|Publication number||USRE42733 E1|
|Application number||US 11/408,271|
|Publication date||Sep 27, 2011|
|Filing date||Apr 20, 2006|
|Priority date||Oct 23, 2001|
|Also published as||DE60218597D1, EP1306519A2, EP1306519A3, EP1306519B1, US6722427, US20030075339|
|Publication number||11408271, 408271, US RE42733 E1, US RE42733E1, US-E1-RE42733, USRE42733 E1, USRE42733E1|
|Inventors||John C. Gano, Kenneth L. Schwendemann, Darrin N. Towers, Ralph Harvey Echols, Perry Carter Shy|
|Original Assignee||Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (117), Referenced by (1), Classifications (7), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present inventions relate to improved apparatus and methods for using radially expandable sand-control screen assemblies in a subterranean oil or gas well.
The control of the movement of sand and gravel into a wellbore has been the subject of much attention in the oil production industry. The introduction of sand or gravel into the wellbore commonly occurs under certain well conditions. The introduction of these materials into the well commonly causes problems including plugged formations or well tubing and erosion of tubing and equipment. There have therefore been numerous attempts to prevent the introduction of sand and gravel into the production stream.
One method of sand-control is the use of sand-control screen jackets to exclude sand from the production stream. The use of a radially expandable sand-control screen jacket includes causing the radial expansion of a screen jacket, and often base pipe, usually by drawing a mechanical expansion tool through the screen. There are several problems attendant with the apparatus and methods known in the art, some of which are enumerated below.
Expansion tools are typically in the form of a rigid mandrel introduced into the tubular to be expanded. The mandrel is dragged or pushed through the tubular, causing radial expansion by the application of brute force. The tubular itself is typically a corrosion resistant and structurally strong assembly of metal alloy. As a result, the expansion tool is subject to significant wear due to friction. There is therefore a need for a wear-resistant expansion tool.
Many expansion tools known in the art are of a fixed diameter. Commonly, the fixed-diameter expansion tool is introduced into the wellbore and positioned downhole, below the targeted production zone of the formation. The expandable tubular is then positioned adjacent to the targeted production zone, above the expansion tool, which is then drawn through the tubular to cause radial expansion. In such an operation, the fixed diameter of the expansion tool is required to be approximately equal to the desired size of the expanded tubular. This requirement often presents difficulties in positioning the tool. A few radially expandable expansion tools are known in the art, designed for introduction into the wellbore in a contracted state, then expanded for use. However, these attempted solutions are not completely satisfactory in structure having disadvantages in terms of manufacturing and operational complexity and strength. There is therefore a need for a new flexible expansion tool improving upon the art.
Further problems characteristic of downhole tubular expansion known in the art include: tearing of the tubular from over-expansion; under-expansion resulting in lack of contact between the expanded tubular and the wall of the borehole; and/or packing materials; and the expansion tool becoming lodged in the borehole. A related problem inherent in known apparatus and methods lies in lack of knowledge concerning whether over-expansion or under-expansion have occurred, necessitating additional trips downhole. Thus, there is a need for expansion tools and methods providing data-gathering and adjustable expansion capabilities according to downhole conditions.
In addition to the problems with mandrel surface wear mentioned above, there inheres the problem of seal wear. Commonly, a relatively fluid-tight seal is provided between an expansion tool and expandable tubular. Typically, such seals are made from an elastomeric material and/or mechanical seal elements, and are subject to wear due to contact with the expandable tubular. There is therefore a need for an expansion tool having a seal with wear-resistant properties.
Often the walls of a wellbore can become packed or “skinned” during drilling. Flow resistance at the wall of the hole, or “skin factor” must often be reduced before a sand-control screen assembly is installed in the formation. It is known in the art to reduce skin factor by washing the wellbore with a fluid selected for well and formation conditions. The washing is typically performed in a trip downhole separate from the one or more trips needed for installing and expanding a screen jacket assembly. Each trip downhole requires additional time and expense. There is a need to provide for washing of the borehole ahead of the expanding tubular during an expansion procedure.
Downhole tubular expansion systems known in the art often require one or more surface connections to facilitate powering or controlling expansion apparatus or methods. Surface connections often pose problems associated with the need to pass restrictions in borehole diameter or direction. There is therefore a need for downhole expansion tools and methods requiring no physical connection to the surface.
In general, the inventions provide apparatus and methods for radially expanding a pipe, tube, screen, or screen assembly deployed in a subterranean well by moving an expansion tool axially through the well.
According to the apparatus and methods of the invention, an expansion tool apparatus may have one or more one wear faces attached to at least a portion of the outer periphery of a mandrel for contacting the interior surface of the pipe, tube, or screen during expansion. The one or more wear faces may be chemically or mechanically bonded to the mandrel and may be inlaid in one or more niches in the outer periphery of the mandrel. The wear faces may be made up of one or more rings bonded to, or floatingly attached to the mandrel.
According to another aspect of the invention, an expansion tool has a controlled egress seal between the outer surface of the tool and the inside surface of the expandable tubular.
According to another aspect of the invention, an automatically variable diameter expansion tool is provided having a variable diameter cone, which expands, and contracts based on input from one or more sensors. The sensors measure parameters in the wellbore, such as contact pressure between the tubular and the cone.
According to another aspect of the invention, an apparatus and method for expanding a length of screen assembly in a subterranean wellbore is provided.
The accompanying drawings are incorporated into and form a part of the specification to illustrate several examples of the present inventions. These drawings together with the description serve to explain the principals of the inventions. The drawings are only for the purpose of illustrating preferred and alternative examples of how the inventions can be made and used and are not to be construed as limiting the inventions to only the illustrated and described examples. The various advantages and features of the present inventions will be apparent from a consideration of the drawings in which:
The present inventions are described by reference to drawings showing one or more examples of how the inventions can be made and used. In these drawings, reference characters are used throughout the several views to indicate like or corresponding parts. In the description which follows, like or corresponding parts are marked throughout the specification and drawings with the same reference numerals, respectively. The drawings are not necessarily to scale and the proportions of certain parts have been exaggerated to better illustrate details and features of the invention. In the following description, the terms “upper,” “upward,” “lower,” “below, ” “downhole,” “longitudinally,” and the like, as used herein, shall mean in relation to the bottom or furthest extent of, the surrounding wellbore even though the wellbore or portions of it may be deviated or horizontal. Correspondingly, the “transverse” orientation shall mean to orientation perpendicular to the longitudinal orientation. The term “sand-control” used herein means the exclusion of particles larger in cross section than a chosen size, whether sand, gravel, mineral, soil, organic matter, or a combination thereof. As used herein, “real-time” means less than an operationally significant delay but not necessarily simultaneously.
Apparatus and methods for constructing and deploying screen jackets are used in conjunction with the inventions, but are not critical thereto. Exemplary sand-control screens and methods of their deployment in a well are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,931,232 and 5,850,875, and application Ser. No. 09/627,196, all of which are assigned to the assignee of this application and are incorporated herein for all purposes by this reference.
Conventionally, a borehole is drilled into the earth intersecting a production zone. A well casing is typically installed in the borehole. A radially expandable screen jacket assembly may be inserted into the portion(s) of the borehole adjacent the production zones. The connection between the casing and the radially expandable screen jacket assembly may be made in the conventional manner. The wall of the wellbore is substantially cylindrical forming a substantially annular space, but typically has irregularities more or less randomly distributed throughout its length.
Generally, with the unexpanded screen jacket assembly inserted into the desired location of the wellbore in the conventional manner, an expansion tool is moved longitudinally through the screen jacket assembly causing it to radially expand to a larger diameter to substantially fill the annular space making contact with the wellbore wall. The particulars of the apparatus and methods are further set forth in the following description.
A flexible expansion tool for use to expand tubulars in a subterranean well is described with reference primarily to
Further referring primarily to
One example of an alternative attachment of the wear faces to the outer surface 130 of the cone 102 is shown in
An example of an alternative embodiment of wear faces and their attachment is shown in
The preferred method of practicing the invention is depicted with reference primarily to
The expansion tool 100 may be variably expandable, that is, having a selectively variable diameter to allow the mandrel to reduce its diameter to successfully maneuver through areas of the wellbore having a smaller diameter, as shown in
Variable expansion is accomplished via dilator 212, preferably mounted to the interior 103 surface of the cone 102. Multiple dilators may be employed at various locations on the cone. The dilator may be designed to operate within a preselected range of expansion force so that minimum wellbore contact stress is achieved. In operation, the dilator may control the diameter of the cone based on contact stress.
With reference primarily to
In operation, the dilator 212 is used to exert a force extending radially through the cone 102. By increasing or relaxing this radial force, the diameter of the cone 102 can be expanded or contracted. By providing preprogrammed instructions to the processing circuit and/or the control circuit, the electronic signals obtained from the sensors 200 and/or signals from the surface can be used to automatically regulate the degree of expansion of the cone 102. For example, a digital signal processing circuit, wavelet analysis circuit, or neural network circuit, may be used to generate instructions to the control circuit, preferably in real-time response to sensor 200 signals.
The labyrinth-type seal element 302 is advantageous in terms of decreased wear over an elastomeric seal. The labyrinth seal 3-2 also provides an advantage in directing fluid flow ahead of the tool 100, reducing the quantity of debris D in the wellbore and in annular space 20, that could otherwise become forced into openings 404 in the screen assembly 400 upon expansion. The seal element 302 is preferably made from stainless steel or composite material, but may be from any material suitably resistant to corrosion. The seal element 302 is typically attached to a seal carrier 304, which is in turn mechanically attached to the surface of the cone 102 such as by bolting or welding. The exact configuration of the labyrinth seal 300 is not critical to the invention. The seal may be designed to provide controlled fluid flow without physically contacting the tubular itself. The seal location on cone 102 may vary without departing from the spirit of the invention.
Referring now to
Screen expander 500 has an upper body 506 and lower body 508. The upper body 506 is provided with anchoring mechanism 510 movable between a retracted position 512, as shown in
The upper body 506 further comprises a force generator 516. The force generator 516 may be of any kind known in the art and preferably is a hydraulic ram operated using fluid pressure supplied through tubing string 504. The force generator 516 preferably includes a force multiplier 518 such as the double-piston assembly, as shown. The force multiplier 518 has a primary 520 and a secondary 522 piston, operable as is known in the art. The force generator 516, or hydraulic ram, is operable to extend the lower body 508 of the expansion apparatus 500 relative to the upper body 506.
The lower body 508 supports expansion cone assembly 524 including mandrel 526 having a ramp 528 upon which cone 530 slides. The expansion cone assembly can be of any type known in the art, including the cones heretofore discussed. The expansion cone assembly 524 shown in
In operation, the screen expansion device 500 is lowered into the wellbore 502 to a desired depth adjacent an unexpanded screen assembly 400. During the run-in procedure, the anchoring mechanism 510 and expansion cone 530 are in their retracted positions 512 and 538, respectively. The expansion cone 530 is moved to the expanded position 540 wherein the cone 530 contacts the screen assembly 400 thereby expanding the screen. The cone 530 is moved to its expanded state 540 by providing fluid pressure, via the tubing string 504, through ports 532 to drive cone piston 534 which in turn powers the cone 530 up ramp 528 of mandrel 526. Internal slip 536 is operable to maintain the cone's position and allow later retraction. Expansion of the cone 530 may involve setting the anchoring mechanism 510 and stroking the force generator 516, thereby extending lower body 508.
Once the expansion cone assembly 524 is in its expanded state, the screen assembly 400 may be radially expanded by the longitudinal advancement of the cone through the screen. The anchoring mechanism 510, such as the slips shown, are moved from the retracted position 512 to the extended position 514 to anchor the upper body 506 of the expansion apparatus 500 in the wellbore 502 or screen assembly 400. The force generator 516 is activated, extending the lower body 508 of the expansion apparatus 500 with respect to the upper body 506 and forcing the expansion cone 530 longitudinally through the screen 400, thereby expanding the screen.
After the force generator 516 is, preferably, fully extended, the anchoring mechanism 510 is retracted, by lowering the fluid pressure in the tubing. The cone 510, in contact with the screen assembly 400, now acts to anchor the lower body 508 of the expansion apparatus 500 with respect to the wellbore 502. The force generator is then retracted. As the force generator is retracted, the upper body 506 is pulled downhole towards the cone 530.
The process is repeated, creating an inch-worm effect while expanding the screen assembly. A similar method of inch-worming is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,070,941 to Kilgore, which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes. The method described herein may be used both for expansion of screen assemblies from the top-down or from the bottom-up.
Joint assembly 600 is preferably a “knuckle joint” assembly, but can be other jointed or articulated assemblies as are known in the art. Knuckle joint 600 forms an articulating joint allowing one cone section 102a to move relative to another cone section 102b about a pivot point 602. Joint arm 604, having a pivot ball 606 of arm 604 attaches to cone section 102a, while the ball 606 of arm 604 mates with socket 608 which may be integral with cone section 102b as shown. Retaining arm 610 is attached to cone section 102b. Joint arm 604 is captured by recess 612 in the retaining arm 610. A flexible sealing element, such as packing 614, with vee-stop 616, seal the joint assembly 600 while allowing limited movement of joint arm 604 about the pivot joint. Use of multiple joint assemblies spaced along the length of cone 102 would allow for greater flexibility and can be added as desired.
The embodiments shown and described above are only exemplary. Many details are often found in the art such as screen or expansion cone configurations and materials. Therefore, many such details are neither shown nor described. It is not claimed that all of the details, parts, elements, or steps described and shown were invented herein. Even though, numerous characteristics and advantages of the present inventions have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the inventions, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in the detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of the parts within the principles of the inventions to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms used in the attached claims.
The restrictive description and drawings of the specific examples above do not point out what an infringement of this patent would be, but are to provide at least one explanation of how to make and use the inventions. The limits of the inventions and the bounds of the patent protection are measured by and defined in the following.
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|U.S. Classification||166/217, 166/207, 166/380, 166/250.01|
|Oct 14, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Sep 24, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12