Title:
RCD HYDRAULIC STRIPPING ADAPTER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable sealing device including a housing configured to be engaged within an annulus of a rotating control device, at least one sealing element disposed within the housing, and a variable pressure control device configured to energize a fluid disposed within the housing to maintain a seal between the sealing element and a drill string is disclosed. A method of sealing a wellbore, the method including providing an adjustable sealing device to a rotating control device, positioning at least one sealing element of the adjustable sealing device between the wellbore and a drill string, tripping the drill string through the wellbore, sensing changes in a diameter of the drill string as it is tripped, and regulating a fluid pressure to maintain a seal between the at least one sealing element and the drill string when the drill string is tripped through the at least one sealing element is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Shelton, Jaye (Magnolia, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/177019
Publication Date:
01/21/2010
Filing Date:
07/21/2008
Assignee:
SMITH INTERNATIONAL, INC. (Houston, TX, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/84.4
International Classes:
E21B17/00; E21B19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
THOMPSON, KENNETH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSHA, LIANG LLP / SMITH (TWO HOUSTON CENTER, 909 FANNIN STREET, SUITE 3500, HOUSTON, TX, 77010, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An adjustable sealing device, comprising: a housing configured to be engaged within an annulus of a rotating control device; at least one sealing element disposed within the housing; and a variable pressure control device configured to energize a fluid disposed within the housing to maintain a seal between the sealing element and a drill string.

2. The adjustable sealing device of claim 1, wherein the fluid is a hydraulic fluid.

3. The adjustable sealing device of claim 1, further comprising a pressure transfer ring located in the housing between the fluid and the at least one sealing element.

4. The adjustable sealing device of claim 1, wherein the at least one sealing element comprises a deformable material.

5. The adjustable sealing device of claim 1, further comprising at least one sensor configured to detect a diameter of the drill string.

6. The adjustable sealing device of claim 5, wherein a pressure of fluid within the housing is regulated when the at least one sensor detects a change in a diameter of the drill string passing through the adjustable sealing device.

7. The adjustable sealing device of claim 1, wherein the at least one sealing element is removeably disposed within the housing.

8. A rotating control device, comprising: an adjustable sealing device installed in an annulus between a drill string and a wellbore, the adjustable sealing device comprising: a housing; at least one sealing element disposed within the housing; and a variable pressure control device configured to energize a fluid disposed within the housing to maintain a seal between the sealing element and the drill string.

9. The rotating control device of claim 8, wherein the sealing element comprises a deformable material.

10. The rotating control device of claim 8, further comprising at least one sensor configured to detect a diameter of the drill string passing through the adjustable sealing device.

11. The rotating control device of claim 10, wherein a pressure of the fluid is regulated when the at least one sensor detects a change in the diameter of the drill string.

12. A method of sealing a wellbore, comprising: providing an adjustable sealing device to a rotating control device; positioning at least one sealing element of the adjustable sealing device between the wellbore and a drill string; tripping the drill string through the wellbore; sensing changes in a diameter of the drill string as it is tripped; and regulating a fluid pressure to maintain a seal between the at least one sealing element and the drill string when the drill string is tripped through the at least one sealing element.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the fluid pressure is increased as a smaller diameter of the drill string is sensed.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the fluid pressure is decreased as a larger diameter of the drill string is sensed.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising installing diameter sensors above and below the at least one sealing element.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Disclosure

Embodiments disclosed herein relate generally to apparatuses and methods for providing a seal during drilling operations. Specifically, embodiments disclosed herein relate to a sealing device that is configured to seal around a drill string.

2. Background Art

An earth-boring drill bit is typically mounted on the lower end of a drill string and is rotated by rotating the drill string at the surface or by actuation of downhole motors, turbines, or both. During operations, the drill string may be translated through the wellbore created by the drill bit. Further, during operation, high pressure fluid within the wellbore may need to be prevented from being released. As such, a seal may be provided that is capable of sealing the wellbore during drilling operations.

Generally, a rotating control device (“RCD”) that seals around a drill string is used to seal the wellbore during operations. As shown in FIG. 1, the RCD 30 includes a stripping element 31 disposed within an annulus 32 of the RCD 30. During operation, the annulus 32 of the RCD 30 is in fluid communication with the wellbore. As such, the pressure within the wellbore may be exerted upon the stripping element 31 of the RCD 30. An example of a rotating control device may be found in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/556,938 filed on Nov. 6, 2006 and entitled Rotating Control Device Apparatus and Method, hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Further, during operation, the drill string may be translated through the RCD 30 and into the wellbore. Typically, the drill string includes a plurality of drill pipes connected by threaded connections located on both ends of the plurality of drill pipes. As such, threaded connections may be flush with the remainder of the drill string outer diameter or may be “upset,” having an outer diameter larger than the remainder of the drill string. As the drill string is translated through the wellbore and the RCD 30, the stripping element 31 may squeeze against an outer surface of at least one of the plurality of drill pipes, thereby sealing the wellbore. Typically, the stripping element 31 is made up of an elastic material that may mechanically deform to seal around various diameters of drill pipe. However, over time the stripping element 31 may become worn and unable to substantially deform to provide a seal around the drill string. Consequently, the stripping element 31 must be replaced, which may lead to down time during drilling operations that can be costly to a drilling operator.

Accordingly, there exists a need for methods and apparatuses for improving the sealing of a wellbore during stripping operations.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In one aspect, embodiments of the present disclosure relate to an adjustable sealing device including a housing configured to be engaged within an annulus of a rotating control device, at least one sealing element disposed within the housing, and a variable pressure control device configured to energize a fluid disposed within the housing to maintain a seal between the sealing element and a drill string.

In another aspect, embodiments of the present disclosure relate to a rotating control device including an adjustable sealing device installed in an annulus between a drill string and a wellbore, the adjustable sealing device including a housing, at least one sealing element disposed within the housing, a variable pressure control device configure to energize a fluid disposed within the housing to maintain a seal between the sealing element and the drill string.

In yet another aspect, embodiments of the present disclosure relate to a method of sealing a wellbore, the method including providing an adjustable sealing device to a rotating control device, positioning at least one sealing element of the adjustable sealing device between the wellbore and a drill string, tripping the drill string through the wellbore, sensing changes in a diameter of the drill string as it is tripped, and regulating a fluid pressure to maintain a seal between the at least one sealing element and the drill string when the drill string is tripped through the at east one sealing element.

Other aspects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a rotating control device in accordance with the prior art.

FIG. 2 shows a cross-section of a sealing device in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 shows a cross section of a sealing device in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4 shows a cross section of a sealing device in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 5 shows a cross section of a sealing device in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In one aspect, embodiments disclosed herein relate to apparatuses and methods to provide a seal during drilling operations. Specifically, embodiments disclosed herein relate to a sealing device that is configured to seal around a drill string. During operation, the sealing device is configured to maintain a seal with the drill string as the drill string is translated through the wellbore. Additionally, the sealing device may be configured to control a pressure of a fluid, thereby allowing the sealing device to seal around various shapes and sizes of components of the drill string.

Referring now to FIG. 2, an adjustable sealing device 200 in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure is shown. As shown, the adjustable sealing device 200 includes a housing 210, a sealing element 220, a fluid (e.g., hydraulic fluid) 230, and a pressure control device (i.e., a pressurized fluid source) 240. In one embodiment, the adjustable sealing device 200 may be in fluid communication with a wellbore (not shown) and configured to maintain a seal around a drill string 10 while the drill string 10 is translated through the wellbore and the adjustable sealing device 200.

Housing 210 may be configured to allow a drill string 10 to be translated through the adjustable sealing device 200. In one embodiment, the housing 210 may include an annulus 212 that allows the drill string 10 to extend and be translated through the adjustable sealing device 200. During operation, the annulus 212 of the housing 210 may be configured to be in fluid communication with the wellbore. As such, a pressure of the wellbore may be exerted on the sealing element 220 of the adjustable sealing device 200.

Further, the housing 210 may be configured receive the fluid 230 and the sealing element 220. In one embodiment, the housing 210 includes a chamber 214 that is configured to receive the fluid 230 and at least a portion of the sealing element 220. Moreover, the housing 210 may include an aperture 216 that allows the chamber 214 to be in fluid communication with at least one pressure control device 240.

Furthermore, in certain embodiments, the housing 210 may include at least two sections that allow the sealing element 220 to be removably disposed within the chamber 214 of the housing 210. For example, the housing 210 may include upper and lower sections (not shown) coupled together through bolts, threads, or other attachments known in the art. Accordingly, the upper section may be disconnected from the lower section to allow sealing element 220 to be inserted or removed from chamber 214 of housing 210.

Additionally, in select embodiments, the housing 210 may include at least one connection (not shown) that is configured to couple the adjustable sealing device 200 to the wellbore. The at least one connection may include bolts, threads, bearings, or any other attachment method known in the art. In one embodiment, the at least one connection may be configured to removably connect the adjustable sealing device within an RCD coupled to the wellbore.

In selected embodiments, sealing element 220 may be at least partially disposed within chamber 214 of housing 210 and configured to seal around drill string 10, which may result in sealing the wellbore that is in fluid communication with adjustable sealing device 200. For example, sealing element 220 may deform against an outer surface 12 of the drill string 10 extending through the adjustable sealing device 200, thereby not allowing pressure within the well bore to be released through the adjustable sealing device 200. As such, the sealing element 220 may include rubber, metal, or any other deformable materials that allow sealing element 220 to form a seal around the drill string 10. Further, in selected embodiments, sealing element 220 may comprise a single piece of material, whereas in other embodiments, sealing element 220 may include multiple pieces of material coupled together to form a seal around drill string 10.

In certain embodiments, the sealing element 220 may include a circular shape, a rectangular shape, an irregular shape, or any other shape able to seal around drill string 10. In further embodiments, the sealing element 220 may include chamfers 222 disposed proximate an inner surface 224 of sealing element 220. One skilled in the art will appreciate that chamfers 222 may allow various shapes and diameters of the drill string to more effortlessly pass through sealing element 220, while still maintaining the seal between the sealing element and outer surface 12 of the drill string 10.

Hydraulic fluid 230 may be disposed within in chamber 214 of housing 210 and configured to exert a pressure upon sealing element 220 to maintain the seal between it and the drill string 10. For example, in one embodiment, fluid 230 may be pumped into the chamber 214 of the housing 210 through an aperture 216 that is in fluid communication with the fluid line 242 of the pressure control device 240. As the fluid 230 is pumped into the chamber 214, a pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 may increase, which may cause the sealing element 220 to deform against the outer surface 12 of the drill string 10. In another embodiment, the fluid 230 may be released from the chamber 214 to allow the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 to be decreased. One skilled in the art will appreciate that decreasing the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 may allow a portion of the drill string 14 having a diameter greater (i.e., an upset portion) than the remainder of drill string 16 to pass through adjustable sealing device 200, while maintaining the seal around drillstring 10. In selected embodiments, fluid 230 may include hydraulic fluid, water, drilling mud, air, or any other fluid capable of applying pressure on sealing element 220.

The pressure control device 240 may be in fluid communication with the chamber 214 of the housing 210. As shown, in one embodiment, the pressure control device 240 may be in connected to the housing 210 through the flow line 242. Further, the pressure control device 240 may be configured to control the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 of the housing 210. For example, the pressure control device 240 may pump fluid 230 into the chamber 214 of the housing 210 through the fluid line 242, thereby increasing the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214. In addition, the pressure control device 240 may allow fluid 230 to be released from the chamber 214 of the housing 210 through fluid line 242. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the pressure control device 240 may include a pump, a motor, a valve or any other components known in the art to control the pressure of the fluid 230.

Referring now to FIG. 3, in select embodiments, adjustable sealing device 200 may include at least one ring 250 to transfer the pressure of fluid 230 to sealing element 220. For example, in one embodiment, as the pressure of fluid 230 within chamber 214 is increased, ring 250 may be configured to be translated in the U direction and exert a force on sealing element 230. Additionally, in another embodiment, as the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 is decreased, ring 250 may be configured to be translated in the D direction, which may decrease the force exerted on sealing element 220. Ring 250 may comprise a metallic material or any other material capable (i.e., a rigid material) of transferring the pressure of the fluid 230 to the sealing element 220. One skilled in the art will appreciate that ring 250 may be configured to seal the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 of the adjustable sealing device 200. Furthermore, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the ring 250 may uniformly transfer the pressure of the fluid 230 to the sealing element 220.

In certain embodiments, the adjustable sealing device 200 may include sensors 260, 262 that configured to sense a diameter of the drill sting 10, as shown in FIG. 3. In one embodiment, the adjustable sealing device 200 may include an upper sensor 260 disposed above the sealing element 220 on the housing 210 of the adjustable sealing device 200. Accordingly, the upper sensor 260 may be configured to sense a diameter of the drillstring 10 above the sealing element 220. In another embodiment, the adjustable sealing device 200 may include a lower sensor 262 disposed below the sealing element 220 on the housing 210 of the adjustable sealing device 200. As such, the lower sensor 262 may be configured to sense a diameter of the drillstring 10 below the sealing element 220.

In select embodiments, the sensors 260, 262 may be electrically connected to the pressure control device 240 and configured to send a signal to the pressure control device 240. The signal may then be used by the pressure control device 240 to regulate the pressure of fluid 230 within the chamber 214 of the housing 210. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the sensors 260, 262 may include a trip switch, a limit switch, or any other sensor capable of sensing a diameter of the drill string 10. As such, as a large diameter portion (e.g., a threaded connection or “tool joint”) is about to pass through adjustable sealing device 200 from below, lower sensor 262 may detect the increased diameter and instruct pressure control 240 to lower pressure of fluid 230 in chamber 214 to ease the passage of the tool joint. Once through, upper sensor 260 may instruct pressure control 240 to increase pressure of fluid 230 in chamber 214 to a level that is optimized for the remainder of the drill string.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, during operation, the adjustable sealing device 200 is positioned to be in fluid communication with the wellbore. Further, during operation, the drillstring 10 may be translated through the adjustable sealing device 200 into or out of the wellbore. In one embodiment, as the drill string 10 is translated through the adjustable sealing device 200, the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214 of the housing 210 may be increased or decreased to maintain the seal between the sealing element 220 and the outer surface 12 of the drill string 10. This may be accomplished by pumping fluid 230 into and/or releasing fluid 230 out of the chamber 214 of the housing 210 using the pressure control device 240. In another embodiment, at least one of the sensors 260, 262 may detect the diameter of the drill string 10 before the drill string 10 is translated through the adjustable sealing device 200. The at least one sensor 260, 262 may then send a signal to the pressure control device 240 that may be used by the pressure control device 240 to control the pressure of the fluid 230 within the chamber 214, thereby allowing the adjustable sealing device 200 to seal around various shapes and diameters of the drill string 10.

Referring now to FIG. 4, an adjustable sealing device 300 in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure is shown. The adjustable sealing device 300 includes a housing 310, a fluid 330, and a pressure control device 340 similar to the adjustable sealing device 200 shown in FIG. 2. However, the adjustable sealing device 300 includes a plurality of sealing elements 320 that are configured maintain a seal around the outer surface 12 of the drillstring 10. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the plurality of sealing elements 320 may increase the reliability of the adjustable sealing device 300 by providing multiple seals along the outer surface 12 of the drill string 10.

In certain embodiments, a housing 410 of an adjustable sealing device 400 may have various geometries that allow a fluid 430 from a pressure control device 440 to be disposed on various surfaces of a sealing element 420, as shown in FIG. 5. One skilled in the will appreciate that the various geometries of the housing 420 and disposition of the fluid 430 does not depart from the present disclosure.

Embodiments disclosed herein may provide for one or more of the following advantages. In particular, embodiments of the present disclosure enable an adjustable sealing device (e.g., 200, 300, 400) to be used in conjunction with an RCD to prevent premature wear of the stripping element (e.g., 31). If, during a drilling operation using an RCD, the drill string is to be retrieved, the stripping element may be removed and replaced with an adjustable sealing device in accordance with embodiments disclosed herein. As such, the adjustable sealing device (e.g., 200, 300, or 400) would be capable of adjusting the pressure of fluid (230, 330, or 440) when upset threaded connection joints are passing therethrough so that sealing elements (220, 320, or 420) are not damaged. Once the trip in or trip out operation is completed, the adjustable sealing device may be retrieved and the stripping element reinstalled.

While the present disclosure has been described with respect to a limited number of embodiments, those skilled in the art, having benefit of this disclosure, will appreciate that other embodiments may be devised which do not depart from the scope of the disclosure as described herein. Accordingly, the scope of the disclosure should be limited only by the attached claims.