Title:
Hydrocarbon production system and method of use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The purpose of the method of the present invention is to provide an improved method and an improved apparatus, to displace light, medium, or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may be contaminated with earthen solids, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities on ground surface, by means of oil well production. The method is intended for use in cold primary hydrocarbon production or thermally stimulated hydrocarbon production from vertical, slant, whipstocked, or horizontal oil wells. The production system does not employ moving subsurface mechanical components.



Inventors:
Uttley, Dennis Franklin (LLoydminster, CA)
Application Number:
11/803176
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
05/14/2007
Assignee:
Uttley, Dennis Franklin (LLoydminster, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/255.2, 166/263, 166/301
International Classes:
E21B43/00; E21B31/00; E21B47/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COY, NICOLE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dennis, Uttley (P. O. Box 10565, LLoydminster, AB, T9V 3A6, omitted)
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. A method of displacing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of an oil well, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface, comprising the steps of; measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure; determining the hydrocarbon fluid altitude to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production; placing a subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string within the wellbore, with an upper connection to the wellhead, and extending the lower open end to the desired lower wellbore depth; providing a subsurface compressed gas communication port to feed compressed gas into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, at the elevation of the hydrocarbon fluid level to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production; permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure, to pressurize it's output of hydrocarbon fluid into and through the lower open end of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, and up to an elevation therein, above the compressed gas communication port; feeding a stream of compressed gas, having sufficient volume and pressure, into the compressed gas communication port; permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants to mix and combine with the stream of compressed gas, within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string; permitting the combined mixture of hydrocarbon fluid, contaminants and compressed gas, to decompress within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, and form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream therein; permitting the hydrocarbon production stream to decompress and displace, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the very low pressure zone within the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface; continuing the production cycle; venting or recovering gas from the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface; providing means to recover hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants from the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface.

2. A method of displacing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of an oil well, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface, comprising the steps of; measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure; determining the hydrocarbon fluid altitude to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production; installing an annular casing packer to isolate the lower wellbore from the upper wellbore, at a suitable point below the altitude of the hydrocarbon fluid level to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, during hydrocarbon fluid production; placing a subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string within the wellbore and through the annular casing packer, with an upper connection to the wellhead, and extending the lower open end to the desired lower wellbore depth; providing a subsurface compressed gas communication port to feed compressed gas into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, at the elevation of the hydrocarbon fluid level to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production; permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure, to pressurize it's output of hydrocarbon fluid into and through the lower open end of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, and up to an elevation therein, above the compressed gas communication port; feeding a stream of compressed gas, having sufficient volume and pressure, into the compressed gas communication port; permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants to mix and combine with the stream of compressed gas, within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string; permitting the combined mixture of hydrocarbon fluid, contaminants and compressed gas, to decompress within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, and form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream therein; permitting the hydrocarbon production stream to decompress and displace, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the very low pressure zone within the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface; continuing the production cycle; venting or recovering gas from the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface; providing means to recover hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants from the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface.

3. A method of displacing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants, including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir depth of an oil well, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface, comprising the steps of; measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure; determining the altitude of the hydrocarbon fluid level to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production; providing and installing an annular casing packer to isolate the lower wellbore from the upper wellbore, at a near point below the altitude of the hydrocarbon fluid level to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, during hydrocarbon fluid production; placing a pickup tubing string into the lower wellbore, with an upper connection to the annular casing packer, and extending the lower end to the desired altitude of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir; placing a subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string within the upper wellbore, with an upper connection to the wellhead, and extending the lower end to a near point above the annular casing packer; providing surface flow line means, to dispose hydrocarbon production fluid from the wellhead's hydrocarbon production fluid output connection, into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface; permitting the sufficient pressure of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, to pressurize hydrocarbon fluid from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, through the casing perforations, into and through the lower wellbore, and into and through the lower open end of the pickup tubing string, and up through the pickup tubing string, and into the upper wellbore above the annular casing packer, and up into the lower open end of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string; feeding a stream of compressed gas into and through the lower open end of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string; permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid and the stream of compressed gas to mix, combine, and decompress within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream within the subsurface production hydrocarbon tubing string; permitting the hydrocarbon production stream to flow, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the lower pressure zone of the hydrocarbon production fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface; permitting the increased velocity of the hydrocarbon production stream, to entrain and carry all components of itself, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the lower pressure zone within the hydrocarbon production fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface; separating gas from the hydrocarbon fluid; venting gas from the hydrocarbon production fluid storage tank or other facilities at surface; continuing the hydrocarbon production operation for a period of time; recovering hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants thereof, from the hydrocarbon production fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface.

4. A method of displacing significant production volumes of light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants, including earthen solids, water or natural gas, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of an oil well, up into the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to an elevation above the compressed gas communication port, the without the use of a subsurface production pump or vacuum, comprising the steps of; providing the method of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3; permitting the sufficient subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure, to pressurize a stream of hydrocarbon fluid from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, through the casing perforations, and into the lower wellbore, and into and through the lower open end of, and up into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to a point above the compressed gas communication port.

5. A method of displacing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants, including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from the subterranean depth of an oil well's compressed gas communication port, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground providing the method of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3; ensuring the compressed gas fed into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string is of sufficient volume and pressure to entrain and carry the stream of hydrocarbon fluid through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string and surface flow line, and into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface, at a velocity above the terminal settling rate of hydrocarbon globules, water droplets and earthen solids.

6. A method of displacing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain water, natural gas, or earthen solids, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir depth of an oil well, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface, by means of hydrocarbon production system having a subsurface first production lifting stage, and a subsurface second production lifting stage, comprising the steps of; providing the method of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3.

7. A method to maintain a predetermined and constant hydrocarbon fluid head pressure above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir during oil well production periods, for the purpose of preventing excessive subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output flow rates that may cause subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir damage, resulting in excessive or economically prohibitive production of water, earthen solids, natural gas, or any combination thereof, comprising the steps of; providing the method of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3; ensuring the compressed gas communication port is placed and connected at the correct altitude, to the subsurface production tubing string.

8. A method to prevent earthen solids accumulations and subsequent blockages, from occurring within the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, or pick-up tubing sting, comprising the steps of; providing the method of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3; ensuring the inside diameter of the production tubing located between the compressed gas communication port and subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, is correctly sized to permit the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir's volumetric output to flow through that section of tubing, at a velocity above the terminal settling rate of the hydrocarbon fluid's solid earthen contaminants.

9. A compressed gas flow reversing device, for the purpose of reducing the compressed gas feed pressure exerted against the output of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir within that portion of the tubing located below the compressed gas communication port, and for the purpose of reducing solids abrasion within the inner subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing wall, at the point of compressed gas entry, by following the steps of; removing the compressed gas communication port from the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, and replacing it with the gas flow reversing device; operating the hydrocarbon production system normally.

10. A method of placing subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir treating chemicals, sand suspension chemicals, or other work fluids, or carrier gas, or carrier gas and chemicals, into exact points of an oil well's lower wellbore or subsurface tubing, in order to perform a task, without the need to displace subsurface production equipment, comprising the steps of; providing the method and apparatus of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3; inserting a small diameter tubing string of sufficient length, into and through the wellhead access, and into and through the subsurface tubing, to the desired points of the wellbore or subsurface tubing; pumping reservoir treating chemicals, sand suspension chemicals, or other work fluids, or carrier gas, or carrier gas and chemicals, into the exact points of the oil well's subsurface tubing or lower wellbore, as desired; removing the small diameter tubing string after task completion, and replacing the wellhead access plug.

11. A method of placing small tools into exact points of an oil well's subsurface tubing string or lower wellbore, and removing the same, without the need to displace subsurface production equipment, comprising the steps of; providing the method and apparatus of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3, to the oil well; inserting the tool, by means of a small diameter tubing string or wire-line, into and through the: wellhead access, and into the desired points of the subsurface tubing or wellbore; employing or setting the tool; withdrawing the tubing string or wire-line, with or without the tool, as desired, from the oil well, after use; replacing the wellhead access plug.

12. A method of displacing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants, including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of an oil well, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface, by oil well means, without the use of activated subsurface mechanical equipment during the hydrocarbon production operation, comprising the steps of; providing the method and apparatus of claim 1 or claim 2 or claim 3.

13. A method to utilize the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output of natural gas to assist in preventing earthen solids from accumulating and building fluid blockages within the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, by following the steps of, providing the method of claim 1;-or claim 2, to the oil well; isolating the upper wellbore from the lower wellbore, by means of an annular casing packer; installing the annular casing packer within the wellbore at an appropriate desired point below the compressed gas communication port; installing the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string with fluid communication connections through the annular casing packer, and extending the lower open end to the desired wellbore depth; permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to pressurize it's output of hydrocarbon fluid, water and solid earthen contaminants, into and through the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to a point above the compressed gas communication port; permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to pressurize it's considerable volumetric output of natural gas, into and through the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to the subsurface elevation of the compressed gas communication port, thereby increasing the flow of hydrocarbon fluid and earthen solids through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, at an increased velocity above the terminal settling rate of the earthen solids.

14. A method to utilize the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output of natural gas to assist in preventing earthen solids from accumulating and building fluid blockages within the subsurface pick-up tubing string, by following the steps of, providing the method of claim 3, to the oil well; isolating the upper wellbore from the lower wellbore, by means of an annular casing packer; installing the annular casing packer within the wellbore at an appropriate desired point below the compressed gas communication port; installing the subsurface pick-up tubing tubing string with a fluid communication connection through the annular casing packer, and extending the lower open end to the desired wellbore depth; permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to pressurize it's output of hydrocarbon fluid, water and solid earthen contaminants, into and through the lower subsurface pick-up tubing string, to a point above the compressed gas communication port; permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to pressurize it's considerable volumetric output of natural gas, into and through the subsurface pick-up tubing string, to the subsurface elevation of the compressed gas communication port, thereby increasing the flow of hydrocarbon fluid and earthen solids through the subsurface pick-up tubing string, at an increased velocity above the terminal settling rate of the earthen solids.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The purpose of the method of the present invention is to provide an improved method and an improved apparatus, to displace light, medium, or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may be contaminated with earthen solids, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities on ground surface, by means of oil well production. The method is intended for use in cold primary hydrocarbon production or thermally stimulated hydrocarbon production from vertical, slant, whipstocked, or horizontal oil wells. The production system does not employ moving subsurface mechanical components.

The method of the present invention provides a two stage subsurface production apparatus that is placed within the wellbore. Geophysical subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure is utilized to force hydrocarbon fluid from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, and into a subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string. A stream of compressed gas supplied from a source at surface is fed into an upper second stage of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string at an appropriate wellbore elevation. The stream of hydrocarbon fluid and the stream of compressed gas mix, combine, and decompress within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream, that entrains and carries all components of itself, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the hydrocarbon production storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface, by means of the gas pressure differential.

DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

Production of the more viscous hydrocarbon fluid being extracted from subterranean hydrocarbon reservoirs in North America and around the world is more expensive and time consuming than the production of lighter or less viscous hydrocarbon fluid. More pumping horsepower is required in cold primary hydrocarbon production due to the resistant fluid flow properties of the viscous hydrocarbon fluid flowing through the conduits, and the subsurface sucker rod driven plunger pumps must be operated at a slower speed, due to the additional time required for the sucker rods to fall through the viscous hydrocarbon fluid column, to the bottom of the plunger pump stroke. Use of progressing cavity pumps can provide an improvement of hydrocarbon production fluid volume in less time, but progressing cavity pumps have a short service life due to the high pumping pressure encountered when pumping the more viscous hydrocarbon fluid, and their use is limited to cold hydrocarbon fluid production and lesser pressures.

When displacing any grade of light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid from the subterranean depths of unconsolidated, or poorly consolidated oilsands reservoirs, or reservoirs yielding other types of solid earthen contaminants, by means of cold primary hydrocarbon production or thermally stimulated hydrocarbon production, the subsurface production pump, sometimes referred to as the bottom hole pump, pumps hydrocarbon fluid and any accompanying sands or rock fragments into the bottom end of, and up the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, where, over time, the earthen solids precipitate from the rising fluid column and accumulate therein, until fluid blockages are formed, and hydrocarbon production is thereby terminated. When using bottom hole pumps, the rules of fluid mechanics define how long it will take for an oil well displacing a given quality of solids contaminated hydrocarbon fluid to develop fluid blockages. To illustrate, some oil well operators in the Canadian Oilsands often preform scheduled flushbys to prevent oil well shutdowns, due to expected sand blockages, at expected times.

When producing light, medium, or viscous hydrocarbon fluid containing solid earthen contaminants such as sand, small rocks or rock fragments, the service life of subsurface production pumps, sucker rods and production tubing may be dramatically shortened, due to metal and stator material loss caused by friction and the grinding action of the earthen solids caught between moving metal components.

Tail joints, sometimes referred to as pick-up joints, are often installed below subsurface reciprocating plunger pumps, progressing cavity pumps, or other pumps, in attempts to prevent gas locking, slowed production, or pump damage due to the passage of excessive volumes of natural gas through the subsurface production pumps. Within oil wells producing earthen solids, tail joints installed below the subsurface production pump tend to become plugged with earthen solids, and terminate hydrocarbon production. The earthen solids must be removed from the tail joint before hydrocarbon production can be restarted. In most cases, this requires the use of a service rig to remove the subsurface production tubing, pump and tail joint for cleaning at surface.

In Canada, millions of barrels of heavy oil reserves are lost each year, as the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoirs are damaged and rendered economically non-producible, due to excessive hydrocarbon production rates that result in excessive or prohibitive water production, and/or solids production, and/or natural gas production. Excessive hydrocarbon production rates result in low wellbore fluid levels having insufficient hydrostatic fluid head pressure to regulate the expulsion of subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir materials. Under these conditions, water and/or natural gas find and create free-flowing passages for themselves through the reservoir and into the wellbore, in volumes that prohibit or retard hydrocarbon flow into the wellbore. In other cases, over-production of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir initiates loosening of greater amounts of earthen solids that are entrained and carried by the flow of hydrocarbon and/or water, into the wellbore, and into the production pumping apparatus. After the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir is thus damaged, in some cases, excessive water production may be reversed to a degree, but in most cases, the damage cannot be repaired or reversed, and the oil wells are sold or abandoned.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

More particularly, In accordance with one aspect of this invention, there is provided a cased oil well, a pressurized subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, and a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface, the improvement comprising a subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string adapted to receive hydrocarbon production fluid including water, natural gas and solid earthen contaminants, from the pressurized subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string's lower open end, and a compressed gas communication port adapted to feed compressed gas into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, through a connection located at an appropriate elevation of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, and including;

means to convey the pressurized subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output into and through the lower open end of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to a point above the elevation of the compressed gas communication port;

means to feed compressed gas from a supply at surface, into and through the compressed gas communication port, at the hydrocarbon fluid altitude, or fluid level, to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production, and into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface;

a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface, for receiving the hydrocarbon production fluid output of the oil well, and for holding, separating, and disposing the spent compressed gas, natural gas, hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants.

In another aspect of the present invention, there is provided an improvement in a method of displacing light, medium or viscous grades of hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to surface storage by means of oil well production, which method includes the steps of;

measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure, and determining the hydrocarbon fluid altitude, or fluid level, to be maintained above the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir of the oil well during hydrocarbon fluid production; installing the compressed gas communication port at that elevation;

permitting the natural or artificial reservoir pressure of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, to pressurize it's output of hydrocarbon fluid through the casing perforations, lower wellbore, and into the lower open end of, and up into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to a point above the elevation of the compressed gas communication port;

feeding compressed gas from a source at surface, through the compressed gas communication port, into and through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, into and through the wellhead, into and through the surface flow line, and into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface; permitting the hydrocarbon fluid, water, natural gas and solid contaminants, to mix and combine with the stream of compressed gas, within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string; permitting the combined mixture to decompress within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream;

permitting the hydrocarbon production stream to displace through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the very low pressure volume within the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface, by means of the gas pressure differential; venting or recovering gas from the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility on surface; continuing the production cycle; providing a means to separate hydrocarbon fluid and gas; providing means to recover hydrocarbon fluid and any contaminants from the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface.

In the present system and method, use is made of the fact that a subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, having sufficient geophysical or artificial pressure, will pressurize a stream of hydrocarbon fluid, water, natural gas, and solid earthen contaminants, through the casing perforations, through the lower wellbore, and into and up through the lower open end of a subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string of lower internal pressure. Use is also made of the fact that a stream of compressed gas of sufficient volume and pressure, can be employed to entrain and carry viscous fluid volumes, earthen particulates and rock fragments, at considerable velocities, through horizontal, vertical, or inclined conduits.

When the stream of hydrocarbon fluid, natural gas, water and solids from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, and the stream of compressed gas, having sufficient volume and pressure, meet within the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, the hydrocarbon fluid, earthen contaminants, water, and combined decompressing gases, form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream, that is forced and displaced, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wellhead, surface flow line, and into the very low pressure volume of the hydrocarbon production storage tank or other handling facilities at ground surface.

In practice, the method of the present invention utilizes geophysical subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure, to pressurize a supply of it's hydrocarbon fluid, including water, natural gas and solid earthen contaminants, if any, into and through the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to create a hydrocarbon fluid column within the lower subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, wherein the hydrocarbon fluid head pressure may, if the oil well is not in production, equalize to the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure. During operation, compressed gas is fed through the compressed gas communication port, which is placed and connected at a calculated elevation, to the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, to create and feed a stream of low density, high velocity gas through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, for the purpose of entraining and carrying the hydrocarbon production fluid and all components thereof, through the upper subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, into and through the wellhead, surface flow line, and into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at surface.

When starting the hydrocarbon production system initially, or after a shutdown, the fluid column within the subsurface production tubing string will be higher than it is during normal operating periods. As the compressed gas is initially fed into the subsurface production tubing string, a small volume of production fluid will flow downwards until excessive head pressure is lost. The very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream will then form.

In carrying out the present invention, the placement and connection of the compressed gas communication port to the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, is calculated to be low enough to permit the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure to force a satisfactory volume of daily hydrocarbon production fluid to flow from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, and into the compressed gas communication port, and high enough to provide a hydrocarbon production fluid column, having sufficient head pressure over the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to prevent excessive or uncontrolled expulsion of natural gas, water, hydrocarbon fluid and solid contaminants from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, during oil well operation. By this means, and with wellbore perforation shots called by a competent person, a governed, daily hydrocarbon fluid production rate may most usually be achieved over many production years. Of further benefit, oil wells producing from unconsolidated sand reservoirs, and maintaining a proper fluid level, cost less to operate, as they require fewer flushbys, fewer coiled tubing jobs, and fewer service rig work-overs. The compressed gas communication port may optionally include a check valve mechanism, but no real practical benefit would be gained by it's inclusion.

When employing the upper wellbore as a conduit to feed compressed gas from the supply at surface, and into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, the considerable cubic volume of the upper wellbore acts as a dampener to level out subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir surging, gas pressure spikes or fluid hammer within the subsurface and surface conduits. If a smaller subsurface compressed gas delivery conduit is employed, it will provide less, but usually sufficient pressure spike dampening. If necessary, very high pressure variances that may occur due to subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure surging, may be controlled or dampened by other means provided in the subsurface or at ground surface.

A desired gas, mixture of gases, or any practical gas of convenience such as steam, natural gas, air or carbon dioxide, may be utilized. The greater amount of gas may optionally be removed from the hydrocarbon fluid as the hydrocarbon fluid is fed into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank, by an optional gas separation conduit or other means. The gas separation conduit if used, preferably should have an inside diameter of sufficient size to conduct the hydrocarbon fluid, by gravity means, to a lower level of the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank without having excessive spillage of hydrocarbon fluid out the top of the gas separation conduit. In selecting the inside diameter of the gas separation conduit, consideration should be given to the hydrocarbon fluid's expected input volume and viscosity.

The optional gas separation conduit, illustrated in FIG. 6, if used, additionally serves to place the flow of new contaminated hydrocarbon fluid into the preferred lower level of the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank, and to avoid fluid churning and storage tank vibration that may occur, if the surface flow line was placed to direct it's output of hydrocarbon fluid and gas directly into the lower level of the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank. Gas scrubbers, filters and other devices, may be installed into the hydrocarbon production system as desired to protect the environment, gas compressors and other devices from in-taking earthen particulates, water droplets, hydrocarbon globules or vapours, or to conform to regulatory board rules.

When displacing hydrocarbon fluid from a horizontal wellbore, the lower end of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string may be constructed of an oil field grade of coiled tubing, to more easily pass through the dog-legged section of the wellbore and into the horizontal section of the wellbore, as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. When displacing hydrocarbon fluid, including earthen solids, natural gas and water from a horizontal oil well, the horizontal and inclined segment of the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string is preferably sized therein, to provide a hydrocarbon fluid velocity sufficient to prevent the terminal settling and accumulation of solids therein. This velocity may not be possible when dealing with oil wells outputing very low production fluid and natural gas volumes.

Within the method of the present invention, that portion of the subsurface production tubing located below the compressed gas communication port, may appear in some ways, to be similar to the tail joint employed below the subsurface production pumps of to-day's more conventional hydrocarbon production systems. Within the method of the present invention, use of the annular casing packer to direct the pressurized output of all components of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, including hydrocarbon fluid, water, earthen solids and significant natural gas volume, provides an increased velocity of the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output through that portion of the subsurface production tubing located below the compressed gas communication port, to prevent solids accumulations and blockages therein.

In cases were the light, medium, or viscous hydrocarbon fluid being produced does not contain sufficient volumes of earthen solids to merit concern of accumulations occurring within the wellbore, the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string may be installed to a wellbore depth not much greater than that of the compressed gas communication port that is installed on the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string, as illustrated in FIG. 4. Use of the annular casing packer is preferred, but not essential in all installations.

The subsurface production tubing string requires a suitably sized inside diameter, considering the volume of gas, hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants to be carried to surface storage. The amount of compressed gas fed into the compressed gas communication port must be of sufficient, but not excessive volume and pressure to entrain and carry the hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants to surface storage. If the supplied compressed gas volume is excessive beyond a practical degree, or there are conduit related restrictions on the production side, more horsepower will be required to achieve production, and the production rate may be retarded, due to the excessive pressure build-up within the subsurface production tubing string, as it counters the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure and it's fluid output.

There are several preferred mechanical apparatus assemblies from which to model an installation of the method of the present invention within an oil well. When operating the method of the present invention constructed as illustrated in FIG. 2, compressed gas is fed through the casing valve, into and through the wellbore, and into and through the compressed gas communication port. The annular casing packer serves to isolate the upper wellbore from the lower wellbore, in order to positively to direct the pressurized subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output directly into the lower open end of the subsurface production tubing string. The annular casing packer also serves to secure and stabilize the lower end of the subsurface production tubing string within the wellbore. This equipment assembly, as described herein, and illustrated in FIG. 2, may not be possible to construct within in all oil wells, due to suspect casing integrity, regulatory board rules, or other issues. Use of the annular casing packer is preferred, as it also prevents solids accumulations from forming in the wellbore above the annular casing packer's position, but it's use not usually an essential requirement.

When operating the method of the present invention, constructed as illustrated in FIG. 3, compressed gas is fed through the compressed gas communication port and into the subsurface production tubing string, with the aid of a subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string. A connection of the lower end of the subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string to the subsurface production tubing string serves as a conduit seal, and serves as a conduit vibration dampener and stabilizer. In some cases, personal choice or available equipment considerations, may lead to installing the subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string and the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string parallel to each other within the wellbore. Employment of the annular casing packer is preferred in this installation, but not necessarily required.

When operating the method of the present invention, as constructed and described in the illustration of FIG. 3, the process of displacing hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to surface storage or other handling facilities, remains identical to the process of hydrocarbon fluid and contaminant displacement as constructed and described in the illustration of FIG. 2. The illustrated assembly differences illustrate flexibility of preferred or alternate equipment usage, to more easily adapt the method of the present invention to oil wells having differing designs or existing equipment, or to provide adaptability to conform to regulatory board rules, or other issues.

When operating the method of the present invention, as constructed and described in the illustration of FIG. 4, the process of displacing hydrocarbon fluid from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to surface storage or other handling facilities, remains identical to the process of hydrocarbon fluid and contaminant displacement as constructed and described in the illustration of FIG. 2. The illustrated assembly differences again illustrate flexibility of preferred or alternate equipment usage, or would be less expensively installed within oil wells producing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid that is not expected to contain considerable amounts of solid earthen contaminants that could accumulate and plug the lower wellbore. If the annular casing packer is not used, the lower open end of the subsurface production tubing string should be used as the compressed gas communication port.

When operating the method of the present invention, as constructed and described in the illustration of FIG. 5, the process of displacing hydrocarbon fluid from the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to surface storage or other handling facilities, remains identical to the process of hydrocarbon fluid and contaminant displacement as constructed and described in the illustration of FIG. 2. The illustrated assembly differences illustrate flexibility of preferred or alternate equipment usage, within oil wells producing light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, that may be expected to contain very considerable amounts of solid earthen contaminants, that could accumulate and plug the lower wellbore. In the case of this assembly, the annular casing packer is essential to isolate the lower wellbore from the upper wellbore, and it further serves as a hanger to suspend the pickup tubing string within the lower wellbore. Use of tubing string stabilizers 17B and 17C, are preferred, and are designed to permit the flow of hydrocarbon fluid, solid contaminants, water and natural gas, upwards or downwards, within the wellbore.

Proper sizing of the inside diameter of the pickup tubing string is essential to ensure that the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir's volumetric output of solids contaminated hydrocarbon fluid, water, and natural gas, is pressurized and forced up through the pickup tubing string, at a velocity that is sufficient to entrain and carry all solid contaminants, through the pickup tubing string, and into the wellbore above the annular casing packer. In this assembly, the open lower end of subsurface production tubing string 12 serves as the intake for hydrocarbon fluid 13, and as the compressed gas communication port 18.

In the case of solid contaminant build-up within wellbore 9A, pickup tubing string 12A, or subsurface production tubing string 12, bull plug 6A may be removed to allow the insertion of a small diameter tubing string to remove the solid contaminant build-up. It may also be employed to inject remedial treating chemicals into the lower wellbore and subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir. The same treatments may be accomplished by the same means within all other subsurface assemblies of the present invention. With some assemblies, the surface flow line may have to be disconnected to preform the small diameter tubing insertion, depending on the wellhead design.

Bull plug 6A may also be removed to allow the insertion of a small diameter tubing string or wire-line, to insert small diameter tools into and through the subsurface production tubing string and lower wellbore. Such usage may include tools to check equipment depth settings, subsurface production tubing integrity, lower casing integrity, logging tools, solids build-up in the lower wellbore, and other usage.

When installing the method of the present invention as illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, and 4, and the annular casing packer is not installed, it is advisable to install tubing stabilizers to prevent vibration of the tubing and the subsequent tubing wear against the casing wall.

A compressed gas flow reversing device, 19, as illustrated in FIG. 7, and installed in subsurface equipment assemblies similar to those illustrated in FIG. 2, FIG. 3, FIG. 4, and FIG. 5, may be employed to reduce compressed gas feed pressure against the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir output, by reversing the feed of compressed gas upwards, before the compressed gas is fed into the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string. The device is most beneficial in reducing long term abrasion and erosion of the inner subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing wall, at the point of compressed gas entry. The gas reversing device replaces compressed gas communication port 18, and is effective when the preferred annular casing packer is employed.

As the hydrocarbon production stream departs from the mixing area within the reversing device, a gas boundary layer is created against the inner walls of subsurface production tubing string 12 and surface flow line 21, and the hydrocarbon production stream forms into a state of core annular flow, wherein the hydrocarbon globules, water droplets, and earthen solids, are forced to the centre of the hydrocarbon production stream 13A, and carried therein, to the surface storage tank, protecting the production conduits from abrasion by earthen solids. This is useful to remember when constructing surface flow line directional changes, using long radii.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Having thus generally described the invention, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings illustrating preferred embodiments in which;

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a typical prior art system to displace hydrocarbon fluid from a subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to surface storage or handling facilities; and

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration outlining the method of the present invention to displace hydrocarbon fluid from a subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir to surface storage or handling facilities; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration outlining the method of the present invention employing an alternate equipment assembly.

FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration outlining the method of the present invention employing an alternate equipment assembly.

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration outlining the method of the present invention employing an alternate equipment assembly.

FIG. 6 illustrates a method to separate gas from hydrocarbon fluid.

FIG. 7 illustrates a method to reduce compressed gas feed pressure against the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir and reduce tubing abrasion.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a typical oil well system includes a production casing indicated by reference numeral 8 which is placed into the earth. Within the casing 8 there is provided a subsurface production tubing string 12 which is basically a length or lengths of conduit coupled together from wellhead 6 to subsurface production pump 15. The system also includes what is commonly known as sucker rods 10. In use, hydrocarbon fluid 13 is fed by means of subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16 pressure into wellbore 9 through casing perforations 14 and pumped from wellbore 9 by subsurface production pump 15, into and through production tubing 12, into and through wellhead 6, into and through surface flow line 21, through optional surface check valve 20 and into hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22. Valve 7 is provided to vent casing gas. Optional surface check valve 20 is provided to prevent stored hydrocarbon fluid 13 from back-flowing from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22 into subsurface production tubing string 12. Vent 23 is provided to vent gas from storage tank 22. The sucker rod drive at surface is not shown.

According to the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 2, the oil well production system is modified to displace light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants including earthen solids, water and natural gas, from an oil well's subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface, by means of vertical, slanted, whipstocked or horizontal oil wells, by following the steps of;

measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure and determining the appropriate wellbore elevation of the compressed gas communication port;

suspending subsurface production tubing string 12 into wellbore 9, with an upper connection to wellhead 6, and extending the lower end to the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir depth of wellbore 9A; connecting compressed gas communication port 18 to subsurface production tubing string 12, at the appropriate elevation; securing annular casing packer 17 to the lower end of subsurface production tubing string 12; securing annular casing packer 17, within casing 8; isolating upper wellbore 9 from lower wellbore 9A, by means of annular casing packer 17;

providing surface flow line 21, with a fluid communication connection at one end, to the output end of subsurface production tubing string 12, through wellhead 6, and a connection at the other end to dispose hydrocarbon production stream 13A, into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface; providing compressed gas delivery conduit 2, with a connection at one end, to a supply of compressed gas 1, and a connection at the other end to casing vent valve 7;

providing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if desired, to a connection to compressed gas delivery conduit 2; providing optional surface check valve 20 if desired, with connections to surface flow line 21; providing optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if desired, within hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; extending surface flow line 21 to gap 25 above optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if used;

permitting the sufficient pressure of subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, to pressurize hydrocarbon fluid 13 from subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, through casing perforations 14, into and through lower wellbore 9A, and into and through the lower open end of subsurface production tubing string 12, and up to a point above the elevation of compressed gas communication port 18; closing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if installed; opening casing vent valve 7; feeding compressed gas 1 from a source at surface, into and through compressed gas delivery conduit 2, into and through casing vent valve 7, into and through upper wellbore 9, into and through compressed gas communication port 18, into and through subsurface production tubing string 12, into and through wellhead 6, into and through surface flow line 21, and into hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22;

permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid 13 and the stream of compressed gas 1, to mix, combine, and decompress within subsurface production tubing string 12, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream 13A; permitting hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to flow, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, wellhead 6, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone of hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at ground surface; permitting the increased velocity of hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to entrain and carry all components of itself, through subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, wellhead 6, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone within hydrocarbon production storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at ground surface;

optionally separating gas 1 from hydrocarbon production stream 13A, by feeding hydrocarbon production stream 13A from the extended output end of conduit 21, through gap 25, into the open top end of and through optional gas separation conduit 24, if used;

venting or recovering gas 1 from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, through storage tank gas vent 23, to atmosphere or other gas handling facility; optionally preventing stored hydrocarbon fluid 13 from back-flowing from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22 and into subsurface production tubing string 12, by means of optional surface check valve 20; continuing the hydrocarbon production system operation for a period of time; recovering hydrocarbon fluid 13 and contaminants, from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface.

The schematic of FIG. 3 illustrates the method of the present invention employing an alternate mechanical component assembly, to displace light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid, which may contain contaminants including, earthen solids, water and natural gas, from an oil well's subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facilities at surface, by means of vertical, slanted, whipstocked or horizontal oil wells, by following the steps of;

measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure and determining the appropriate wellbore elevation of the compressed gas communication port;

suspending subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string 11, into wellbore 9, with an upper connection to wellhead 6, and a lower connection to conduit seal 17A, at a near point below compressed gas communication port 18;

suspending subsurface production tubing string 12, equipped with the compressed gas communication port 18 installed at the appropriate elevation, concentrically into subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string 11, with the upper end suspended through wellhead 6, and the lower end extended to the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir depth, and a connection below compressed gas communication port 18, to subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string 11, by means of conduit seal 17A; securing annular casing packer 17, to a lower point of subsurface production tubing string 12, and to the inner wall of casing 8;

providing surface flow line 21, with a fluid communication connection at one end, to the subsurface production tubing string 12, and a connection at the other end, to hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facility;

providing compressed gas delivery conduit 2, with a connection at one end to a supply of compressed gas 1, and a connection at the other end to wellhead 6;

providing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if desired, to a connection to compressed gas delivery conduit 2; providing optional surface check valve 20 if desired, with connections to surface flow line 21; providing optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if desired, within hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; extending surface flow line 21 to gap 25 above optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if used; isolating lower wellbore 9A, by means of annular casing packer 17, from upper wellbore 9; closing casing gas vent 7;

permitting the sufficient pressure of subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, to pressurize hydrocarbon fluid 13, from subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, through casing perforations 14, into and through lower wellbore 9A, and into and through the lower open end of subsurface production tubing string 12, and up to a point above the elevation of compressed gas communication port 18; closing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if installed;

feeding compressed gas 1 from a source at surface, into and through compressed gas delivery conduit 2, into and through wellhead 6, into and through subsurface compressed gas feed tubing string 11, into and through compressed gas communication port 18, into and through subsurface production tubing string 12, and into and through surface flow line 21, and into hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface;

permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid 13 and the stream of compressed gas 1, to mix, combine, and decompress within subsurface production tubing string 12, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream 13A; permitting hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to flow, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone within hydrocarbon production storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at ground surface; permitting the increased velocity of hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to entrain and carry all components of itself, through subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone within hydrocarbon production storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at ground surface;

optionally separating gas 1 from hydrocarbon production stream 13A, by feeding hydrocarbon production stream 13A from the extended output end of conduit 21, through gap 25, into the open top end of and through optional gas separation conduit 24, if used;

venting or recovering gas 1 from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, through storage tank gas vent 23, to atmosphere or other gas handling facility; optionally preventing stored hydrocarbon fluid 13 from back-flowing from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22 and into subsurface production tubing string 12, by means of optional surface check valve 20; continuing the hydrocarbon production system operation for a period of time; recovering hydrocarbon fluid 13 and contaminants, from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface.

According to the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the oil well production system is modified to displace light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants, including water and natural gas, from an oil well's subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at ground surface, by means of vertical, slanted, whipstocked or horizontal oil wells, by following the steps of;

measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure and determining the appropriate wellbore elevation of the compressed gas communication port;

suspending subsurface production tubing string 12, by means of an upper connection to wellhead 6, and extending the lower end to the desired lower elevation within lower wellbore 9A; connecting compressed gas communication port 18 to subsurface production tubing string 12, at the appropriate elevation; connecting annular casing packer 17 to the lower end of subsurface production tubing string 12; securing annular casing packer 17, within casing 8; isolating lower wellbore 9A, by means of annular casing packer 17, from upper wellbore 9;

providing surface flow line 21, with a fluid communication connection at one end to subsurface production tubing string 12, and a connection at the other end to dispose hydrocarbon production stream 13A, into the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface; providing compressed gas delivery conduit 2, with a connection at one end, to a supply of compressed gas 1, and a connection at the other end to casing vent valve 7;

providing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if desired, to a connection to compressed gas delivery conduit 2; providing optional surface check valve 20 if desired, with connections to surface flow line 21; providing optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if desired, within hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; optionally extending surface flow line 21 to gap 25 above optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if used;

permitting the sufficient pressure of subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, to pressurize hydrocarbon fluid 13 from subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, through casing perforations 14, into and through lower wellbore 9A, and into the lower open end of subsurface production tubing string 12, and up to a point above the elevation of compressed gas communication port 18; closing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if installed;

opening casing vent valve 7; feeding compressed gas 1 from a source at surface, into and through compressed gas delivery conduit 2, into and through casing vent valve 7, into and through upper wellbore 9, into and through compressed gas communication port 18, into and through subsurface production tubing string 12, and into and through surface flow line 21, and into hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface;

permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid 13 and the stream of compressed gas 1, to mix, combine, and decompress within subsurface production tubing string 12, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream 13A; permitting hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to flow, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone of hydrocarbon production storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at ground surface; permitting the increased velocity of hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to entrain and carry all components of itself, through subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone within hydrocarbon production storage tank 22 or other handling facilities at ground surface;

optionally separating gas 1 from hydrocarbon production stream 13A, by feeding hydrocarbon production stream 13A from the extended output end of conduit 21, through gap 25, into the open top end of and through optional gas separation conduit 24, if used;

venting or recovering gas 1 from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, through storage tank gas vent 23, to atmosphere or other gas handling facility;

optionally preventing stored hydrocarbon fluid 13 from back-flowing from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22 and into subsurface production tubing string 12, by means of optional surface check valve 20; continuing the hydrocarbon production system operation for a period of time; recovering hydrocarbon fluid 13 and contaminants, from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22.

According to the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the oil well production system is modified to displace light, medium or viscous hydrocarbon fluid and contaminants including, earthen solids, water, and natural gas, from an oil well's subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir, to a hydrocarbon fluid storage tank or other handling facility at ground surface, by means of vertical, slanted, horizontal, or whipstocked oil wells, by following the steps of;

measuring the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir pressure and determining the appropriate wellbore elevation of the compressed gas communication port 18;

securing annular casing packer 17, within wellbore 9, at a near point below the elevation of compressed gas communication port 18; isolating lower wellbore 9A, by means of annular casing packer 17, from upper wellbore 9;

suspending pickup tubing string 12A within wellbore 9A, by means of an upper connection to annular casing packer 17, and extending the lower end to the desired subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir elevation; securing tubing stabilizer 17C, to the lower end of pickup tubing string 12A, within wellbore 9A; suspending subsurface production tubing string 12, with an upper connection to wellhead 6, and extending the lower end to a near point above annular casing packer 17; installing tubing stabilizer 17B, to the lower end of subsurface production tubing string 12;

employing the lower open end of subsurface production tubing string 12 as compressed gas communication port 18, or providing a more abrasion resistant fitting;

providing surface flow line 21, with a fluid communication connection at one end to the subsurface production tubing string, through wellhead 6, and a connection at the other end to hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22;

providing compressed gas delivery conduit 2, with a connection at one end, to a supply of compressed gas 1, and a connection at the other end to casing vent valve 7;

providing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if desired, to a connection to compressed gas delivery conduit 2; providing optional surface check valve 20 if desired, with connections to surface flow line 21; providing optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if desired, within hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; extending surface flow line 21 to gap 25 above optional compressed gas separation conduit 24, if used; installing bull plug 6A into wellhead 6;

permitting the sufficient pressure of subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, to pressurize hydrocarbon fluid 13, from subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, through casing perforations 14, into and through lower wellbore 9A, and up into and through the lower open end of pickup tubing string 12A, to a point above the elevation of compressed gas communication port 18;

closing optional compressed gas vent valve 4, if installed; opening casing vent valve 7;

feeding compressed gas 1 from a source at surface, into and through compressed gas delivery conduit 2, into and through casing vent valve 7, into and through upper wellbore 9, into and through compressed gas communication port 18, into and through subsurface production tubing string 12, into and through wellhead 6, into and through surface flow line 21, and into hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface;

permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid 13 and the stream of compressed gas 1, to mix, combine, and decompress within subsurface production tubing string 12, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream 13A; permitting hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to flow, by means of the gas pressure differential, through the subsurface production tubing string 12, wellhead 6, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone of hydrocarbon production storage tank 22 or other handling facilities at ground surface;

permitting the increased velocity of hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to entrain and carry all components of itself, through subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing string 12, wellhead 6, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone within hydrocarbon production storage tank 22 or other handling facilities at ground surface;

optionally separating gas 1 from hydrocarbon production stream 13A, by feeding hydrocarbon production stream 13A, from the extended output end of conduit 21, through gap 25, into the open top end of and through optional gas separation conduit 24, if used;

venting or recovering gas 1 from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, through storage tank gas vent 23, to atmosphere or other gas handling facility; optionally preventing stored hydrocarbon fluid 13 from back-flowing from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, and into subsurface production tubing string 12, by means of optional surface check valve 20; continuing the hydrocarbon production system operation for a period of time; recovering hydrocarbon fluid 13 and contaminants from hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, or other handling facilities at surface.

According to the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 6, gas is optionally separated from hydrocarbon production stream 13A by following the steps of;

providing optional gas separation conduit 24; placing optional gas separation conduit 24 vertically within hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; feeding hydrocarbon production stream 13A from the output end of conduit 21, downward into the open upper end of and through conduit 24, into the lower level of hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; permitting the flow of gas exiting conduit 21 to escape by means of open gap 25 between conduit 21 and conduit 24, into the upper level of the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22; venting gas from the upper level of hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22 into and through storage tank vent 23 to atmosphere or other gas collecting or handling facility; providing conduit 24 with an inside diameter of sufficient size to conduct the hydrocarbon fluid, by gravity means, to a lower level of the hydrocarbon fluid storage tank 22, without having excessive spillage of hydrocarbon fluid out the top of conduit 24.

According to the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 7, compressed gas feed pressure against the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir is reduced, and solids abrasion within the inner subsurface hydrocarbon production tubing wall, at the point of, and to a point above compressed gas entry, is reduced, by following the steps of;

installing gas flow reversing device 19, in the place of compressed gas communication port 18; feeding compressed gas 1 from a source at surface, into and through gas flow reversing device 19, by means of compressed gas entry ports 19B;

permitting the subterranean hydrocarbon reservoir 16, to pressurize it's output of hydrocarbon fluid 13, including contaminants, into and through hydrocarbon production fluid port 19C;

permitting the stream of hydrocarbon fluid 13 and the stream of compressed gas 1, to mix, combine, and decompress within gas flow reversing device 19, to form a low pressure, very low density, high velocity hydrocarbon production stream 13A; permitting hydrocarbon production stream 13A, to flow, by means of the gas pressure differential, in a state of laminar flow, through port 19D, and into and through subsurface production tubing string 12, wellhead 6, surface flow line 21, and into the lower pressure zone of hydrocarbon production storage tank 22 or other handling facilities at ground surface.