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Publication numberUS3457994 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 29, 1969
Filing dateMay 18, 1967
Priority dateMay 18, 1967
Publication numberUS 3457994 A, US 3457994A, US-A-3457994, US3457994 A, US3457994A
InventorsStachowiak John E
Original AssigneeSchlumberger Technology Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Well packer valve structure
US 3457994 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

y 1969 J. E. STACHOWIAK 3,457,994

WELL PACKER VALVE STRUCTURE 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed May 18, 1967 INVENTOR ATTORNEY BYA/W w l ii 025/7 .5. J chow/0% llllll'n'l l Ill ,.I J V 3 :3 qfulmvrlil mrl V/ 3 3W. .M 54 9 2 w 6 m 3 i 6/ 6 MN 6 BM J y 1969 J. E. STACHOWIAK 3,457,994

WELL PACKER VALVE STRUCTURE ATTORNEY 1969 .J. E- s'rAcHowmK WELL PACKER VALVE STRUCTURE Filed May 18. 1967 ATTORNEY United States Patent m US. Cl. 166-125 14 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A well packer apparatus for use in performing pressure operations in a Well includes a body having a fluid passage. A pressure balanced valve element is movable upwardly and downwardly in the body for opening and closing the passage. The valve element is releasably coupled to an actuator by a latch device which permits initial positioning of the valve element in open or closed position, and which positively couples the valve element to the actuator during movement of the valve element by the actuator between open and closed positions. Moreover, the valve element and actuator can be recoupled to one another after release of the latch device regardless of the position of the valve element with respect to the flow passage.

The present invention relates generally to well packers. More specifically, the present invention relates to a well packer apparatus adapted to be lowered into a well on a running-in string and set in packed-off condition, such apparatus having a flow passage and a valve structure for controlling fluid flow through the passage.

An object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved well packer apparatus having a flow passage and a valve for controlling fluid flow through the passage, the valve being arranged for opening and closing by longitudinal motion of an actuator and to be initially either opened or closed during lowering as desired.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved well packer apparatus of the type described having a pressure balanced valve structure which can be shifted between open and closed condition by upward and downward motion imparted to the running-in string at the top of the well bore, the actuator for the valve structure being releasably coupled thereto by a latch device which can couple the valve and actuator to one another in various initial conditions of the valve structure with respect to the flow passage.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved well packer apparatus of the type described and wherein the valve is more positive in operation and free of malfunction than has heretofore been 'known in the art.

These and other objects are attained in accordance with the concepts of the present invention by providing a well packer having a valve body with a fluid passage therethrough. A valve element is movable upwardly and downwardly in the valve body between positions opening and closing the fluid passage. The valve element can be releasably coupled by a latch device to an actuator which can be moved upwardly and downwardly in the valve body for imparting motion to the valve element.

The latch device is cooperable with the actuator and valve body for initially positioning the valve element in either its open or closed condition as desired; in either condition, the latch device is locked with respect to the actuator so that the valve element cannot inadvertently move to the other condition. Regardless of the initial condition of the valve element, reciprocating motion of the 3,457,994 Patented July 29, 1969 actuator will cause positive movement of the valve element between its open and closed conditions as desired.

The latch device is also structurally arranged together with the valve body and actuator so that the valve element can be coupled for positive movement with the actuator even though the valve element does not initially occupy either its open or closed position. The structural arrangement includes a groove in the valve body into which the latch means can move to permit proper positioning of the actuator and valve element, and a biasing means to force the valve element toward the actuator and the latch means into coupled relationship therewith.

This invention has other objects and advantages which will become more apparent in connection with the following detailed description. A preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in the accompanying drawings in which:

FIGURES 1A and 1B are longitudinal sectional views, with portions in side elevtaion, of the present invention with parts in retracted positions for lowering into a well, FIGURE 1B forming a lower continuation of FIG- URE 1A;

FIGURES 2A and 2B are views similar to FIGURE 1 except with the invention illustrated in packed-off condition in a well conduit;

FIGURE 3 is a cross section on line 3-3 in FIGURE 1B; and

FIGURES 4-6 are enlarged, fragmentary sectional views illustrating in detail the structure and operating modes of the valve structure in accordance with the present invention.

Referring to FIGURES 1A and 1B, the apparatus of the present invention broadly includes a setting tool assembly A, a packer assembly B and a valve assembly C. The entire apparatus is arranged to be lowered into a well bore on a running-in string 10 of tubing or drill pipe. When set in the well bore, the packer assembly B packs off the annulus between the well casing and the runningin string 10. The running-in string 10 provides a conductor through which fluid under pressure can be supplied to the well bore below the packer assembly B, as well as an operating member which can be manipulated at the earths surface for setting the packer assembly B and for opening and closing the valve assembly C.

The setting tool assembly A includes a central mandrel 11 which is coupled at its upper end by a collar 12 to the running-in string 10, and coupled at its lower end by a mounting sub 13 to an elongated mandrel extension or stinger 14. The mandrel 11 and extension 14 have a fluid passage 15 therethrough in communication with the bore of the running-in string 10. A control sleeve 17 is co-rotatively secured to the mandrel 11 by splines 18 or the like, the control sleeve being threadedly coupled by a sub 19 to a downwardly depending setting sleeve 20. A friction drag mechanism 21 is mounted on the control sleeve 17 and includes a tubular cage 22 having a plurality of circumferentially spaced, radially directed recesses 23, each of which receivesa typical drag block 25 which is urged outwardly by coil springs 26. The drag blocks 25 are arranged to frictionally engage the inner surface of a well casing to resist both longitudinal and turning motion of the cage 22 within the well casing in a conventional manner.

The cage 22 is connected at its lower end to a retainer sleeve 27 which initially extends downwardly below the lower end of the setting sleeve 20 for purposes which will be hereinafter described. Moreover, the cage 22 is coupled to the control sleeve 17 by internal right-hand threads 28 which engage companion external threads 29 on the control sleeve. It will be appreciated that the cage 22 is vertically fixed in a lower position relative to the control sleeve during lowering into a well bore. At setting depth,

right-hand rotation of the mandrel 11 and control sleeve 17 will cause upward feeding of the cage 22 and retainer sleeve 27 along the control sleeve due to the interengagement of the threads 28 and 29, the cage 22 being held against rotation by frictional engagement of the drag blocks with the well casing.

The control sleeve 17 will rotate with the mandrel 11 due to the interengagement of the splines 18. The control sleeve 17 is initially locked against longitudinal movement relative to the mandrel 11 by a suitable latch device which can include a ball 30 which is engaged in an aperture 31 in the control sleeve and in a mandrel detent 32, the ball being held inwardly in engaged condition by an inner surface 33 on the cage 22. However, upward feeding of the cage 22 along the control sleeve 17, as previously described, will eventually position an internal cage recess 34 opposite the ball 30 and permit the ball to shift outwardly and disengage from the mandrel detent 32 to free the mandrel 11 for upward movement relative to the control sleeve 17 and the cage 22.

The mounting sub 13 located between the mandrel 11 and the mandrel extension 14 is arranged to carry the upper slips 35 for the packer assembly B. The upper slips can be formed in segments 36 with each segment having external wickers or teeth 37 which face upwardly and are adapted to grip a well conduit wall and prevent upward movement. Each segment 36 further has an inner surface 38 which inclines downwardly and outwardly, and has an internal annular recess 39 which receives an external flange 40 on the mounting sub 13. Each segment 36 also has an upwardly extending section 42 over which the lower end portion of the retainer sleeve 27 extends to hold the segments in engagement with the sub flange 40, thereby preventing any vertical motion of the slip segments relative to the mounting sub 13 as long as the retainer sleeve 27 encompasses the upper sections 42 of the segments as shown in FIGURE 1B. Each slip segment 36 is further retained on the mounting sub 13 by a leaf spring 43 having its free end engaging in an external notch 44 formed in each segment, the other end of each leaf spring being connected to the mounting sub by a screw 45 or other suitable fastening device. It will be appreciated that the engagement of the retainer sleeve 27 over the upper sections 42 of the slip segments 36 provides a strong and rigid coupling to prevent any longitudinal motion which might result in prematurely setting the slips. Even when the retainer sleeve 27 is removed by upward feeding of the cage 22, as previously described, the slip segments are still retained on the mounting sub 13 by the inward bias of the leaf springs 43. However, upward feeding of the retainer sleeve 27 clears the lower end surface 46 of the setting sleeve 20 for engagement with the upper end surfaces of the slip segments 36 so that the setting sleeve can exert a holding force on the segments. Accordingly, when the mandrel 11 is freed from the control sleeve 17 by rotation, as previously described, the mandrel can then be elevated by upward movement of the running-in string 10 to engage the slips with the setting sleeve 20. Inasmuch as the control sleeve 17 is still coupled to the drag cage 22 by the threads 28 and 29, the drag cage 22, control sleeve 17 and setting sleeve 20 will transmit the holding force of the drag blocks 25 to the slip segments 36 to hold the segments against upward movement as the mandrel 11 is moved upwardly for shifting the slips outward into gripping engagement with the well casing.

As shown in FIGURE 1B, the packer assembly B includes a body 50 having a central bore 51 which is sized to receive the mandrel extension 14, the lower end of the body being constituted as a valve housing by a guide and valve body 52 threadedly coupled at its lower end. Mounted at the lower portion 'of the packer body 50 are slips 53 of any typical construction having wickers or teeth 54 facing in a downward direction and capable of anchoring, when expanded, against downward movement in the well casing. The slips 53 rest on the guide 52 and have inner surfaces 55 inclined downward and inwardly and arranged to engage companion external surfaces 56 on a lower expander 57 mounted on the body 50. The expander 57 can be releasably secured to the body 50 by one or more shear pins 62 and can also be co-rotatively coupled to the body 50 by a lock pin 62a.

The upper end of the lower expander 57 engages the lower portion of a packing structure 58, such as a plurality of elastomeric rings, surrounding the body, the upper end of which engages an upper expander 59 initially releasably secured to the body 50 by one or more shear pins 60. The ends of the packing structure 58 can be confined by typical anti-extrusion rings 58a and 58b. The upper expander 59 has an outer surface 61 which inclines upwardly and inwardly and which is companion to the inner inclined surfaces 38 on the upper slips 36.

For the purpose of locking the compression force in the packing structure 53 during setting as well as locking the slips 35 and 53 in set condition, a split lock ring 63 is provided which has internal ratchet teeth 64 facing in an upward direction and arranged to mesh with like downwardly facing ratchet teeth 65 on the outer periphery of the body 50. The lock ring 63 also has external tapered cam teeth 66 arranged to engage companion cam surfaces 67 in the expander 59, the cam surfaces tending to urge the ratchet teeth 64 and 65 into mesh with one another. However, upward movement of the body 50 relative to the lock ring 63 can expand the lock ring outwardly, due to the lateral play between the cam surfaces 66 and 67 when the lock ring is moved upwardly relative to the expander 59. The lock ring 63 functions as a one-way clutch to permit upward movement of the body 50 relative to the expander 59 but prevent converse relative movement in a conventional manner.

The mandrel extension 14 is arranged to reciprocate upwardly and downwardly within the body bore 51 in response to manipulation of the running-in string 10 to operate the valve assembly C. An external seal device 69, of any suitable construction, is provided to seal between the mandrel extension 14 and the body 50 so that fluid under pressure can be displaced through the valve assembly C without leakage back into the well annulus above the packing assembly B. The mandrel extension 14 is coupled to the upper end of the body 50 by a sliding ratchet arrangement 70 which permits rigid connection between the running-in string 10 and the body 50 during setting, partial release to enable positive valve assembly operation, selective disengagement by upward strain on the running-in string 10 to permit circulation of well fluids if desired, and selective engagement by downward motion of the running-in string for further operations.

As shown in FIGURES 1B and 3, this ratchet arrangement 70 includes a split ratchet nut 71 having external, upwardly facing ratchet teeth 72 formed on a left-hand helix. Due to the fact that the nut 71 is split, it is capable of assuming an unstressed expanded size where the teeth 72 are engageable with upper, larger diameter threads 73 on the body 50, and a contracted size where the teeth are engageable with lower, smaller diameter companion threads 74 on the body. The body threads 73 and 74 are formed on the same lead so that the ratchet nut 71 can readily mesh with both threads. The ratchet nut 71 is seated in an annular recess 75 in the upper portion of the mandrel extension 14, the recess being terminated at its upper end by the lower face of the mounting sub 13 and at its lower end by an annular flange 76. A longitudinal spline or key 77 extends radially outwardly in the recess 75 to engage in the slot or cut 78 formed in the split ratchet nut 71 so that the nut is corotatively secured to the mandrel extension 14.

In the running-in position of parts shown in FIGURES 1A and 1B, the ratchet nut 71 occupies a lower position within the recess 75 and is contracted and threaded into the lower body threads 74. Inadvertent unthreading of the ratchet nut is precluded by a shear screw 80 engaging in the body 50 and in the mounting sub 13. Since the mounting sub 13 engages the upper end of the mandrel 50 and the extension flange 76 engages the lower surface of the ratchet nut 71, the extension 14 and body 50 are rigidly coupled to one another. After setting, right-hand rotation of the mandrel extension 14 relative to the body 50 will shear the screw 80 and cause the ratchet nut 71 to feed upwardly and out of engagement with the lower body threads 74. When the nut clears the lower threads 74, it will expand into mesh with the upper threads 73 and continued rotation of the nut can eventually cause it to unthread out of the upper threads also, It will be noted that both the upper and lower faces of the ratchet nut threads 72 are inclined to some extent. This construction permits the threads 72 to be ratcheted through the upper body threads 74 in either longitudinal direction without rotation. That is to say, the nut can repeatedly expand and contract and ratchet through the upper body threads 74, there being suflicient lateral play between the inside surface of the nut and the bottom of the recess 75 when the nut 71 is adjacent to the upper body threads to permit this to occur. Due to the inclination of the upper faces of the teeth 72, the nut 71 can be released from the upper body threads 74 in response to a predetermined upward strain on the mandrel extension. In like manner, the ratchet nut 71 can be reengaged with the upper body threads 74 by lowering the mandrel extension until the nut ratchets back into engagement with the body threads. This arrangement permits a positive yet releasable coupling between the mandrel extension 14 and the body 50 which is highly advantageous in that, initially, a rigid connection between the extension and body is effected for transmitting high setting loads to expand the packing structure 58 and to firmly set the slips 35 and 53. Then, with the ratchet nut 71 engaging the upper body threads 73, a coupling is effected which permits a limited amount of reciprocating motion between the extension and the body for operating the valve assembly C without disconnecting the extension from the body. When desired, a predetermined upward strain on the running-in string will completely release same from the body 50 without rotation should a quick disconnection be advisable, and the extension 14 can later be merely lowered into the body bore 51 to reengage the ratchet nut 71 within the upper body threads 73 for further operations.

Fluid flow through the body bore 51 is controlled by the valve assembly C which includes the valve housing 52 as previously described. The valve housing 52 has side ports 85 through the wall thereof, and the lower portion 86 of the valve housing is closed. A valve sleeve 87 is positioned within the bore of the valve housing 52 and arranged for upward and downward motion therein between an upper position shown in FIGURE 1B where upper and lower seal rings 88 and 89 seal above and below the side ports 85 to block fluid flow therethrough, and a lower position shown in FIGURE 2B where the side ports 85 are open for fluid flow. The valve sleeve bore 90 provides a fluid communication path through the valve sleeve 87 so that fluid pressure will act on the sleeve in equal but opposite directions and will not tend to move the valve sleeve. An annular flange 91 is provided in the bore of the valve sleeve 87, and a coil spring 92 of any suitable construction presses upwardly against the flange 91 tending to move the valve sleeve upwardly.

The upper portion of the valve sleeve 87 is constituted as a latch device 93 comprising a plurality of circumferentially spaced, upwardly extending latch fingers 94 having enlarged head portions 95 at their upper ends. The latch fingers 94 are spring-like or resilient and inherently tend to resile outwardly to the extent shown in detail in FIGURE 4. Each head portion 95 has an inner projection 96 and an outer projection 97, each inner projection having an upwardly facing shoulder 98 and. a lower upwardly and inwardly inclined surface 99, each outer projection 97 having upper and lower oppositely inclined surfaces 100 and 101. Moreover, the outer portion of each head is formed to extend upwardly beyond the shoulder '98 to provide a tang having an inner surface 103 which inclines downwardly and inwardly.

The lower end portion 105 of the mandrel extension 14 is formed for coupling with the latch device 93 and has spaced annular recesses 106 and 107 thereon in which the inner projections 96 of the finger heads 95 can engage. The lower recess 107 is formed to extend to a greater depth in the coupling portion 105 than is the upper recess 106. The valve body 52 is provided with spaced annular grooves 108 and 109 in which the outer projections 97 on the finger heads 95 can extend, the upper groove 108 extending more deeply into the valve body than the lower groove 109 and having a lower downwardly and inwardly inclined cam surface 110.

Assuming that it is desirable to lower the tool into the well with the valve sleeve 87 in its upper closed position, the valve assembly parts are positioned as shown in FIGURE 4 with the finger heads 95 opposite the upper groove 108 and with the outer projections 97 extending into the upper groove and with the inner projections 96 engaging Within the upper extension recess 106. The upper extension recess 106 is not sufliciently deep to allow the finger heads 95 to disengage from the upper body groove 108 and the valve sleeve 87 is locked in closed condition and cannot be moved downwardly. However, after the packing assembly B is set and the ratchet nut 71 disengaged by mandrel rotation as previously described, the mandrel extension 14 can be elevated until the lower recess 107 is either somewhere above, or opposite to, the finger heads 95. The extension flange 112 can readily force or cam the heads 95 outwardly and pass upwardly past the heads. Then, lowering the extension 14 will engage the extension flange 112 with the head shoulders 98 and, due to the interengagement of the inclined surfaces 101 and 110, cam the heads 95 inwardly. The lower extension recess 107 is sufliciently deep to allow the heads 95 to shift inwardly and disengage from the groove 108. Accordingly, the valve sleeve 87 can be pushed downwardly to open position as shown in FIGURE 5 by downward movement of the extension 14. Also the valve sleeve 87 can be moved upwardly to closed position by merely elevating the extension 14 because the heads 95 are held inwardly in locked position within the lower recess 107 by the inner surface 113 of the valve body. When the heads 95 move upwardly and opposite the upper groove 108, they will resile outwardly into the groove and the end flange 114 on the extension 14 can bypass the heads to free the coupling portion 105 from the latch device 93.

Assuming that it is desired to run the tool into the well with the valve sleeve 87 in open position, the parts are assembled as shown in FIGURE 5 with the valve sleeve in the lower position and with the head portions 95 locked in engagement within the lower extension recess 107. To move the valve sleeve 87 to closed position, theextension 14 is elevated and the latch fingers 94 will pullthe valve sleeve upwardly. When the upper groove 108 is reached, the head portions 95 will resile into the groove 108 to release the valve sleeve from the extension as previously described.

An important feature of the present invention resides in a structural arrangement to permit positive recoupling of the mandrel extension 14 and valve sleeve 87 even though the valve sleeve may be intermediate its open and closed positions. Should this occur, the head portions 95 will be located at some point below the upper groove 108. As the mandrel extension 14 moves downwardly, the end flange 114 Will engage and push the head portions 95 downwardly until they are opposite the lower body groove 109, as shown in FIGURE 6, at which point they will resile outwardly and into the lower groove, thereby permitting the flange 114 to bypass the head portions. Then, the valve spring 92, being compressed by downward movement of the valve sleeve 87, will func tion to force the valve sleeve 87 and fingers 94 upwardly, camming the head portions 95 inwardly into locked engagement within the lower extension recess 107. This coaction positively couples the valve sleeve 87 to the extension 14 for further and repeated movements between open and closed positions.

Operation In operation, the various parts of the present invention can be assembled as shown in FIGURE 1 with the mandrel 11 connected to the lower end of the runningin string 10, and then lowered into a well bore to a desired setting point. The slips 35 and 53 and the packing structure 58 are retracted, the upper slips 35 being encompassed by the retainer sleeve 27. The drag blocks 25 can slide along in frictional engagement with the well casing P and the cage 22 and the control sleeve 17 cannot move upwardly on the mandrel 11 due to the engagement of the threads 28 and 29 and the locking condition of the latch ball 30. The ratchet nut 71 is in full mesh with the lower body threads 74 and engages the extension stop flange 76. The lower surface of the mounting sub 13 abuts against the upper end of the mandrel 50 so that the mandrel 11 and the mandrel extension 14 are, in net effect, integrally connected to the packer body '50.

The valve sleeve 87 can initially occupy its upper port closing position by positioning the finger heads 95 within the upper body groove 108. This can be conveniently accomplished during assembly by exerting an upward force on the lower end of the valve sleeve 87 so that the engagement of the upper head surfaces 103 with the inclined top surface of the upper groove 108 will cause the heads 95 to extend to their fullest extent into the upper groove. Thus extended, the extension flange 112 can readily bypass downwardly beyond the heads to position upper extension recess 106 opposite the heads. On the other hand, the valve sleeve 87 can initially occupy its lower open position by making up the valve assembly C such that the finger heads 95 are engaged in the lower extension recess 107.

At setting depth, the running-in string is rotated a sufficient number of turns to the right to feed the cage 22 and the retainer sleeve 27 upwardly as previously described. Upward movement of the retainer sleeve 27 disengages the sleeve from the upper sections 42 of the slip segments 36 so that the segments can be shifted outwardly. At this point, the segments 36 are still retained on the mounting sub 13 by the leaf springs 43. Upward movement of the cage 22 positions the cage recess 34 opposite the ball 30 so that the ball can move out of the mandrel detent 32 to release the mandrel 11 for upward movement relative to the control sleeve 17 and the cage 22.

The mandrel 11 is then elevated by upward strain on the running-in string 10 to set the packer assembly B. The engagement of the drag blocks 25 against the well casing P produces a holding force which is transmitted through the threads 28 and 29 to the control sleeve 17, thereby resisting upward movement of the setting sleeve 20. Accordingly, as the mandrel 11 is elevated, the upper end surfaces of the slip segments 36 are brought into engagement with the lower end surface of the setting sleeve and continued upward movement of the mandrel 11 causes the setting sleeve 20 to push the slip segments 36 out of retained relationship with the leaf springs 43 and out of engagement with the mounting sub flange 40. The setting sleeve 20 then functions to hold the segments against upward movement as the upper expander 59 is moved underneath the segments 36 to expand them outwardly as shown in FIGURE 2B. As the expander 59 moves upwardly, its outer inclined surfaces 61 Wedge the slip segments 36 outwardly until the teeth 37 grip the well casing wall. Now, the upper expander 59 cannot move any further upwardly relative to the well casing and continued upward movement of the mandrel 11 and packer body 50, after shearing the pins 60 and 62, serves to expand the lower slips 53 over the lower expander 57 and to compress and expand the packing structure '58. When a predetermined upward strain has been taken on the running-in string 10, both the upper and lower slips 35 and 53 are shifted outwardly to grip the well casing P and prevent movement in either longitudinal direction, and the packing structure 58 is expanded to pack off the annulus between the well casing and the body 50. During upward movement of the body 50 relative to the upper expander 59, the lock ring 63 will ratchet over the external body teeth 65 and trap the mandrel in the highest relative position to which it is moved, thereby trapping the compression load in the packing structure 58 and locking the slips 35 and 53 in set condition.

If it is desired to test the running-in string 10 for leakage, this can be accomplished. Should the valve sleeve 87 be initially positioned in closed condition as shown in FIGURE 4 and as previously described, the running-in string 10 will already be closed off at its lower end and can be pressure tested for leakage by applying pump pressure to the inside of the string at the earths surface. Should the valve sleeve 87 be initially positioned in open condition, the valve sleeve can be moved to closed position as will be subsequently described and the runningin string 10 leak tested in the same manner.

At any rate, the packer assembly B is now set and a pressure operation, such as squeeze cementing or hydraulic fracturing can be undertaken. To operate the valve assembly C, a relatively small upward strain, say 1000 pounds above the free point, is taken in the running-in string 10 and the string is torqued to the right. Since the packer body 50 is now fixed in the well bore due to the set condition of the packer assembly B, rotation of the mandrel extension 14 will shear the screw and feed the ratchet nut 71 upwardly and out of the lower body threads 74. When the nut 71 clears the lower threads 74, it will expand into mesh with the upper ratchet threads 73 and continued rotation to the right will feed the nut upwardly through the upper threads also. When the free point is indicated at the surface, the nut 71 is completely disengaged and the extension 14 is uncoupled from the packer body 50. Then the running-in string 10 can be lowered without rotation to ratchet the nut 71 back into the upper body threads 73 as shown in FIGURE 2B. With this relative position of parts, it will be appreciated that the mandrel extension 14 can be reciprocated upwardly relative to the packer body 50 until the stop flange 76 bumps against the ratchet nut 71, and downwardly until the mounting sub 13 bumps against the upper end of the mandrel 50. The relative travel permitted is suflicient to operate the valve assembly C while providing positive surface indications of the position of the valve sleeve 87 relative to the side ports in the valve body 52.

When the mandrel extension 14 is moved upwardly during complete release of the ratchet nut 71 from the body threads 73 and 74 as previously described, the lower portion 105 of the extension is positioned at some point above the finger heads which are located within the upper body groove 108. Accordingly, downward movement of the mandrel extension 14 will cause the extension flange 112 to engage the head shoulders 98 and push the valve sleeve 87 downwardly against the bias of the valve spring 92. As the heads 95 move downwardly, they are cammed inwardly out of the upper body groove 108 and into locked relationship within the lower extension recess 107 and held locked therein by the inner surface 113 on the valve body 52 as shown in FIGURE 5. Accordingly, the valve sleeve 87 is positively coupled to the mandrel extension 14 and downward movement of the mandrel extension will shift the valve sleeve to open position and upward movement will move the sleeve to closed position. During upward movement, when the heads 95 move opposite the upper body groove 108, they will resile into the groove and permit the end flange 114 on the extension 14 to bypass the inner projections 96 to release the extension 14 from the valve sleeve 87 and permit removal of the extension from the packer body 50. It will be appreciated that whenever the mandrel extension 14 is thus removed, the valve sleeve 87 should always be in its upper closed position shown in FIGURE 4 with the seal elements 88 and 89 spanning the side ports 85 to block fluid flow. Inasmuch as the valve seals 88 and 89 are arranged to encompass substantially the same areas, fluid pressure either within the valve body 52 or externally thereof will act in equal and opposite directions and will not tend to shift the valve sleeve 87.

However, should it be desired to further operate the valve sleeve 87 and if, for some reason, the head portions 95 are located at some point below the upper body groove 108 (e.g., the valve sleeve is either already in open position, or in a position intermediate its open and closed positions) the extension 14 can be again lowered into the body bore 51. When the extension end flange 114 reaches the head portions 95, the flange will push the head portions and thus the valve sleeve 87 downwardly against the bias of the valve spring 92. When the head portions 95 are moved opposite the lower body groove 109, the head portions will reside into the lower groove and permit the end flange 114 to bypass the inner projections 96 as shown in FIGURE 6. When this occurs, the valve spring 92 will force the valve sleeve 87 upwardly, camming the head portions 95 inwardly, until the head portions are again locked within the extension recess 107 as shown in FIGURE 5. Accordingly, the parts are in relative positions for further and repeated operation.

As was previously noted, a predetermined upward strain on the running-in string without rotation will cause the ratchet nut 71 to release from the upper body threads 73 by repeated contraction or ratcheting action. Therefore, it will be appreciated that the mandrel extension 14 can be quickly removed from the packer body 50 by an upward pull on the running-in string 10 should circulation or reverse circulation above the packer assembly B be desirable. An unlimited number of connections and disconnections of the mandrel extension 14 and packer body 50 can be effected by simply moving the running-in string 10 up and down to engage and disengage the ratchet nut 71 with the upper body threads 73.

A new and improved well packer apparatus has been disclosed which can be lowered on a running-in string and set in a well bore. The well packer has a flow passage and a pressure balanced valve for opening and closing the passage as desired. The valve element can be operated by an actuator in response to up and down motion of the running-in string and can be releasably coupled to the actuator to occupy either its open or closed position during lowering to setting depth. Moreover, the actuator can be uncoupled from the valve element and then positively recoupled thereto regardless of the position of the valve element within the valve body at the time of recoupling.

Since certain changes or modifications may be made in the invention without departing from the inventive concepts involved, it is the aim of the appended claims to cover all such changes or modifications which fall within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.

I claim:

1. A well packer apparatus adapted to be lowered and set in a packed-off condition in a well bore, comprising: a body having a flow passage; a valve element movable upwardly and downwardly in said flow passage and relative to said body between positions opening and closing said passage; actuating means adapted for connection to a running-in string extending to the top of a well bore and movable upwardly and downwardly by the running-in string for moving said valve element relative to said body; and latch means including latch elements on said valve element for initially selectively coupling said valve element-to said actuator in spaced longitudinal positions relative to said body and said actuator, said positions corresponding to one of said open and said closed positions, said latch means and valve element being thereafter responsive to reciprocating motion of said actuator for moving said valve element between positions opening and closing said passage.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further including means engaging said latch elements for locking said latch means in coupled relationship with said actuator during longitudinal movement of said valve element by said actuating means.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 further including port means in said valve element for communicating fluid pressure to locations above and below said valve element whereby said fluid pressure will act with equal force in opposite directions on said valve means.

4. Apparatus for use in a well tool in a well bore comprising: an outer member having a passageway through which fluid can flow; valve means in said outer member movable longitudinally for opening and closing said fluid passageway; an inner member telescopically movable in said outer member for imparting like motion to said valve means; upper and lower annular recesses in one member; upper and lower grooves in the other member; a locking surface between said grooves; and latch means on said valve means cooperable with said recesses, grooves, and locking surface for coupling said valve means to said actuator to transmit longitudinal motion, and for permitting selective relative positioning of said valve means and said actuator, and for permitting selective connecting and disconnecting of said actuator and valve member.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein said passageway includes side ports in said outer member, said valve means being constituted by a sleeve having seal elements thereon for sealing oit said side ports.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 further including shoulder means on said sleeve; and means engaging said shoulder means for biasing said sleeve toward said inner member.

7. Apparatus for use in a well tool in a well bore comprising: a body member having a fluid passageway; 21 valve member in said body movable upwardly and downwardly therein for respectively closing and opening said passageway; an actuator in said body for moving said valve member; latch means on said valve member cooperable with said actuator for transmitting movement of said actuator to said valve member, said actuator having an end surface and a coupling portion engagable with said latch means for shifting said valve member downwardly to open position; a first groove in said body memher into which said latch means can move to permit said end surface to disengage from said latch means; biasing means for shifting said valve member upwardly to a position where said latch means can engage said coupling portion; and a second groove in said body member located above said first groove, and into which said latch means can move for disengaging said latch means and coupling portion.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 further including means between said grooves engageable with said latch means for locking said latch means to said coupling portion.

9. Apparatus for use in a well tool in a well bore comprising: a valve body having a flow passage; a valve sleeve movable upwardly and downwardly in said valve body for controlling fluid flow in said passage; an actuator extending into said valve body and movable upwardly and downwardly therein for moving said valve sleeve, said actuator having a coupling portion; latch means for coupling said valve sleeve to said coupling portion to transmit upward and downward motion of said actuator to said valve sleeve; means including a groove in said body to uncouple said latch means and coupling portion during upward movement of said actuator to permit removal of said actuator from said valve body; and means including another groove in said body to permit coupling of said latch means and coupling portion during downward movement of said actuator.

10. Apparatus for use in a well tool in a well bore comprising: a valve body having a flow passage; a valve element movable upwardly and downwardly in said valve body for controlling fluid How in said passage; actuating means for moving said valve element upwardly and downwardly, said actuating means having a fiow passage in communication with said body flow passage; and latch means for coupling said actuating means and valve element during downward movement of said actuating means and for disconnecting said actuating means and valve element during upward movement of said actuating means, said latch meansincluding longitudinally spaced grooves in said valve body, a recess in said actuating means, and latch fingers on said valve element cooperable with one of said grooves for disconnecting said valve element and actuating means and cooperable with said other groove to permit coupling of said valve element and actuating means and cooperable with said recess for coupling said actuating means and valve element.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 further including means between said grooves engageable with said latch fingers for locking said latch fingers in coupled relationship in said recess during upward movement of said actuating means and said valve element.

12. A well packer apparatus adapted to be lowered and set in packed-off condition in a well bore, comprising: a body having a fiow passage; packing means and anchor means on said body for respectively packing off a well bore and anchoring against movement in the well bore; a valve element in said passage movable upwardly and downwardly in said body between positions opening and closing said passage; actuating means adapted for connection to a running-in string extending to the top of the well bore and movable upwardly and downwardly by the running-in string for moving said valve element; and means for selectively releasably coupling said valve element to said actuator in spaced longitudinal positions relative to said actuator and in an upper or lower posi tion relative to said body to correspondingly dispose said valve element in passage closing or opening position during lowering.

13. In a well bore for use in a well bore, the combination comprising: a body having a How passage; a valve element in said body movable upwardly and downwardly between positions opening and closing said passage; an actuator in said body movable upwardly and downwardly for moving said valve element, said actuator having a coupling portion; latch means for coupling said valve element to said coupling portion during upward and downward movement of said valve element; and means for releasing said latch means from said coupling portion including a groove in said body into which said latch means can move to a normal extent to disengage said latch means from said coupling portion during upward movement of said actuator, said groove having a downwardly and inwardly inclined upper surface engageable with said latch means to permit said latch means to be forced thereinto to a greater extent to permit said coupling portion to bypass said latch means during downward movement of said actuator.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 further including means engageable with said latch means to lock said latch means within said groove when said coupling portion has bypassed said latch means.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,051,246 8/1962 Clark et al. l66----226 3,163,225 12/1964 Perkins ]66226 3,306,366 2/1967 Muse 166128 3,356,140 12/1967 Young 166128 JAMES A. LEPPINK, Primary Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R. 166l28, 226

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Classifications
U.S. Classification166/125, 166/334.4, 166/128
International ClassificationE21B33/129, E21B33/12
Cooperative ClassificationE21B33/1294
European ClassificationE21B33/129N