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 numberUS3881549 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 6, 1975
Filing dateApr 27, 1973
Priority dateApr 27, 1973
Publication numberUS 3881549 A, US 3881549A, US-A-3881549, US3881549 A, US3881549A
InventorsJohn P Thomas
Original AssigneeInterseas Associates
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Production and flare caisson system
US 3881549 A
Abstract
A production and flare caisson system in which the caissons are anchored in the ocean floor by conductor pipes or piles extending into the ocean floor and rigidly attached to a template at the mud line. A spud rigidly attached to the template is imbedded into the floor through an opening generally centrally of the template, with the caisson being lowered into the spud and clamped thereto. In the production caisson a production separator and the production strings and flow lines are housed within the caisson thereby reducing the equipment normally stored on deck, or exposed to the marine environment. All components are prefabricated, preassembled, tested, and disassembled prior to being reassembled at the site. Installation can be effected by employing a drilling rig thereby eliminating the need for costly derrick barges.
Images(8)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1191 Thomas May 6, 1975 1 PRODUCTION AND FLARE CAISSON SYSTEM Primary Examiner-Ernest R. Purser Assistant Examiner-Richard E. Favreau [75] Inventor. John P. Thomas, New York, N.Y. Attorney, Agent, or Firm Donald D. Jeffery [73] Assignee: Interseas Associates, New York,

' 57 ABSTRACT [22] Filed: Apr. 27, 1973 A production and flare caisson system in which the [2|] App No 354 949 caissons are anchored in the ocean floor by conductor pipes or piles extending into the ocean floor and rigidly attached to a template at the mud line. A spud {52] [1.8. Cl 166/.5; 61/46 rigidly attached to the template is imbedded into the [51] Int. Cl E2lb 43/01 floor through an opening generally centrally of the [58] Field of Search 166/5, .6; 61/465, 46; template, with the caisson being lowered into the spud 175/5, 8, 9 and clamped thereto. in the production caisson a production separator and the production strings and flow [56] References Cited lines are housed within the caisson thereby reducing UNlTED STATES P N the equipment normally stored on deck, or exposed to 3,224,204 12/1965 Siebenhausen 166/.5 x the marine envimnmemcomponems are Prefabri' 3,366,173 1/1968 Mclntosh 166/.5 preassembled' tested' and disassembled Prim 3330520 4 953 pease 36/5 being reassembled at the site. Installation can be ef- 3,504,74l 4/ 1970 Baker 5 fected by employing a drilling rig thereby eliminating 2,222,189 8/1972 Weiss 166/.5 the need for costly derrick barges.

,l77 l0 l97l Gasse 3,638,720 2i1972 Thom s i222 10 Claims 11 Drawing Figures PHENTEDHAY 6 I975 SHEET 1 [1F 8 1 PRODUCTION AND FLARE CAISSON SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates as indicated to a pro duction and flare caisson system adapted to be anchored to the ocean floor for use in the production of offshore oil and gas.

In the drilling and production of offshore wells, relatively large structures are typically employed which are anchored in the ocean floor and which extend upwardly above the water surface to a distance above the maximum wave forces encountered in that particular area. Typical installations include standard tubular truss type templates which extend above the water surface where the wellheads and production equipment are located. The installation costs of these structures are high for several reasons; the steel tonnage requirements are high, complex and costly fabrication is necessary to form such structures owing to difficult welding and coping operations; the towing and loadout charges for transporting the structure to the site are likewise very costly, and the mobilization/demobilization charges coupled with high day rates for derrick barges required to install the structures are similarly very costly. Those skilled in the art will also readily recognize the time-consuming and thus costly procedures required in the installation of truss type templates heretofore used in offshore operations of the type concerned here.

When the wellheads and all production equipment are located above maximum wave height, the resulting system has the further disadvantage of having excessive loading on the deck and template structure thereby increasing the forces and stresses on the system which the anchored structure must be designed to withstand.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an offshore system which greatly reduces steel requirements, simplifies fabrication, substantially reduces towing charges, and obviates the need for derrick barges for the installation. In accordance with the present invention, the drilling rig, which is normally required at the site, can be utilized to install the entire system.

A further, more specific object of the present invention includes the provision of a prefabricated template which is positioned on the ocean floor and which is firmly anchored to the floor by means of conductor pipes which serve not only as structural members but also as well conductors during drilling and production operations. After anchoring the template to the sea floor by means of the conductor pipes, a spud section is drilled into the sea floor and fastened to the template for receiving the production caisson, with the latter being firmly clamped to the spud section, with the spud, template, and conductors thereby providing a system which efficiently distributes the load imparted by the caisson to the subsoil.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a system wherein subsea wellheads are employed which are located either on the sea floor or at positions intermediate the water depth. The caisson system in accor- Another object of the present invention is to provide a caisson system in which certain of the production equipment normally stored on deck or exposed to the marine environment is housed within the caisson. In accordance with the invention, the production separator is positioned vertically within the caisson, along with all production strings and flow lines, which arrangement not only eliminates the weight on the deck which normally supports these members, but also avoids the dangers associated with outside installation and exposure of these members, for example, accelerated corrosion and surface hazards caused by contact with towboats, work boats, crew boats, supply barges, workover rigs and the like.

A still further object of the present invention is to permit all components of the caisson system to be prefabricated, preassembled and tested thereby serving not only to reduce costs but to ascertain that each section component and subsystem is compatible with its mating section before reassembly and installation. The installation time is thus considerably reduced and utilized more efficiently.

Another object of the invention is to design a caisson and template system in such a way so as to preclude the necessity of employing heavy lift equipment thereby permitting the drilling rig to effect installation by use of its own crane and drilling equipment. Eliminating the need of derrick barges results in great cost savings inasmuch as the mobilization/demobilization charges are eliminated as well as the day rates for this equipment, which run generally double the rates for drilling rigs. It is therefore unnecessary to duplicate installation capability.

A still further object of the invention is to provide a system such that the transportation charges such as load out, barges, launching and towing are substantially reduced. This is accomplished by designing the system into subsystems and modular subsystems such as cais sons, templates, fenders, deck sections and wellheads. In this way the caisson can be towed without a barge because it has sufficient positive buoyancy to float by its inherent buoyancy.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE APPLICATION DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the production and flare caisson system in accordance with the present invention, with certain areas being broken away to expose the full structure in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a partially sectioned side elevational view of the production caisson showing more particularly the manner in which the same is anchored in the sea floor through the spud, template, and conductor pipes. An alternative positioning of the subsea wellheads is shown in dash lines in this figure;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken on line 33 of FIG.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the deck of the caisson which extends above the water line;

FIG. 5 is a partially sectioned side elevational view of the flare caisson in accordance with the present invention, showing more particularly the manner in which the flare caisson is anchored to the sea floor; FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken on line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the deck of the flare caisson;

FIG. 8a shows a sequence in the installation of the system, this figure schematically showing the lowering of the template by a crane on the drilling rig;

FIG. 8b shows a subsequent step in the installation sequence. illustrating the drilling rig positioned over the site and the conductor pipes installed through the template;

FIG. 80 shows schematically a further step in the installation sequence, with the caisson being shown towed to the site and transferred to the crane boom which is located over the previously installed conductor piles, template and spud, and

FIG. 8d illustrates schematically a further step in the installation sequence, with the caisson shown lowered by the crane boom into the spud for rigid connection thereto.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now in detail to the application drawings, wherein like parts are indicated by like reference numerals, and initially to the entire system shown in perspective view in FIG. 1, the system includes a production caisson generally indicated at 10 and a flare caisson generally indicated at 12, both of which are anchored to the sea fioor in accordance with the novel concepts of the present invention. The caisson has mounted at the top thereof a deck generally indicated at 14 which can be substantially reduced in size when compared with prior art systems by virtue of the housing of a production separator, generally indicated at 16, inside the caisson 10 as clearly shown in FIG. 1. Mounted around the caisson at slightly above water line is a fender and walkway generally indicated at 18 for servicing the system.

The caisson I0 is anchored to the sea floor 20 by means of a template generally indicated at 22 which is in turn rigidly connected to conductor pipes commonly designated at 24 which are installed into the sea floor and thereafter rigidly connected to the template to form an integral structural unit. A spud 26 is similarly installed into the subsoil at generally the center of the template, with the caisson 10 being lowered into the spud and rigidly locked thereto so as to effectively distribute the moment and shear load from the caisson to the spud and to the template and conductor pipes. The conductor pipes in accordance with the present invention perform the dual function of both serving as supporting piles for the entire structure and for reservoir drilling and production. Thus, wellheads commonly indicated at 28 are shown installed on the production casing 29 positioned within the conductor pipes for controlling production from the reservoir. It will be understood that the standard and usual drilling and completion methods employed in subsea operations will be followed. The details of this structure have accordingly not been illustrated in the drawings.

lt should be noted that in the system illustrated, three conductor pipes are employed substantially equally spaced around the template, but it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that a greater or lesser number of conductor pipes could be employed in accordance with the invention concepts.

A gas flare line 30 communicates the production caisson 10 with the flare caisson l2, and flow line 32 conveys the oil produced by the system to a tanker T moored adjacent the production system. A power and control line 34 is provided between the tanker T and the system for supplying the necessary power and control functions to the system. The construction and function of the tanker T is conventional and forms no part of the present invention, with the tanker being illustrated only for a more clear understanding of the present invention.

Before proceeding directly to a description of the structural details of the invention as illustrated in F IGS. 2-7, a better understanding of the unique concepts of the present invention can be had by brief reference to the installation sequence of the system. The template, conductor pipes, spud, and production caisson, and the comparable components in the flare caisson assembly, are conveyed to the preselected site at which a drilling rig is located. An important feature of the present invention is to permit the complete installation of the entire system by means of such drilling rig thereby eliminating the excessively high costs of employing derrick barges with their attandent high mobilization charges and day rates.

To install the system, referring to FIG. 8a, the template 22 of the production caisson is lowered to the mud line ML by means of a crane C on the drilling rig R. The drilling rig is then moved to a position over the template, referring to FIG. 8b, and the conductor pipes lowered by the rig to the template and through the preformed openings in the template. Each such opening in the template for the conductors is provided with a stabbing funnel to facilitate location of the conductor in the opening therefor in the template.

The installation of the conductor pipes can be accomplished by drilling, driving or other standard techniques so as to firmly imbed the conductor pipes in the soil. Any annulus formed between the soil and the conductor pipe during installation thereof is preferably filled with grout so as to achieve a positive bond between the soil and the conductor pipe.

During the installation of the conductor pipes, they are firmly attached or fastened to the template by standard oil field mechanical connectors such as breech blocks, rings, clamps, flanges or the like for transferring the load from the template to the conductor pipes. A satisfactory type of mechanical connector is the breech block connector commerically sold by Rockwell Manufacturing Company for large diameter conductor pipe, casing and piling. Such connector is shown in the brochure of Rockwell Manufacturing Company entitled UV-42l. The breech block connector when employed in the present invention includes a female part welded to the sleeved openings in the template receiving the conductor pipes, and a male part welded to the top of the conductor pipe and adapted to be locked to the female part when the parts are adjacently disposed and fully engaged. Other types of mechanical fasteners that can be employed are the connecting rings manufactured by Ventura Manufacturing Company and OCT Company.

After the conductor pipes have been installed, a spud section is installed in the soil under the central region of the template for receiving the caisson. The spud is installed to its designed depth by either jetting, driving, drilling, augering, dredging, or any other known method, and the spud is thereafter installed in such opening and grouted to the soil and rigidly attached to the template.

The soil is removed from inside the spud to a depth sufficient to receive the lower section of the caisson during installation of the same.

Wells are then drilled through the conductors, with all casing, tubing, blowout preventers and wellheads being supported by the casing within the conductors in accordance with standard production techniques.

The production caisson is then towed to location in a horizontal position, referring to FIG. 8c, righted by controlled flooding and lowered downwardly by the crane toward the previously prepared spud. The spud, like the template openings, is provided with a stabbing funnel to faciliate location of the caisson in the spud section. The caisson is then lowered, referring to FIG. 8d, in the spud section, locked into the spud or template, and thereafter the annulus between the spud and caisson is grouted in order to prevent wobbling of the caisson and to evenly distribute the moment and shear load from the caisson to the spud section and thus to the template and the conductor pipes and ultimately into the soil.

After the caisson is installed, the fender, walkway and work deck are installed on top of the caisson and fastened into position. The vertical production separator previously positioned within the caisson together with all production strings and flow lines are then connected to the respective piping on the template and work deck. Extending the production strings and flow lines inside the caisson completely avoids the danger of damage to the otherwise normally exteriorly exposed lines.

Additional needed equipment is included in a prepackaged modular deck section which is mounted on the deck of the production caisson. The deck section can be made considerably smaller than in prior art systems by virtue of the placement of the production separator within the caisson.

The installation of the flare caisson is substantially the same, except that piles are employed rather than conductor pipes. However, the installation sequence is similar, and following installation of the flare caisson, the flare line is installed from the production caisson to the flare caisson.

Having described the general installation sequence of the system, reference will now be made to the structural details of the invention, with initial reference being made to FIGS. 2-4 which illustrate the production caisson.

The template 22 transfers the loads imparted to the caisson into the conductors and comprises a central hub 40 from which extend radial rib plates commonly designated at 42, with the ribs tapering from a full height at the hub to a reduced height at the periphery of the template. Additional truss or bracing members commonly designated at 44 are provided and interconnected by welding with other such bracing members and the radial webs 42 to form the completed template structure, with openings being provided in the resulting framework in circumferentially spaced locations for receiving the conductor pipes 24. Cylindrical sleeves 45 are secured in the openings and form part of the prefabricated template. The template can be fabricated of any suitable metal material such as structural steel. The template is also pre-equipped with piping and control lines necessary for connecting marine flow lines to the caisson flow lines and to wellhead equipment.

The spud 26 is likewise preferably of structural steel and is slightly greater in diameter than the external diameter of the caisson l0 and fastened to the template, with the annulus therebetween being grouted as above described to further prevent its movement.

The conductor pipes are likewise preferably formed of structural steel and are fastened to the template by means of locking devices schematically shown at 46. As above noted, the locking members are standard oil field mechanical connectors, and have accordingly been shown only schematically in the application drawings. The spud section 26 is likewise rigidly connected to the template through locking devices 48 which can be similar in structure and function to the locking device 46.

The annulus between the conductor pipes 24 and the soil is filled with grout 50 to rigidify to the extend possible the conductor pipe installation. It will thus be seen that the template 22 is rigidly secured to the sea bottom through the conductor pipes 24, with the spud section 26 being rigidly connected both to the template 22 and the sea floor thereby providing a rigid structure for receiving the caisson l0 and transferring all loads into the surrounding soil foundation.

After the caisson 10 has been lowered into the spud section 26 as above described, the caisson is locked to the spud section by mechanical connectors such as the fastening devices previously described so as to prevent motion between the caisson, the spud and the template. The clamps 48 can be employed for locking both the spud and the caisson to the template.

As mentioned above, a production separator 16 is preassembled in the caisson l0 and an annulus separates the same from the inside of the caisson l0, and all wellhead production strings and flow lines are located in the annulus. In the application drawings, production strings commonly designated at 62 are shown connect ing the wellheads 28 with the production manifold on deck, with flow lines extending from the manifold to the separator 16 inside the caisson 10. As previously explained, the wellheads 28 are conventional and have been illustrated only schematically in the application drawings.

The fender and walkway 18 secured to the exterior of the caisson slightly above the water line (WL) is provided for servicing the caisson, and access doors or openings can be provided in the caisson wall for maintenance and repair of the separator. A ladder 64 extends between the walkway l8 and deck 14 for access to the deck 14 from the walkway. Routine maintenance of the system is normally performed by personnel transported to and from the system by work boats which transfer the personnel to the walkway or fender so they are able to perform the necessary operations on the work deck.

The equipment mounted on deck 14 is typical of that ordinarily used in offshore facilities of this type, such as a production manifold 80, test separator 82, pig launcher 84, wire line unit 86, and navigational aides 88 necessary for this type of above water equipment. All of these components, being conventional, are shown schematically in the application drawings, including FIG. 4. The conductor pipes 24 appear in dash lines in FIG. 4 to indicate the spacing of the same relative to the size of the deck 14, and flare risers 90 are shown in the annulus 60 between the production separator l6 and the caisson 10. The walkway I8 is also shown in dash lines in FIG. 4, as are bumpers 92 which extend outwardly from the walkway for preventing damage to the caisson from work boats. crew boats, etc.

Referring to FIG. 3, there is illustrated in the annulus 60 between the separator and caisson 10 pairs of production strings commonly designated at 90 which communicate with the associated wellhead through spool pipe sections 92. A production riser 94 is also posi tioned in the annulus 60, to which the template production flow line 96 is connected by a spool pipe section. Separate ofigas and fluid flow lines extend from the separator 16 to the deck mounted pig launcher, then down the annulus 60 and through the caisson wall where they are connected by spool pipe sections to the template piping, then to their respective marine lines and terminal pig traps. A flare riser 98 is located in the annulus and connected by a spool pipe section to the template flare line 30 for conveying gas to the flare caisson 12 via a marine flow line.

Extending around the periphery of the template are control piping and wiring shown commonly at 100, FIG. 3.

It will thus be seen that the production caisson and template can be prefabricated so as to accommodate a substantial part of the control pipes and lines for the system. Such prefabrication and preassembly not only reduces costs but insures that each section is compatible with other sections of the system before installation. The location of the production separator within the caisson achieves the important advantage of substantially reducing the deck space previously required with installations of this type. It will be noted in this regard that the production separator is vertically disposed in the caisson thereby permitting the gas to be separated from the oil in a relatively confined space. The minimizing of space requirement thus reduces the forces on the caisson and yet permits the design of an efficient piping system without the necessity of building the standard production template which is required in prior systems of this general type to provide the surface area necessary for the normally employed horizontal production separator. Those skilled in the art here concerned will recognize the significant advantage of not having to carry all separating equipment on the caisson deck.

It should be noted that the present invention contemplates positioning the subsea wellheads approximately intermediate the water depth as well as on the sea floor as illustrated in solid lines in FIG. 2. The wellheads 28 have been shown in dash lines in FIG. 2 in such intermediate position, with production risers in such alternative form of the invention being illustrated at 110, extending from the conductor pipes 24. The supporting platform 112 is employed in such alternative arrangement, suitably rigidly connected to the caisson 10. The advantage of the intermediate positioning of the wellheads is that servicing by divers is greatly facilitated thus further reducing maintenance costs for the system. The anchoring of the caisson to the sea floor is identical whether the wellheads are positioned intermediate the water depth or at the sea floor, as shown in full lines in FIG. 2.

Referring to FIGS. 57, there is illustrated therein the flare caisson assembly in accordance with the present invention. The anchoring of the flare caisson 12 is the same in essential respects as the anchoring of the production caisson 10, except that piles commonly designated at are employed rather than the conductor pipes in accordance with the production caisson assembly. The piles 130 are drilled into the sea floor and fastened to the template, with the annulus therearound being grouted as shown at 132 to rigidify the installation.

A template generally indicated at 134 similar to the template 22 in the production caisson system is anchored to the piles 130, and a spud 136 is drilled into the floor in the manner previously described. Components of the template previously described in reference to template 22 have been reapplied with an attached prime in FIGS. 57.

The template 134 is formed with stabbing funnels to guide the piles and spud vertically through the preformed and sleeved openings in the template, and the spud 136 is similarly provided with a stabbing funnel to facilitate location of the caisson in the spud. The template 134 is connected to the piles 130 and the caisson 12 is connected to the spud 136 through fastening devices of conventional construction of the type and in the manner previously described.

The caisson 12 includes a personnel platform 140 equipped with a pig trap 141, ignition system 142, navigational aids 143, and manifold 144. A landing walkway is located above the water line (WL). Bumpers 146 are mounted around the caisson in the vicinity of the walkway, with a ladder 147 permitting access to the deck from the walkway. All piping is directed up through the template piping which is connected to the marine control and flow lines.

Extending upwardly from the deck 140 is a flare stack 150 which is rigidly connected to a truss structure generally indicated at 152 for centering and rigidifying the flare stack relative to the flare caisson. A latter 153 is mounted on the flare stack to permit access to the top of the flare stack from the deck 140. Flare ignition control lines 154 extend upwardly adjacent the stack for controlling the ignition thereof.

The flare line 30 which extends from the production caisson communicates with a flare riser which in turn communicates with the flare stack 150 for flaring off the gas produced. A vertical knockout tank 149 is mounted within the flare caisson and functions in a known manner to collect fluids which drop out of the flare gas when the temperature and pressure thereof are reduced. A knockout loading line 164 is connected to the knockout tank 149 for removing the collected fluids.

It will thus be seen that in both the production and flare caissons, the caisson is firmly anchored in the template which is in turn firmly anchored in the subsoil through the conductor pipes in the case of the production caisson system or by means of piles in the case of the flare caisson system. The template provides the caisson with a point of fixity at the interconnection to the template so that the movement of the caisson is greatly restricted when compared with caissons imbedded directly into the soil. The caisson, template and conductor pipes or piles all act as an integral structure with a solid foundation in the subsoil whereby loads are efficiently distributed to the subsoil. An important feature of the present invention is the utilization of the conductor pipes in the production caisson both as structural members and as well conductors.

It will be understood that the number of conductors and the size of the caisson will vary with field characteristics, water depth and wave conditions. Although not intended to be limiting, a satisfactory system designed for a water depth of 80 feet, for example, includes the penetration of the three conductor pipes approximately 70 feet into the subsoil, with the conductor pipes being 30 inches in diameter and located symetrically around the caisson as described. The caisson can be feet in diameter and extends approximately 33 feet above the water line so as to elevate the deck above the wave forces. Although the outside diameter of the caisson can be constant, alternatively the outside diameter can taper, taking into account the increased forces resulting from bending moments on the caisson in the lower regions thereof toward the point of fixity at the mud line. The thickness of the caisson wall can also vary, for example, a preferred caisson design includes a wall diameter of three-fourths inch in the upper region of the caisson, for example, in the top approximately 75 feet thereof, and 1% inch in wall diameter in the remaining, lower portion thereof. By varying the wall thickness, the imposed forces and moments on the caisson will remain constant throughout the length of the caisson. The lower end of the caisson extends into the spud approximately 10 feet below the mud line. As noted. the dimensions referred to are illustrative only, and it will be understood that other diameters and thicknesses could alternatively be employed without departing from the concepts of the invention. It will also be understood that all structure in the water zone should preferably be provided with cathodic protection, and that structure in the atmospheric zone will be provided with suitable protective coatings and in the splash zone provided with caisson wraps and/or suitable protective coatings. Conventional vortex shedding members such as helical spoilers can also form part of the completed installation, in accordance with known technology.

I claim:

1. A caisson system for offshore oil production comprising:

a. a template positioned on the ocean floor and confined essentially to the mudline thereof, said template being preformed with circumferentially spaced openings around the periphery thereof and a central opening;

b. a plurality of hollow conductor pipes extending through said peripheral openings and firmly anchored in the ocean floor, said pipes serving both as structural support members and as conduits through which the drilling and recovery operations can be performed;

0. means for rigidly interconnecting said conductor pipes to said template for transferring the load on said template to the ocean floor through said conductor pipes;

d. a hollow spud extending through said central opening in said template and into said ocean floor a sufficient depth to distribute loads into the soil and to receive the caisson;

e. means for rigidly connecting said spud to said template so as to effectively transfer load on said spud to said template and said conductor pipes;

f. a hollow production caisson positioned in said spud and extending below the mud line at its bottom end and above the water line at its upper end, and

g. means for rigidly connecting said caisson to said template whereby the forces on said caisson are cffectively transferred to said spud, template and conductor pipes which collectively serve to form an integral supporting structure for said caisson.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein said template is prefabricated and is comprised of a series of radially ex tending ribs and interconnecting support members, said radially extending ribs terminating centrally to form an opening for receiving said spud, the diameter of said spud being slightly larger than the outside diameter of said caisson, with the annulus between such members being grouted to prevent wobbling of the caisson and to evenly distribute the moment and shear load from the caisson to the spud and thus to the template and conductor pipes.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein wellheads are operatively connected at approximately the mud line to the top of said conductor pipes.

4. The system of claim 1 further including production risers extending upwardly from said conductor pipes, and wellheads operatively connected to said risers, the elevation of said wellheads above said ocean floor serving to facilitate maintenance and service of said wellheads.

5. The system of claim 1 further including a production separator positioned vertically in said caisson, wellheads operatively connected to said conductor pipes at the mud line, and flow lines from said wellheads extending upwardly within said caisson to a production manifold and to said production separator for conveying the recovered oil to said separator.

6. The system of claim 5 wherein said caisson is positively buoyant when preassembled with said production separator to facilitate transportation and installation thereof.

7. A flare caisson system for offshore oil production comprising:

a. a template positioned on the ocean floor and confined essentially to the mudline thereof, said template being preformed with circumferentially spaced openings around the periphery thereof and a central opening;

b. a plurality of pile members extending through said peripheral openings and firmly anchored in the ocean floor;

c. means for rigidly interconnecting said piles to said template for transferring the load on said template to the ocean floor through said piles;

d. a hollow spud extending through said central opening in said template and into said ocean floor a suf ficient depth to distribute loading into the soil and to receive the caisson;

e. means for rigidly connecting said spud to said template so as to effectively transfer load on said spud to said template and said conductor pipes;

f. a hollow flare caisson positioned in said spud and extending below the mud line at its bottom end and above the water line at its upper end, and

g. means for rigidly connecting said caisson to said template whereby the forces on said caisson are effectively transferred to said spud, template and piles which collectively serve to form an integral supporting structure for said caisson.

8. The system of claim 7 further including a knockout tank in said caisson, and wherein said caisson is positively buoyant when preassembled with said knockout tank to facilitate transportation, and installation thereof.

1 l l 2 9. The method of installing an offshore production e. rigidly connecting said spud to said template; caisson comprising the steps of: f. lowering the production caisson into said spud, a. lowering a template having preformed openings with the lower end of said caisson extending below therein to the ocean floor, said template being conthe mud line and the top end thereof extending suffined essentially to the mudline; 5 ficiently above the water line to avoid wave forces, b. installing conductor pipes positioned in certain of and said openings in said template, with said conductor g. rigidly fastening said production caisson to said pipe penetrating said ocean floor to a depth suffitemplate thereby effectively transferring the mocient to provide the major support for said producment and shear loads from said caisson to the spud tion caisson; and to the template and conductor piles integrally c. rigidly fastening said conductor pipes to said temconnected thereto.

plate; 10. The method of claim 7 further including the step d. installing a spud in the ocean floor through said of preassembling the caisson and a production separaopening generally centrally in said template, said tor in prearranged structural relationship so as to prospud penetrating the ocean floor to a depth sufiil5 vide an assembly having positive buoyancy, and transcient to distribute forces into the soil and to receive porting said assembly by towing to the site. the caisson;

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3224204 *Aug 15, 1963Dec 21, 1965Shell Oil CoMethod of anchoring an offshore structure
US3366173 *Sep 29, 1965Jan 30, 1968Mobil Oil CorpSubsea production system
US3380520 *Feb 8, 1966Apr 30, 1968Offshore CoDrilling and production platform
US3504741 *Jun 27, 1968Apr 7, 1970Mobil Oil CorpUnderwater production satellite
US3601189 *Feb 10, 1969Aug 24, 1971Lockheed Aircraft CorpUnderwater multiple well installation
US3612177 *Oct 29, 1969Oct 12, 1971Gulf Oil CorpDeep water production system
US3638720 *Sep 24, 1968Feb 1, 1972Ocean SystemsMethod and apparatus for producing oil from underwater wells
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3948196 *Jul 18, 1975Apr 6, 1976Brown & Root, Inc.Apparatus for burning fluid at a burner mounted on a floating vessel subject to wave action
US3987638 *Oct 9, 1974Oct 26, 1976Exxon Production Research CompanySubsea structure and method for installing the structure and recovering the structure from the sea floor
US4127003 *Jun 27, 1977Nov 28, 1978Enterprise d'Equipements Mecaniques et Hydrauliques E.M.H.Production equipment for oil-fields at sea
US4152088 *Dec 30, 1977May 1, 1979Enterprise d'Equipments Mecaniques et Hydrauliques EMHOff-shore oil field production equipment
US4231681 *Sep 11, 1978Nov 4, 1980Entreprise D'equipements Mecaniques Et Hydrauliques E.M.H.Structure for sea-bed exploitation allowing the various functions inherent in such exploitation to be performed
US4265313 *Feb 13, 1979May 5, 1981Institut Francais Du PetroleMooring station and transfer terminal for offshore hydrocarbon production
US4371037 *Dec 15, 1980Feb 1, 1983Institut Francais Du PetroleTransfer terminal for offshore production
US4438817 *Sep 29, 1982Mar 27, 1984Armco Inc.Subsea well with retrievable piping deck
US4506735 *Jun 3, 1983Mar 26, 1985Gerard ChaudotOperating system for increasing the recovery of fluids from a deposit, simplifying production and processing installations, and facilitating operations with enhanced safety
US4547149 *Sep 23, 1982Oct 15, 1985Gerard ChaudotSystem for preventing liquids from being driven to the flair stack tip
US4679964 *Dec 16, 1985Jul 14, 1987Seahorse Equipment CorporationOffshore well support miniplatform
US4685833 *Sep 25, 1986Aug 11, 1987Iwamoto William TOffshore structure for deepsea production
US4705114 *Dec 19, 1985Nov 10, 1987Texaco LimitedOffshore hydrocarbon production system
US4710061 *Oct 6, 1986Dec 1, 1987Atlantic Richfield CompanyOffshore well apparatus and method
US4995763 *Jan 26, 1990Feb 26, 1991Atlantic Richfield CompanyOffshore well system and method
US5244312 *Dec 29, 1991Sep 14, 1993Conoco Inc.Pile supported drilling template
US5582252 *Jan 5, 1995Dec 10, 1996Shell Oil CompanyHydrocarbon transport system
US5788417 *Dec 15, 1995Aug 4, 1998American Oilfield Divers, Inc.Offshore well stabilization apparatus and method
US5988283 *Jul 2, 1997Nov 23, 1999Union Pacific Resources CompanyVertical combined production facility
US6003604 *Apr 9, 1998Dec 21, 1999Kraerner Oilfield ProductsSubsea wellhead connection assembly and method of installation
US7516794 *Aug 1, 2003Apr 14, 2009Norsk Hydro AsaPipe separator for the separation of fluids, particularly oil, gas and water
US9033051 *Jan 10, 2014May 19, 2015Trendsetter Engineering, Inc.System for diversion of fluid flow from a wellhead
US9260949 *Dec 20, 2011Feb 16, 2016Exxonmobil Upstream Research CompanySubsea production system having arctic production tower
US20060124313 *Aug 1, 2003Jun 15, 2006Gramme Per EPipe separator for the separation of fluids, particularly oil, gas and water
US20130292128 *Dec 20, 2011Nov 7, 2013Carl R. BrinkmannSubsea Production System Having Arctic Production Tower
US20140193207 *Sep 13, 2013Jul 10, 2014David RiggsHoneycomb Buoyant Island Structures
CN102337868A *Jul 12, 2011Feb 1, 2012兰州理工大学Automatic control system and method for offshore production platform
DE2757445A1 *Dec 22, 1977Jan 18, 1979EmhVerbesserungen zu den ausruestungen zur gewinnung von erdoel in den erdoelseelagerstaetten
WO1985001927A1 *Nov 1, 1984May 9, 1985Central Oil & Gas LimitedOffshore oil production method
WO2012102806A1 *Dec 20, 2011Aug 2, 2012Exxonmobil Upstream Research CompanySubsea production system having arctic production tower
WO2014210017A3 *Jun 24, 2014May 7, 2015Bp Corporation North America, Inc.Systems and methods for bracing subsea wellheads to enhance the fatigue resistance of subsea wellheads and primary conductors
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/357, 166/367, 166/366, 405/203
International ClassificationE02B17/00, E21B41/00, E21B43/01
Cooperative ClassificationE21B41/0071, E02B2017/0065, E02B17/00, E21B43/01
European ClassificationE21B43/01, E02B17/00, E21B41/00M4