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Publication numberUS3550682 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 29, 1970
Filing dateOct 18, 1968
Priority dateOct 18, 1968
Publication numberUS 3550682 A, US 3550682A, US-A-3550682, US3550682 A, US3550682A
InventorsRonald L Fowler
Original AssigneeExxon Production Research Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for making equipment connections at remote underwater locations and for producing fluids from underwater wells
US 3550682 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Inventor Ronald I.. Fowler paratus. A male section or an electrical connector contains at Houston. Tex. least two angularly spaced-apart prongs surrounded by electri- 1 N 768,764 cally nonconductive material. Each prong comprises a coil ar- Oct. 18, I968 ranged around a metallic (magnetic) core. A mating female Patented Dec. 29. 1970 section of the electrical connector engageable with the male Esso Production Research Company section contains at least two angularly spaced-apart holes formed in an electrically nonconductive material. A coil im- [22] Filed [73] Assignee bedded in the nonconductive material is arranged around each hole. The coils of each section may be oriented linearly instead of angularly. One section is connected to a source of AC electrical power and the other section is connected to PRODUCING FLUIDS FROM UNDERWATER apparatus to be operated by electrical power. The other see- WELLS tion is installed near such apparatus which may be at a remote 14 Claims, 5 8 underwater location. The one section connected to the source 52] us. 166/.6, of AC is t engaged with the Section hereby 33 nect the source of electrical power and the equipment to be operated. The connection may be made underwater by hand,

by divers, by mechanical means or hydraulically by pumping the one section connected to the AC power source through a conduit. The latter hydraulic technique may also be used in 336/l07. [5|] E2lb43/0l [50] l66/.5,.6; l37/236;6l/72.3. 72.4; 336/48, 82, 107,115,192

making surface electrical connections remotely for the conduit may be a surface pipeline. A fixed template is arranged on the sea floor and provided with pipe connections to at least [56] 1 References Cited UNlTED STATES PATENTS one subsea well and to a surface terminal for produced fluids. A movable template, capable of being lowered to a submerged position on the fixed template and raised therefrom to the sea surface, is provided with sealed fluid-processing equipment having intake and discharge fluid conduits connected thereto.

Primary Examiner-Ernest R. Purser AuomeysThomas B. McCulloch, Melvin F. Fincke, John S. Guide means are provided for lowering and raising the mova- Schneider, Sylvester W. Brock,Jr., Kurt S. Myers and ble template onto and from the fixed template. When so ar- Timothy L. Burgess ranged, one of the pipe connections is connected to the inlet conduit of the processing equipment and the other pipe connection is connected to the discharge conduit thereof. One v section of the electrical connector is arranged on the fixed ABSTRACT: Method and apparatus for use in making electritemplate and the other section thereof is mounted on the cal connections particularly at remote locations and/or under movable template. When the movable template is arranged on water. Also, method and apparatus for remotely processing mmm d M S 0;.M n S 0 I a e e CELL 7978 4466 9999 IIII 095 9529 36 33 4394 I838 .3 2233 the fixed template, the mating sections of the electrical confiuids produced from subsea wells and for servicing such apnector are engaged for transmission of electrical power.

FR OM POWER SOURCE TO SERVICE PATENTEU 05029 I910 SHEET 1 OF 2 FROM POWER SOURCE FIG.

INVENIOR. RONALD L. FOWLER,

Y K ATTORNEY.

FIG. '2.

PATENTED DEC29 I970 sum 2 UF 2 DISCHARGE LINE E D N 0 U9 R 7 E M w W U G G E N L 5 T 9 O H FLOWLINE FIG. 4-.

INVIZN'IOR. RONALD L. FOWLER,

ATTORNEY.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention generally concerns electrical connections, and more particularly, method and apparatus for making electrical connections at remote locations. The invention also concerns method and apparatus for making electrical connections underwater. i

There are today many applications for making electrical connections at remote locations and particularly underwater remote electrical connections. Electrical connections that can be readily made underwater, and remotely, facilitate use of submerged equipment for producing wells, including electrically operated valves, pumps, lights, television, production control devices, etc. The present invention provides a simple solution for making remote electrical connections and for making electrical connections underwater, and is particularly advantageous for use in offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling operations.

In addition, the present invention concerns operation and servicing of submerged fluid-processing equipment used in offshore oil and gas production operations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION adapted to engage with a sealed female section of the connector which includes at least two angularly spaced-apart holes formed in electrically nonconductive material, each of which is surrounded by inductance coils which are electrically sealed off by the nonconductive material. One of the sections is electrically connected to an AC current source and the other section is electrically connected to equipment to be supplied with electric power. The coils of the male and female sections are sealed in the nonconductive material so that the connection may be made without having to alter the conductive environment of underwater operations. When the connection is made underwater, it may be made by divers or robots or by lowering one section through the water to engage the other section by means of guidelines, or by pumping one section through a conduit to the other section which is remotely positioned in that conduit. Alternately, the coils of the mating sections may be oriented linearly instead of angularly. When the connection 7 has been made between the sections either by moving the male section to the female section, or vice versa, and AC current is applied, current change in one of the circuits produces an induced e.m.f. in the other circuit through mutual inductance between the two sets of coils.

Also, in accordance with the teachings of the invention, a first member provided with a pipeline connection to at least one subsea well and a pipeline connection to a terminal for produced well fluids at the sea surface is fixed or arranged on the sea floor. A second member on which is arranged well fluid-processing equipment having intake and discharge fluid conduits connected thereto is removably arranged on the first member, Guide means are provided for positioning the second member onto the first member. When the first and second members are engaged, one of the pipe connections is connected to the intake fluid conduitand the other pipe connection is connected to the discharge fluid conduit. One section of a two-part electrical connector is mounted on the first member and the other mating section is mounted on the second member so that when the first and second members are engaged, the electrical connector parts are engaged and the electrical connection is made. The first and second members are preferably templates and the second template is removable for the purpose of removing processing equipment to the water surface for servicing of such equipment.

The objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from a more detailed description thereof when taken with the drawings wherein:

- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is a schematic illustration of one embodiment of the electrical connector of the invention prior to makeup;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the female section of the electrical .connector of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the electrical connector shown in FIGS. I and 2;

FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of the invention in which the mating coils of the electrical connector are linearly arranged; and

FIG. 5 illustrates use of the electrical connectors illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4 in the remote (underwater) processing of fluids produced from subsea wells.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to the drawings in greater detail, in FIGS. 1 to 3 is shown an electrical connector generally designated 10. This connector includes a male section 11 containing three spacedapart prongs l2, l3 and 14, each comprising a magneticmetallic core 16a, b, c, about which is wound a coil of wire 17a, b, c. Each core and coil of wire is surrounded by insulating nonconductive material 18, such as rubber, to electrically seal the male section. Connector 10 also includes a female section 19 comprising nonconductive material 20, such as rubber, provided with three angularly spaced-apart holes or openings 21, 22 and 23, each surrounded by a coil of wire 24a, b, c. Nonconductive material 20 electrically seals these coils. Leads 25a, b, c connect one of theends of coils 17a, b, c to an AC power source. The other ends of coils 17a, b, c are connected together by leads 28a, b, c. Leads 29a, b, 0 connect one of the ends of coils 24a, b, c to subsurface equipment to be supplied with electrical power. The other ends of coil 24a, b, c are connected together by leads 30a, b, c. Alternately, leads 29a, b, 0 could be connected to the AC power source and leads 25a, b, 0 could be connected to the subsurface equipment to be serviced with electrical power.

As shown in FIG. 3, a latch mechanism 35 may be provided to latch sections 11 and 19 together once they have become engaged. When so engaged, the connection is equivalent to a three-phase power transformer. Any desired electrical circuitry, Y, "A," V, or T connections, maybe used to achieve the desired output voltage and number of phases. The three-hole AC illustration in FIG. 3 shows the Y Y electrical arrangement. It may be desired to make a remote electrical connection of this type for the purpose of transmitting electrical power to operate motors or for transmitting information signals across the electrical connection. Such information signals may be used, for example, to convey the status of the subsea equipment or to control operation of the subsea equipment.

In a typical underwater operation, one section (male or female) is positioned on or near the submerged equipment located on the ocean floor to which such section is electrically connected. The other section, wired to an AC source of power, is then brought into engagement with the one section previously located on the ocean floor and latched thereto by latch mechanism 35. The electrical connection in accordance with the invention may be made by divers or robots or by lowering the other section through the water from the surface thereof on guide cables or by use of an acoustic or other signabtype guidance system.

The electrical connection may also be made by hydraulically transporting one section to the remotely positioned other section through a conduit. Such conduit. may be a flowline connecting above-water installations to below-water well equipment or for surface operations may be a pipeline or other type conduit forming a closed passageway between two separated points. A technique for running such equipment through a conduit is disclosed and claimed in application Ser. No. 746,097, entitled, Method and Apparatus for Running a Line Through a Conduit, by Bielstein et al., filed July 19, 1968. Also, the coils of the connector sections may be arranged linearly instead of angularly. These modifications are illustrated in FIG. 4 where there is shown a pipeline 40 in which is arranged a male connector section 45 containing three linearly spaced-apart coils of wire 46, 47, 48, each surrounding a magnetic core 49, 50, 51 arranged in nonconductive material 52. Section 45 acts as a piston and is forced through pipeline 40 upon the application of fluid pressure behind it (in the direction indicated by the arrowed lines). Three leads indicated at 53 connect to the coils of wire 46, 47, 48 at one end thereof and at theother end thereof to a remote source of AC electrical power. Downstream of section 45, pipeline 40 is formed of a nonconductive, nonmagnetic section 55 provided with stop 56 and spring-loaded latch members 57. The female section 60 of the connector is arranged in the nonmagnetic section 55 of pipeline 40 and it includes three linearly spaced-apart coils 61, 62, 63 imbedded in electrically nonconductive material 64. Three leads indicated at 65a, b, c are connected at one end to coils 61, 62, 63, respectively, and at the other end to equipment to be serviced by the electrical power induced in coils 61, 62, 63. A bypass conduit 70 is connected to and communicates with either side of section 60.

In the operation of this embodiment of the invention section 60 is installed in the portion 55 of pipeline 40. Pipeline 40 may be a submerged flow line arranged on the floor of the ocean. When it is desired to make the electrical connection, section 45 is pumped through flow line 40 from the surface of the water until the forward end of section 45 engages stop 56. In that position of section 45, spring-loaded member 57 engages the rear of section 45 and locks the two sections of the electrical connection in place. Fluid flowingthrough pipeline 40 bypasses this connection through bypass conduit 70.

Use of the electrical connection in the remote pumping of underwater wells is illustrated in FIG. 5. There is shown in this FIG. a rectangular or square plate member 75 secured to the ocean floor by spikes or driven piling 76 connected to each comer of plate member 75. The apparatus shown and described with respect to FIG. 4 is arranged on plate member 75. This apparatus includes a pipeline or flow line 40', female section 60', bypass conduit 70 and electrical leads 65a, b, Flow line.40' terminates in a pipe connector 77. Each corner of plate member 75 is provided with a guide rod 78, to each of which is connected a guideline 79. Also arranged on plate member 75 is a male section 80 of an electrical connector 11', to which leads 650', b, c are also connected. Male section 80 is the same as the male section 11 of FIGS. 1 and 2. Also, another pipe connector 81 and a discharge flow line 82 are permanently affixed to plate member 75. An upper plate member, preferably square or rectangular in shape, 85 has a guide sleeve 86 mounted on each corner thereof and a plurality of spacers 87 on its underside. Guidelines 79 extend through guide sleeves 86. On plate member 585, removable replaceable equipment including a pump 88 and motor 89 are mounted. A female section 90 of electrical connector 11' is also mounted on plate member 85. Its leads are connected to motor 89 within sealed housing 91. Motor 89 drives pump 88 by means of shaft 92. Pump 88 is provided with an intake conduit 93 which, when plate member 85 is in position on plate member 75, sealingly engages pipe connector 77. Similarly, a discharge line 94 from pump 88 sealingly engages pipe connector 81 when plate member 85 is in position on plate member 75. Also, when plate member 85 is in that position, the prongs of male section 80 engage the holes in the female section 90 to complete the electrical connection. Remote pipe or flow line connectors such as 77 and 81 which permit pipe sections to be separated and then sealingly joined together again are known and may be of the type shown and described on page 1105 of the Composite Catalog of Oil Field Equippipeline 40 on ment and Services, 1968, published by World Oil and in the Cameron Marine Systems" brochure referenced therein.

Plate member and the equipment associated therewith are raised and lowered on guidelines 79 by a hoist line 95 shown connected to the housing of motor 89.

When it is desired to service pump 88 and/or motor 89 or to replace one or both of these units, plate member 85 is raised to the water surface by means of hoist line 95. In that procedure, female section of electricalconnector 11 is separated from the male section'thereof and pipe connectors 77 and 81 are separated from the intake and discharge conduits, respectively, of pump'88. After repairs orreplacements have been made to pump 88 and/o'r'motor 89, plate member" 85 is lowered on guidelines 79 by hoist line until spacers 89 rest upon plate member 75. In that position the prongs of male section 80 engage the holes of female section 90 and pipe connectors 77 and 81 sealingly connect with-intake conduits 93 and 94, respectively. If the male section of the other electrical connector is not in position within the female section 60', it is pumped through flow line 40' to place it within the female section. The fluid flowing through flow-line 40 flows through bypass conduit 70' and into intake'conduit 93 of pump 88. When it is desired to operate pump 88, a source of AC electrical power, preferably from a 220 -Voltpower source, is trans mitted through leads 53 to the coilsin'female section 60' to thereby induce a voltage in the coils of the male section. This voltage is transmitted to the connector 80 through leads 65a, b, c which in turn induces a voltage in ,the coils of the female section 90, which power is then transmitted to the motor 89 to operate it and thence the pump 88 through shaft 92 to pump fluid through the intake conduit 93, discharge line 94, through the pipe connector 81 and to the dispharge line 82. Other fluid-processing equipment, such as flowr'neters, separators, dehydration units (natural gas), etc., "may be carried on removable plate member 85 in addition to or in substitutio for pump 88.

Changes and modifications may be made in the specific illustrative embodiments of the invention shown'and described herein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. Thus, instead of using three coils in each section, only two coils or more than three coils may be used in each section. Also, instead of using a 220-Volt power source, a llO-Volt power source might be used. The pump intake and discharge lines 93 and 94 may be reversed so as to permit pumping fluid from discharge line 82 into pipeline 40. Although only two flow lines and one pump are used for purposes of illustration, additional pumps and/or other fluidprocessing equipment units and inlet and outlet flow lines attached thereto are contemplated by this invention. Further, means other than guidelines, such as an acoustic or other signal-type guidance system, may be used to position plate member 85 properly on plate member 75.

I claim:

1. Apparatus for remotely processing fluids produced from subsea wells and connecting subsea equipment components comprising:

a first member fixed on the sea floor provided with a pipeline connection to at least one subsea well and another pipeline connection to a terminal for produced well fluids at the sea surface;

a second member providedwith processing equipment for said produced well fluids having intake and discharge fluid conduits connected thereto;

guide means for positioning said second member onto said first member, in which position one of said pipelines connects to said intake fluid conduit and the other of said pipelines connects to said discharge fluid conduit; and

one section of an electrical connector mounted on said first member and a second section of said electrical connector mounted on said second member, said sections of said electrical connector being engageable with each other when said first and second members are engaged such that AC current applied to one section produces an induced e.m.f. in said other section, said one section being connected to a source of AC current and said other section being connected to at least one of said subsea equipment components for electrical operation thereof.

2. Apparatus as recited in claim 1 in which said first and second members are templates.

3, Apparatus as recited in claim 2 in which said equipment includes pumping means adapted to transmit well fluids from said subsea well to said terminal for produced well fluids through said pipelines.

4. Apparatus as recited in claim 2 in which said guide means includes guide lines, guide rods, guide sleeves and a hoist line.

5. Apparatus as recited in claim 2 in which said guide means is signal controlled.

6. Apparatus as recited in claim 1 in which one of said connector sections includes at least two spaced-apart magnetic cores, each surrounded by a first coil of wire, and both said cores and said first coils being surrounded by electrically, nonconductive material to seal off said cores and coils electrically; and said other connector section including at least two spaced-apart second coils surrounded by electrically nonconductive material to seal off said second coils electrically.

7. Apparatus as recited in claim 6 in which one of said con-= nector sections includes at least two angularly spaced-apart prongs, each prong comprising a magnetic core, a coil of wire surrounding each magnetic core and electrically nonconductive material surrounding said cores and said coils; said other connector section includes electrically nonconductive material containing at least two angularly spaced-apart holes about each of which a coil of wire is arranged; and said prongs being adapted to be inserted in said holes when said first and second connector sections are engaged.

8. Apparatus as recited in claim 7 in which one of said connector sections contains three spaced-apart prongs and said other connector section contains three holes for accommodation of said three prongs.

9. Apparatus as recited in claim 8 in which said connector sections are provided with latch means adapted to latch said connectors to each other.

10. Apparatus as recited in claim 1 inwhich said coils of said connector sections are linearly spaced-apart.

11. Apparatus as recited in claim 10 in which one of said connector sections contains three coils and said other connector section contains three coils.

12. Apparatus as recited in claim 10 in which one of said connector sections is pumpable through a pipeline.

13. A method for servicing apparatus used to process remotely fluids produced from said subsea wells and connecting subsea equipment components comprising the steps of:

arranging on the sea floor a first template containing a flow line connection to at least one subsea well and a flow line connection to a terminal for produced well fluids at the sea surface;

lowering and installing a removable second template on said first template, said second template containing well fluidprocessing equipment and means adapted to connect said well fluid-processing equipment to said flow line connections;

retrieving said removable second template to the water surface for the purpose of servicing said well fluid processing equipment;

reinstalling said second template on said first template following servicing of said processing equipment; and

arranging on said first template one section of an electrical connector and arranging on said second template another section of said electrical connector, said connector sections, when engaged, comprising at least two sets of inductance coils arranged such that application of AC current to one set of coils induces an e.m.f. in the other set of coils, said connector sections being engaged when said second template is lowered and installed on said first template, said one section being connected to a source of AC current and said other section being connected to at least one of said subsea equipment components for electrical operation thereof.

14. A method for remotely connecting subsea equipment components comprisinglthe ste s of:

arranging on the sea oor a irst template containing a flow line connection to at least one subsea well and a flow line connection to a terminal for produced well fluids at the sea surface;

lowering and installing a removable second template on said first template, said second template containing well fluid processing equipment and means adapted to connect said well fluid processing equipment to said flow line connections;

retrieving said removable second template to the water surface for the purpose of servicing said well fluid processing equipment;

arranging in a subsea conduit located on said first template one section of an electrical connector; and

pumping another section of said electrical connector to said conduit from a remote location until said connector sections engage, said connector sections, when engaged, comprising at least two sets of inductance coils arranged such that application of AC current to one set of coils induces an e.m.f. in the other set of coils, said other section being connected to a source of AC current and said one section being connected to at least one of said subsea equipment components for electrical operation thereof.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification166/338, 166/344, 336/DIG.200, 336/107, 336/192
International ClassificationE21B33/038, E21B43/01
Cooperative ClassificationE21B33/0385, Y10S336/02, E21B43/01
European ClassificationE21B43/01, E21B33/038B