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Title:
SUBSURFACE SAFETY VALVE
United States Patent 3796257
Abstract:
A subsurface safety valve for wells, including a ball valve closed by well fluid pressure and opened by control fluid pressure supplied from the surface. The subsurface valve includes a control fluid pressure responsive balancing valve for equalizing pressure across the closed ball valve to relieve the ball valve seating pressure. The ball valve is rotatable by support pins and is also slightly axially movable in its support. A sealing and operating sleeve below the ball valve is spring loaded upwardly. One of more additional springs are incorporated above the ball valve to assist in overcoming hydrostatic pressure in the control tubing. The subsurface valve assembly is incorporated in a production tubing string or is removably received in a seating nipple so as to be wireline retrieveable.


Inventors:
HUDSON D
Application Number:
04/404447
Publication Date:
03/12/1974
Filing Date:
03/20/1972
Assignee:
Baker Oil Tools, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/145, 166/322, 166/324
International Classes:
E21B34/04; E21B34/10; E21B34/12; F16K5/06; F16K31/36; E21B34/00; (IPC1-7): E21B7/12; E21B33/035
Field of Search:
166
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3675720WELL FLOW CONTROL SYSTEM AND METHOD1972-07-11Sizer
3633669APPARATUS FOR RUNNING IN AND OPERATION OF VALVES AND THE LIKE1972-01-11True et al.
3494421METHOD OF INSTALLING A WELLHEAD SYSTEM1970-02-10Dollison
3313350Tubing and annulus flow control apparatus1967-04-11Page, Jr.
3310114Pressure operated safety valve1967-03-21Dollison
3094170Subsurface well tubing safety valve1963-06-18Bourne, Jr.
3007669Valve1961-11-07Fredd
Primary Examiner:
Schroeder, Werner H.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kriegel, Bernard
Claims:
I claim

1. In a subsurface shutoff valve for wells adapted to be supported in a well fluid production pipe: a body having a flow passage therethrough; shutoff valve means including a member shiftable between a first position closing said passage and a second position at which said passage is open; actuator means for shifting said member between said positions, including means defining a control fluid pressure chamber for moving said member to said second position and means responsive to the pressure of well fluid in the production pipe for biasing said member to said first position upon reduction in the pressure of control fluid in said chamber; and by-pass valve means for equalizing the well fluid across said shutoff valve means before said member is moved from said first position to said second position, said by-pass valve means having an actuator portion in said control fluid pressure chamber responsive to the pressure of control fluid to open said by-pass valve means.

2. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves.

3. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, and spring means acting on said actuator sleeve responsive to control fluid pressure for opposing said control fluid pressure.

4. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, and spring means acting on said actuator sleeve responsive to control fluid pressure for opposing said control fluid pressure, said spring means comprising a plurality of modular spring assemblies.

5. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball including means for enabling bodily longitudinal movement of said ball with respect to said body during the final increment of movement of said ball to said first and second positions.

6. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball including a support for said ball, said support and said ball having cooperative pin and pin engaging surfaces for rotating said ball between said first and second positions.

7. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball including a support for said ball, said support and said ball having cooperative pin and pin engaging surfaces for rotating said ball between said first and second positions and for enabling bodily longitudinal movement of said ball with respect to said body during the final increment of movement of said ball to said first and second positions.

8. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions including a ball carrier in said body supporting said ball for rotary movement and for longitudinal movement with respect to said carrier, said carrier having opposed pins, and walls on said ball engageable with said pins for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said ball.

9. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions including a ball carrier in said body supporting said ball for rotary movement and for longitudinal movement with respect to said carrier, said carrier having opposed pins, and walls on said ball engageable with said pins for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said ball, said pins and walls clearing upon rotation of said ball to either of said positions to enable further nonrotative longitudinal movement of said ball.

10. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions including a ball carrier in said body supporting said ball for rotary movement and for longitudinal movement with respect to said carrier, said carrier having opposed pins, and walls on said ball engageable with said pins for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said ball, and stop means on said ball and said carrier for limiting rotation of said ball to said first and second positions.

11. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising actuator sleeves movable longitudinally in said body responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber and to the pressure of well fluid, said actuator sleeves having sealing surfaces engaged with said spherical sealing surface of said ball, and including means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves, said means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions including a ball carrier in said body supporting said ball for rotary movement and for longitudinal movement with respect to said carrier, said carrier having opposed pins, and walls on said ball engageable with said pins for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said ball, and stop means on said ball and said carrier for limiting rotation of said ball to said first and second positions, said pins and walls clearing upon rotation of said ball to either of said positions to enable further non-rotative longitudinal movement of said ball.

12. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction.

13. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction, and spring means engaged between said body and said sleeve for biasing said sleeve in the other direction.

14. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction, and a plurality of modular spring means between said body and said sleeve for biasing said sleeve in the other direction.

15. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction, said by-pass valve means including a valve sleeve shiftable on said sleeve, said sleeves having ports communicating with one another when said valve sleeve is in a lower position, and seal means separating said ports when said valve sleeve is in an upper position, and piston means on said valve sleeve for moving the latter to said lower position responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber.

16. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction, said by-pass valve means including a valve sleeve shiftable on said sleeve, said sleeves having ports communicating with one another when said valve sleeve is in a lower position, and seal means separating said ports when said valve sleeve is in an upper position, and piston means on said valve sleeve for moving the latter to said lower position responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber, said sleeves having cooperative latch means releasably holding said valve sleeve in said upper position and releasable by the pressure of control fluid in said chamber acting on said piston means.

17. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction, said by-pass valve means including a valve sleeve shiftable on said sleeve, said sleeves having ports communicating with one another when said valve sleeve is in a lower position, and seal means separating said ports when said valve sleeve is in an upper position, and piston means on said valve sleeve for moving the latter to said lower position responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber, said sleeves having cooperative latch means releasably holding said valve sleeve in said upper position and releasable by the pressure of control fluid in said chamber acting on said piston means, and co-engageable portions on said body and said valve sleeve for limiting downward movement of said valve sleeve beyond said lower position.

18. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said means defining a control fluid pressure chamber comprising an actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body and engaged with said member to shift the same to one of said positions, said sleeve having piston means responsive to the pressure of fluid in said chamber to shift said sleeve in one direction, said by-pass valve means including a valve sleeve shiftable on said sleeve, said sleeves having ports communicating with one another when said valve sleeve is in a lower position, and seal means separating said ports when said valve sleeve is in an upper position, and piston means on said valve sleeve for moving the latter to said lower position responsive to control fluid pressure in said chamber, said sleeves having cooperative latch means releasably holding said valve sleeve in said upper position and releasable by the pressure of control fluid in said chamber acting on said piston means, and co-engageable portions on said body and said valve sleeve for limiting downward movement of said valve sleeve beyond said lower position, said actuator sleeve being further downwardly movable to move said member to its second position and to re-engage said releasable latch means.

19. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said valve member being a ball having said flow passage therethrough and a spherical sealing surface, said actuator means comprising an upper actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body above said ball and having a lower end sealing surface engaging said sealing surface on said ball, said actuator sleeve having a piston area exposed to the pressure of control fluid in said chamber to move said actuator sleeve downwardly, a lower actuator sleeve reciprocable in said body below said ball and having an upper end sealing surface engaging said sealing surface on said ball, means for biasing said lower actuator sleeve upwardly, and means for rotating said ball between said first and second positions responsive to longitudinal movement of said actuator sleeves corresponding upwardly and downwardly.

20. In a subsurface shutoff valve assembly as defined in claim 19, said means for biasing said lower actuator sleeve upwardly including a spring.

21. In a subsurface shutoff valve assembly as defined in claim 19, said means for biasing said lower actuator sleeve upwardly including a spring, and a well fluid responsive piston area on said lower actuator sleeve.

22. In a subsurface shutoff valve assembly as defined in claim 19, said means for biasing said lower actuator sleeve upwardly including a spring, and also including spring means acting on said upper actuator sleeve to bias the latter upwardly.

23. In a subsurface shutoff valve assembly as defined in claim 19, said means for biasing said lower actuator sleeve upwardly including a spring, and also including spring means acting on said upper actuator sleeve to bias the latter upwardly, said spring means including a plurality of modular spring assemblies spaced longitudinally between said body and said upper actuator sleeve.

24. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said body having means for threadedly connecting it in said well fluid production pipe.

25. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 1, said body having external cylindrical packing means in axially spaced relation and an inlet for said control fluid pressure chamber between said packing means said body also having wireline tool engageable running and retrieving means, and latch means releasable by said tool for engaging in and holding said packing means in sealing position in a seating nipple in said well fluid production pipe.

26. In a subsurface shutoff valve for wells adapted to be supported in a well fluid production pipe: an elongated outer tubular body; an elongated inner tubular assembly including an upper sleeve and a lower sleeve; a ball valve between said sleeves and having a flow passage therethrough, said ball valve and said sleeves having complemental spherical sealing surfaces; a support for said ball valve fixed in said outer body; cooperable means on said ball valve and said support for rotating said ball valve between first and second positions at which said flow passage is open and closed, respectively, in response to longitudinal movement of said sleeves and said ball valve in opposite directions in said outer body, said upper sleeve and said outer body defining a chamber for control fluid pressure; said upper sleeve having means responsive to the pressure of control fluid in said chamber for moving said sleeves and said ball valve downwardly; said lower sleeve having means responsive to the pressure of well fluid for moving said sleeves and said ball valve upwardly; and by-pass valve means including a valve member having a control fluid pressure responsive actuator portion in said chamber for shifting said valve member from a closed position to an open position in response to the pressure of control fluid in said chamber to equalize well fluid pressure across said ball valve when said ball valve is in said second position to relieve frictional co-engagement of said complemental sealing surfaces.

27. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 26, said cooperable means for rotating said ball comprising rotary drive means which are released to enable free further longitudinal movement of said sleeve and said ball when said ball is in said positions.

28. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 26, means for re-closing said by-pass valve means when said sleeves and said ball move longitudinally to position said ball in said second position.

29. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 26, a spring acting on said lower sleeve to bias the latter into engagement with said ball.

30. In a subsurface shutoff valve as defined in claim 26, a spring acting on said lower sleeve to bias the latter into engagement with said ball, and a spring acting on said upper sleeve in opposition to the pressure of control fluid in said chamber.

Description:
In the production of well fluids, such as oil and/or gas, from wells situated at remote locations, it has become the practice to employ automatic shutoff valves which are responsive to the pressure of well fluids so as to be actuated from an opened condition to a closed condition in the event of loss of well fluids as may be caused by various circumstances. For example, it may occur that a well located at sea may suffer damage which will allow well fluids to flow into the sea, not only resulting in loss of well fluids until the well can be killed, but also resulting in contamination of the sea water and the sea shore when oil escapes into the sea and drifts ashore. It is also desirable to prevent the uncontrolled loss of well fluids from remotely located onshore wells where damage may occur to the well head equipment resulting in the uncontrolled flow of the well until it can be killed.

Various valves have been heretofore developed for the purpose of automatically shutting off such a flowing well, at a subsurface location in the production pipe string, including sleeve type valves and ball type valves which have a substantially full bore opening therethrough and thereby cause no substantial restriction to flow. However, such ball valves experience operating difficulties, particularly when they are being opened and the well fluid pressure below the valve which is holding the valve closed is substantial. causing a high friction loading between the sealing faces and the surface of the ball with which they are sealingly engaged. Indeed, the operating means for shifting the ball to an open position may in some instances be destroyed.

More recently, as shown and described in the application for U.S. Letters Patent of T. L. Crowe, Ser. No. 243,806, filed Apr. 13, 1972, for Dual Safety Valve Method and Apparatus, ball valves for use as subsurface safety valves for wells have been developed, wherein the ball is more easily shifted from its closed to its open position by reason of the incorporation in the valve assembly of by-pass or equalizing valve means responsive to the pressure of control fluid to establish communication between the flow passage at opposite sides of the ball valve before the ball valve is opened. In addition, the ball is supported for rotation by means which allow slight lost motion between the valve and the support during the first and last stages of ball rotation between open and closed positions, so that the ball support is not subjected to pressure differentials which may load the ball.

The present invention involves the provision of an automatic subsurface shutoff valve of the ball type, wherein the ball is easy to manipulate from the closed to the open position, notwithstanding high well fluid pressure tending to hold the valve closed.

The present invention involves the provision of a control fluid operated by-pass valve incorporated in the control fluid pressure chamber of the shutoff valve assembly, so that as control fluid pressure is being supplied to open the subsurface valve, the pressure differential across the shutoff valve is first equalized, and then the shutoff valve is shifted to the open position.

In addition to the foregoing, the present invention provides a subsurface shutoff valve assembly wherein actuation of the ball valve to the closed position is assisted by a spring, so that even in the absence of sufficient well pressure to assure closure of the shutoff valve, the latter will be nevertheless closed and the sealing effectiveness of the valve will be maintained. Depending upon the anticipated subsurface well pressure and on the depth at which the subsurface shutoff valve is to be located in the production pipe string, an additional spring or additional springs are employed to supplement the spring force of the first-mentioned spring in overcoming the hydrostatic pressure of control fluid acting on the mechanism and tending to hold the valve open, but the supplemental springs do not apply a force to the mechanism which maintains the sealing contact between the ball shifting and sealing sleeve which is actuated by the first-mentioned spring. Thus, the valve is more smoothly and easily operable.

The subsurface valve of the invention may be incorporated in a string of production tubing and run into the well in the tubing string, and control fluid is supplied through an auxiliary control tubing extending into the well along side the production tubing. Alternatively, if the well is to be produced through the casing above the shutoff valve, the shutoff valve assembly may be run into and latched in place in a seating nipple and may be retrieved from the seating nipple by wireline tools. In this latter case, the control tubing from an appropriate source of control fluid pressure is connected to the seating nipple.

This invention possesses many other advantages, and has other purposes which may be made more clearly apparent from a consideration of forms in which it may be embodied. These forms are shown in the drawings accompanying and forming part of the present specification. They 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 descriptions are not to be taken in a limiting sense, since the scope of the invention is best defined by the appended claims.

Referring to the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view illustrating an offshore well in which a subsurface automatic shutoff valve has been installed;

FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c together constitute a longitudinal quarter section showing one form of automatic shutoff valve embodying the invention, with the valve in the open condition, FIGS. 2b and 2c respectively constituting successive downward continuations of FIG. 2a;

FIGS. 3a, 3b and 3c together constitute a longitudinal quarter section corresponding to FIGS. 2a through 2c, but showing the valve in the closed condition, FIGS. 3b and 3c respectively constituting successive downward continuations of FIG. 3a;

FIGS. 4a and 4b together constitute a fragmentary longitudinal section of the portions of the valve assembly seen in FIGS. 2a and 2b and 3a and 3b showing the valve in the closed position but in a pressure balanced condition, with the by-pass valve open, FIG. 4b being a downward continuation of FIG. 4a;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary detail view in vertical section, with certain parts broken away, as taken on the line 5--5 of FIG. 4b;

FIG. 6 is a view corresponding to FIG. 5, but showing the valve rotated to the open position;

FIG. 7 is a detailed view in perspective of the ball valve;

FIG. 8 is a horizontal section as taken on the line 8--8 of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 9 is a horizontal section as taken on the line 9--9 of FIG. 2a;

FIGS. 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d and 10e together constitute a longitudinal quarter section of another form of a subsurface automatic shutoff valve embodying the invention, and shown in a closed condition, FIGS. 10b through 10e respectively constituting a successive downward continuations of FIG. 10a;

FIGS. 11a, 11b, 11c, 11d, 11e and 11f together constitute a longitudinal quarter section of still another form of a subsurface automatic shutoff valve embodying the invention, and shown in a closed condition, FIGS. 11b through 11f respectively constituting successive downward continuations of FIG. 11a; and

FIG. 12 is a horizontal section as taken on the line 12--12 of FIG. 11b.

As seen in the drawings, referring first to FIG. 1, an automatic shutoff valve assembly V is installed in a string of well production tubing T which extends downwardly through a well casing C which is set in a well bore W. The tubing T and casing C extend upwardly through a body of water to a platform P. On the platform is a conventional valved tubing head H from which a flow line F extends, the flow line being adapted to conduct well fluids to a suitably located reservoir. A packer 10 is set in the casing C and forms a seal between the tubing T and the casing below the valve assembly V and the latter is adapted to remain open, as will later be described, only so long as it is supplied with suitable control fluid pressure from a pressure source 11 through a string of control fluid tubing CF which extends downwardly through the casing C from the pressure source 11 to the valve assembly V.

Referring to FIGS. 2a through 9, one form of subsurface valve assembly V is shown. In this form, the valve assembly comprises an elongated tubular outer body 20 including an upper body section 21 which is threadedly connected at 22 to the lower end of the tubing string T above the valve assembly, the upper body section 21 being threadedly connected at 23 at its lower end to an intermediate body section 24 which extends downwardly and which is threadedly connected at 25 to a lower body section 26, the latter being threadedly connected at 27, at its lower end, to a connector sub 28 which is in turn threadedly connected at 29, at its lower end, to the tubing string T extending downwardly in the well bore below the valve assembly. The intermediate body section 24 has an upwardly extended cylindrical section 30 disposed within a complemental bore 31 in the upper body section 21, and suitable seal means 32 carried by the cylindrical section 30 sealingly engages within the bore 31. Above the seal 32, the cylindrical end 30 has a suitable number of upwardly extended and circumferentially spaced fingers 33 providing an upwardly facing shoulder 34, the purpose of which will be later described. The intermediate body section 24 has an internal bore 35 and a downwardly facing internal shoulder 36 which is opposed by an upwardly facing shoulder 37 provided at the upper end of the lower body section 26. Beneath the shoulder 37, the body section 26 has a cylindrical end section 38 which carries a side ring seal 39 engaged within the bore 35. Interposed between the downwardly facing shoulder 36 and the upwardly facing shoulder 37 is a valve carrier or supporting member 40 which, as best seen in FIGS. 5 and 6, consists of circumferentially extended upper and lower end rings 41 and 42, respectively, and a pair of diametrically spaced longitudinally extended valve supporting ribs or bars 43 interconnecting the end rings 41 and 42. The bars 43 have inwardly extended opposing pins 44 each engaged in a slot 45 in the adjacent side of a ball valve member 46, whereby, as weill be later more fully described, the ball valve 46 is adapted to be actuated between the open or flowing condition of FIGS. 2a through 2c and Fig. 6, and the closed or non-flowing condition of FIGS. 3a through 3c and FIG. 5.

The lower body section 26 has an internal bore 47 which receives an upper cylindrical end portion 48 of the connector sub 28, the latter having a side ring seal 49 sealingly engaged in the bore 47, below the upper end surface 50 of the sub 28. This end surface 50 constitutes an abutment or seat for a coiled compression spring 51 which is disposed within the bore 47 and has a diameter within its convolutions preferably greater than the flow passage in the valve assembly.

The spring 51 is a valve actuating spring and seats or abuts at its upper end with a lower end flange or abutment 52 on a lower valve operating and sealing sleeve 53 which is reciprocable within a reduced bore 54 in the lower body section 26 which has longitudinally extended and circumferentially spaced channels 55 to enable the free flow of fluid, as will be later described. At its upper end, the valve operating and sealing sleeve 53 has an annular, spherical seating surface 56 adapted for abutting and sealing engagement with a companion spherical valve surface 57 on the valve member 46.

Reciprocable within the outer body 20 above the valve member 46, is an upper valve actuating and sealing sleeve 60 which has at its lower end a spherical valve engaging and sealing surface 61 engageable with the spherical surface 57 of the valve member 46. The upper valve sleeve 60 extends upwardly in radially inwardly spaced relation within the outer, upper body section 21, and has at its upper extremity a cylindrical end section 62 extending reciprocably into a bore 63 of the outer body section 21, the latter having a side ring seal 64 slidably and sealingly engaging the cylindrical section 62 of the sleeve 60 above a radially inwardly extended cylinder head portion 65 of the body section 21. Provided on the valve sleeve 60, below the cylinder head 65 is a radially outwardly extended piston 66.

Carried by the sleeve 60 within the bore 31 of the body section 21 is a by-pass valve sleeve 67, in accordance with the invention, having an intermediate annular piston section 68 provided with an external seal 69 slidably engaging within the bore 31. An internal seal 70 is carried by the sleeve 60 and slidably engages within the by-pass valve sleeve 67. Thus, it is now apparent that between the annular piston 68 and the cylinder head 65 there is defined a longitudinally extended annular pressure chamber 71 to which control fluid is admitted through an elongated passage 72 in the outer body section 21 which opens into the pressure chamber 71 at the cylinder head 65 and to which the control fluid conduit or tubing CF is connected by a suitable fitting 73. The effective pressure responsive area of the sleeve 60 in the chamber 71 is the difference between outside diameter of the sleeve 60 on which the valve sleeve 67 is disposed and the reduced diameter, upper end 62 of the sleeve 60.

The above-mentioned by-pass valve sleeve 67 is adapted to be normally held in the position shown in FIG. 2a by means of a plurality of upwardly extended, normally inwardly retracted but resiliently outwardly expansible collett or latch fingers 74 which have inwardly extended lugs 75 at their upper ends engageable with an outwardly projecting shoulder 76 on the sleeve 60. Beneath the piston section 68, the by-pass valve sleeve 67 has a suitable number of radial by-pass ports 77 which in one position of the sleeve 67, as seen in FIG. 2a, are spaced above a suitable number of radial ports 78 in the sleeve 60, but in a second position, as seen in FIG. 4a, when the latch fingers 74 are released and the by-pass valve sleeve 67 has been shifted downwardly, the ports 77 and 78 are in communication. The lower unported section 79 of the by-pass valve sleeve 67 provides an inner cylindrical surface 80 engaged by upper seal ring means 81 and lower seal ring means 82 between which the ports 78 are disposed, so that, in the normal position of FIG.2a, well fluid pressure cannot by-pass the valve sleeve 67.

When the valve actuating and sealing sleeve 60 is in the position of FIGS. 2a and 2b, which is a lower position relative to the valve body 20, the valve member 46 is in the open position, and the end sealing surface 61 of the sleeve 60 is biased into engagement with the spherical surface 57 of the valve member 46 by the pressure of control fluid in the chamber 71 acting downwardly on the sleeve 60. This downward force is transmitted through the valve member 46 to the lower valve operating and sealing sleeve 53 through the sealing surface 56 at the upper end of the latter and the spherical surface 57 of the valve member 46 and compresses the spring 51. Under these circumstances, the ball valve member 46 is in the open position, and the relationship of the ball valve actuating pins 44 and the slot 45, previously referred to, is best seen in FIG. 6, it being understood that the ball valve member 46 has identical slots 45 at its opposite sides engaged by diametrically opposite pins. More particularly, the ball valve member 46 on each of its opposite sides has a chordal flat surface 90 adjacent to the diametrically opposite bars 43 of the ball carrier 40. The slot 45 extends radially with respect to the axis of rotation to the ball valve member 46, and in radial alignment with the slot 45, a stop lug 91 projects outwardly from the flat surface 90 and provides a pair of right angularly related stop surfaces 91a and 91b. When the ball valve member 46 is in the position of FIG. 6, the stop surface 91a engages the vertical side wall 43a of the adjacent bar 43, thereby limiting rotation of the valve member 46 in the direction of the arrow to the position at which the valve is open. The stop surface 91b on the stop lug 91 engages the bar surface 43a, as shown in FIG. 5 to limit rotation of the valve member 46 to the position at which the valve is closed. Such rotation between the open and closed positions is caused by longitudinal or vertical movement of the valve member 46 within the carrier 40, the two longitudinal extremes being shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. As previously indicated and as will later be more fully described, the ball member 46 is actuated or shifted longitudinally by longitudinal movement of the upper actuator sleeve 60 and the lower actuator sleeve 53, as indicated by the arrows in FIGS. 5 and 6. The slot 45 is formed in such a manner as to cause such rotation of the valve member 46 as the latter moves vertically or longitudinally within the carrier 40. Thus, as seen in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7, the slot 45 is formed in the valve member 46 by opposed walls which are disposed at a right angle to one another and designated 45a and 45b and which respectively are parallel to the stop surfaces 91a and 91b. At the apex of the angle defined between the walls 45a and 45b, the slot opens radially inwardly at 45c. Thus, the relationship between the pin 44 and the wall 45a is such that the ball valve 46 will be rotated from the position of FIG. 5 to the position of FIG. 6 when the valve member 46 moves downwardly relative to the pin 44, and, conversely, the flat wall 45b will engage the pin 44 and rotate the ball valve member from the position of FIG. 6 to the position of FIG. 5 upon upward movement of the valve member 46. However, it will be noted that when the valve member 46 is in the position of FIG. 5, the pin 44 clears the flat wall 45b so as to allow freedom of longitudinal movement of the ball valve 46 after the stop surface 91b engages the bar wall 43a, and correspondingly limited free downward movement of the ball valve 46 is permitted when the ball valve is open, as seen in FIG. 6, and the pin 44 clears the slot wall 45a when the stop surface 91a engages the side wall 43a of the bar 43. Such free or lost motion connection of the ball valve 46 and the rotating pin 44 relieves the connection of damaging forces when the ball valve is in either of its closed or opened positions.

The operation of the form of the invention described above is as follows:

The tubing string T with the valve assembly V installed therein is run into the well to the desired location, the packer 10 sealing off the annulus between the tubing and the casing C and the control fluid conduit is simultaneously run into the well with the tubing T. Under normal conditions, the valve assembly V will be in the condition shown in FIGS. 3a through 3c, as it is being run into the well, wherein the actuator spring 51 biases the actuator and valve seating sleeve member 53 upwardly into sealing engagement with the ball valve 46, so that the latter is held by the force of the spring 51 in the closed position of FIG. 5. Upward movement of the upper actuator sleeve 60 is limited by engagement of the upper end of the piston 66 in the control fluid pressure chamber 71 with the cylinder head 65, and the ball valve 46 is therefore compressively engaged between the lower actuator sleeve 43 and the upper actuator sleeve 60 under the influence of the spring 51 and the differential pressure caused by fluid in the well acting on the differential pressure responsive area of the lower actuator sleeve 53 when its sealing surface 56 is in sealing engagement with the ball valve 46.

When it is desired that the subsurface valve be opened to enable the well to be produced, control fluid pressure is introduced into the chamber 71 via the control fluid tubing CF from the source 11. Such control fluid pressure acts on the piston 68 of the by-pass valve sleeve 67 to force the latter downwardly from the position of FIG. 3a to the position of FIG. 4a. The control fluid pressure acting on the piston 68 overcomes the resilient latch fingers 74 causing them to be cammed outwardly and released from the shoulder 76. When the by-pass valve ports 77 in the valve sleeve 67 and 78 in the actuator sleeve 60 are in registry, fluid communication is established through the longitudinal passages 55 in the lower body section 26 and around the exterior of the ball valve 46, through the open by-pass valve means, and into the tubing T above the closed ball valve 46. Thus, when the fluid in the tubing T is equalized below and above the ball valve 46, shifting of the latter from the closed position to the open position is facilitated and frictional co-engagement of the sealing sleeve surfaces 56 and 61 with the sealing surface 57 of the ball valve 46 is substantially reduced.

Thereupon, to open the ball valve 46, control fluid pressure in the control fluid pressure chamber 71 may be increased, to overcome friction, if necessary, so as to act upon the piston area of the actuator sleeve 60 to force the latter downwardly from the position of FIG. 4a to the position of FIG. 2a. During such downward movement, the by-pass valve 67 is prevented from moving further downwardly by abutting engagement with the ends 34 of the circumferentially spaced stop fingers 33. As the sleeve 60 moves downwardly, the ball valve 46 will be moved correspondingly downwardly, and when the wall 45a of the respective slot 45 contacts the stationary actuator pins 44, the ball valve 46 will then be rotated counterclockwise until the stop surface 91a contacts the stop wall 43a of the ball valve carrier 40, at which time, as seen in FIG. 6, the flat wall 45a and the pin 44 are cleared for enabling all of the longitudinal forces to be transmitted from the actuator sleeve 60 through the sealing surfaces 61, 57 and 56 and applied to the spring 51, without applying any of such force to the ball valve rotating pin and slot means. The well may then be produced so long as the pressure in the control fluid pressure chamber 71 causes a downward force on the sleeve 60 which exceeds the opposing upward force caused by the combination of the spring 51 and pressure acting on the lower actuating sleeve 53.

If, for whatever reason, control fluid pressure is reduced, say by reason of damage occurring to the control fluid conduit CF between the valve assembly V and the platform P, or if it is desired, for some other reason control fluid pressure is reduced to shut the well in, then the spring 51 and well fluid pressure will act upwardly on the lower actuator sleeve 53, overcoming the remaining downward force caused by control fluid pressure. As the actuator sleeve 53 moves the ball valve 46 upwardly, the pins 44 will contact the respective flat walls 45b of the slots 45, to cause rotation of the valve 46 in a clockwise direction, from the position of FIG. 6 to the position of FIG. 5, until the stop surface 91b on the ball valve 46 contacts the stop surface 43a on the ball carrier 40. Thereafter, the closed ball valve and the respective actuator sleeves 53 and 60 may move upwardly until the piston 66 contacts the cylinder head 65, and thereupon the ball valve 46 will be compressively engaged between the actuator sleeves 53 and 60 under the influence of the spring 51 and the well fluid pressure below the valve assembly.

It will be apparent from the foregoing, that the force of the spring 51 required to automatically close the valve, to some extent, depends upon the depth of the well at which the valve assembly V is located, i.e., on the hydrostatic pressure of the column of control fluid above the valve assembly. Thus, the spring 51 in the above-described embodiment must be strong enough to overcome the hydrostatic head of the control fluid. A modified form of the invention is shown in FIGS. 10a through 10e enabling the use of one or more supplemental springs located above the ball valve and acting to assist in overcoming the hydrostatic pressure of control fluid, with the result that the force of the spring below the ball valve may be significantly reduced, so as to merely move the lower actuator sleeve 53 against the ball valve with sufficient force to rotate the ball 46 to a closed position, when the upper actuator sleeve 60 moves upwardly, and to maintain initial sealing contact between the ball and actuator sleeve sealing surfaces. As shown in FIGS. 10c, 10d and 10e, the by-pass valve means, the ball valve means, the respective actuator sleeves, and the lower spring all correspond to the embodiment described above, and therefore the same reference characters are applied.

However, it will be noted that above the by-pass valve sleeve 67, the upper body section 21 and the upper valve actuator sleeve 60 are modified and are composed of modules or spring units respectively including an outer tubular body 121 and an inner tubular body 160. More particularly, the body section 21, as seen in FIGS. 10a through 10c, is provided with an externally threaded neck 122 to which is connected an upwardly extended outer sleeve section 123, at the upper end of which is an externally threaded neck 124. The body 121 then includes an uppermost section 125 threaded to the neck 124 and having at its upper end the control pressure fluid inlet 172 connected by the control pressure fitting 173 to the control fluid conduit CF. The inner sleeve or body assembly 160 includes a lower tubular member 160a which is threadedly connected at 161 to the upper end of the sleeve 60 and extends upwardly within the outer body section 123 to define an annular space 126 therebetween. Within this annular space 126, is a coiled compression spring 151 interposed between the upwardly facing end 128 of the threaded neck 122 and a downwardly facing shoulder 129 on an internally threaded coupling end 130 of the member 160a.

Threaded into the coupling end 130 of the inner body member 160a is an upwardly extending tubular section 160b, this member 160b having at its upper end an enlarged end section 160c providing a downwardly facing shoulder 160d which is opposed to the upper end 124b of the neck 124 of the outer body section 123. Between the shoulders 160b and 124b is another coiled compression spring 251 which exerts a force upwardly on the actuating sleeve extension 160. Disposed within a bore 174 within the end 160c of the sleeve extension 160b, there is slidably engaged a sealing sleeve 175 engaged by a side ring seal 166 carried by the sleeve 160c. At its upper end, the sealing sleeve 175 has an outwardly extended shoulder 177 which seats on an internal shoulder 178 within the upper body extension 125, another side ring seal 179 engaging the sealing sleeve 175 to confine control fluid pressure within the annular space 180 containing the spring 251. In this embodiment, the tubing T is connected at 181 to a connector sub 182 which is threaded, as at 183, into the upper end of the upper, outer body extension 125. Accordingly, it will now be seen that the control fluid inlet 172 communicates with the annular space 180 and through the neck 124 with the annular space 126 which in turn communicates through the neck 122 with the by-pass valve piston chamber to expose the by-pass valve piston 68, as seen in FIG. 10c, to control fluid pressure and the piston area of the actuator sleeve 60 is responsive to the pressure of control fluid to provide a downward force to overcome the combined force of the springs 51, 151 and 251. Thus, the spring 51 below the ball valve 46 need not be so strong as to overcome the hydrostatic pressure of the control fluid. When the valve assembly V is to be utilized in deeper locations in the well bore where the control fluid pressure is greater, then additional spring modules comprising an inner actuator sleeve extension and an outer body extension, as well as a compression spring, may be employed.

The subsurface shutoff valve invention may also be incorporated in an assembly which is adapted to be run into the well and retrieved on a wireline tool, such an assembly being shown in FIGS. 11a through 11f.

In this embodiment, the production pipe T has a landing and seating nipple 300 threadedly connected at 301 and 302 in the pipe T. The seating nipple 300 has an inner cylindrical wall 303 and an inlet passage 304 leads into the nipple from a connector 305 to which control fluid is supplied from the control fluid conduit CF. Adjacent to its upper end, the nipple 300 has an internal annular groove 306 which is between a lower landing shoulder 307 which faces upwardly and a downwardly facing opposed shoulder 308. A mandrel 309 has a running and recovery neck 310 connected to its upper end at 311 and is connected at 312 to an enlongated tubular body 313.

This body 313 has an upper outwardly projecting shoulder 314 opposed to the lower end 315 of the mandrel 309 and forming an annular groove which receives packing means 316a, in the illustrated form of conventional chevron packing, to form a seal with the bore 303 above the inlet 304. Below the inlet 304, the body 313 has a downwardly facing shoulder 317 opposed to the upper end 318 of an upper, outer body section 325 to which the body 313 is threaded at 325a. Between the shoulders 317 and 318 is another packing means 316b, in the illustrated form of chevron packing, adapted to sealingly engage in the bore 303 below the inlet 304. These packings 316a and 316b accordingly straddle the inlet 304 when the mandrel 309 is lowered into place in the bore 303 and lands with an outwardly projecting shoulder 309a engaging the above-mentioned shoulder 307 in the landing nipple 300.

Latch means 400 are provided for releasably latching the mandrel 309 in the landing nipple 300. Such latch means includes a collett latch member 401 having an upper ring 402 which is secured between an upwardly facing shoulder 403 on the mandrel 309 and the lower end 404 of the neck 310. Depending from the ring 402 is a plurality of circumferentially spaced resilient latch fingers 405 which have outwardly projecting latch lugs 406 adapted to project radially outwardly into the groove 306 in the seating nipple 300 and prevent the valve assembly from being pushed upwardly in the landing nipple by fluid pressure beneath the valve assembly when the valve is closed.

The latch fingers 405 are held in the latching position shown in FIG. 11a by an upper end ring 407 on a retainer sleeve 408 which is normally biased upwardly by a coiled spring 409 which is interposed between the end ring 407 and the upper end of the tubular body 313. However, as is well known, a wireline retrieving tool may be engaged with the recovery neck 310 to retrieve the assembly from the landing nipple 300, and such retrieving tools have a stinger engageable with the end ring 407 to shift the retainer sleeve 408 downwardly, below the lower extremities of the latch fingers 405. When the retainer is depressed, the latch fingers 405 are free to flex radially inwardly in slots 410 formed in the mandrel 309, as the assembly moves upwardly and the inclined surface 411 on the respective latch lugs 406 cams the fingers inwardly, upon engagement with the shoulder 308. Correspondingly, the lower inclined surface 412 on the latch lugs 406 are adapted to cam the latch fingers inwardly when the valve assembly is being lowered on a running tool into the seating nipple 300 and the retainer sleeve 408 is held depressed by the stinger on the running tool.

The subsurface valve assembly in this form generally corresponds to the form shown in FIGS. 10a through 10e, in that a pair of coiled compression springs 351 and 451 are operative to apply an upward force to the upper valve actuating and seating sleeve 360, and another coil spring 551 is located beneath the ball valve 346 and acts upwardly on the lower valve actuating and seating sleeve 353, and therefore, the spring 551 need not be relied upon to overcome the hydrostatic pressure in the control fluid tubing CF. In this embodiment in FIGS. na through 11f, the upper and outer body section 325 is connected by a coupling 324 to a downwardly extending outer body section 323 which is in turn connected by coupling 322 to a further downwardly extending body section 321, the latter being threadedly connected at 325b to the lower body section 326. The ball valve carrier 340 is interposed between the downwardly facing shoulder 336 in the body section 321 and the upper end 337 of the lower body section 326. The spring 551 engages an intermediate flange 352 on the lower actuator sleeve 353, and the latter has a skirt portion 353a which is slidably disposed in a lower body end and spring seat 328, so as to shroud the spring 551. The inner sleeve or valve actuator 360 has its upper end 362 axially shiftably extending into the bore 363 of the body 313 and sealingly engaged by a seal 364 to confine control pressure fluid in the chamber 371 below the seal 364, the control pressure fluid having access to the chamber 371 through a port 372 in the body 313. The inner sleeve or body assembly 360 includes a lower tubular member 360a which is threadedly connected by a connector 361 to the upper end of the sleeve 360 and extends upwardly within the outer body section 323 to define an annular space 326 therebetween. Within this annular space 326, is the coiled compression spring 351 interposed between the upwardly facing end 328 of the coupling 322 and a downwardly facing shoulder 329 on an internally threaded coupling end 330 of the member 360a.

Threaded into the coupling end 330 of the inner body member 360a is an upwardly extending tubular section 360b, this member 360b having at its upper end an enlarged end section 360c providing a downwardly facing shoulder 360d which is opposed to the upper end 324b of the neck 324 of the outer body connector 324. Between the shoulders 360b and 324b is the coiled compression spring 451.

Carried by the sleeve assembly 360 is a by-pass valve sleeve 367 having an intermediate annular piston section 368 provided with an external seal 369 slidably engaging within the bore 331 of the outer body section 321. An internal seal 370 is carried by the sleeve section 360b and slidably engages the by-pass valve sleeve 367. Thus, it is now apparent that between the annular piston 368 and the upper seal 364, there is defined a longitudinally extended annular pressure chamber 371 to which control fluid is admitted through the port 372. The effective pressure responsive area of the sleeve 360 in the chamber 371 is the difference between outside diameter of the sleeve 360b on which the valve sleeve 367 is disposed and the reduced diameter, upper end 362 of the sleeve 360b.

The above-mentioned by-pass valve sleeve 367 is adapted to be normally held in the position shown in FIG. 11e by means of a plurality of upwardly extended, normally inwardly retracted but resiliently outwardly expansible collett or latch fingers 374 which have inwardly extended lugs 375 at their upper ends engageable with an outwardly projecting shoulder 376 on the sleeve 360b. Beneath the piston section 368, the by-pass valve sleeve 367 has a suitable number of radial by-pass ports 377 which, in one position of the sleeve 367, as seen in FIG. 11e, are spaced above a suitable number of radial ports 378 in the sleeve 360b, but in a second position, when the latch fingers 374 are released and the by-pass valve sleeve 367 has been shifted downwardly, the ports 377 and 378 are in communication. The lower unported section 379 of the by-pass valve sleeve 367 provides an inner cylindrical surface 380 engaged by upper seal ring means 381 and lower seal ring means 382 between which the ports 378 are disposed, so that, in the normal position of FIG. 11e, well fluid pressure cannot by-pass the valve sleeve 367.