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Publication numberUS3646808 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 7, 1972
Filing dateAug 28, 1970
Priority dateAug 28, 1970
Also published asCA942285A, CA942285A1, DE2138650A1
Publication numberUS 3646808 A, US 3646808A, US-A-3646808, US3646808 A, US3646808A
InventorsLeonard Loren W
Original AssigneeLeonard Loren W
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method for automatically monitoring and servicing the drilling fluid condition in a well bore
US 3646808 A
Abstract
This invention automatically monitors and services the drilling fluid condition of a well bore during drill pipe withdrawal by determining the amount of fluid required to replace the amount of steel removed therefrom. The required volume of fluid is then compared with the volume of fluid pumped into the borehole during the fluid refilling operation. The result of this comparison is used, among other things, to monitor kick or loss conditions which may occur during drill pipe withdrawal.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[ 1 Mar. 7, 1972 Primary Examiner.lerry W. Myracle Attorney-Michael P. Breston and Alfred B. Levine [57] ABSTRACT This invention automatically monitors and services the drilling fluid condition of a well bore during drill pipe withdrawal by determining the amount of fluid required to replace the amount of steel removed therefrom. The required volume of fluid is then compared with the volume of fluid pumped into the borehole during the fluid refilling operation. The result of this comparison is used, among other things, to monitor kick or loss conditions which may occur during drill pipe withdrawal.

l2 QlnimsJDrawingllgu res United States Patent Leonard MONITORING AND SERVICING THE DRILLING FLUID CONDITION IN A WELL BORE [72] Inventor: Loren W. Leonard, 8345 Triola, No. 33,

Houston, Tex. 77036 Aug. 28, 1970 Field References Cited STATES PATENTS A 7/124; M Crites 54] METHOD FOR AUTOMATICALLY [22] Filed:

[21] Appl.No.: 67,706

[51] lnLCI................ [581 MUD TANK 3 llllll l \5 2 e e 4 m a T 2 A, n 3 5 a 6 R 6 o 3 R ED W ED 0 L as. 6 an 4 A aw T a U MN 5| mm A LM Mm TU 00 F OD V0 SN V W VP C c 5 5 ,s m v 7 METHOD FOR AUTOMATICALLY MONITORING AND SERVICING THE DRILLING FLUID CONDITION IN A WELL BORE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It has been well established that many of the blowouts that occur during drilling operations are caused by a reduction of hydrostatic pressure during drill pipe withdrawal, commonly known as a trip". To maintain adequate hydrostatic pressure after or during each trip, it is important to pump, through the fill line of a drilling fluid (mud) circulation system, a volume of mud which is determined from the amount of steel withdrawn, which is in turn determined from the number of drill pipes and collars withdrawn.

If the amount of mud required is substantially equal to the amount of mud pumped into the borehole, the operation is assumed to be normal. If the amount of mud pumped into the borehole is less than the volume required to replace the amount of steel withdrawn, then some other fluid enters the borehole either from the formation itself or from another source. Such a gain of fluid is known as a kick condition. Conversely, if the volume of mud pumped into the hole is greater than the volume of mud required to replace the amount of steel withdrawn, then mud is being lost from the borehole to the formation or to another space.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is a general object of this invention to provide an automatic mud refilling method allowing an early warning alert as to the existence of a kick or loss condition. It is a more specific object of this invention to provide a new and improved method for monitoring the condition of a well during tripping. The new method is economical, reliable in operation, and can be carried out even by a relatively unskilled driller within a minimum of time, thereby substantially reducing the cost and hazard of the trip. With the new method the driller is free to attend to chores connected with operations other than those required to refill the borehole.

A preferred method of this invention comprises: obtaining an electric count of the number of pipe stands pulled during each trip, multiplying the count by a scaling factor dependent upon the particular well characteristics to'obtain the volume of fluid required, comparing the volume required with a metered quantity of fluid pumped into the fill line in order for the fluid in the borehole to reach a normal reference fluid level, and using the result of this comparison to obtain an indication with respect to kick and loss conditions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic illustration of a suitable system for carrying out the preferred method of this invention; and

FIG. 2 illustrates the use of a manual counter for providing a scaling factor into the system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 1 illustrates a conventional well being drilled which typically includes a conductor casing 10, a wellhead I2, and conventional blowout preventers l4 and 16. A pump 18, which can conveniently be the circulating centrifugal pump of the existing mud system that circulates the fluid or mud in a mud tank or pit 22 through a circulating fluid line 24, is selected to refill the borehole with mud. Accordingly, the fill line 25 is connected to a three-way valve 30 of the type manufactured by Rockwell Manufacturing Company, Model 3464. Ordinarily valve 30 establishes fluid communication between ports 26 and 27 in line 24 and upon becoming actuated by a line 28, which can be an electric line or an air line, valve 30 breaks fluid communication between ports 26 and 27 and establishes fluid communication between ports 26 and 29. Since the construction and operation of such a three-way valve 30 is well known in the art, no further description thereof is believed necessary.

To measure the amount of fluid pumped through the fill line 25 for passage downwardly through the casing 10, there is provided in fill line 25 a conventional fluid meter 32, the readout of which is preferably an electric signal fed via line 33 as hereinafter described. One such fluid meter is manufactured by the Foxboro Company and known as a Magnetic Flow Transmitter, another is manufactured by Rotron, Inc., and known as a Velocity Flowmeter. A return line 34 returns the fluid back to the mud tank 22 in conventional fashion. Mounted on the derrick floor 36 are a rotary table 37 of conventional design and a suitable monitoring and alarm system, generally designated as 40.

System 40 is preferably a digital system to provide faster response and greater versatility. It will be understood however that this invention is not limited to any particular system and that an analog rather than a digital system could be equally employed, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The components forming system 40 can be purchased from various manufacturers, such as Foxboro, Co., Atek Inc., Master Specialties Co., etc.

Above the derrick floor 36 are the elevators 42, which are coupled on one hand to the drill stand, generally designated as 44, desired to be withdrawn, and to a book 46 on the other hand. Hook 46 is carried by a block 48 in conventional manner. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, each pipe stand 44 normally comprises a number, say three, of drill pipe joints 45.

To count the number of pipe stands 44 withdrawn by block 48, there is provided a stand detector 50 which detects the passage and removal of each stand and provides an appropriate electric signal onto line 51 to advance-the count in a stand counter 52. The stand detector 50 may be a mechanical system, an electromechanical system, or an optical system employing a light beam and photocells. The electromechanical system would include microswitches for closing an electric circuit after the passage of each pipe stand. Whichever system is employed for the stand detector 50, line 51 can be made to receive a number of pulses equal to the number of pipe stands withdrawn. This number, illustrated as 3, is displayed in the window of the stand counter 52.

A volume required counter 56, which may be solid-state, electronic, digital multiplier device, manually receives a sealing factor through a knob 57, which is determined from the parameters of the particular well being refilled. Counter 56 multiplies this scaling factor by the number or count of stands pulled. The count of stands pulled is received on a line 58 from the stand counter 52. The number illustrated in the window of counter 56 is 1.77 barrels for the three stands pulled by the block 48.

This volume required is the volume of fluid necessary to fill the borehole up to a reference level, which is detected by a normal mud level detector 60, in order to replace the volume of steel withdrawn from the borehole. If after pump I8 delivers to the fill line 25 an amount of fluid equal to the volume required and the fluid level in the borehole is still below the normal level required, the pump will continue to deliver fluid into the borehole and an alarm or warning signal will be given as hereinafter described. If, after the pump has delivered the required volume of fluid into the borehole, the fluid in the borehole suddenly rises above the normal level a high-level, detector 61 will detect the rise in the fluid level to also provide a warning signal.

As previously mentioned, the readout of the fluid meter 32 is an electrical signal on line 33 applied to a volume pumped counter 62 which indicates the volume of fluid actually delivered downwardly into the borehole through the fill line 25. This delivered volume is displayed in the window of counter 62. With the figures previously selected and assuming normal operation, the volume delivered is also L77 barrels.

A suitable comparator 64 receives the count from the volume required counter 56 on line 66 and the count from the volume pumped counter 62 on line 68. Comparator 64 compares the counts received on lines 66 and 68. The result of that comparison will be a zero output which will be indicated by a "normal" indicating device 70, in the event that the volume required is substantially equal to the volume pumped. If the volume pumped is greater than the volume required, comparator 64 will provide an output signal to a loss" indicating device 72. lf the volume pumped is less than the volume required, a kick" indicating device 74 will become actuated.

Referring now to FIG. 2, to facilitate the driller to obtain the required scaling factor for manual insertion by knob 57 in the volume required counter 56, there is provided a simple, convenient, hand-operated counter 80 having a rotatable drum 82 which is rotated manually by a knob 84. The operator selects in window 86 the particular physical parameters for the pipe stands being pulled. After selecting the proper parameters, say 4% inch-OD pipe having 16.60 lbs./ft., the proper scaling factor will appear opposite to the number of feet of pipe pulled. In the example illustrated, for 93 feet of drill pipe pulled, which corresponds to one stand, the required volume will be 0.59 barrels. It is this amount which is the scaling factor to be inserted into the volume required counter 56.

In operation, the circulating centrifugal pump 18 ordinarily circulates continuously the mud in the mud pit 22 through line 24. Pump 18 is a relatively low-pressure, high-volume pump as compared to the relatively high-pressure, high-volume, extremely bulky stroke pump (not shown) conventionally employed to fill the borehole. Prior to starting operations, the operator selects, in the manner previously described, the suitable scaling factor and inserts it into the volume required counter 56. After the operator initiates the stand withdrawal operation, the stand detector 50 detects the passage of each stand and the count in the stand counter 52 increases by one. After stand detector 50 has detected three stands, the reading in the window of the stand counter 52 will be 003 and the reading in the volume required counter 56 will be 1.77.

For the numbers illustrated, after the stand counter 52 has counted 003, a signal will be supplied from the volume required counter 56 via a line 53 to a valve control mechanism 55 for suitably actuating the three-way valve 30. This actuation is effected via line 28 and causes the three-way valve 30 to break fluid communication between ports 26 and 29, thereby commencing the refilling operation through the fill line 25 and the metering operation by the fluid meter 32.

Assuming that the refilling operation is normal, after the fluid meter 32 has measured a volume pumped equal to the volume required, the fluid level in the borehole will be at the reference level, as detected by the normal level detector 60. If the volume pumped to reach the reference level is greater than the volume required as determined by the comparator 64, the loss warning light 72 will become actuated. If the volume pumped is less than the volume required, a kick lamp 74 will become actuated. Finally, if the volume required is equal to the volume pumped, the normal lamp 70 will become actuated. After pump 18 delivers the required volume of fluid downwardly into the borehole up to the reference level, the normal level detector 60 will provide a signal via line 63 to the valve control device 55 for actuating the three-way valve 30, thereby breaking fluid communication between ports 26 and 29, and reestablishing fluid communication between ports 26 and 27. Counters 52, 56 and 62 will then begin the next withdrawal cycle and cumulate the counts. On the other hand, it will be appreciated that the counters can be arranged to become reset after each cycle of operation.

If after the three-way valve 30 has switched back to its normal condition, whereby fluid communication is established between ports 26 and 27,, there should occur a sudden rise in the fluid level above the reference level, the high-level detector 61 will provide a signal to a warning lamp 71 via line 73.

While in the above description of system 40 and of the mud filling system, specific reference was made to particular component parts and subassemblies, it will be appreciated that variations are possible. For example, pump 18 need not be the mud circulating pump of the mud pit 22. Instead, a pump independent of the mud circulation system can be employed for pumping fluid from pit 22 into casing and, hence, the threeway valve 30 can be eliminated. Also, other means can be used to measure the volume of steel withdrawn which determines the volume offluid required. The means 50 for counting the pipe stands are positioned preferably on the sidewall of the derrick at a distance above the derrick floor 36 substantially equal to a pipe stand.

What I claim is:

l. A method for filling a well bore with drilling fluid to replace the volume of material withdrawn while tripping comprising the steps of:

a. determining the volume of material withdrawn during each trip;

b. delivering to the borehole a volume of drilling fluid dependent upon the volume of material withdrawn;

0. measuring the volume of fluid delivered in step (b);

d. comparing the volume of material withdrawn from step (a) with the measured volume of fluid delivered from step (c); and

e. using the result of the comparing step (d) to obtain an indication of the fluid condition in said well bore.

2. A method for filling a well bore with drilling fluid to replace the volume of material withdrawn while tripping comprising the steps of:

determining the volume of fluid required to replace the volume of material withdrawn during each trip;

delivering to the borehole a volume of drilling fluid in dependence upon the fluid level in the borehole relative to a reference point; and

comparing said volume of fluid required with said volume of fluid delivered to obtain an indication of the fluid condition in said well bore.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein said volume of fluid required is determined by counting the number of pipe stands withdrawn from the well bore during each trip.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein said number of pipe stands withdrawn is multiplied by a scaling factor dependent upon the characteristics of the pipe stands withdrawn to obtain said volume of fluid required.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein said volume of fluid delivered is measured by a fluid meter positioned in the fluid fill line leading to said well bore.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein the fluid is delivered to the well bore by a circulating pump associated with the mud pit.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein said circulating pump delivers fluid to said pit and to said well bore through a threeway valve.

8. The method of claim 2 and further including the steps of:

monitoring at said reference point the fluid level in said well bore to obtain a control signal; and

using said control signal to control the delivery of said drilling fluid to said well bore.

9. A method for detecting the condition of a well by controlling, while tripping, the drilling fluid in said well and providing an early warning indication of an abnormality in said well characterized by:

a. measuring from the volume of solid materials moved during each trip a required volume ofdrilling fluid;

b. delivering a measured volume ofdrilling fluid in order to restore in the well the drilling fluid to a reference level;

c. comparing said required volume with said measured volume; and

d. obtaining from the comparing step (c) signals which are indicative of the condition of said well.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said measured volume is measured by a fluid flowmeter.

11. The method of claim 9 wherein said required volume is measured by obtaining a count of the number of units of said solid materials moved, and multiplying the count by a scaling factor dependent upon the physical characteristics of said units of solid material.

12. The method of claim 11 and monitoring said reference level in said well to obtain a first control signal, and using said first control signal to determine said measured volume.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2290408 *Feb 21, 1941Jul 21, 1942Phillips Petroleum CoExploration of boreholes
US2966059 *Feb 10, 1958Dec 27, 1960Warren Automatic Tool CompanyIndicator of drilling mud gain and loss
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3760891 *May 19, 1972Sep 25, 1973Offshore CoBlowout and lost circulation detector
US3963077 *Jun 18, 1975Jun 15, 1976Faulkner Ben VMethod of preventing well bore drilling fluid overflow and formation fluid blowouts
US4110688 *Sep 20, 1976Aug 29, 1978Monitoring Systems, Inc.Method and apparatus for pipe joint locator, counter and displacement calculator
US4208906 *May 8, 1978Jun 24, 1980Interstate Electronics Corp.Mud gas ratio and mud flow velocity sensor
US4476715 *Mar 11, 1983Oct 16, 1984Murphy Jack LMud metering tank monitoring system
US4535851 *Mar 9, 1983Aug 20, 1985Kirkpatrick-Mcgee, Inc.Fluid flow measurement system
US5115871 *Mar 4, 1991May 26, 1992Schlumberger Technology CorporationMethod for the estimation of pore pressure within a subterranean formation
US5205165 *Feb 6, 1992Apr 27, 1993Schlumberger Technology CorporationMethod for determining fluid influx or loss in drilling from floating rigs
US5205166 *Aug 7, 1991Apr 27, 1993Schlumberger Technology CorporationMethod of detecting fluid influxes
US7668694 *Feb 23, 2010Unico, Inc.Determination and control of wellbore fluid level, output flow, and desired pump operating speed, using a control system for a centrifugal pump disposed within the wellbore
US7869978Feb 18, 2010Jan 11, 2011Unico, Inc.Determination and control of wellbore fluid level, output flow, and desired pump operating speed, using a control system for a centrifugal pump disposed within the wellbore
US8180593May 15, 2012Unico, Inc.Determination and control of wellbore fluid level, output flow, and desired pump operating speed, using a control system for a centrifugal pump disposed within the wellbore
US8249826Aug 21, 2012Unico, Inc.Determination and control of wellbore fluid level, output flow, and desired pump operating speed, using a control system for a centrifugal pump disposed within the wellbore
US8417483Jul 17, 2012Apr 9, 2013Unico, Inc.Determination and control of wellbore fluid level, output flow, and desired pump operating speed, using a control system for a centrifugal pump disposed within the wellbore
US9033048 *Dec 28, 2011May 19, 2015Hydril Usa Manufacturing LlcApparatuses and methods for determining wellbore influx condition using qualitative indications
US20080067116 *Apr 27, 2007Mar 20, 2008Unico, Inc.Determination And Control Of Wellbore Fluid Level, Output Flow, And Desired Pump Operating Speed, Using A Control System For A Centrifugal Pump Disposed Within The Wellbore
US20100150737 *Feb 18, 2010Jun 17, 2010Unico, Inc.Determination and Control of Wellbore Fluid Level, Output Flow, and Desired Pump Operating Speed, Using a Control System for a Centrifugal Pump Disposed within the Wellbore
US20110106452 *May 5, 2011Unico, Inc.Determination and Control of Wellbore Fluid Level, Output Flow, and Desired Pump Operating Speed, Using a Control System for a Centrifugal Pump Disposed Within the Wellbore
US20130168100 *Dec 28, 2011Jul 4, 2013Hydril Usa Manufacturing LlcApparatuses and Methods for Determining Wellbore Influx Condition Using Qualitative Indications
EP0489447A1 *Feb 14, 1991Jun 10, 1992Services Petroliers SchlumbergerA method for the esimation of pore pressure within a subterranean formation
EP1485574A2 *Mar 4, 2003Dec 15, 2004Varco I/P, Inc.Method and system for controlling well circulation rate
Classifications
U.S. Classification73/152.19, 73/152.49, 175/40
International ClassificationE21B21/00, E21B21/08
Cooperative ClassificationE21B21/08
European ClassificationE21B21/08