Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3613806 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 19, 1971
Filing dateMar 27, 1970
Priority dateMar 27, 1970
Publication numberUS 3613806 A, US 3613806A, US-A-3613806, US3613806 A, US3613806A
InventorsMalott Raymond A
Original AssigneeShell Oil Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Drilling mud system
US 3613806 A
Abstract  available in
Images(1)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,639,852 8/1927 King 175/218 2,832,566 4/1958 Bielstein. 175/48 3,443,643 5/1968 Jones 175/38 3,509,949 5/1970 Kukihara... 175/40 3,552,502 1/1971 Wilson 175/38 Primary Examiner-James A. Leppink Attorneys-J. H. McCarthy and Theodore E. Bieber ABSTRACT: Apparatus for monitoring and maintaining the hydrostatic head of a column of drilling mud in a well bore substantially constant as pipe is pulled from or run into the hole in well-drilling operations. A rrud tank is provided with weighing means to measure the weight of fluid in the tank and connected by suitable conduits to the well bore so that all fluid flowing into or out of the well bore passes through the tank.

PATENTEUum 19 Ian INVENTORI R. A. MALOTT DRILLING MUD SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to the field of well drilling; and, more particularly, to a system for the control of the hydrostatic head of a column of drilling mud in a well.

2. Description of the Prior Art In the drilling of wells with conventional rotary drilling equipment, it is common practice to circulate a drilling liquid or drilling mud down a hollow drill pipe, around a drilling bit, and up the annular space between the drill pipe and the walls of the well bore. The drilling mud cools the drilling bit, carries cuttings to the surface and provides a means for preventing fluids contained in earth formations penetrated by the well from blowing out." A conventional drilling mud may be a suspension of clays, clayey materials, and weighing materials in crude oil or water. The density of the mud may be varied by properly adjusting the amounts of suspended matter in the mud.

To prevent blowouts, the hydrostatic head of the column of drilling mud in the well bore must be sufficient to create a pressure in the borehole opposite a fluid-containing formation greater than the pressure of the fluids within the formation. However, it is known that drilling rates may be increased and mud costs lowered by using a relatively light mud. Thus, a common practice is to employ a drilling mud having a density such that the column of mud in the well borehole produces pressures along the wall of the borehole only slightly greater than the blowout pressures expected to be encountered.

Where such a small margin of excess back pressure is mainrained on the formations penetrated by a well, control of the proper relationship between the hydrostatic head of drilling mud and formation pressure becomes critical. This is especially true at times when the drilling operations tend to cause a change in the height of the mud column, such as when drill pipe is run into or pulled out of the borehole in the process of changing a wornout bit. For example, when pipe is pulled out of the borehole, there is generally a lowering of the fluid level in the well since the pipe removed is no longer displacing liquid. Prior art methods for maintaining the borehole pressure due to the hydrostatic head as the drill stem is pulled from the hole include manually activated periodic filling of the hole with mud and the employment of apparatus to automatically keep the hole full.

However, where the density of the mud added to borehole to fill the space formerly occupied by the removed drill pipe differs from the density of the liquid that had been displaced by the drill pipe, simply keeping the hole full of mud may not assure maintenance of the desired pressures in the well bore. If the drilling mud added to the borehole at the surface is less dense than that displaced by the lowermost portion of the drill stem, the hydrostatic head of the fluid column in the well bore prior to the raising of the drill stem will be greater than the hydrostatic head of the fluid column after some pipe has been removed and some mud added at the surface to fill the borehole. This difference may be understood by considering that in a given borehole the pressure exerted by a column of fluid of constant height is proportional to the total weight of the fluid column. The contribution of the drill pipe to the weight of the fluid column is equal to the buoyant force exerted on the drill pipe by the mud column which, according to Archimedes principle, equals the weight of the fluid displaced by the pipe. Thus, if the drill pipe removed from the hole formerly displaced a liquid of greater density than the mud added to the hole to fill the volume formerly occupied by the drill pipe, the net effective weight of the column of mud, and thus the back pressure on formations near the bottom of the hole, will decrease.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of this invention to provide an apparatus that will give drillers of wells an improved and more accurate means for controlling pressures in a borehole due to a head of drilling mud, thus making it possible to workwithin narrower limits with respect to the difierential pressure relationships between formation and mud column hydrostatic pressures. This improves the primary blowout control and reduces drilling costs by allowing less dense mud to be used safely, thus increasing penetration rate and decreasing mud cost.

The apparatus comprises a mud tank positioned to receive drilling mud discharged from a well through a mud discharge line, conduit means opening into the well below the mud discharge line to provide a flow path for fluid communication between the mud tank and the well, pump means coupled to said conduit means to pump fluid from the mud tank into the well, weighing means operatively connected to the mud tank to measure the weight of drilling mud in the tank, and display means to display the measured weight of the contents of the mud tank.

The mud tank may be provided with a fluid depth indicator means which may comprise a float means operatively connected to an electrical signal means coupled to a volume recorder means.

In a preferred embodiment, the weighing means may be a pressure-sensitive cell which supports one end of the mud tank above a base structure while near the opposite end of the mud tank is pivotably mounted (with respect to a horizontal axis) on the base structure as with a hinge means.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The FIG. is a diagrammatic view, partially in cross section, of a well and well-drilling equipment to which the apparatus of this invention may be operatively connected.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to the FIGURE, we see a rig floor 10 which is mounted a rotary turntable 11. Positioned below the turntable 11 is a mud conductor pipe 12 attached to a blowout preventer 13 that is coupled to a casing nipple 14 connected to a surface casing 15 by means of a casing spool 16. A string of hollow drill pipe 17 provides a means for rotating a drilling bit 18 to further extend a borehole 19 into an earth formation 20.

The mud conductor pipe 12 opens into an upper mud discharge line 21 and a lower mud discharge line 22 which carries a valve 23. A mud tank 24, which in this embodiment may have a volume of about 500 cubic feet, is positioned below the lower mud discharge line 22 to receive fluid flowing out of this line. The tank 24 is operatively connected to a means suitable for weighing the contents thereof. For example, in the embodiment of the FIGURE, the tank 24 is pivotably attached to a base structure 25 with a hinge means 26 near one end of the tank 24 while near the other end, it is supported above the base structure 25 by a weighing means which may be a transducer means such as pressure-sensitive cell 27 which is of a type which may be adapted to deliver a signal, preferably electrical, proportional to the weight on the pressure cell 27, via a circuit means 28, to a display means such as weight indicator gauge 29. The gauge 29 may be of a type that can be adjusted to read zero when the mud tank 24 is empty and to indicate the weight of the contents of the mud tank 24 in pounds or other suitable units when it is not empty.

Preferably, the tank is also provided with volume indicator means such as a depth-gauging stick or a floating ball 30 operatively connected by a connector means such as a rod 31 to a signal means 32 which provides a signal, preferably electrical, proportional to the depth of the fluid in the mud tank 24 to a volume recorder means 33.

A conduit means such as mud flow pipe 34 which opens into mud tank 24 and casing nipple 14 provides a flow path for fluid communication between the mud tank 24 and the borehole 29. The flow pipe 34 may be provided with a check valve 35 or other suitable means to prevent backflow through the flow pipe 34 into the mud tank 24 and with means such as a valve 36 to shut off fluid flow from the mud tank 24 to the borehole 19. A pump means 37 may be coupled to flow pipe 34 to pump fluid from the mud tank 24 into the borehole 19.

At those times in the course of drilling a well when the weight of the column of drilling mud 38 in the borehole 19 is of particular interest, as when pulling the drill pipe 17 out of the borehole 19, the mud tank 24 may be substantially filled with drilling mud 38 from a drilling mud source (not shown), and the initial readings of the volume recorder 33 and the weight indicator gauge may be recorded. The valves 23 and 36 are then opened and the pump means 37 made operative.

If the fluid level in the borehole 19 falls, as when a joint of drill pipe 17 is removed, drilling mud 38 pumped from the mud tank 24 through the flow pipe 34 and into the casing nipple 14 by the pump means 37 fills the borehole 19. If the borehole 19 is substantially full, drilling mud pumped from the mud tank 24 into the casing nipple 14 circulates up through the blowout preventer 13, into the mud conductor pipe 12, and out the lower mud discharge line 22 back into the mud tank 24. Thus, the borehole 19 is maintained substantially full of fluid, and all drilling mud flowing into or out of the top of the surface casing passes into or out of the mud tank 24.

As the total weight of the drilling mud 38 in the mud tank 24 changes, the force on pressure cell 27 changes and the new total fluid weight is recorded on weight indicator gauge 29. Similarly, as the level of fluid in the mud tank 24 varies, the floating ball 30 is moved up or down causing volume recorder means 33 to record the new volume of fluid in the mud tank 24. Therefore, by noting changes in volume recorder means 33 and weight indicator 29, one may determine the total volume and the total weight of drilling mud 38 added to or removed from the borehole 19. If the weight of drilling mud 38 added to the borehole 19 is not as great as the contribution to the total hydrostatic head of the column of drilling mud 38 in the borehole 19 of the drilling pipe 17 that has been removed from the borehole 19, then the density of the drilling mud 38 in the mud tank 24 may be increased by adding weighing materials so that as this drilling mud 38 is pumped into the borehole 19, the hydrostatic head of the mud column will return to the desired magnitude.

While the operation of the apparatus of this invention has been described primarily with respect to use as drill pipe is removed from the borehole 19, it is understood that the apparatus may also be profitably used at other times in the course of drilling a well, as when pipe is run into the hole or to measure the volume and density of liquids flowing from the wellbore during a drill stem test. it is also recognized that the apparatus may be operated effectively without a pump means 37 if the mud tank 24 is positioned so that drilling mud 38 will flow into the casing borehole 19 through the flow pipe 34 by gravity drainage.

1 claim as my invention:

1. in an apparatus for drilling a well in which a drill pipe extends down a borehole and drilling mud is circulated down the drill pipe, returned up an annulus surrounding the drill pipe and discharged from the well through a mud discharge line, apparatus for maintaining the hydrostatic head of a column of drilling mud in the well bore substantially constant as drill pipe is removed from the borehole, the apparatus comprising:

a mud tank positioned to receive drilling mud discharged from the well through the mud discharge line;

conduit means adapted to provide a flow path for fluid communication from the mud tank to the well, said conduit means opening into the well bore below the mud discharge line;

weighing means operatively connected to the mud tank to measure the weight of the contents thereof;

display means to display the measured weight of the contents of the mud tank; and

circuit means operatively connecting the weighing means with the display means.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 including pump means coupled to said conduit means and disposed to pump fluid from the mud tank into the well.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 including flUlCl depth indicator means to measure the depth of fluid in the mud tank.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the weighing means comprises at least one transducer means.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 including a base structure and pivot means whereby said mud tank is pivotably mounted with respect to a substantially horizontal axis adjacent one end of said mud tank of said base structure and is supported above the base structure near the opposite end by said transducer means.

6. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said fluid depth indicator means comprises float means operatively connected to a signal means coupled to a volume recorder means.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1639852 *Jan 24, 1927Aug 23, 1927King Milford AApparatus for sinking and cleaning oil and water wells
US2832566 *Jun 3, 1954Apr 29, 1958Exxon Research Engineering CoMethod for maintaining level of drilling fluid
US3443643 *Dec 30, 1966May 13, 1969Cameron Iron Works IncApparatus for controlling the pressure in a well
US3509949 *Aug 28, 1967May 5, 1970Tone Boring CoExcavation of trenches for buried walls
US3552502 *Dec 21, 1967Jan 5, 1971Dresser IndApparatus for automatically controlling the killing of oil and gas wells
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3809170 *Mar 13, 1972May 7, 1974Exxon Production Research CoMethod and apparatus for detecting fluid influx in offshore drilling operations
US3833076 *Jun 29, 1973Sep 3, 1974Dresser IndSystem for the automatic filling of earth boreholes with drilling fluid
US3946605 *Nov 7, 1974Mar 30, 1976Tekken Kensetu Co. Ltd.Apparatus and method of measuring fluctuations of excavated mud amount in a slurry line
US3963077 *Jun 18, 1975Jun 15, 1976Faulkner Ben VMethod of preventing well bore drilling fluid overflow and formation fluid blowouts
US4595239 *Mar 23, 1984Jun 17, 1986Oil Mining CorporationOil recovery mining apparatus
US6257354Nov 20, 1998Jul 10, 2001Baker Hughes IncorporatedDrilling fluid flow monitoring system
US6374925Sep 22, 2000Apr 23, 2002Varco Shaffer, Inc.Well drilling method and system
US6527062Apr 17, 2002Mar 4, 2003Vareo Shaffer, Inc.Well drilling method and system
US7026950Feb 27, 2004Apr 11, 2006Varco I/P, Inc.Motor pulse controller
US7644769Oct 16, 2007Jan 12, 2010Osum Oil Sands Corp.Method of collecting hydrocarbons using a barrier tunnel
US7677673Mar 5, 2007Mar 16, 2010Hw Advanced Technologies, Inc.Stimulation and recovery of heavy hydrocarbon fluids
US8127865Apr 19, 2007Mar 6, 2012Osum Oil Sands Corp.Method of drilling from a shaft for underground recovery of hydrocarbons
US8167960Oct 21, 2008May 1, 2012Osum Oil Sands Corp.Method of removing carbon dioxide emissions from in-situ recovery of bitumen and heavy oil
US8176982Feb 6, 2009May 15, 2012Osum Oil Sands Corp.Method of controlling a recovery and upgrading operation in a reservoir
US8209192May 20, 2009Jun 26, 2012Osum Oil Sands Corp.Method of managing carbon reduction for hydrocarbon producers
US8287050Jul 17, 2006Oct 16, 2012Osum Oil Sands Corp.Method of increasing reservoir permeability
US8313152Nov 21, 2007Nov 20, 2012Osum Oil Sands Corp.Recovery of bitumen by hydraulic excavation
US20040217879 *Feb 27, 2004Nov 4, 2004Varco International Inc.Motor pulse controller
US20080073079 *Mar 5, 2007Mar 27, 2008Hw Advanced Technologies, Inc.Stimulation and recovery of heavy hydrocarbon fluids
US20100163227 *Mar 11, 2010Jul 1, 2010Hw Advanced Technologies, Inc.Stimulation and recovery of heavy hydrocarbon fluids
US20160060501 *Nov 10, 2015Mar 3, 2016Schlumberger Technology CorporationMethods for Controlling Lost Circulation in A Subterranean Well and Materials Therefor
Classifications
U.S. Classification175/48, 166/75.11, 175/218
International ClassificationE21B21/00, E21B21/08
Cooperative ClassificationE21B21/08
European ClassificationE21B21/08