 3,251,611
WELLHEAD CONNECTOR Filed April 5, 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 I INVENTORSI .1. A. HAEBER C. W. LAFITTE THEIR AGENT May 17, 1966 J. A. HAEBER ETAL WELLHEAD CONNECTOR 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed April 5, 1963 INVENTORSI J. A. HAEBER c. w. LAFITTE BYI e H fi THEIR AGENT May 17, 1966 J. A. HAEBER ETAL 3,251,611
WELLHEAD CONNECTOR Filed April 5, 1963 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 FIG. 7
INVENTORSI J. A. HAEBER C. W. LAFITTE BYZ H m THEIR AGENT United States Patent 3,251,611 WELLHEAD CONNECTGR John A. Haeber and Carl W. Lafitte, Houston, Tex., as-
signors to Shell Oil (Iompany, New York, .N.Y., a corporation of Delaware 7 Filed Apr. 5, 1963, Ser. No. 270,847 7 Claims. (Cl. 285-48) This invention relates to apparatus for use in offshore wells and pertains more particularly, to a wellhead apparatus adapted to be securely locked on a well casinghead positioned under water. The present invention is especially concerned with apparatus for connecting a wellhead component, such for example, as a blowout prevent er, to a vertically-extending wellhead component in a securely locked and fiuidtight manner so that the wellhead component could not he accidentally separated from the vertically-extending well member.
In an attempt to locate new oil fields an increasing amount of well drilling has been conducted at offshore locations, such for example, as off the coast of Louisiana, Texas, and California. As a general rule, the strings of casing in a well together with the tubing string or strings extend to a point above the surface of the water where they are closed in the conventional manner that isused on land wells, with a conventional wellhead assembly being attached to the top of the casing. Attempts have been made recently to provide methods and apparatus for drilling and completing a well wherein both the well casing head and subsequently the wellhead assembly and casing closure device are located underwater at a depth sufficient to allow ships to pass over them. Preferably, the casinghead and wellhead closure assemblies are located close to the ocean floor. In order to install equipment of this type underwater at depths greater than the shallow depth at which a diver can easily operate, it has "been necessary to design entirely new equipment for this purpose. Thus, when drliling and completing an oil well or a gas well at an offshore location, the well casinghead may have attached to it pieces of equipment by means of the apparatus of the present invention.
It is, therefore, a primary object ofthe present invention to provide apparatus for connecting a wellhead com- :ponent to an underwater wellhead assembly while operating the apparatus from the remote location.
It is another object to the present invention to provide a wellhead component, such as a blowout preventer with a connector device, so that after the blowout preventer is lowered and seated on an underwater well casinghead it can be securely locked and sealed thereto in a fluidtight manner with control of the sealing and locking operations carried out from a remote location.
A further object to the presentinvent-ion is to provide a remotely-operable connector apparatus adapted to lock automatically on an underwater wellhead and pack-off the annulus between the connector apparatus and the wellhead.
Another object to th present invention is to provide a remotely-controlled hydraulically-operated connector device and sealing apparatus for holding a wellhead component on a wellhead against pressures which might be encountered therein in any time, even in the event that the hydraulic pressure lines to said apparatus should break, or otherwise become inoperative.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a wellhead connector device and sealing apparatus which may be readily unlocked from an underwater wellhead and raised to an operational base of the surface, such for example, as to a drilling barge or platform.
3,251,611 Patented May 17, 1966 ice Another object to the present invention is to provide a wellhead connector adapted to seat on an underwater wellhead and be connected to the inside or outside thereof, depending on the particular type of operation to be conducted.
Still another object to the present invention is to provide a wellhead connector and sealing device attachable to a wellhead component and being provided with locking means arranged in a manner to block disengagement of the locking means when forces are applied to separate the connector device and the wellhead component.
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 positioned on the surface of the ocean in which a blowout preventer'together with the connector device of the present invention is being lowered to the top of the well casing positioned on the ocean floor;
FIGURE 2 is a plan view taken in partial cross section of one :form of the connector of the present invention;
FIGURE 3 is a longitudinal view taken along the line 3-3 of FIGURE 2;
FIGURES 4 and 5 are fragmental longitudinal views taken in cross section along the line 4-4 of FIGURE 3 illustrating the actuator ring in its operative and inoperative positions, respectively;
FIGURE 6 is a plan view taken in partial cross section of another form of the connector of the present invention which is adapted to connect and seal to the outside of a well member;
FIGURE 7 is a longitudinal view taken in partial cross section of the connector of FIGURE 6;
FIGURE 8 is a fragmental isometric View of the actuator ring illustrating the camming blocks on its inner surface; and
FIGURE 9 is a fragmental isometric view of a seal actuating ring.
Referring to FIGURE 1 of the drawing, a drilling barge 11 of any suitable floatable type is illustrated as floating on the surface of the water 12 and fixedly positioned over a preselected drilling location by being anchored to the ocean floor 13 by suitable anchors (not shown). Equipment of this type may be used when carrying on well drilling operations in Water depths varying from about to 1500 feet or more. The drilling barge is equipped with a suitable derrick 16 and a rotary table 17 as well as other auxiliary equipment needed during the drilling of the well. The derrick 16 is positioned over a drilling slot or well 18 which extends vertically through the barge in a conventional manner. When using the equipment of the present invention the slot of the barge 11 may be either centrally located or extend in from one edge. However, drilling operations maybe carried out over the side of the barge without the use of a slot. Additionally, it is to be understood that the equipment of the present invention may also be used while drilling a well from any suitable operational base positioned above the surface of the water, such for example, as from a drilling barge having feet extending to the ocean floor, or from a platform permanently positioned on the ocean floor.
A typical underwater wellhead structure is illustrated in FIGURE 1 as comprising a base member 21 which is positioned on the ocean floor 13 and is fixedly secured to a conductor pipe or a large-diameter Well casing 22 which extends down into a Well, which has been previously drilled, and is preferably cemented therein. Thus, the base structure 21 is rigidly secured to the ocean floor in order to support two or more vertically-extending guide columns 23 and 24 adapted to receive and guide therein ends of the guide cables 27 and 28 are anchored to the base structure 21 within the guide columns 23 and 24 while extending upwardly through the water to the drilling barge'll where they are preferably secured to constant tension hoists 31 and 32.
Centrally positioned above the base plate 21 and fixedly secured thereto, or to the conductor pipe 22, is a well casinghead 33 which is provided with an inside latching shoulder 34, which may be in the form of one or more grooves, and extends preferably around the inner periphery of the casinghead. The wellhead is also shown as being provided with a cement circulation or kill line 36 which is connected preferably by means of a quickdisconnect coupling 37 to a flow control valve 38.
The guide arms 25 and 26 are. illustrated as being connected to a blowout preventer 40 which is rigidly flanged to a wellhead connector 41 of the present invention. In FIGURE 1 the wellhead connector 41 is shown as it is being lowered onto the top of the casinghead 33. The combined blowout preventer and wellhead connector 40 and 41, respectively, are run into position'on the top of the well by being lowered through the water from the barge 11 by means of a pipe string 42, commonly known as a running string, the blowout preventer 40 being connected to the lower end of the running string 42 by meas of a suitable coupling or connector 43 which may take the form of the wellhead connector 41. The coupling or connector 43 is provided with a pair of guide arms 25a and 26a. The valve 38, connector 41, blow out preventer 40, and connector 43 are all hydraulically operated and are provided with hydraulic flow lines 44 and 45, 46 and 47, 48 and 49, and 50 and 51,. respectively. These flowlines, 44 through 51, extend upwardly from the wellhead equipment to the barge 11 where they are connected to a suitable source of pressure fluid.
Referring to FIGURES 2 and 3 of the drawing, the wellhead connector 41 of FIGURE 1 is shown as comprising a body member having inner and outer portions 54 and 55, respectively, which are connected together in any suitable manner, as by screw threads 56. A bore 63 extends upwardly through the body member 54-55.
The outer body portion 55 has a seating shoulder 65 formed on the outer wall thereof which is adapted to seat on a landing surface 66 (FIGURE 3) formed on the outside of a vertically-extending well member 67, such for example as casinghead 33 of FIGURE 1. A flange 62 may extend outwardly from the outer. body portion 55 and be provided with a seal 163 for sealing against the top of the well member 67.
The well member 67 is provided with a bore 68 therethrough. Formed on the inner surface of the verticallyextending well member 67 are one or more shoulders 74 and 74a which may'take the form of grooves extending partially or all the way around the well member. The latching shoulders 74 and 74a formed on the well member 67 are positioned up from the landing surface 66 on the well member 67 a distance equal to the distance that a plurality of latching dogs 75, carried by the body member 54-55, are positioned from the seating shoulder 65 in the outer body portion 54.
In the description of the connectors of the present 7 invention, it is to be understoodthat the connectors are annular in shape. and symmetrical in construction so that it is considered sufficient to describe the actuation of a single latching dog 75 thereof while it is to be understood that the body member 54-55 is provided with a plurality of latching dogs arranged in a spaced relationship around the body member and are mounted for simultaneous actuation therein. For each dog 75 carried by the body member 54 55, a vertically-extending recess 57 being slightly wider than the latching dog 75 con- 57 is provided in the body portion 54-55, each recess tained therein.
To. prevent the latching or locking dogs 75 from falling out .of the body member 5455, vertical holding pins '77 extend through slots 78 in each dog. The slots 78 are wide enough to permit total lateral movement of the locking dogs. The outer contacting face of each dog is preferably grooved so as to form a plurality of seating and engaging surfaces which are formed of a size and at an angle to engage the shoulders 74 and 74a, respectively formed on the inner wall of the well member 67. The latching dogs 75 are actuated by means of a vertically positioned actuator ring or sleeve 80 which is mounted for rotational movement between the inner and outer portions 54 and 55, respectively, of the body member, preferably on suitable bearings 102 and 103. As shown in FIGURE 2, the actuator sleeve 80 is provided with a series of vertical camming faces 81 which are adapted to engage a mating camming face 82 formed along one vertical edge of each dog 75. The locking dogs 75 are illustrated in FIGURE 2 in their operative or outwardly-extended latching position, being forced to this position by partial clockwise rotation of the vertical actuator sleeve 80.
The upper end of the vertical actuator sleeve 80 is preferably provided with a horizontally-extending flange 83 having an arm portion 84 formed thereon whereby a suitable prime mover means can be connected, as by pivot pins 85 and 88, to move the actuator sleeve 80 in one direction or the other as desired. In the arrangement shown in FIGURES 2 and 3, the prime mover is a hydraulic cylinder 86 having a piston rod 87 extending therefrom which is connected by means of pivot pin 85 to the arm 84 of the actuator sleeve 80. The other end of the hydraulic cylinder is movably mounted by means of a pivot pin 88 to a bracket member 89 which in turn is secured to the flange 62 (FIGURE 3) of the body member 5455. Hydraulic hoses 90 and 91 provide power fluid to the hydraulic cylinder 86 to move the piston (not shown) therein and its piston rod 87 extending therefrom in one direction or the other. Seal 92 is provided between the rotatable actuator sleeve 80 and the body member 54-55 and a second seal 93 may be employed, if desired.
In addition to locking dogs 75 the body member 5455 is preferably provided with an annular packer element or seal 94 for sealing against the inner wall of the well member 67 (FIGURE 3) in a fluidtight manner. Although a static seal may be employed, an annular seal is preferably used which can be compressed against the well member 67 after the body member 54-55 has been positioned within the bore 68 of the well member 67.
As shown in FIGURES 3, 4, and 5, a ring member 95 is positioned below the annular packing member 94 and is vertically movable to compress the packing member 94 against the well member 67. Thus, the laterally-disposed ring member 95 is actually an actuator ring for the packiing element 94. The actuator ring element 95 is positioned on the top of a series of radially-extending camming blocks 96 which are fixedly secured to the movable actuator sleeve 80 in any suitable manner, as by means of bolts 97. The lower surface of the camming ring member 95 has a series of camming faces 98 formed thereon that are adapted to mate and engage the camming faces 99 formed on the leading edge of each camming block 96. The ring member 95 is prevented from rotation by means of vertical guide bolts 100 which maybe formed, if desired at the upper end of the holding pins 77 which hold the locking dogs 75 within the body member 54-55. The ring member 95 is provided with recesses or vertical holes 101 therethrough in which the guide bolts 100 are positioned loosely.
In operation, the body member 54-55 is positioned in telescopic relation in the open end of the tubular member which in this case is well member 67. By applying pressure fluid to conduit 90, the piston rod 87 is moved out of the hydraulic cylinder at distance sufficient to rotate slightly the vertical actuator sleeve 80. The verticallydisposed camming faces 81 on the outer surface of the actuator sleeve 80 engage the cooperating camming faces 82 on the inner surface of the locking dogs 75 to force the locking dogs 75 outwardly and engage the shoulder 74 and 74a formed on the inner surface of the well member 67 The camming face 81 (FIGURE 2) on the actuator sleeve passes by the camming face 82 on the locking dog 75 after the dog is in its extended or operative position and there is continued slight rotation of the actuator sleeve so that the flat portion on the outer surface of the actuator sleeve engages the flat portion on the back of the locking dogs 75 so as to maintain the locking dogs 75 in their extended position without need for maintaining hydraulic pressure to the hydraulic cylinder 86.
Simultaneously or sequentially, the camming blocks 96 are moved from their inoperative position in FIGURE 4 to their operative position in FIGURE 5 thereby forcing the actuator ring element 95 upwardly to compress the annular packing element 94 against the well member 67. In some cases the camming blocks 96 will be secured to the rotatable actuator sleeves 80 in a manner such that their camming action against the ring member 95 can take place either before or after the camming action of the longitudinally-disposed camming surfaces 81 against the camming faces 82 of the locking dogs 75.
' Another arrangement of the connector of the present invention is shown in FIGURES 6 and 7 wherein the body member 55a is adapted to be seated on the top of a tubular member 67a and secured to the outer surface thereof rather than the inner surface as previously described with regard to FIGURES 2 and 3. The bore 63a of the body member 55a is increased in diameter to form a seating shoulder 65a which is adapted to seat on the landing surface 66a for-med on the outside of the vertically-extending well member 67a, preferably at theupper end thereof, as illustrated.
The well member 67a is provided with a bore 68a therethrough. Formed on the outer surface of the vertically-extending well member 67a are one or more shoulders 74b and 74c which may take the forms of grooves extending partially or all the way around the well member. The latching shoulders 74b and 740 formed on the well member 67a are positioned down from the top of the well member 67a a distance equal to the distance that a plurality of latching dogs 75a carried by the body member 55a, are positioned from the seating shoulder 65a in the body member 55a.
In this arrangement of the connector, the vertical actuator sleeve 80a is carried outside the locking dogs 75a and annular packing element 94a. A fragmental portion of. the inner surface of the actuator sleeve 80a is shown in FIGURE 8 with the vertically or longitudinally-disposed camming surfaces 81a extending outwardly'from the surface of the sleeve 80a for engagement with mating surfaces 82a of the locking dogs 75a (FIGURE 6). A series of camming blocks 96:: are secured to the inner surface of the actuator sleeve 80a by pins 97a so as to provide camming surfaces 99a which are adapted to engage and coact with the camming surfaces 98a on the lower side of the ring element 95a (FIGURE 9). One or more hydraulic cylinders 86a and 86b may be provided to partially rotate the actuator sleeve 800: relative to the body member 55a. Although onlyhydraulic cylinders 86a and 86b have been shown in FIGURE 6, it is to be understood that any suitable prime mover means may be employed which may be either mechanically, electrically, hydraulic-ally or pneumatically actuatable. The prime mover hydraulic cylinder 86a may be secured to the actuator sleeve 80a as by arms 89a and 89b which are connected by means of pivot pins 85a and 88a.
We claim as our invention:
1. A wellhead connector assembly comprising a body member having a passage extending axially thereterough, said body member being positionable in telescopic relation with vertical wall means of a longitudinally projecting well .member having an axial passage therethrough forming an unimpeded throughbore passing through said body member and said well member,
cooperating connector means carried by the adjacent walls of said body member and said well member,
one portion of said connector means comprising shoulder means formed on the adjacent wall of one of said members,
the other portion of said connector means comprising shoulder-engaging locking means carried by the other of said members in the adjacent wall thereof in a positions for registering with said shoulder means, said locking means being substantially later ally movable into and out of engaging relation with said shoulder means,
annular packing means carried on the wall of one of said members which carries a locking means portion of said cooperating connector means and axially displaced therefrom for sealing off between the adjacent walls of said body member and said well said actuating means including a circumferentially movable actuator sleeve having rigid first camming means formed with axially-extending faces on a longitudinal surface thereof for operatively engaging and radially moving said laterally-movable locking means on partial rotation of said actuator sleeve, said actuator sleeve of said actuating means including second camming means including a plurality of cams mounted on said sleeve and laterally disposed for operatively engaging a camming ring adjacent said packing means for applying an axial compressive force thereto, and i said actuator means including an axially-movable actuator camming ring element having camming means on one surface normal to the axis thereof and positioned for selective engagement with said laterallydisposed second camming means of said actuator sleeve, the opposite surface of said actuator camming ring being in contact with said annular packing means.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the axial passage in said body member is of a sizeto contain a portion of said well member therein.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the outside diameter of at least a portion of said body member is of a size to fit within the axial passage of said projecting well member.
4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the shoulder-engaging locking means are carried within said body member for extension from the inner wall into the axial passage thereof.
5. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the shoulder-engaging locking means are carried within said body member in recesses in the outer wall thereof for outward extension therefrom.
6. The apparatus of claim 1 including prime mover means operatively engaging said actuator sleeve for moving it in a circumferential direction.
7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said first and second camming means of said actuator sleeve are positioned to coact simultaneously with said locking means and the camming means of said ring element whereby said body member is simultaneously locked and sealed to said well member.
(References on following page) References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS ONeal 285141 McIIroy 2853 14 X Harris 22030.5 X McConalogue. Foster 285-18 X 5 CARL -W. TOMLIN, Primary 'Examiner.
S. R. MILLER, Assistant Examiner.