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Publication numberUS3710859 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 16, 1973
Filing dateMay 27, 1970
Priority dateMay 27, 1970
Publication numberUS 3710859 A, US 3710859A, US-A-3710859, US3710859 A, US3710859A
InventorsHanes J, Larralde E, Rimmer M
Original AssigneeVetco Offshore Ind Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for remotely connecting and disconnecting pipe lines to and from a submerged wellhead
US 3710859 A
Abstract
One or a bundle of pipe lines are lowered from a floating vessel or barge along guide lines to a Christmas tree on a wellhead assembly at the ocean floor, the one or more pipe lines being aligned with flow lines extending from the Christmas tree. A connector and associated actuating mechanism are lowered on a running string from the barge along the guide lines to a position between the aligned pipe lines and flow lines, after which the connector, pipe lines and flow lines are hydraulically axially shifted into sealed and locked relation by remote control from the barge, the actuating mechanism being released from the connector and elevated to the barge on the running string. When desired, the running string and actuating mechanism may be relowered and operatively reconnected to the connector to release the latter from the flow lines and pipe lines.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 Hanes et al.

51 Jan. 16,1973

[75] Inventors: James W. E. Hanes, Ventura; Ed-

ward Larralde, Santa Barbara, both of Calif.; Michael J. Rimmer, Amersham, Bucks, England [73] Assignee: Vetco Offshore Ventura, Calif.

[22] Filed: May 27, 1970 [21] Appl' No.: 41,023

Industries, Inc.,

[52] U.S. Cl ..166/.6 [51] Int. Cl. ..E2lb 43/01 [58] Field of Search ..166/.6, .5; 61/723 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,543,847 12/1970 Haeber ..l66/.6 3,481,396 12/1969 Williams... ..166/.6 3,052,299 9/1962 Geer ..l66/.6 3,358,753 12/1967 l-laeber ..166/.6 3,298,092 l/1967 Dozier ..166/.6

R26,668 9/1969 Word ..166/.5

OTHER PUBLlCATlONS Jour. of Pet. Tech; A. M. Rigg ct al.; A Subsea Completion for Deep Water; Sept. 1966; pp. 1049-1055.

Primary Examiner-Robert L. Wolfe Attorney-Bernard Kriegel [57] ABSTRACT One or a bundle of pipe lines are lowered from a floating vessel or barge along guide lines to a Christmas tree on a wellhead assembly at the ocean floor, the

one or more pipe lines being aligned with flow lines 1 extending from the Christmas tree. A connector and associated actuating mechanism are lowered on a running string from the barge along the guide lines to a position between the aligned pipe lines and flow lines, after which the connector, pipe lines and flow lines are hydraulically axially shifted into sealed and locked relation by remote control from the barge, the actuating mechanism being released from the connector and elevated to the barge on the running string. When desired, the running string and actuating mechanism may be relowered and operatively recon nected to the connector to release the latter from the flow lines and pipe lines.

12 Claims, 16 Drawing Figures PATENTEUJAH 16 1915 SHEET 2 0F 7 IA/VEA/TJES (LI /n55 WE Ji /v5.5; flan/Ap 1040941: DE, MICHAEL GI. lg/MME/Q,

APPARATUS FOR REMOTELY CONNECTING AND DISCONNECTING PIPE LINES TO AND FROM A SUBMERGED WELLHEAD The present invention relates to the effecting of connection and disconnection between a wellhead and one or more pipe lines, and more particularly to the effecting of such connection and disconnection at a submerged location from a remote point.

In connection with underwater wells, completions have been made at the ocean floor, and pipe lines connected to completion equipment at the wellhead by divers. Such completion techniques are impractical or impossible of performance where ocean floor completions are effected in comparatively deep water.

By virtue of the present invention, pipe lines can be connected to submerged wellheads in deep water and by remote means. With the wellhead equipment installed in place, the pipe lines can be lowered from a floating vessel to a position adjacent the well-head, and then oriented to place the terminal portion of the pipe lines in alignment with the associated wellhead equipment, such as the pipes or loops of a Christmas tree assembly connected to the wellhead. After such alignment is secured, a connector and an actuating mechanism are lowered from the floating vessel to a position between the wellhead and the pipe line, and the connector placed in leakproof relation therebetween, all operations being controlled from the floating vessel. After the connection is made, the running-in string can be released from the connector and elevated to the floating vessel. At some future time, the actuating mechanism can be relowered and placed in operative relation to the connector and the pipe line and wellhead apparatus, for the purpose of detaching the connector therefrom and elevating it to the floating vessel.

An object of the invention is to provide an improved apparatus for remotely connecting and disconnecting one or more pipe lines to and from equipment at a wellhead independently of the wellhead equipment.

Another object of the invention is to provide an apparatus, including a connector, that can form an intervening passage or passages between the wellhead equipment and one or more flow lines, and which can be retrieved, when desired, without disturbing either the pipe lines or the wellhead equipment. More specifically, the connector includes all of the required seals, which are retrieved therewith for inspection and replacement if necessary.

An additional object of the invention is to provide an apparatus in which the connector is placed in operative sealed and coupled relation to wellhead equipment and one or more pipe lines, and in which joints are provided therebetween, each of which form a smooth, continuous and unrestricted bore.

Yet a further object of the invention is to provide an apparatus for effecting a connection between a connector located between wellhead equipment and one or more pipe lines, in which the connections are all established without the necessity for effecting rotation. More specifically, all of the operative functions in producing the connection, as well as the disconnection, when required, are obtained hydraulically from the vessel floating in the body of water under which the well lies.

' bundle,

Another object of the invention is to provide a connector between submerged wellhead equipment and one or more pipe lines, in which the connector can be locked in sealed relation to the wellhead equipment and pipe lines, and in which locking is retained without the necessity for maintaining a locking force on the equipment.

Yet a further object of the invention is to provide a connector to be placed between flow line equipment and one or more pipe lines at the floor of a body of water, the connector being lowered to its location on a running string, and in which the running string is releasable from the connector after the latter has been secured in sealed relation to the wellhead equipment and pipe lines, the connector embodying means for preventing sea water from entering it upon disconnection of the running string therefrom.

This invention possesses many other advantages and has other objects which may be made more clearly apparent from a consideration of a form embodying the invention. This form is shown and described in the present specification and in the drawings accompanying and constituting a part thereof. It will now be described in detail, for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention; but it is to be understood that such detailed description is not to be taken in a limiting sense.

Referring to the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational, somewhat diagrammatic, view of an underwater wellhead assembly and pipe line device to vbe placed in coupled relation with respect thereto, with the pipe line device having been lowered from a drilling vessel;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged end view taken along the line 2-2 on FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-section taken along the line 3-3 on FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 2 disclosing the pipe line bundle rotated to a horizontal position;

'FIG. 5 is a cross-section taken along the line 5-5 on FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the structure illustrated in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a view corresponding to FIG. 1 disclosing the pipe line bundle in a generally horizontal position and with an intervening connector apparatus disposed between it and the wellhead assembly;

FIG. 7a is an end view taken along the line 7a7a on FIG. 7;

FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 7 disclosing the connector coupled to the wellhead assembly and pipe line and with the running tool and other mechanisms disclosed in FIG. 7 removed;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged top plan view taken along the line 99 on FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a vertical section through the connector and operating apparatus;

FIG. II is a section taken along the line 11-11 on FIG. 10;

FIG. 12a is an enlarged fragmentary section through the connector and adjacent pipe line and wellhead housings, with the lock rings in released condition;

FIG. 12b is a view similar to FIG. 12a illustrating the lock rings in locked position;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged section taken along the line 13l3 on FIGS. 9 and 12a; and

FIG. 14 is an enlarged vertical section through the running tool and mandrel of the connector.

As illustrated in the drawings, a Christmas tree has been installed on a submerged wellhead 1 1 communicating with a well bore 12 extending downwardly from the floor 13 underlying an ocean or other body of water 14. The Christmas tree is of any required type and may have one or a plurality of flow line loops 15 extending therefrom, the bundle of loops being secured within a housing 16 slidable horizontally within a suitable guide 17 affixed to the Christmas tree structure. The end portions of the flow line loops 15 are oriented in a known manner and terminate within passages 18 in the outer hub portion 19 of the housing, the mouth 20 of each passage flaring in an outward direction. The

housing may be retained initially in a somewhat retracted position by a suitable detent 21, such as a spring-pressed detent member, on the guide 17 fitting within a companion recess 22 in the exterior of the housing 16. The housing has a circumferential external yoke groove 23, its outer hub portion having a circumferentially continuous external lock groove 24. As described hereinbelow, the yoke groove receives a yoke 25 of an actuating device 26 (FIG. 7), so as to pull the housingin an outward direction, or to the right as seen in FIG. 1, releasing the detent 21. The hub 19 is shiftable into a connector 27 (FIGS. 7, 12a, 12b) to place each flaring mouth 20 in sealing engagement with a connector seal member 28 and to then shift a lock member 29 into the lock groove 24 to retain the housing 16 and its hub 19 secured in leak-proof relation to the connector 27.

One or a bundle of pipe lines 30 is to be placed in leakproof communication with the flow lines 15 extending from the Christmas tree 10. These pipe lines are lowered from a vessel 31, such as a pipe laying barge, floating in theocean 14, the bundle of pipelines being shiftable downwardly along a pair of guide lines or cables 32 extending from floats 33 at the top of the water downwardly to parallel vertical guide posts 34 secured to a wellhead base 35 and extending upwardly therefrom. The lower ends of the pipe lines are disposed within passages 36 in a housing 37 fixed to a frame 38 rotatably mounted on a pipe shaft 39 or pivot secured to and extending between vertical guide sleeves 40 adapted to slide along the guide lines 32 and onto the guide posts 34 secured to their lower ends.

The guide sleeveshave lower flaring funnels 41 to facilitate their movement down the guide lines and over the upper tapered or conical portions 42 of the guide posts.

The guide frame 38, which is of any suitable construction, and the housing 37 and lower ends of the pipes 30 secured thereto, may occupy a verticalposition, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, and may be shifted therefrom to a generally horizontal position, as disclosed in FIGS. 4 to 8. The guide frame 38 and housing 37 are positively located in the two positions mentioned by providing oppositely directed stops 43 on the guide frame extending longitudinally of the shaft 39, the stops being adapted to engage companion stop surfaces 44 formed on pipe sections 45 bolted or otherwise affixed to the guide sleeve structure 40. As an example, stop members 46 extend inwardly from the guide sleeves 40 and may have an arcuate extent of 180 degrees, the horizontal stop surfaces 44 thereon lying substantially in the horizontal plane. The stop portions 43 extending from the guide frame 38 each occupy an arcuate extent of When such stops 43 engage the stop surfaces 44 on one side of the guide sleeve structure, the guide frame 38 and housing 37 are disposed in a vertical position (FIGS. 1, 2, 3). The rotation of the guide frame 38 and housing 37 secured thereto through 90 degrees will bring the other stop surfaces into coengagement, at which time the housing 37 is located in a substantially horizontal position (FIGS. 5, 6, 7).

Upon lowering of the pipe line bundle 30, its housing 37, frame 38 and guide structure 39-46 along the guide lines 32, the guide sleeves 40 will slide over the fixed vertical guide posts 34, moving downwardly until secured against further vertical movement by a latching mechanism of a known type (not shown). Prior to lowering of the pipe line bundle, housing, frame and guide sleeve assembly, the pipe lines 30 and the housing 37 in which they are secured have been properly indexed, so that, after the frame 38 has been pivoted so that the housing 37 assumes a horizontal position, the housing passages 36 will be in alignment with the corresponding passages 18 inthe housing 16 slidable in the Christmas tree guide 17. Following landing of the guide sleeves 40 on the guide posts, the lay barge 31 is moved away from the wellhead 10 toward the production gathering area, the pipe line bundle 30 being paid out while maintaining tension thereon, to prevent damage to the pipe lines. As the barge moves away, the resulting angle between the pipe line bundle and the wellhead changes, with the flow line guide frame 38 rotating about its horizontal axis until the 90 degree stop 44 is reached, at which time the pipe lines assume the position of a natural catenary on the ocean floor 13, the housing 37 then being in the aligned position with respect to the Christmas tree housing 16, as disclosed in FIGS. 4 to 7. The housing 37 also has flaring end portions 48 in its passages for reception of companion seal members 28, a lock groove 24 for reception of a lock member 29 provided on the intervening connector 27, and a yoke groove 23 (FIG. 1) for reception of an ac tuating yoke, described below.

After the frame 38 and housing 37 have been pivoted to their substantially horizontal position in alignment with the opposed housing 16 of the flow line loops 15, the connector 27 is lowered from the barge 31, which has been relocated above the wellhead location (FIG. 7). The housings 16, 37, and all portions thereof, are a known distance apart at this time, so that the connector 27 can be located between the hub portions 19, 19a of the housings 16, 37 for relative movement of such hub portions into the connector 27.

As specifically disclosed in FIGS. 12a, 12b, the connector includes an inner connector body 50 having one or more passages 51 extending longitudinally therethrough, oriented and spaced in the same manner as the companion passages 18, 36 in the housings. Each end of each passage 51 contains a seal sub 28 having opposed tapered external surfaces 52, 53, the inner surface 53 of each sub fitting within and in sealed relation against a companion tapered wall or mouth 54 in the connector body, each sub being retained in such body by a suitable split snap ring 55 overlying an external flange 56 of a seal sub, the seal-sub extending axially outwardly beyond the tapered or flaring mouth 5.4 of the passage.

Oppositely directed outer body sections 57 are threadly secured to the inner body section 50, each outer section extending axially beyond the inner section and laterally spaced therefrom to provide a circumferential space therebetween in which an expandable and contractable lock member, such as a split lock ring 29, is disposed. The lock ring expands inherently to the extent that its inner portion does not project within the wall of a counterbore portion 59 of the body provided within the inner and outer body sections 50, 57 on opposite sides of the lock ring 29, the extent of outward expansion being limited by lock ring stop surfaces 60 engaging companion stop surfaces 61 on the body sections. The inner corners 62 of the lock ring are bevelled or tapered, conforming to a corresponding taper on the side walls 63 of each housing lock groove 24, the lock ring being shiftable laterally inwardly of the body axis into engagement with the housing lock groove 24 when the connector 27 is secured to the housings, as described hereinbelow.

Each lock ring 29 is shifted inwardly hydraulically, as a result of movement of an annular piston 64 within the body sections. Thus, the inner connector body section 50 and each outer body section 57 have portions spaced laterally from one another to provide an annular cylinder 65 in which the annular piston is slidable. The piston has an external head 66 slidable along an inner wall 67 of the cylinder, a piston skirt 68 extending from this head in a direction toward the lock ring 29, the inner portion of the skirt flaring in an axial outward direction to provide an inclined or conical internal surface 69 engageable with a companion external surface 70 on the lock ring, such that axial movement of the annular piston 64 in a direction toward the end of the connector will cause the inclined or cam surfaces 69, 70 to coengage and shift the lock ring 29 laterally inwardly.

As described hereinbelow, fluid under pressure from the floating vessel 31 is conducted into a fluid passage 71 in the inner body section, flowing into a fluid passage 72 in each outer body section, and into the cylinder space 73 on the high pressure side of the piston head 66, such fluid under pressure urging each annular piston 64 axially in an outward direction to contract each lock ring 29 into its associated housing lock groove 24. Fluid under pressure can be directed from the floating vessel into another passage 74 in the inner housing that communicates with a passage 75 in each outer body section leading to a cylinder space 76 on the other side of the piston head 66, for the purpose of retracting the piston 64 from engagement with the lock ring, permitting the latter to expand from the locking groove 24 in each housing hub 19, 19a. Each cylinder has an annular cylinder head 77 encompassing a rear piston skirt 78, suitable seal rings 79 on the cylinder head sealingly engaging the rear piston skirt 78 and outer body section 57. Similarly, a seal ring 80 on each outer body section engages the forward piston skirt 68 and a piston ring 81 on the piston head is slidably and sealingly engageable with the inner wall 67 of the cylinder. Suitable seal rings 82 are also provided between the inner and outer body sections to confine fluid flow to the intercommunicating fluid passages 71, 72 and 74, 75.

When the annular pistons 64 are shifted by fluid under pressure axially in an outward direction to contract the lock rings 29 into their companion lock grooves 24, the flaring mouths 20, 48 of the housing passages 18, 36 are in sealing engagement with the outwardly projecting portions of the seal subs 28. The inward tapered surface 62 on each lock ring engages the outward tapered surface 63 of the lock groove 24, during contraction of the lock ring into the groove, to force the housings 16, 37 relatively inwardly and maintain a firm sealing engagement between the housing mouths 20, 48 and the seal subs 28, as well as forcing the inner portions of the seal subs into firm sealing engagement with the flaring mouths 54 of the connector body passages 51. After the lock rings 29 have been forced into their companion lock grooves 24, the fluid pressure can be relieved since the angle of taper between the inclined surfaces 69, is a self-locking angle.

The connector body section 50 has a vertical mandrel 84 secured thereto (FIGS. 9 to 14), as by means of screws 85, this mandrel having a passage 86 communicating with the pressure actuating passage 71 in the body, and a second passage 87 communicating with the retracting fluid passage 74 of the body. Each mandrel passage communicates with an annular circumferential groove 88, 88a in the upper portion of the mandrel 84.

A running tool 90, secured to the lower end of a tubing or pipe string 91 extending to the floating vessel 31, is adapted to be connected to the mandrel 84 (P10. 14). The running tool includes a lower body 92 having a downwardly flaring mouth or tapered guide portion 93 for guiding the lower body over the mandrel 84. This lower body has its upper portion encompassing an upper body 94, to which it is secured by screws 95, or the like, the lower body being spaced from the upper body to provide an annular cylinder 96 in which an annular piston 97 is reciprocable. A circumferential con tinuous space 98 is defined between the upper and lower body portions in which radial removable latch dogs 99 are located. Each dog is secured to a threaded stem 100 extending into the outer body member 92, the head portion 101 of which projects within a radial bore 102 in the lower body in which a helical compression spring 103 is disposed, bearing against a plug spring seat 104 and against the head 101 to urge the latch dogs 99 inwardly. The upper and lower corners 105 of the latch dogs are bevelled, the latch dogs being shiftable by the springs into a peripheral groove 106 in the head portion of the mandrel for the purpose of locking the running tool 90 to the mandrel 84.

The annular piston 97 has a lower inclined or downwardly flaring inner surface 107 engageable with companion inclined external surfaces 108 on the latch dogs, so that downward shifting of the piston 97 within the running tool body will force the lock dogs 99 radially into the mandrel groove 106 and cause the upper bevelled corners 105 of the lock dogs to engage a companion inclined surface 109 of the external groove to shift the running tool body 92, 94 axially to a slight extent and hold the transverse body wall 110 firmly engaged with the upper end of the mandrel body 84. When the running tool body 92, 94 is located in its maximum position downwardly over the mandrel 84, darts 110, 111 threadedly, or otherwise suitably secured, to the upper body section 94 are piloted within passages l 12, 113 in the mandrel. Each dart has a passage 114 or 115 communicating with a mandrel groove 88 or 88a, the upper ends of each dart passage communicating with its individual passage 116 or 117 in the upper body section 94, each of such passages being secured by a suitable hose 118 or 119, or other fluid pressure line extending to and communicating with a source of fluid pressure on the floating vessel 31.

The annular piston 97 of the running too] has a piston head 130 slidable along the inner wall of the cylinder 96, and also a piston skirt 131 extending downwardly from the head which has the tapered lock ring or latch dog actuating surface. Longitudinal slots 132 are provided in the lower piston skirt to permit the latter to straddle the threaded pins 100 extending radially from the latch dogs 99. An upper annular cylinder head 133 is clamped between the upper body 94 and a shoulder 134 of the lower body to define a fluid pressure actuating cylinder space 135 between the piston head 130 and the upper cylinder head in which an upper piston skirt 1310 is slidable. A lower cylinder head 136 is also provided below the piston head defining a cylinder space-137 therewith, so that fluid under pressure directed into such space will elevate the piston 97 and permit retraction of the latch dog from the mandrel lock groove 106. Suitable seal rings 138 are provided between the cylinder heads 133, 136 and the piston skirts 131, 131a, as well as between the piston head 130 and the wall of the cylinder.

Ports 140, 141 in the lower body section 92 communicate with the upper and lower cylinder spaces 135, 137, hoses 142, 143, or other fluid pressure lines, being connected to each port and extending to the floating vessel 31.

When the running tool 90 is latched to the mandrel 84, the fluid pressure lines 118, 119 are in communication with the running tool passages 116, 117, dart passages 1 14, 115, grooves 88, 88a, and mandrel passages 86, 87, with the fluid passages 71,74 communicating with the connector cylinders in which the annular pistons 64 are disposed for actuating the lock rings 29 or permitting the lock rings to retract. At the same time, the other hoses 142, 143 are connected with the running tool cylinder spaces 135, 137. Assuming the running tool piston 97 to be shifted upwardly to an unlocking position, and with the running tool 90 moved upwardly off the connector mandrel 84, the darts 110, 111 are removed from the mandrel passages 112, 113, whereupon plugs 150, slidable in the mandrel passages, are shifted upwardly to a position closing such passages (FlGS. 13, 14). As shown, the plugs 150 are located within the mandrel, a helical compression spring 151 in the mandrel bearing against the connector body 50 and also against each plug to shift the latter upwardly to a position in which a seal ring 152 thereon is disposed above its companion groove 88 or 880, thereby preventing sea water, or the like, from flowing into the groove. Each spring 151 is maintained in appropriate operating position by surrounding a centering pin 153 secured to and extending upwardly from the connector body 50, and also by being surrounded by a depending skirt portion 154 of the plug.

The running too] 90 includes a frame 155 secured to its lower body 92 by screws 156, and which is adapted to extend on opposite sides of the connector body 50, 57, there being a pair of actuating cylinders 157 disposable on each side of the connector and secured to the frame (FIGS. 7, 10). A pair of actuating cylinders 157 at the wellhead side of the connector have pistons 158 slidable therein, piston rods 159 secured to such pistons extending from the cylinders and connected to a yoke 25 adapted to move into the actuating groove 23 of the flow line housing 16. Similarly, each of the cylinders 157 at the pipe line end of the connector has a piston 158 therein secured to a piston rod 159 extending therefrom and secured to a yoke 25 adapted to be received within the actuating groove 23 in the pipe line housing 37. As shown, each yoke has an opening 160 therein terminating in a semicylindrical upper portion so as to fit appropriately within the upper half of its associated actuating groove 23.

Two guide sleeves, funnels or cones 161 are secured to the pipe line yoke by a frame 162, so that the connector and actuator assembly can be lowered on the running tool and running string 91 downwardly through the water, being guided by the sleeves 161 along the lines 32 to a position in which the guide sleeves 161 pass over the guide posts 34 and come to rest upon the upper ends of the previously positioned guide members 40, in which condition the various connector passages 51 are aligned with the companion passages 18, 36 in the wellhead housing 16 and the pipe line housing 37, and in which the yokes 25 straddle the housings, being disposed within the actuating grooves 23.

Prior to lowering the connector and actuating assembly on the running tool 90 and running string 91, two hoses 118, 119 are connected to the running tool for effecting actuation of the connector lock rings 29, two hoses 142, 143 are connected to the running tool for effecting actuation of the latch dogs 99 connecting the running tool to the mandrel 84, and two other hoses 170, 171 are connected to the actuating cylinders 157 for effecting shifting of the yokes 25 (FIG. 7). One of these hoses 170 is suitably connected to the head ends of the actuating cylinders 157 and the other hose 171 is connected to the rod ends of the actuating cylinders.

Prior to lowering the apparatus from the floating vessel 31, pressure is applied to the retracting ends 76 of the connector cylinders, to shift the annular pistons 64 inwardly from engagement with their lock rings 29. Pressure is also supplied to the head ends of the actuating cylinders 157 to extend the piston rods 159 and yokes 25 outwardly to their fullest extent, or to the same spacing that exists between the actuating grooves 23 on the two housings 16, 37. Fluid pressure has also been disposed in the upper end of the running tool cylinder to shift the piston 97 downwardly and lock the dogs 99 within the mandrel groove 106. There is now fluid pressure communication between the connector cylinders 73, 76 of the connector and the fluid pressure lines 118, 119 (FIG. 14).

The assembly, with the parts in the condition just described, is then lowered through the water on the two guide sleeves 161, sliding downwardly along the guide lines 32 until the two funnels 161 attached to one of the yokes 25 move over the guide posts 34 and bottom on the guide sleeves 40. When this occurs, one of the yokes 25 will be in the wellhead groove 23, and the other will be in the pipe line groove 23 (FIG. 7). Pressure is then applied to the fluid line or hose leading to the rod ends of the cylinders 157, which will retract the pistons 158 within the cylinders and shift the yokes 25 relatively toward one another. First, the detent 21 will be forced out of its companion holding recess 22 in the wellhead housing 16, and the wellhead housing shifted within its guide 17 into engagement with the connector 27. The wellhead housing 16 and the connector 27 then move as a unit toward the pipe line housing 37, until the connector is pulled into engagement with the pipe line housing. With the pressure held in the rod ends of the actuating cylinders 157, pressure is then applied to the line 118 leading to the inner annular cylinders 73 within the connector, which will shift the annular pistons 64 in opposite axial outward directions and bring their inclined cam surfaces 69 into engagement with the companion surfaces 70 of the expanded lock rings 29, forcing the two lock rings into the grooves 24 of the wellhead and pipe line housings. Such inward movement causes the bevelled surfaces 62 on the lock rings to engage the companion surfaces 63 of the lock rings to further urge the housings 16, 37 firmly against the seal subs 28, and the seal subs against the connector body 50 (FIGS. 8, 12b).

The pressure can now be released from the hydraulic cylinders 73 since the pistons will remain in locking position over the lock rings 29 to which they have been shifted, because of the self-locking taper angle of their coengaging surfaces 69, 70.

The connector 27 is now in sealed relation to the wellhead and pipe line housings 16, 37 and will remain in such sealed relation. Pressure can now be released from the rod ends of the cylinders 157. Pressure is now directed to the flow line 143 leading to the retracting portion 137 of the running tool cylinder, shifting the piston 97 upwardly in the cylinder 96 and releasing it from the latch dogs 99. The running string of pipe 91 and the running tool 90 can now be elevated to remove the running too] from the mandrel 84. As the darts 110,111 move upwardly out of the mandrel passages 112, 113, the springs 157 shift the plugs 150 upwardly to a position sealing such passages against entry of sea water thereto (FIG. 13), thereby maintaining the various passages of the connector 27 filled with hydraulic fluid.

Elevation of the running string 91 and running tool 90 carries the actuating cylinders 157, yokes 25, and guide sleeves 161 upwardly to the floating vessel 31, the connector 27 remaining in its sealed relation to the wellhead and pipeline heads 19, 19a (FIG. 8).

In the event it is desired to retrieve the flow line connector 27, the six hoses 118, 119, 142, 143, 170, 171 are connected to the running and retrieving tool 90 and actuating cylinders 157. Pressure is applied to the rod ends of the actuating cylinders to shift the pistons 158 inwardly of the cylinders, and thereby locate the yokes 25 in their closest position toward each other. This pressure is then released. The guide lines 32 are then threaded through the guides 161 on the pipe line yoke 25, and the drill pipe 91, or other running string, with the running and retrieving tool 90 secured thereto, which also carries the cylinders 157, yokes 25 and guides 161, is lowered until the two guides or funnels 161 bottom on the guide sleeves 40 surrounding the guide posts 34. When in this location, the two yokes 25 will be disposed in the grooves 23 in the wellhead and pipe line housings 16, 37. At this time also, the running tool body 92, 94 will be disposed over the connector mandrel 84, whereupon pressure can be applied to the hose 142 extending to the running tool for the purpose of shifting the piston 97 downwardly and forcing the lock dogs 99 inwardly within the mandrel groove 106. At the same time as the running tool is disposed over the connector mandrel 84, the darts 110, 111 will shift into the mandrel passages 112, 113, moving the plugs 150 downwardly and establishing communication between the running tool passages 116, 117 and the connector passages 71 74.

Pressure is now applied to the rod ends of the hydraulic cylinders 157, to be assured that the yokes 25 are in their inward position, whereupon pressure is released from the rod ends of the cylinders and applied to the hose 119 leading to the piston releasing side 76 of the connector cylinders, which will cause the pistons 64 to move axially inwardly toward each other and out of engagement from the lock rings 29, the latter expanding out of the lock grooves 24 and releasing the connector 27 from the wellhead and pipe line hubs 19, 19a. At this point, the pressure to the cylinders 76 can be released and pressure then applied to the hose or fluid line 171 running to the head ends of the actuating cylinders 157. Such action will first shift the wellhead housing 16 out of the connector 27, and then the connector away from the pipe line housing 37, the wellhead housing being shifted away from the connector until the detent 21 reengages in its housing recess 22, which will then hold the housing in its retracted position within its associated guide 17 (FIG. 7). The drill pipe 91, or other running string, with the running tool 90 secured to its mandrel 84, can be elevated to pull the entire assembly back along the guide lines 32 to the work boat 31, or other vessel.

It is apparent that a method and apparatus for connecting and disconnecting one or more pipe lines to a submerged wellhead has been provided, which can be operated from a remote location. No rotation is required to secure connection and disconnection and operation of the various components of the entire assembly. For that matter, the running string 91 need not be a drill pipe, but can be a wire line operating from the work boat, thereby obviating the cost of providing a workover vessel rig to run the drill pipe. The pipe lines 30 can be run or retrieved independently of the Chrustmas tree 10, or other wellhead equipment. It is unnecessary to maintain any pressure in the system after the connector 27 has been secured between and to the wellhead and pipe line housings 16, 37, in view of the self-locking tapered surfaces 69, between the pistons 64 and lock rings 29. Upon release of the running tool 90, the interior of the connector 27 is protected from the sea water environment in view of the closing action of the spring actuated plugs 150. The connector seals 28 are retrievable without disturbing either the Christmas tree or the pipe lines. The seals 28 as such that a smooth bore is provided through the joints, providing uninterrupted passages not only for the movement of fluids, but for the movement of tools movable in and out of the well.

The pair of guide cables 32 and posts 34 illustrated in the drawings are preferably independent of the usual four cables and posts that terminate above the ocean floor and used for installing wellhead equipment in association with the well bore.

We claim:

1. ln apparatus for use in con-junction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a wellhead device communicable with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor, said device having a first joint means; a second device having a second joint means and adapted to be lowered in the body of water; means for positioning said second device with its second joint means in horizontal alignment with an axially spaced from said first joint means; a connector; actuating means adapted to be lowered with said connector in the body of water to position said connector between and in horizontal alignment with said first joint means and second joint means; and means for effecting operation of said actuating means to secure said first joint means and second joint means in leakproof relation to said connector; guide means comprising one or more guide lines extending from the floor to the surface of the body of water; said second device being a pipe line; a guide structure carrying said pipe line at its second joint means and movable downwardly along said guide means to the location of said wellhead device, said structure embodying pivoted means for pivotally mounting said second joint means on said structure thereby enabling said second joint means of said pipe line to be lowered along said guide lines to a position adjacent to said first joint means and to then tilt from a vertical position to a horizontal position in horizontal alignment with said first joint means.

2. ln apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a wellhead device communicable with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor, said device having one or more fluid passages terminating in a first joint; one or more pipe lines terminating in a second joint; guide means comprising one or more guide lines extending from the floor to the surface of the body of water and along which said one or more pipe lines are lowered to the location of said wellhead device; means for positioning said second joint in alignment with and axially spaced from said first joint; a connector having one or more passages adapted to establish communication between said one or more fluid passages and one or more pipe lines; actuating means; a running tool secured to said actuating means and connectible to a running string; releasable means detachably securing said running tool to said connector, one or more guide members operatively associated with said running tool, actuating means and connector movable downwardly along said guide means toward said first and second joints; means on said guide means engaged by said one or more guide members to locate said actuating means in engagement with said first and second joints and said connector between and in alignment with said joints; and means for effecting operation of said actuating means to secure said connector in leakproof relation to said joints with said one or more fluid passages, one or more connector passages and one or more pipe lines communicating with each other; a guide structure carrying said one or more pipe lines at said second joint and movable downwardly along said guide means to the location of said wellhead device, said structure embodying pivot means for pivotally mounting said second joint means on said structure thereby enabling said second joint to be lowered along said guide lines in a vertical position and to tilt from said vertical position to a horizontal position in alignment with said first joint.

3. ln apparatus as defined in claim 2; means supporting at least one of said joints for axial movement; said actuating means shifting said one of said joints axially into engagement with said connector and said connector axially into engagement with said other of said joints.

4. In apparatus as defined in claim 2; and means operable from the surface of the body of water for releasing said releasable means.

5. In apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a wellhead device communicable with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor, said device having one or more fluid passages terminating in a first joint; one or more pipe lines terminating in a second joint; guide means comprising one or more guide lines extending from the floor to the surface of the body of water and along which said one or more pipe lines are lowered to the location of said wellhead device; means for positioning said second joint in alignment with and axially spaced from said first joint; a connector having one or more passages adapted to establish communication between said one or more fluid passages and one or more pipelines; actuating means; a running tool secured to said actuating means and connectible to a running string; releasable means detachably securing said running too] to said connector, one or more guide members operatively associated with said running tool, actuating means and connector movable downwardly along said guide means toward said first and second joints; means on said guide means engaged by said one or more guide members to locate said actuating means in engagement with said first and second joints and said connector between and in alignment with said joints; and means for effecting operation of said actuating means to secure said connector in leakproof relation to said joints with said one or more fluid passages, one or more connector passages and one or more pipe lines communicating with each other; and hydraulically operable means on said connector for locking said connector in leakproof relation to said joints or for unlocking said connector from said joints; said hydraulically operable means comprising one or more lock rings on said connector movable laterally inwardly into companion grooves in said joints to exert an axial force on said joints urging them axially toward each other and against said connector to retain said leakproof relation between said connector and joints; and means for selectively conducting fluid to said hydraulically operable means to either effect locking or unlocking of said connector to or from said joints.

6. ln apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a wellhead device communicable with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor, said device having one or more fluid passages terminating in a first joint; one or more pipe lines terminating in a second joint; guide means comprising one or more guide lines extending from the floor to the surface of the body of water and along which said one or more pipe lines are lowered to the location of said wellhead device; means for positioning said second joint in alignment with and axially spaced from said first joint; a connector having one or more passages adapted to establish communication between said one or more fluid passages and one or more pipe lines; actuating means; a running tool secured to said actuating means and connectible to a running string; releasable means detachably securing said running tool to said connector, one or more guide members operatively associated with said running tool, actuating means and connector movable downwardly along said guide means toward said first and second joints; means on said guide means engaged by said one or more guide members to locate said actuating means in engagement with said first and second joints and said connector between and in alignment with said joints; and means for effecting operation of said actuating means to secure said connector in leakproof relation to said joints with said one or more fluid passages, one or more connector passages and one or more pipe lines communicating with each other; and hydraulically operable means on said connector for locking said connector in leakproof relation to said joints or for unlocking said connector from said joints; and means for selectively conducting fluid to said hydraulically operable means to either effect locking or unlocking of said connector to or from said joints'; said fluid conducting means including passage means in said running tool communicating with passage means in said connector; means operable from the surface of the body of water for releasing said releasable means to allow removal of said running tool from said connector; and means for closing said passage means in said connector upon removal of said running tool from said connector.

7. ln apparatus as defined in claim said actuating means comprising hydraulically operable means; and means for conducting fluid under pressure to said lastmentioned hydraulically operable means to operate said actuating means.

8. ln apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a wellhead device communicable with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor, said device having one or more fluid passages terminating in a first joint; one or more pipe lines terminating in a second joint; guide means comprising one or more guide lines extending from the floor to the surface of the body of water and along which said one or more pipe lines are lowered to the location of said wellhead device; means for positioning said second joint in alignment with and axially spaced from said first joint; a connector having one or more passages adapted to establish communication between said one or more fluid passages and one or more pipe lines; actuating means; a running tool secured to said actuating means and connectible to a running string; releasable means detachably securing said running tool to said connector, one or more guide members'operatively associated with said running tool, actuating means and connector movable downwardly along said guide means toward said first and second joints; means on said guide means engaged by said one or more guide members to locate said actuating means in engagement with said first and second joints and said connector betweenand in alignment with said joints; and means for effecting operation of said actuating means to secure said connector in leakproof relation to said joints with said one or more fluid passages, one or more connector passages and one or more pipe lines communicating with each other; said releasable means comprising first hydraulically operable means; means for conducting fluid under pressure to said first hydraulically operable means to selectively actuate said releasable means to detach or attach said running tool from or to said connector; second hydraulically operable means on said connector for locking said connector in leakproof relation to said joints or for unlocking said connector from said joints; means for selectively conducting fluid to said second hydraulically operable means to either effect locking or unlocking of said connector to or from said joints, said last-mentioned fluid conducting means including passage means in said running tool communicating with passage means in said connector; and means for closing said passage means in said connector upon detaching of said running tool from said connector;

9. In apparatus as defined in claim 8; said actuating means comprising third hydraulically operable means to operate said actuating means.

10. In apparatus for use in conjunction with a well bore drilled in the formation from a floor below a body of water: a wellhead device communicable with the well bore and disposed adjacent to the floor, said device having a horizontal first joint means; guide means comprising one or more guide lines extending from the floor to the surface of the body of water; a second device having a second joint means; a guide structure carrying said second device and movable downwardly therewith along said guide means to the location of said wellhead device, said structure embodyin'g pivoted means for pivotally mounting said second joint means on said structure thereby enabling said second device to tilt from a vertical position to a horizontal position to place said second joint means horizontally in alignment with said horizontal first joint means.

11. In apparatus as defined in claim 10; said second device being a pipe line having said second joint means at its lower terminal portion when moving downwardly along said guide means.

12. 'ln apparatus as defined in claim 10; said structure comprising stop means for limiting tilting of said pivot means between said vertical and horizontal positions.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification166/339, 166/347, 166/341, 166/346, 166/344
International ClassificationE21B43/00, E21B43/013
Cooperative ClassificationE21B43/013
European ClassificationE21B43/013
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 5, 1989ASAssignment
Owner name: CITIBANK, N.A., AS AGENT
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VETCO GRAY INC.;REEL/FRAME:005211/0237
Effective date: 19891128
May 11, 1987AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORPORATION, ARMONK, NY 105
Owner name: NEWMAN, ERIC L.
Effective date: 19870324
May 11, 1987ASAssignment
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORPORATION, ARMONK, NY 105
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:NEWMAN, ERIC L.;REEL/FRAME:004705/0221
Effective date: 19870324
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORPORATION, A CORP. OF NY,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NEWMAN, ERIC L.;REEL/FRAME:004705/0221
Mar 16, 1987ASAssignment
Owner name: VETCO GRAY INC.,
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNORS:GRAY TOOL COMPANY, A TX. CORP. (INTO);VETCO OFFSHORE INDUSTRIES, INC., A CORP. (CHANGED TO);REEL/FRAME:004748/0332
Effective date: 19861217
May 1, 1986ASAssignment
Owner name: VETCO OFFSHORE INDUSTRIES, INC., 7135 ARDMORE ROAD
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:VETCO OFFSHORE, INC., A CORP. OF DE.;REEL/FRAME:004572/0533
Effective date: 19860421
Sep 29, 1982ASAssignment
Owner name: VETCO OFFSHORE, INC. 5740 RALSTON ST.VENTURA,CA.93
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:VETCO INC.;REEL/FRAME:004056/0858
Effective date: 19820922