US 3352359 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Nev. 14, 1967 I W, N gu L F ET AL 3,352,359
APPARATUS FOR STEAM TREATING A DEEP WELL' Filed June 10, 1965 I5 Sheets-Sheet 1 25* Zifir y r L52 5 54'? W E"! 45 I /v WAYNE msururr a.
MERYL W.$UTLIFF. INVENTORS.
w. N. SUTLIFF ET AL 3,352,359
APPARATUS FOR STEAM TREATING A DEEP WELL Nov. 14, 1967 3 Sheets-Shea, 2 515.
WAYNE N. sururr a.
B 0 M U0 TT Um wm m AT TORNEY.
1967 w. N. SUTLIFF T AL 3,352,359
'APPARATUS FOR STEAM TREATING A DEEP WELL I Filed June 10, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 I nhm l WAYNE N. SUTLIF F 8- M ERYL W. SUTLIF F 1N VENTORS BY AT TORNE Y- United States Patent 3,352,359 APPARATUS FOR STEAM TREATING A DEEP WELL Wayne N. Sutlilf and Meryl W. Sutlilr, Bakersfield, Califi, assignors to St. Louis Janitor Supply Co., doing business as Navy Brand Manufacturing Company, St. Louis,
Mo., a corporation of Missouri Filed June 10, 1965, Ser. No. 462,925 4 Claims. (Cl. 166-53) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The invention is used in an oil well having a well casing and a casing head at the upper end thereof, and includes a steam pipe which extends downwardly through the casing head making a tight fit therewith, said steam pipe terminating at its lower end in an oil bearing stratum for delivery of steam into the latter under high pressure. A thermal responsive packer surrounds the lower end portion of the steam pipe and responds to being heated by the steam by expanding into contact with the casing thereby sealing oil the area between the steam pipe and the casing and thereby confining the steam delivered downwardly through the pipe to the oil bearing stratum being treated. Means is also provided for producing a vacuum around the steam pipe throughout its length to insulate said pipe against loss of heat radially therefrom.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION (1) Field 0 the invention The art of increasing the productivity of a deep oil Well and particularly to lowering the viscosity of the oil in the oil bearing strata of the well by steam treating the latter.
(2) Description of the prior art The general modus operandi of steam treating a deep well is to force large quantities of steam at high pressure and temperature into the oil bearing strata of the well so as to decrease the viscosity of the oil and thereby increase the rate at which said oil may be recovered. Examples of this operation are disclosed in the cited U.S. patents to P. I. Closmann et al. Nos. 3,221,813 and 3,280,909.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention seeks to attain a relatively high degree of heat efiiciency in the application of steam treating to deep oil wells by providing a novel and highly efiicient thermo-responsive packer which surrounds the lower end of the steam pipe and which contains a thermoresponsive material such as water or paraflin. The heating of this material by steam delivered downwardly through the steam pipe expands the tubular metal sleeve confining this material, which is of a relatively ductile metal such as aluminum, until this sleeve has expanded into packing relation with the casing and effectively seals oi? the space between the steam pipe and the casing thereby confining the steam delivered downwardly through the steam pipe to the oil bearing stratum directly therebelow.
The invention also includes a means for jacketing the steam pipe in a vacuum throughout its length whereby radiation of heat from the steam pipe is greatly reduced, thereby permitting steam to be delivered with increased etficiency and relatively small drop in temperature to the oil bearing stratum of the Well.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic vertical sectional view of an oil well and illustrates a preferred embodiment of the present invention installed therein.
Patented Nov. 14, 1967 FIG. 2 (embracing FIGS. 2a and 2b) is an enlarged vertical sectional view of FIG. 1 and illustrates the packer of the apparatus of the invention with the expansible jacket thereof in retracted condition as when introduced into the Well.
FIG. 3 (embracing FIGS. 3a and 3b) is a view similar to FIG. 2 and shows the packer jacket of the invention as when expanded into sealing engagement with the well casing.
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line 44 of FIG. 2a.
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line 5-5 of FIG. 3a.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line 66 of FIG. 25.
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 3a and illustrates a modified embodiment of the present invention in which an auxiliary vacuum insulation sleeve is provided for the steam pipe of the invention.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line 8-8 of FIG. 2b.
FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line 9-9 of FIG. 2a.
FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line 1010 of FIG. 7.
Referring specifically to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, the invention is there shown as installed in a deep well 15, having a casing 16, the lower portion 17 of said well extending below said casing into an oil bearing stratum 18. The upper end of the casing 16 has a casing head 19 provided with a central opening 20 having an O-ring 21 to form a seal between said opening and a steam pipe 22 of the invention which slidably fits said hole and extends downwardly therethrough to the lower end of the casing 16. The casing head 19 also has a vacuum pipe 23, the purpose of which will be explained hereinafter. A short distance above the lower end of the casing 16, the steam pipe 22 connects through a coupling 24 with the upper end of a relatively heavy-walled tubular mandrel 25 which constitutes a continuation downwardly of the steam pipe 22 and offers a means by which a packer 30 of the invention is supported on said steam pipe. Near its lower end, the mandrel 25 is provided with threads 31 on which is screwed a jacket supporting nut 32. Closely surrounding the mandrel 25 and supported for lengthwise expansion thereon by the nut 32 is a radially thermo-expansive packer jacket 33. This jacket is preferably made of a ductile metal, such as aluminum, and includes inner and outer concentric tubes 34 and 35. The inner tube is cylindrical in form and closely slidably fits the mandrel 25. The outer tube 35 has end portions 36 which closely fit the corresponding portions of the inner tube 34 and are welded thereto as by spot welding 37. The outer tube 35 has annularly convoluted portions 38 just inwardly from said end portions thereof, and a central cylindrical section 40 which is spaced radially from the inner tube 34 to provide an annular space 45. Snugly fitting onto the end portions 36 of outer tube 35 are a pair of annular guide shoes 46 having radially projecting lugs 47 which slidably engage the interior surface of the casing 16 so as to maintain the packer 30 in centralized relation with the casing while being introduced into the well. The guide shoes 46 are secured in place, after the packer jacket 33 has thus been assembled by spot welding 48. The shoes 46 and components of the jacket arethen united by annular welding 49 applied at each end of the jacket so that the annular space 45 is hermetically closed. Prior to the assembly of packer jacket 33, however, a quantity of thermo-responsive material such as water or parafiin is placed in the annular space 45 so' that this space is substantially filled therewith.
As shown in FIG. 2, the central section 40 of the outer tube 35 of the packer jacket 33, when in its contracted condition is closely spaced from the inner surface of the casing 16.
The tubular mandrel 25 is preferably integrally connected at its lower end with a relatively thin walled tube 50 having multiple perforations 51, and being closed at its lower'end by a plate 52.
Before the steam pipe 22 is inserted into the casing 16, the latter may be provided with a perforated liner 53 which is generally suspended from a lower portion of the casing 16 and extended downwardly into the lower portion 17 of the well. When the steam pipe 22, with the packer 30 suspended thereon, is then extended into the well, the lowering of the pipe is halted when the packer reaches the position in which this is shown in FIG. 2 and in which the downwardly extending perforated tube 50 provided on the lower end of the packer extends into the perforated liner. 53. Thus the interior of the steam pipe 22 connects through the perforations 51 with the interior of the perforated liner 53 and through the perforations in the latter with the lower portion 17 of the well 15.
OPERATION In preparing to operate the apparatus above described in performing the method of the .present invention, suitable means (not shown) are provided for delivering large quantities of steam at high temperature and pressure to the upper end of. the steam pipe 22 and a high capacity evacuating pump is provided and connected to the vacuum pipe 23. At the start of the operation, steam is delivered downwardly through the steam pipe 22 so that this flows outwardly through the perforations 51 in tube 50 and through the perforations of the liner 53 into the lower portions 17 of the well 15 and, the packer 30 not as yet being set, this steam flows upwardly past said packer and into the space between the casing and the steam pipe where this steam is condensed by the low temperature of the casing so as to provide a semi vacuum in the space 54 within said casing and surrounding said steam pipe. As the casing gets warmed up so that the steam is not. condensed, this is drawn off from the upper end of the space 54 through the vacuum pipe 23.
The flow of steam just mentioned gradually raises the temperature of the steam pipe 22 to a point well above the melting or vapor point of the thermo-responsive material contained within the annular space 45 within the packer jacket 33. Asthis temperature rises, said material vaporizes and produces a high pressure within the space 45 which expands the outer tube 35 of thetpacker jacket 33 until this tightly conforms to the inner surface of the casing 16 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5 thereby sealing off the lower end of the annular space 54 formed within the casing 16 around the pipe 2. With the packer 30 thus set against the inner face of the casing 16, any return upwardly of the steam delivered downwardly through steam pipe 22 is prevented and the delivery of further steam down said pipe builds up a very high steam pressure within the lower portion 17 of the deep well 15. This steam is thus caused to penetrate the oil bearing strata 18 forming the walls of this lower well portion.
To assist in conserving the steam used in this operation and increasing the over-all efiiciency of the apparatus, the evacuator connected to vacuum pipe 23 is maintained in operation and a relatively high vacuum is drawn on the annular space 54 to which the vacuum pipe 23 connects. The effect of this vacuum is of course to insulate the steam pipe 22 and substantially inhibit radiation of heat therefrom. It is thus possible to deliver steam at a much higher temperature into the lower end of the well than would otherwise be possible and to continue to deliver steam at this temperature with a minimum loss through radiation of heat from the steam pipe22.
When the teratment above described of the deep well 15 has continued for the desired length of time, the
' delivery of steam to the steam pipe 22 is halted which results in the gradually cooling of the steam pipe and the packer 30 until the temperature of the latter is below the condensing or solidifying temperature of the material which substantially occupies the annular space 45 of the packer 30. When this decrease in temperature has occurred, the vacuum produced thereby in annular space 45 contracts the outer tube 35 away from contact with the casing 16 and thus permits the ready withdrawal of the steam pipe 22 and packer 30 from the well 15.
Referring now to F168. 7 and 10, a modified form of the above described apparatus of the invention is illustrated in which the upper end of casing 16 is covered by a casing head 64 having a central opening 61 for slidably receiving an auxiliary vacuum insulating sleeve 62, the lower end of which screws onto external threads 63 of a coupling 64 which take the place of the coupling 24in the apparatus. The upper end of sleeve 62 has an internal collar 65 which is fitted with a vacuum pipe 66 and has I an axial hole 67 which slidably receives the steam pipe 22. The casing head 60 is also equipped with a vacuum pipe 68 which communicates with the space 69' formed between casing 16 and sleeve 62.
In the operation of the modified form of apparatus just described, the vacuum pipe 68 connects to the power evacuator above described as connecting with vacuum pipe 23 and a separate evacuator (also not shown) is provided which connects with vacuum pipe 66. During the operation of the modified apparatus both of these evacuators are power driven to separately impose an approximate vacuum on both the space 69 and the space 70 which is formed between the insulating sleeve 62 and the steam pipe 22. An auxiliary vacuum insulation heat barrier is thus formed immediately about the steam pipe 22 which augments the insulating effect of the approximate vacuum also maintained in the space 68 between the casing and the sleeve 62.
It is thus seen that we have produced an apparatus for steam treating a deep 'well by which are obtained all of the objects and advantages set forth hereinabove as goals of the present invention.
While only a single preferred embodiment and one modified formof the apparatus of the invention have been disclosed herein, it is to be understood that this is for illustrative purposes only and that various further changes and modifications might be made therein without,
departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the appended claims.
The claims are:
1. An apparatus for steam treating a deep Well having a casing, with said well extending into an oil bearing stratum below said casing, said apparatus comprising: a pipe adapted to be extended downwardly through said casing to conduct steam under high temperature and pressure to the portion of said well beneath said casing; and a thermo-responsive packer mounted on a lower portion of said pipe and positioned within a lower portion of said casing when said pipeis so extended downwardly, said packer including an expansible thin walled annular hollow sealed jacket of relatively soft metal surrounding and snugly fitting said steam pipe and closely spaced from said casing, and a body of thermo-responsive material substantially occupying the space within said jacket having a high co-efficient of thermo-expansion, said packer responding to being heated by super-heated steam delivered downwardly through said pipe by expanding into tight sealing engagement with said casing thereby packing off the lower end of the space within said casing surrounding said pipe above said packer.
2. An apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein there is incorporated with said pipe, as a section thereof, a heavy walled tubular packer mandrel on which said annular jacket is mounted, said jacket snugly fitting said mandrel and being free to extend lengthwise relative to said mandrel; and means to limit endwise movement of said jacket on said mandrel.
3. An apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein said jacket comprises inner and outer tubes of aluminum, or other metal of comparable ductility, which are integrally united at their opposite ends to produce an annular hollow space Within said jacket said jacket being substantially filled with said thermo-responsive material, said outer tube having annular convolution means formed therein to permit a middle portion at least of said outer tube to expand radially into sealing engagement with said Well casing under the pressure produced in said jacket by the heating of said thermo-responsive material.
4. An apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein said steam pipe is provided With a tubular vacuum insulating sleeve which surrounds said pipe between said packer and the to of the Well; and means for drawing a vacuum on the space between said pipe and said sleeve.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS FOREIGN PATENTS 12/1944 Great Britain.
15 CHARLES E. OCONNELL, Primary Examiner.
STEPHEN J. NOVOSAD, Examiner.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3,352,359 November 14, 1967 Wayne N. Sutliff et a1.
It is hereby certified that error appears in the above numbered patent requiring correction and that the said Letters Patent should read as corrected below.
In the heading to the printed specification, lines 4 to 7 for "Wayne N. Sutliff and Meryl W. Sutliff, Bakersfield, Calif. assignors to St. Louis Janitor Supply (10., doing business as Navy Brand Manufacturing Company, St. Louis, Mo., a corporatior of Missouri" read Wayne N. Sutliff, 2901 Glenwood Circle, ar Meryl W. Sutliff, 2920 Monterey St. Bakersfield,
Calif. 93306 Signed and sealed this 26th day of November 1968.
Edward M. Fletcher, Jr. EDWARD J. BRENNER Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents