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Publication numberUS3536135 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 27, 1970
Filing dateJun 27, 1968
Priority dateJun 27, 1968
Also published asDE1932230A1, DE1932230B2, DE1932230C3
Publication numberUS 3536135 A, US 3536135A, US-A-3536135, US3536135 A, US3536135A
InventorsDozier James R
Original AssigneeShell Oil Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Underwater production facility including base unit and production fluid handling unit
US 3536135 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventor James R. Dozier Tulsa, Oklahoma [21] Applv No. 740,688 [22] Filed June 27, 1968 [45] Patented Oct. 27, 1970 [73] Assignee Shell Oil Company New York, New York a corporation of Delaware [54] UNDERWATER PRODUCTION FACILITY INCLUDING BASE UNIT AND PRODUCTION FLUID I-IANDLING UNIT 17 Claims, 9 Drawing Figs.

[52] U.S. Cl 166/5, 166/267 [51] Int. Cl ..E2Ib, 43/01, E21b 43/00 [50] Field ofSearch 166/.5, .6; 175/8. 9

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,111,692 11/1963 Cox 175/8X 432 l 5 5| 66 51 r in 12 II a 86 ,4

3,261,398 7/1966 Haeber 166/.5 3,353,364 11/1967 Blanding et a1 166/.5X 3,360,042 12/1967 Marion .i 166/.6 3,384,169 5/1968 Leonard 166/15 3,391,734- 7/1968 Townsend 166/.5 3,401,746 9/1968 Stevens et a1. 166/.5

Primary Examiner-Marvin A. Champion Assistant Examiner--Richard E. Favreau Attorneys-J. H. Mc Carthy and Thomas R. Lampe Patentgd ogt. 27,1970 3,556,135-

Sheet 'g or 2 INVENTOR: J. a DOZIER' HIS ATTORNEY UNDERWATER PRODUCTION FACILITY INCLUDING BASE UNIT AND PRODUCTION FLUID HANDLING UNIT This invention relates to underwater oil gathering installations or production facilities of the type adapted to be positioned on the ocean floor at an offshore location, and pertains more particularly to an anchored ocean floor oil manifold and separator station positioned underwater for gathering production fluids from a plurality of offshore wells and conveying the oil and/or other phases of the production fluid to suitable production facilities located either offshore or on land.

To date, oil and gas wells have been drilled at offshore locations from fixed platforms or from floating or submersible barges. At the conclusion of the well drilling operations, the well equipment and the Christmas tree attached to the top thereof extended above the surface of the water where it was surrounded by a platform which was fixedly supported from the ocean floor. The production facility, including equipment such as an oil and gas separator and metering and storage tanks, was sometimes mounted on the platform at the well and the production fluid from the well was run into these tanks. At other times centralized production facilities for handling a number of wells would be constructed on piles sunk in the ocean floor at a centrally located position among the wells. Individual production flow lines would then be run from the individual wells to extend to the centralized production facility where the production fluid would be gathered, separated and/or treated prior to transporting it to shore by means of tankers or through a pipeline.

While installations of the above-described types were satisfactory for oil fields located in shallow water, the same types of installations are impossible to construct or may be constructed only at excessive cost for deep water oil and gas fields. This is especially true where the oil and gas production fluid is coming from underwater wells, that is. wells wherein the wellhead facilities are positioned underwater or close to the ocean floor.

In order to develop many of the Pacific Coast offshore oil fields, the use of ocean floor production facilities is the only practical method. This is especially true for an oil field in 400 to 1,000 feet of water, where locating a fixed platform extending above the water surface within producing field limits capable of providing all necessary production facilities would be extremely expensive and entirely impractical in some cases. The use ofa floating production platform as an oil production facility has been suggested and designed. However, floating production platforms would be very expensive for only a few wells. Alternatively, semisubmerged production facilities which are anchored in a manner so as to be say 100 feet below the surface of the water have been suggested but this semisubmersible type of a production facility is quite dependent upon a multiplicity of lines from the facility to the ocean bottom. Also, a safe and reliable anchoring system is required. At the present state of the art these requirements to be met would require a costly and complex installation of the semisubmerged type.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is therefore a primary object of the present invention to provide an oil gathering production installation which may be economically constructed and positioned at an ocean floor location for handling the production fluid from a number of offshore wells.

In the majority of cases, it is desirable to separate gas, oil and water components from produced well fluids prior to movement in pipelines, and it is mandatory prior to tanker or barge transportation. This automatically dictates that fluid separating equipment be provided for producing oil and gas wells, whether on land or offshore. At times, equipment is also needed to control the production of the wells and to make well tests. It is therefore a further object of the present invention to provide an ocean floor production facility equipped with the necessary apparatus for separating one or more phases of the production fluid prior to sending the oil to shore, or to tankers or barges.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an ocean floor gathering and manifolding station for receiving production fluid from a plurality of underwater wells and subsequently combining the oil and transporting it to a distance storage or transportation facility.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide an ocean floor production facility wherein suitable separation and other apparatus is contained within a selectively buoyant vessel adapted to be raised and lowered between the surface of a body of water and a base member on the ocean floor so that the major equipment of the production facility is carried within the buoyant member and is available for repair without the need to send divers down to the ocean floor.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an ocean floor production facility wherein the flow lines are provided with suitable connectors and valves which may be operated from a remote position, say for example as from a vessel on the surface of the ocean, said connectors including disconnect coupling means associated with flow lines between underwater wells and the facility whereby a portion of the facility may be raised to the surface of the water without disturbing the well flow lines.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide an underwater oil gathering installation which is positioned at a depth sufficient to eliminate the possibility of collision with surface vessels and to eliminate the necessity of using costly navigational aids.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide an ocean floor production facility adapted to be connected to a plurality of underwater wells and further adapted to be setviced and controlled, with regard to its installation or removal and with regard to the fluid handling and treating operations carried on therein, by an underwater manipulator device adapted to be lowered from a vessel at the surface and positioned in engagement with the ocean floor facility and moved thereon.

These and other objects have been attained in the present invention by providing an underwater production facility including a base unit and production fluid handling unit. The base unit is mounted on the ground under a body of water and is provided with one or more manifold lines to which a plurality of flow lines from one or more underwater wells may be attached. The base unit further includes means for receiving the production fluid handling unit. The production fluid handling unit contains various types of equipment. such as separator units, metering tanks. etc., for carrying out desired operations with respect to produced fluid and is of suitable construction whereby it may be placed into or removed from operative engagement with the base unit. For example, buoyancy tanks incorporated in the production fluid handling unit will permit it to float free of the base unit to the surface of the water where it may be readily serviced, repaired, etc. An anchor line disposed between the units may be taken up as by a winch on the production fluid handling unit to bring the units into operative engagement on the ocean floor after the desird operations have been carried out with respect to the production fluid handling unit at the water surface. Conduit means are provided between the units when they are in operative engagement upon the ocean floor. Disconnect coupling means are provided with respect to the conduits to allow ready engagement and disengagement therebetween. Finally, means is provided on the facility to accommodate an underwater manipulator device so that such device may assist in the carrying out of the various operations.

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

FIG. I is a schematic view illustrating an oil gathering and manifolding installation or production facility in accordance with the present invention anchored at an underwater location with flow lines running to one or more oil and/or gas wells while other lines run to shore or to a more centralized production facility and storage unit;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view schematically showing the floatable central portion of the underwater production facility of the present invention floating above its underwater base while being anchored thereto by an anchor line;

FIG 3 is a longitudinal view in enlarged detail of an alternative form of anchoring and aligning means for use with the present production facility;

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of still another form of aligning means used by the present production facility;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view taken in partial longitudinal section illustrating another form of the production facility of the present invention with an underwater manipulator device adapted to be mounted on the central removable portion or unit of the facility rather than on the surrounding base unit.

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view illustrating one form of suitable connector means for connecting pipe lines of the underwater production facility;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 7-7 of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 8 is a fragmental view taken in cross section schematically showing drive means for rotating the removable central unit of the production facility relative to its base unit.

FIG. 9 is a schematic view showing of an alternative embodiment of the invention.

Referring to FIG I of the drawing. the underwater oil and gas production facility of the present invention comprises two main units. As shown in FIG 2 of the drawing a base unit II is positioned on the ocean floor I2 in the vlcinity ofa plurality of underwater wells (not shown). Resting on the base member is a buoyant production fluid handling unit represented generally by numeral 14. The centrally disposed production fluid handling unit is ofa size to fit within the base unit II. The fluid handling unit 14 is preferably provided with an anchor line I5 extending downwardly to the base unit 11.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawing. the base unit 11 may comprise a base plate I6 provided with upwardly extending pipe support means which may he in the form ofa continuous circumferential wall I7 or in the form of individual pipe support 18 as shown in FIG. 5. A second circumferential inner wall I9 is provided, the wall being of a diameter to contain a removable central fluid handling unit I4.

The main purpose of the inward upwardly extending wall I9 is to provide support means for a track 21 adapted to receive and support thereon an underwater manipulator device 22 which may be of the type shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 3.099.316. The manipulator device comprises a body member 23 having means such as wheels 24 for securing it to the track 21 The wheels 24 are preferably actuated by motor means operatively connected to the wheel and positioned either inside or outside the body member 23. Additionally. the body member 23 is provided with a pair of idler rollers 25 mounted on an outwardly extending frame 26 so as to contact the outer surface of the upwardly extending inner wall I9, as shown in FIG. 1, when the drive wheels 24 arehung on track 21. Alternatively, the rollers 25 may be powered to make friction contact with the outer surface of-the wall 19 to drive the manipulator device 22 around the underwater production facility. It is to be understood that the space 27 between the outer and inner walls 17 and 19. respectively. is of a dimension sufficient to receive a manipulator device 22 and allow it to operate.

A portion of the manipulator device is arranged for upward extension from the body member thereof and is preferably in the form of a telescopic arm 28 which s vertically extensible. Mounted on the top of the telescopic arm 28 is a laterally extending cylinder 30 having a telescoping arm 31 extendible outwardly therefrom. The lateral arm 31 is provided with a rotatable wrench head 32 that is power operated by suitable motor means (not shown) mounted in the arm 31 or in the cylinder 30, preferably in the rear portion thereof. A television camera 33 (including suitable light means) is mounted on top of the manipulator device on a power-actuated swivel and tilting mechanism 34, while the television viewing screen (not shown) is positioned on a vessel at the surface of the water.

The manipulator device 22 may be suspended on a hook having a weight-supporting and power and control signal transmitting cable 35 attached to its upper end. Thus, power and control signals for operating the manipulator device and its associated equipment are sent down the cable 35 from a vessel at the surface of the water while the television signals are returned up the cable to the vessel. For moving the manipulator device 22 "laterally at the end of the cable 35 through the'water, the manipulator device may be provided with suitable propulsion means such for example, as motor driven propellers (not shown) which are mounted outboard of the body member 23 in a manner described in US. Pat. No. 3,099,3l6.lnstead of .motors and propellers, fluid jets and pumps may be employed. At least a portion of the body member 23 may form a 'void chamber which may be selectively flooded by controls at the vessel for adjusting the buoyancy of the manipulator device 22. If additional buoyancy is desired, suitable buoyancy tanks may be secured to the weight supporting cable 35, or to the manipulator body 23.

Referring to FIG. 1 of the drawing, it is to be understood that the production facility of the present invention is positioned in an oil field in the'vicinity ofa plurality of underwater wells whereby the flow line 36 from each well is run to the production facility and secured thereto in any manner well known to the art. as by means ofa pipe clamp 37, for example. Alternatively. any known form of connector means such as J- tubes and bending shoes may be used to secure the flow lines to the facility. Each flow line is preferably provided with at least one flow control valve 38 at the end near the production facility as well as a disconnect coupling 40 which is the size having an actuating stem 4] which is operable by the manipulator device 22. In a like manner. the valve 38 is provided with a valve stem 42 which may be engaged and operated by the wrench head 32 of the manipulator device 22. Thus, by disconnecting the flow line 36 at the coupling 40, the flow line 36 can be replaced or repaired.

The base unit II of the present production facility if preferably provided with one or more manifold lines 43 to which a plurality of flow lines 36 can be attached with the oil or production fluid from a plurality of wells being comingled prior to being run into the production fluid handling unit I4 through header pipe 44. Each of the header pipes 44 is provided with a readily disconnectible coupling 45 and a flow control valve 46 both being ofa design adapted to be actuated by the manipulator device 22 or by other actuator means of any known type such as fixed by remotely controlled actuator mechanisms mounted on the facility. Alternatively, the valves 46 could be check valves. In one form of the present invention the pipe couplings 45 are arranged in a staggered pattern, as illustrated, so that all of the header pipes 44 may be brought simultaneously into alignment at the couplings 45 as the production fluid handling unit 14 is moved vertically downwardly through the water and into the position shown on the base unit 11. v

The production fluid handling unit 14 may contain the manifold lines 43 rather than having them placed on the base unit. In this case, each of the flow lines 36 (FIG. 5) would lead directly into the production fluid handling unit 14 and be connected to the manifold lines (not shown) inside, which would be similar to the manifold lines 43 shown in FIG. 1. Fluid from the production fluid handling unit 14 would be discharged therefrom through one or more discharge lines 47 (FIG. 1) equipped with; suitable couplings 48 and valves 49. In the alternative formof the invention shown in FIG. 5, production fluid handling unit 14 is provided with a manipulator track 210 rather than mounting the manipulator track on the base unit 11 as shown in FIG. I; In-another alternative'arrangement shown in FIG. 9, the manipulator device 22 is arranged to move on tracks 21b positioned on the floor of the base unit 11.

The production'fluid handling unit 14 (FIG. 1) may contain various types of equipment depending upon the operations desired to be carried out at the underwater production facility. For example, the production fluid handling unit 14 may be equipped with a surge tank 51, a gas separator tank 52, an oil and water separator 53 and a metering tank 54. Metering devices (not shown) may be suitably provided to measure percentages and amounts of each phase produced. Preferably, only gas is separated at the underwater production facility with the combined production fluid of oil and water or just oil being transported either by pump pressure or well pressure from the unit.

In the event that it is desired to have the production fluid handling unit 14 a buoyant vessel, buoyancy tanks 55 and 56 of suitable capacity may be employed. Preferably, these tanks 55 and 56 are selectively floodable through valved ports 57 and 58. The air into the port 58 would be provided by means of an air supply conduit 60 and a disconnectible coupling 61 whereby air could be pumped from shore to blow out the water from the buoyancy tanks 55 and 56 when it was desired to refloat the centrally disposed fluid handling unit 14. Alternatively, air could be furnished to the buoyancy tanks from a suitable service vessel (not shown) of either the flotable or submersible type. If desired, the production unit 14 may be provided with a central manway or shaft 62 normally closed by a cover plate 63 to provide access into the vessel 14 for workmen. For emergencies, the top of the central production unit 14 may be provided with a landing base for seating the lower end of a diving chamber (not shown) in order to carry out emergency repairs underwater.

The buoyant floating production fluid handling unit 14 illustrated in FIG. 2 could be sunk into place and centrally disposed within the base unit 11 by selectively flooding the buoyancy tanks so that the production unit 14 sinks vertically into position. In this particular arrangement an. outwardly disposed flange or landing element 65 on the outer surface of the production unit 14 would seat on the upper surface of the inner supporting wall 17 As shown in FIG. 1, the supporting wall 17 may be provided, preferably near the upper end thereof, with suitable drive means which may be employed to rotate the production fluid handling unit 14 within the base unit 11, as necessaryv Thus. in some installations, where it is not feasible to arrange the couplings 45 in a staggered pattern as illustrated in FIG I, or in any other staggered pattern, it might be necessary to rotate the production unit 14 relative to the base unit 11 so that the respective cooperating pipe coupling portions carried by each unit could be brought into axial alignment with one another. In FIG. 1, the drive means comprises at least one gear or friction wheel 66 rotatable on a shaft 67. The gear or friction wheel 66 would engage the lower surface of the landing flange 65 which may be also provided with gear teeth. Thus, by repositioning the manipulator device 22 so that the wrench head 32 could engage the exposed end of the drive shaft 67, the manipulator device 22 could rotate the drive means so as to effect suitable limited rotation of the production unit 14 within the base unit 11 so that the pipes would be brought into register one with the other, In order to accomplish this it may be necessary to provide second track 21a (FIG. 1) below the regular track so that the manipulator device 22 could hang at a lower level. As shown in FIG. 8, the wrench head 32 of the manipulator device 22 is adapted to be extended forwardly to engage the head 68 of the rotatable shaft 67 of the drive mechanism.

In FIG. 6 one form of a remotely actuatable pipe coupling is illustrated as comprising an extendible telescoping sleeve 70 provided with a rack 71 which is engageable by a pinion gear 72 of the outer housing 73. As shown in FIG. 7, the end of the pinion gear shaft is in the form of a hex head 74 of a size adapted to be engageable by the manipulator device wrench head 32 (FIG. 8). Thus, upon rotation of the pinion gear 72 (FIG. 6) the sleeve 70 is extended outwardly to pass over the seal against the male end 75 of the header pipe 44. At the same time, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the male end 75 of the header pipe 44 may have secured to its outer surface, as by welding, suitable stop means which may be in the form of a pair of outwardly extending arms 76 and 77 which are welded to a base plate 78 which in turn is welded to the pipe 44. Thus, as the coupling member 45 is rotated in a horizontal plane with the pipe section 44a, in response to the clockwise rotation of the production unit 14 (FIG. 1) relative to the base unit 11, the coupling housing 73 (FIG. 6) would contact the arms 76 and 77 bringing it into axial alignment with pipe 44. Thus, the sleeve could be readily extended over the male end of the pipe 44 upon actuation of pinion gear 72 in the manner described above.

In originally installing the underwater production facility of the present invention at the ocean floor, the base unit, which may be of steel or cement, may be merely positioned upon the ocean floor by its own weight. Preferably, however, some form of anchor means will be provided to provide additional onbottom stability for the base unit. In addition, since it is desirable to attach the production fluid handling unit 14 to the base member 11 by means of an anchor line or cable 15, it is desirable to have some place to store the cable when the production unit is positioned in the base unit.

The preferred way of providing storage space for the anchor line 14 as well as providing suitable anchorage for the base member 11 is to first drill a hole 80 (FIG. I) in the ocean floor in a manner well known to the art, as by extending a drill pipe with a bit at the lower end thereof from a drilling vessel positioned at the surface of the water. After the hole has been drilled, the base unit 11, which is provided with a downwardly extending tubular casing 81, may be slipped over the drill pipe and lowered down through the water by suitable lowering lines as the drill pipe serves to guide the lower end of the casing 81 into the hole 80 in the ocean floor 12. Alternatively, guide lines or cables may provide the guiding function for the base unit. Still another possible approach would be to provide the unit with fluid jets or propellers which would be remotely controlled from the surface of the water and in conjunction with a television or other monitoring system be used to guide the unit into position. With the base unit 11 positioned on the ocean floor, cement may be pumped down through the drill pipe and out the lower end thereof into the bottom of the hole 80 where it may be forced up the annular space 82 between the outer surface of the casing 81 and wall of the hole 80. If desired, the anchor line 15 may be secured to the lower end of the casing 81 along one side of the inner wall thereof prior to lowering the unit into the ocean floor. Alternatively, the cable may be later installed in the casing 81.

If the cable is of sufflcient length and is of the heavy linktype over at least a portion of the lower end thereof, as at 150, the weight of the cable itself will be sufficient to serve as an anchor to hold the buoyant production unit 14 (FIG. 2) in place without fixedly securing the lower end of the cable to the casing or cementing it into the hole. However, if desired, an anchor 83 may be provided at the lower end of the cable and cemented in the lower end of the casing 81 as illustrated in FIG. 1. Of course, any other alternative form of attachment means may be used as desired. The bottom of the production unit 14 (FIG. 1) is preferably provided with suitable aligning means, such for example as an aligning cone 84 fixedly secured to and centrally disposed on the bottom of the unit 14. This aligning cone 84 is of a size to mate with the flared upper end 85 of the casing 81 which is fixedly secured as by welding to the basemember 11. In one form of the invention the aligning cone 84 is provided with a vertical central passageway 86 therethrough of a size to pass cable 15. If desired, a seal element 87 may close the upper end of the passage 86. In this arrangement the upper end of the cable is wound around remotely actuatable hoist or winch 88 whereby the production fluid handling unit 14 may be pulled down into place within the base unit even though the production unit 14 remains buoyant. In another form the aligning cone 84 would be solid, as shown in FIG. 3, with the upper end of the cable 15 being secured thereto in a suitable manner. In another arrangement the guiding and aligning cone may be of nonround or rectangular cross section as shown with respect to aligning cone 84a in FIG. 4. With this type of aligning cone, the production unit 14 and the pipes carried thereby would automatically be aligned with the cooperating pipes carried by the base unit 11 if the two units 11 and 14 were restly aligned in a horizontal plane before bringing the two into engagement; this would eliminate the necessity of having to rotate the centrai production unit 14 relative to the base unit 11 as described with regard to FIG. 1.

While this invention has been described with particular reference to preferred embodiments thereof, it should be understood that the particular forms disclosed have been selected to facilitate explanation of the invention rather than to limit the number of forms which it may assume. For exam-.

ple, means other than. or in addition to. buoyancy tanks may be used to raise and lower the production fluid handling unit. Possible alternative means are chains or cables connected between the unit and a crane or winch equipped vessel floating on the surface of the water. Rather than incorporate a winch on the production fluid handling unit, such mechanism could be incorporated on the base unit. Further, it should be understood that various modifications. alterations. and adaptations may be applied to the specific forms described to meet the requirements of practice without in any manner departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the subjoined claims.

lclaim:

1. An underwater production for handling the production fluid received from individual flow lines from at least one underwater well. said apparatus comprising:

a base unit positioned on the ocean floor in the vicinity of at least one underwater well;

a plurality of flow lines each having one end secured to said base unit and adapted to have the other end secured to an underwater well;

a production fluid handling unit adapted to be lowered through a body of water and positioned in operative engageirient with said base unit;

manifold conduit means carried by one of said units in communication with a plurality of said well flow lines for handling the combined production fluid therefrom:

at least one oil discharge conduit secured to said base unit and in communication through said production fluid handling unit with said manifold conduit means.

an oil conduit extending from said production fluid handling unit adapted to communicate with said oil discharge conduit of said base unit;

first remotely connectible coupling means connecting said oil flow conduit and said oil discharge conduit together;

second remotely connectible coupling means connecting said manifold means in communication with said well flow lines; and

anchor means comprising tubular pile means adapted to be cemented in the ocean floor carried by said base unit.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said manifold conduit means is carried by said production fluid handling unit.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 including cooperating aligning means carried by mating portions of said base unit and said production fluid handling unit.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 including guide means extendible between said base unit and said production fluid handling unit.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein said guide means comprises cable means of a length to extend between said base unit on the ocean floor and the surface of said body of water.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein said guide means includes winch means carried by said production fluid handling unit for containing said cable means.

7. An underwater production facility for handling the production fluid received from individual flow lines from at least one underwater well, said apparatus comprising:

a base unit positioned on the ocean floor in the vicinity of at least one underwater well;

a plurality of flow lines each having one end secured to said base unit and adapted to have the other end secured to an underwater well;

a production fluid handling unit adapted to be lowered through a body of water and positioned in operative engagement with said base unit;

manifold conduit means carried by one of said units in communication with a plurality of said weii flow lines for handling the combined production fluid therefrom;

at least one oil discharge conduit secured to said base unit and in communication through said production fluid handling unit with said manifold conduit means;

an oil conduit extending from said production fluid handling unit adapted to communicate with said oil discharge conduit of said base unit;

first remotely connectible coupling means connecting said oil flow conduit and said oil discharge conduit together;

second remotely connectible coup-ling means connecting said manifold means in communication with said well flow lines; and

said production fluid handling unit comprising a fluidtight vessel including buoyancy tanks of a capacity to float said vessel and valved inlet and outiet fluid conduit for selectively flooding and emptying said tanks and wherein manipulator base means is carried by one of said units and adapted to receive thereon an underwater manipulator device.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 including gas separator means carried by said vessel and conduit means in communication between said gas separator means and said manifoid conduit means.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said production fluid handling unit is centrally positioned on said base unit and is surrounded by said manipulator base means.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said manipulator base means comprises track means.

11. The apparatus ofclaim 9 wherein said base unit includes first circumferential support means to which said well flow lines are secured.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 including second support means concentrically positioned within said first support means and spaced therefrom for supporting said production fluid handling unit.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein said manipulator base means includes track means mounted on the outer wall of said second vertical support means and wherein the space between said first and second vertical support means is sufficient to permit movement of said underwater manipulator device therein.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 including drive means carried by said base unit in engagement with said production fluid handling unit for rotating said production fluid handling unit about a vertical axis.

15. An underwater production facility for handling the production fluid received from individual flow lines from at least one underwater well, said apparatus comprising:

A base unit positioned on the ocean floor in the vicinity of at least one underwater well;

a pluraiity of flow lines each having one end secured to said base unit and adapted to have the other end secured to an underwater well;

a production fluid handling unit adapted to be lowered through a body of water and positioned in operative engagement with said base unit;

manifold conduit means carried by said base unit in communication with a plurality of said well flow lines for handiing the combined production fluid therefrom;

at least one oil discharge conduit secured to said base unit and in communication through said production fluid handling unit with said manifold conduit means;

an oil conduit extending from said production fluid handling unit adapted to communicate with said oil discharge conduit of said base unit;

first remotely connectible coupling means connecting said oil flow conduit and said oil discharge conduit together; and

second remotely connectible coupling connecting said manifold means in communication with said well flow lines.

16; An underwater production facility for handling fluid received from individual flow lines from at least one underwater well, said apparatus comprising:

a base unit positioned on the ocean floor in the vicinity of at least one underwater well;

a plurality of flow lines each having one end secured to said base unit and adapted to the other end secured to an underwater well;

a production fluid handling unit adapted to be lowered through a body of water and positioned in operative engagement with said base units;

manifold conduit means carried by one of said units communication with a plurality of said well flow lines for handling the combined production fluid therefrom;

at least one oil discharge conduit secured to said base unit and in communication through said production fluid handling unit with said manifold conduit means;

an oil conduit extending from said production fluid handling unit adapted to communicate with said oil discharge conduit of said base unit;

first remotely connectible coupling means connecting said oil flow conduit and said oil discharge conduit together;

second remotely connectible coupling means connecting said manifold means in communication with said well flow lines; and

manipulator base means carried by said base unit and adapted to receive thereon an underwater manipulator device.

17. An underwater production facility for handling the production fluid received from individual flow lines from at least one underwater well, said apparatus comprising:

a base unit positioned on the ocean floor in the vicinity of at least one underwater well;

a plurality of flow lines each having one end secured to said base unit and adapted to have the other end secured to an underwater well;

a production fluid handling unit adapted to be lowered through a body of water and positioned in operative engagement with said base unit;

manifold conduit means carried by one of said units in communication with a plurality of said well flow lines for han dling the combined production fluid therefrom;

at lease one oil discharge conduit secured to said base unit and in communication through said production fluid handling unit with said manifold conduit means;

an oil conduit extending from said production fluid handling unit adapted to communicate with said oil discharge conduit of said base unit;

first remotely connectible coupling means connecting said oil flow conduit and said oil discharge conduit together;

second remotely connectible coupling means connecting said manifold means in communication with said well flow lines; and

manipulator base means carried by said production fluid handling unit and adapted to receive thereon an underwater manipulator device;

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3875998 *Oct 27, 1972Apr 8, 1975Rech Activities Petrolieres ElInstallation for separation on the seabed of the effluents from underwater oil wells
US4190120 *Nov 18, 1977Feb 26, 1980Regan Offshore International, Inc.Moveable guide structure for a sub-sea drilling template
US4625806 *Oct 19, 1984Dec 2, 1986Chevron Research CompanySubsea drilling and production system for use at a multiwell site
US4979880 *Feb 14, 1989Dec 25, 1990Shell Oil CompanyApparatus for pumping well effluents
US6197095 *Feb 16, 1999Mar 6, 2001John C. DitriaFor remote separation operation at deep and ultra deep water depths for processing well fluids and solids prior to transport to surface, or disposal either subsea or to surface
US6640901 *Aug 18, 2000Nov 4, 2003Alpha Thames Ltd.Retrievable module and operating method suitable for a seabed processing system
US7048058 *Dec 23, 2003May 23, 2006Vetco Aibel AsSubsea system for separating multiphase fluid
US7048060 *Dec 23, 2003May 23, 2006Vetco Aibel AsSubsea system for processing fluid
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/347, 166/267
International ClassificationE21B43/00, E21B43/017, E21B43/36, E21B43/34
Cooperative ClassificationE21B43/017, E21B43/36
European ClassificationE21B43/017, E21B43/36