Title:
Downhole well valve having integrated sensors
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A valve includes a tubular valve housing, a valve seat, a valve element and a sensor. The valve seat is located in a central passageway of the housing and defines a first portion of the central passageway above the valve seat and a second portion of the central passageway below the valve seat. The valve element controls flow through the valve seat. The sensor is fixed to the housing to measure an attribute that is indicative of a state of the valve.



Inventors:
Mccalvin, David E. (Missouri City, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/635307
Publication Date:
06/12/2008
Filing Date:
12/07/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/66
International Classes:
E21B44/06
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ANDREWS, DAVID L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Schlumberger, Reservoir Completions (14910 AIRLINE ROAD, ROSHARON, TX, 77583, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A valve, comprising: a tubular valve housing having a central passageway; a valve seat located in the central passageway to define a first portion of the central passageway above the valve seat and second portion of the central passageway below the valve seat; a valve element to control flow through the valve seat; and a sensor fixed to the housing to measure an attribute indicative of a state of the valve.

2. The valve of claim 1, wherein the sensor is integrally mounted to the housing.

3. The valve of claim 1, wherein the sensor is located within the housing.

4. The valve of claim 1, wherein the sensor measures at least one of a temperature and a pressure.

5. The valve of claim 1, wherein the sensor is adapted to measure at least one of an annulus pressure and a tubing pressure.

6. The valve of claim 1, wherein the sensor is adapted to measure a pressure associated with an internal pressure chamber of the valve.

7. The valve of claim 1, wherein the sensor is part of at least two sensors adapted to indicate a state of the valve element.

8. The valve of claim 1, wherein the valve comprises a safety valve.

9. The valve of claim 1, wherein the valve comprises a formation isolation valve.

10. A system comprising: a string comprising a central passageway; a valve to control a flow between a portion of the central passageway of the string located above the valve and a portion of the central passageway of the string located below the valve; and a sensor mounted near the valve to measure an attribute indicative of a state of the valve.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein the valve comprises a housing and the string is mounted to the housing.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein the valve comprises a valve seat located in the central passageway to define the portion of the central passageway above the valve and the portion of the central passageway below the valve.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein the sensor measures a pressure of a pressurized chamber of the valve.

14. The system of claim 10, wherein the sensor indicates whether the valve is in an open state or a closed state.

15. The system of claim 10, wherein the valve comprises a formation isolation valve.

16. The system of claim 10, wherein the valve comprises a safety valve.

17. A method usable with a well, comprising: providing a valve in a central passageway of a tubular member in the well to regulate a flow through the central passageway; and using at least one sensor to monitor an attribute indicative of a state of the valve.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the using comprises using said at least one sensor to measure at least one of a pressure and a temperature associated with the valve.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the using comprises using said at least one sensor to measure conditions indicative of whether the valve is in an open state or a closed state.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the using comprises using said at least one sensor to measure a pressure of a pressurized chamber of the valve.

21. The method of claim 17, further comprising: connecting said at least one sensor to a sensor bus that extends to the surface of the well.

22. The method of claim 17, wherein the valve comprises one of a formation isolation valve and a safety valve.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The invention generally relates to a well valve that has integrated sensors.

A typical well includes various valves for such purposes as isolating formations, safeguarding against blow out conditions and regulating flows. In this regard, a typical well may include choke or sleeve valves for purposes of regulating production; safety valves that fail in the closed position for purposes of preventing a blow out; and formation isolation valves, which may be used to isolate formations after drilling before completion operations can be finished. The valves of a typical well may be remotely operated from the surface using a variety of different communication media, such as hydraulic control lines, electrical wires and well fluid.

SUMMARY

In an embodiment of the invention, a valve includes a tubular valve housing, a valve seat, a valve element and a sensor. The valve seat is located in a central passageway of the housing and defines a first portion of the central passageway above the valve seat and a second portion of the central passageway below the valve seat. The valve element controls flow through the valve seat. The sensor is fixed to the housing to measure an attribute that is indicative of a state of the valve.

In another embodiment of the invention, a system includes a string, a valve and a sensor. The valve controls a flow between a portion of the central passageway of the string located above the valve and a portion of the central passageway of the string located below the valve. The sensor is mounted near the valve to measure an attribute that is indicative of a state of the valve.

In yet another embodiment of the invention, a technique that is usable with a well includes providing a valve in a central passageway of a tubular member in the well to regulate a flow through the central passageway. The technique also includes using at least one sensor to monitor an attribute that is indicative of a state of the valve.

Advantages and other features of the invention will become apparent from the following drawing, description and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a formation isolation valve according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a sensor architecture for use with a valve according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are schematic diagrams illustrating sensors to detect the position of a valve operator according to embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram depicting a technique to use sensors to verify valve position and sealing according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram depicting a technique to use one or more sensors to verify a state of a valve according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram depicting a technique to use one or more sensors to verify an integrity of a valve according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a flow diagram depicting a technique to use one or more sensors to determine a number of operations of an operator of the valve according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a flow diagram depicting a technique to use sensors to evaluate performance of a valve according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a formation isolation valve (FWV) (also called a “barrier valve”) 10 in accordance with the invention, controls access to a particular formation below the valve. In this regard, the FIV 10 permits a string, such as an exemplary string 30, to pass through the FIV 10 to the region beneath the FIV 10 when the FIV 10 is in an open state (as depicted in FIG. 1). When the FIV 10 is in a closed state, the FIV 10 seals off communication between the region below the valve and the region above the FIV. An annular region, or annulus 11, which is located between an exterior surface of the FIV 10 and a production tubing 9 of the well may be sealed off by a packer (not shown in FIG. 1).

As described herein, the FIV 10 includes various sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66, which measure various attributes of the well and the FIV 10. Indications of these attributes are communicated to the surface of the well for purposes of verifying downhole conditions, the performance of the FIV 10 and the FIV's state, as further described below. The sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 are generally fixed to a housing 19 of the FIV 10, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, which means the valves 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and/or 66 may be, for example, integral with the housing 19 or may be located inside the housing 19.

It is noted that the FIV 10 is described herein for purposes of describing an exemplary downhole valve in accordance with embodiments of the invention. However, it is understood that valves other than an FIV valve may incorporate sensors in accordance with other embodiments of the invention. For example, a ball element 22 of the FIV 10 may be replaced with another valve element, such as a flapper element, in accordance with other embodiments of the invention. Regardless of the particular valve element, the valve element controls flow through a valve seat of the valve to control fluid communication between a first portion of a central passageway of the valve above the valve seat and a second portion of the central passageway of the valve below the valve seat. Furthermore, mechanisms other than those described herein may be used to control the FIV 10, in accordance with other embodiments of the invention. Thus, in accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the FIV 10 may be replaced by an FIV of a different design or another type of valve, such as a sleeve valve, choke, safety valve, etc.

It is noted that the well in which the FIV 10 is deployed may be used in a subterranean well or a subsea well, depending on the particular embodiment of the invention. Additionally, in accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the FIV 10 may be located outside of a production tubing.

When the FIV 10 is first set in place downhole, the ball element 22 may be opened (or alternatively, run into the wellbore) to permit the string 30 to pass through. Alternatively, the FIV 10 may be run with the string 30 already included through the ball element 22. The string 30 may include a gravel packing tool to perform gravel packing operations downhole. After the gravel packing operations are complete, the string 30 may be withdrawn from the well.

In some embodiments of the invention, after the gravel packing operation is complete, the ball element (or other type of closure mechanism) 22 is closed. In this regard, the string 30 may include a shifting tool 16 (near a lower end of the string 30) to physically close the ball element 22. More specifically, after the lower end of the string 30 is retracted above the ball element 22, a profiled section 17 of the shifting tool 16 may be used to engage the FIV 10 so that the FIV 10 may be operated in a manner to cause the ball element 22 to close. After the string 30 is withdrawn from the well and the gravel packing operations are complete, pressure tests may then be performed downhole. At the conclusion of the pressure tests, annulus pressure may be used to reopen the ball element 22.

Thus, in general, for purposes of example, the ball element 22 may be closed by action of a shifting (or other mechanical method) tool 16 and may be opened via pressure in the annulus (or other hydraulic or mechanical method) 11.

For purposes of preventing unintentional opening and closing of the ball element 22, the FIV 10 includes two index mechanisms 15 and 20, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention. The index mechanism 15 is pressure-actuated via the pressure in the annulus 11 and prevents the unintentional opening of the ball element 22 without the occurrence of a predetermined number of pressurization/de-pressurization cycles. The index mechanism 20 is actuated via physical contact between the shifting tool 16 and the FIV 10 and prevents the unintentional closing of the ball element 22 without a predetermined pattern of engagement. Without the index mechanism 20, movement of the shifting tool 16 or movement of the string 30 itself may unintentionally engage the closing mechanism of the FIV 10 to close the ball element 22 to prematurely close, a condition that may cause the string 30 to become jammed in the ball element 22, thereby preventing removal of the string 30 from the well.

The FIV 10 may include one or more valve operators for purposes of opening and closing the ball element 22. For the particular embodiment depicted in FIG. 1 and described herein, the FIV 10 includes two such valve operators: an operator mandrel 12 and a ball valve operator mandrel 14. It is noted that depending on the particular embodiment of the invention, the valve may include a single operator or may include more than two valve operators. Thus, other variations are possible and are within the scope of the appended claims.

The operator mandrel 12 is constructed to move up (as an example) in response to applied tubing pressure (i.e., pressure in the central passageway of the production string 16) and move down when the pressure is released. The travel of the operator mandrel 12 is limited by the index mechanism 15 until a predetermined number of cycles occur in which the tubing pressure increases and then decreases. After the predetermined number of cycles, the index mechanism 15 permits the mandrel 12 to travel downwardly to contact a collet actuator 13 that is connected to the ball valve operator mandrel 14. This contact causes downward travel of the ball valve operator 14, a movement that operates the ball element 22 to cause the ball element 22 to open.

For purposes of closing the ball element 22 via the shifting tool 16, the profile 17 of the shifting tool 16 engages the collet actuator 13 to force the collet actuator up and down. On each upward stroke, the collet actuator 13 disengages from the mandrel 14. When the mandrel 14 moves up by a sufficient distance, the ball valve operator mandrel 14 closes the ball element 22. However, the upward travel of the ball valve operator mandrel 14 is limited by the index mechanism 20 until the shifting tool 16 forces the collet actuator 13 up and down for a predetermined number of cycles. After the cycles occur, the mandrel 14 engages with the collet actuator 13 on the downstroke of the actuator 13 and remains engaged with the actuator 13 on the upstroke, thereby permitting the shifting tool 16 to lift the mandrel up for a sufficient distance to close the ball element 22.

More details regarding the FIV 10 that is depicted in FIG. 1 may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,662,877, entitled “FORMATION ISOLATION VALVE,” which granted on Dec. 16, 2003, is commonly assigned to the same assignee as the present application and is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Referring to FIG. 2, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, the sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 form part of a integrated sensor architecture 90 for the well. In this regard, the sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 may be connected to a telemetry interface 92 for purposes of communicating measured data from the sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 to a surface data acquisition system computer 110. The surface computer 110 may be connected to the telemetry interface 92 via a serial bus 96 in accordance with some embodiments of the invention. However, it is noted that in other embodiments of the invention, other telemetry techniques may be used for purposes of communicating the sensor measurements uphole. Furthermore, in other embodiments of the invention, each sensor 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 may be connected directly to the serial bus 96 and thus, may include its own telemetry interface, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention.

It is noted that the downhole equipment may include additional sensors that are not associated with the valve, which are represented by reference numeral 100. For example, other downhole components, such as packers, may include sensors that communicate data to the well surface, as well as additional sensors that are located downhole for purposes of measuring various temperatures, pressures, etc.

In accordance with some embodiments of the invention, one or more of the sensors of the FIV 10 may be used to measure the tubing condition both above and below the ball element 22. Thus, referring to FIG. 5 in conjunction with FIG. 1, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, a technique 150 includes measuring (block 152) static and dynamic well attributes above and below the ball element 22. These measurements may be used to verify valve position and the condition of the valve sealing, pursuant to block 154.

As a more specific example, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, the sensor 50 may be used, for example, to measure the pressure in the production string 16 above the ball element 22; and the pressure or temperature (as examples) above the ball element 22, and the sensor 52 may be used to measure the pressure or temperature (as examples) below the ball element 22. As shown in FIG. 1, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, the sensors 50 and 52 may be integrated with and thus, may be mounted to a pressure housing 19 of the FIV 10.

Referring to FIG. 6 in conjunction with FIG. 1, as another example, one or more sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 of the FIV 10 may be used for purposes of determining whether the ball element 22 is fully opened, fully closed or at an intermediate position. In this regard, pursuant to a technique 170, the position(s) of the valve's operators are measured (block 174), and these measurements are used (block 178) to verify whether the FIV 10 is fully opened or fully closed.

As a more specific example, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, the sensor 54 measures a position of the valve operator mandrel 14. As shown, the sensor 54 may be integrated into the housing 19, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention. Many possible embodiments of the sensor 54 are possible and are within the scope of the appended claims. As examples, FIG. 3 depicts an embodiment of the sensor 54, which includes a coil 80, which is integrated in the housing 19 for purposes of measuring the position of the ball valve operator mandrel 14. In this regard, when the ball valve operator mandrel 14 is allowed to move downwardly by the index mechanism 20 and thus, open the ball valve element 22, the flux path of the coil 80 changes due to the presence of the lower end of the mandrel 14, which indicates the fully open state.

As another example of a possible embodiment of the invention, the lower end of the valve operator 14 may include a protrusion 86, which resides in a slot 84 of the housing 19, as depicted in FIG. 4. In this regard, when the protrusion 86 reaches the end of the slot 84, contact may be made with an electrical/electronic switch (not shown in FIG. 4) to indicate opening of the ball valve element 22.

It is noted that FIGS. 3 and 4 depict two of the many possible embodiments of a sensor to detect the position of a valve operator in accordance with the many different and possible embodiments of the invention. Thus, other mechanical, electrical and optical devices may be used to detect and verify the position of a valve operator, in accordance with the many possible embodiments of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, the sensor 56 may be used for purposes of detecting when the ball valve element 22 is in its fully closed position. In this regard, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, the sensor 56 may be integrated with the pressure housing 19 and located at a position above the collet actuator mandrel 13, when the ball element 22 is open. However, when the index mechanism 20 allows the collet actuator mandrel 13 to move upwardly to fully close the ball valve element 22, the sensor 56 provides an indication of the detection of this position. The sensor 56 may have a similar design to the sensor 54 and thus, may take on any of the forms described above for the sensor 54, in accordance with the many different possible embodiments of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 7 in conjunction with FIG. 1, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, a technique 180 includes using one or more sensors to measure attributes (pressures and temperatures, for example) of control fluids, pursuant to block 182. Thus, for the specific FIV 10 that is described herein, one or more sensors may be used for purposes of measuring a pressure (as an example) of fluid that is communicated through the production string 16. Due to these measurements, the measurements may then be used (block 186) to verify the integrity of the FIV 10. Thus, one or more sensors may measure the pressure and/or temperature of the annulus, tubing pressure or control lines, as applicable to the particular valve being used. The sensors provide the data to invalidate or validate whether the applied pressures from the surface are being communicated to the valve to cause the intended operation(s) to occur.

As yet another example of the application of sensors to a downhole valve, a technique 190 may be used for purposes of measuring the operational position of a valve operating mechanism. In this regard, referring to FIG. 8 in conjunction with FIG. 1, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, a technique 190 includes measuring the number of operations of a valve operator at a valve, pursuant to block 194. These measurements are then used, pursuant to block 196 to verify the state of the valve. Thus, due to the inclusion of the index mechanisms 15 and 20, a number of mechanical and/or pressure cycles may be used for purposes of opening and closing the ball valve element 22. In this regard, as described above, the shifting tool 16 may be used to close the valve via a number of up and down mechanical cycles; and tubing pressure may be used via a number of pressurization/de-pressurization cycles for purposes of opening the valve. It may be challenging at the surface of the well to verify whether the number of mechanical or pressurization cycles have been performed, as the operator at the surface of the well may lose count of the number of mechanical or pressurization cycles; sufficient mechanical movement or pressurization/de-pressurization, etc. did not occur to account for a particular cycle; etc.

Because one or more sensors are used to measure the operations at the valve, the number of cycles may then be accurately determined at the surface. As a more specific example, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, the FIV 10 may include a sensor 64 that measures the position of the operator mandrel 12. In this regard, on each pressure cycle, the position of the mandrel 12 may incrementally change, and this position may be detected by the sensor 64, which is embedded in the pressure housing 19 below the lower end of the operator mandrel 12. The sensor 64 may have a similar design to the sensors 54 and 56 discussed above. Additionally, the sensor 66 may be located above the upper end of the collet actuator 13 for purposes of counting cycles of the actuator 13. In this regard, on each mechanical cycle induced by action of the shifting tool 16, the sensor 66, which is embedded in the pressure housing 19, verifies when the collet actuator 13 reaches the uppermost point of travel for each cycle.

Referring to FIG. 9 in conjunction with FIG. 1, in accordance with embodiments of the invention described herein, all of the above-described sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66 may be used in general to evaluate the integrity of the well by comparing measurements with predicted or previously-performed measurements associated with a valve that performs as intended. More specifically, a technique 200 may include measuring attributes of a valve and well, pursuant to block 204, such as measuring the attributes disclosed herein with the sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66. The measurements are then compared (block 208) with known or predicted measurements and then corrected action may be taken (block 212) based on the comparison. For example, secondary or contingency tools may be run downhole and/or operated based on the results of the comparison. In this regard, using this comparison, downhole obstructions, debris accumulations, particular friction adders and other downhole issues, which may potentially interfere with the proper operation of the FIV 10, may be identified. Thus, by monitoring the signals provided by the sensors 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64 and 66, the control facility at the surface of the well may be assured of the proper operation of the FIV 10 and enhance the ability to troubleshoot the entire well system.

While terms of orientation and direction, such as “up,” “down,” “vertical,” etc. have been used for reasons of convenience to describe exemplary embodiments of the invention, it is understood that such directions and orientations are not necessary in order to practice the claimed invention. For example, in accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the operator mandrel 12 may be constructed to move down in response to applied tubing pressure and move up when the pressure is released. As another example, a valve in accordance with embodiments of the invention may be located in a lateral wellbore. Thus, many variations are contemplated and are within the scope of the appended claims.

While the present invention has been described with respect to a limited number of embodiments, those skilled in the art, having the benefit of this disclosure, will appreciate numerous modifications and variations therefrom. It is intended that the appended claims cover all such modifications and variations as fall within the true spirit and scope of this present invention.