Title:
SUBSEA CONNECTOR SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A subsea connector with a connection point between the Lower Workout Riser Package and the Upper Workout Riser Package which would facilitate access to the well under full wellbore pressure. There is provided a primary collet to connect the two halves of well subsea connector together. The connector further comprises 32 hydraulic couplers that allow control of the LWRP, Subsea tree and downhole functions. The connector of the present invention can be configured for electrical interface for tree and downhole function control if required. In the present invention, the connector allows for a controlled disconnect for emergency situations that will shut in all LWRP isolations valves, blow out preventor (BOP) rams and subsea tree valves, leaving the well secure. The subsea connector also allows for easy reconnection to the LWRP and control of the tree once the situation necessitating the disconnection is resolved.



Inventors:
Lee, Richard Herbert (Montgomery, TX, US)
Klentz, Larry Glenn (Richmond, TX, US)
Application Number:
14/430468
Publication Date:
09/10/2015
Filing Date:
09/23/2013
Assignee:
CROSS GROUP, INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E21B33/038; E21B17/01; E21B33/06; E21B34/04; E21B43/013
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BUCK, MATTHEW R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARVEY, SMITH & NEHRBASS, PATENT ATTORNEYS, L.L.C. (LAKEWAY 3, SUITE 3290 3838 NORTH CAUSEWAY BLVD. METAIRIE LA 70002)
Claims:
1. A subsea connector system, positionable between a lower workover riser package (LWRP) and an upper workover riser package (UWRP) of a well, the system comprising: a) an upper portion of the connector; b) a lower portion of the connector; c) a plurality of hydraulic couplers for securely engaging the upper portion of the connector to the lower portion; d) means for allowing the subsea connector to perform a controlled disconnect for emergency situations that will shut off all isolation valves, BOP rams and tree valves to secure the well; and e) means for allowing for easy reconnection to the lower workover riser package and gain control of the tree once the emergency situation is resolved.

2. The system in claim I, wherein there are provided 32 hydraulic couplers engaging the upper and lower portion of the connector together.

3. The system in claim 1, wherein the lower portion of the connector provides a guide funnel.

4. The system in claim I, wherein once the upper portion is fully landed onto the lower portion, the unlock function is vented and the lock function is pressured up via a control umbilical.

5. The system in claim 4, wherein there are collet dogs and wherein in following that step, a collet release piston moves down to all the collet dogs to engage the lower half hub and locked down.

6. The system in claim 1, wherein during the emergency disconnect mode, the LWRP and tree valves are closed, before the subsea connector disconnects, to prevent undesirable environmental impact.

7. A subsea connector system, positionable between a lower workover riser package (LWRP) and an upper workover riser package (UWRP) of a well, the system comprising: a) an upper portion of the connector; b) a lower portion of the connector; c) a plurality of thirty two hydraulic couplers for securely engaging the upper portion of the connector to the lower portion; d) means for allowing the subsea connector to perform a controlled disconnect for emergency situations that will shut off all isolation valves, BOP rams and tree valves to secure the well; e) means for allowing for easy reconnection to the lower workover riser package and gain control of the tree once the emergency situation is resolved; and f) wherein during the emergency disconnect mode, the LWRP and tree valves are closed, before the subsea connector disconnects, to prevent undesirable environmental impact.

8. The system in claim 7, wherein there are collet dogs and wherein once the upper portion is fully landed onto the lower portion, the unlock function is vented and the lock function is pressured up via a control umbilical, and a collet release piston moves down to all the collet dogs to engage the lower half hub and locked down.

9. The system in claim 7, wherein the lower portion of the connector provides a guide funnel to guide the upper portion to be engaged to the lower portion of the subsea connector.

10. A method using the subsea connector system of claim 1, for positioning between a lower workover riser package (LWRP) and an upper workover riser package (UWRP) of a well, the method comprising the following steps: a) securely engaging the upper portion of the connector to the lower portion with the plurality of hydraulic couplers; b) performing a controlled disconnect that shuts off all isolation valves, BOP rams and tree valves to secure a well; and c) reconnecting the lower workover riser package.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein once the upper connector is fully landed onto the lower connector, an unlock function is vented and the lock function is pressured up via a control umbilical.

12. The method in claim 10, wherein there are collet dogs and wherein a collet release piston moves down to all the collet dogs to engage the lower connector and lock down in step (a).

13. The method in claim 10, wherein during the controlled disconnect of step (b), the LWRP and tree valves are closed, before the subsea connector disconnects, to prevent undesirable environmental impact.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a nonprovisional patent application of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/704,159, filed 21 Sep. 2012, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

Priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/704,159, filed 21 Sep. 2012, which is incorporated herein by reference, is hereby claimed.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable

REFERENCE TO A “MICROFICHE APPENDIX”

Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to offshore Subsea Live Well Intervention systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to a subsea connector which is a connection point between the Lower Workover Riser Package (LWRP) and the Upper Workover Riser Package (UWRP) to facilitate access to the well while the well is under full wellbore pressure.

2. General Background of the Invention

During a Live Well Intervention of an offshore Subsea well it is often necessary to connect and disconnect various components of the Intervention package at a substantial depth beneath the water surface. For example, the Lower Workover Riser Package (LWRP) must be connected to the Subsea Tree or Well Head by means of a lower connector. The Lower Workover Riser Package (LWRP) can be deployed individually or run connected to the Upper Workover Riser Package (UWRP) by means of a completion riser.

If the Lower Workover Riser Package (LWRP) is run individually on wire and landed on the Subsea Tree or Well Head, the Upper Workover Riser Package (UWRP) will be connected to and lowered by the completion riser. The CROSS 7.0 Connector is the connection between the two components which allows an environmentally safe connection as well as full hydraulic functionality communications to control the LWRP, Subsea tree and downhole functions.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The system of the present invention solves the problems in the art in a simple and straightforward manner. What is provided is a subsea connector with a connection point between the Lower Workout Riser Package and the Upper Workout Riser Package which would facilitate access to the well under full wellbore pressure. There is provided a primary collet 41 to connect the two halves of well subsea connector together. The collet 41 is a locking ring including collet fingers/dogs. The connector further comprises 32 hydraulic couplers that allow control of the LWRP, Christmas tree and downhole functions. The connector of the present invention can be configured for electrical interface for tree and downhole function control if required. In the present invention, the connector allows for a controlled disconnect for emergency situations that will shut in all LWRP isolations valves, blow out preventer rams and tree valves by means of vented couplers thus leaving the well secure. The subsea connector also allows for easy reconnection to the LWRP and control of the tree once the situation necessitating the disconnection is resolved.

One embodiment of the present invention is a subsea connector system, positionable between a lower workover riser package (LWRP) and an upper workover riser package (UWRP) of a well, the system comprising: a) an upper portion of the connector; b) a lower portion of the connector; c) a plurality of hydraulic couplers for securely engaging the upper portion of the connector to the lower portion; d) means for allowing the subsea connector to perform a controlled disconnect for emergency situations that will shut off all isolation valves, BOP rams and tree valves to secure the well; and e) means for allowing for easy reconnection to the lower workover riser package and gain control of the tree once the emergency situation is resolved.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, there are provided 32 hydraulic couplers engaging the upper and lower portion of the connector together.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, the lower portion of the connector provides a guide funnel.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, once the upper portion is fully landed onto the lower portion, the unlock function is vented and the lock function is pressured up via a control umbilical.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, there are collet dogs and wherein in following that step, a collet release piston moves down to all the collet dogs to engage the lower half hub and locked down.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, during the emergency disconnect mode, the LWRP and tree valves are closed, before the subsea connector disconnects, to prevent undesirable environmental impact.

Another embodiment of the system of the present invention comprises a subsea connector system, positionable between a lower workover riser package (LWRP) and an upper workover riser package (UWRP) of a well, the system comprising: a) an upper portion of the connector; b) a lower portion of the connector; c) a plurality of thirty two hydraulic couplers for securely engaging the upper portion of the connector to the lower portion; d) means for allowing the subsea connector to perform a controlled disconnect for emergency situations that will shut off all isolation valves, BOP rams and tree valves to secure the well; e) means for allowing for easy reconnection to the lower workover riser package and gain control of the tree once the emergency situation is resolved; and f) wherein during the emergency disconnect mode, the LWRP and tree valves are closed, before the subsea connector disconnects, to prevent undesirable environmental impact.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, there are collet dogs and wherein once the upper portion is fully landed onto the lower portion, the unlock function is vented and the lock function is pressured up via a control umbilical, and a collet release piston moves down to all the collet dogs to engage the lower half hub and locked down.

In another embodiment of the system of the present invention, the lower portion of the connector provides a guide funnel to guide the upper portion to be engaged to the lower portion of the subsea connector.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the nature, objects, and advantages of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description, read in conjunction with the following drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements and wherein:

FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate perspective views of the upper portion of the subsea assembly;

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate perspective views of the lower and funnel portion of the subsea connector assembly;

FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate top and cut away views respectively of the subsea connector;

FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of the entire subsea connector in the initial alignment between the upper and lower portions of the connector;

FIG. 5A illustrates a cutaway view of the fine alignment of the upper portion of the connector of the present invention;

FIG. 5B illustrates a detailed view of the Hydraulic coupler interface;

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate top and side views respectively of the final installation of the upper portion into the lower portion of the connector system of the present invention, with FIG. 6B being taken along lines 6B-6B of FIG. 6A; and

FIG. 7 illustrates an overall view of the connection system in place in a subsea system with the connector positioned between the wellhead and the Christmas tree of the system.

FIG. 8 illustrates a collet of the present invention, showing interior and exterior fingers of the collet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Prior to a discussion of FIGS. 1-8 as indicated above, a general discussion will be made of the operation and the use of the overall system of the present invention. The Lower Riser Workout Package (LWRP) is deployed in one of several methods. The LWRP is lowered onto a Subsea tree by means of wire that is latched to the LWRP subsea connector running sub, or is ran with the Upper Workout Riser Package (UWRP) attached with riser and landed as one unit onto the Subsea tree. This is illustrated clearly in FIGS. 4, 6A-6B, 7 with the subsea connector illustrated by the numeral 10. The method chosen will be dependent on the rig or vessel capabilities.

The subsea connector is seen in the drawing Figures by the numeral 10. Connector 10 includes a male half (lower portion) 12 which includes a guide funnel 14 which is flanged up to the top of the LWRP 16 (see FIGS. 2A-2B, 3R). The connector 10 also includes an upper female half 20 which is flanged to the bottom of the UWRP 22 (see FIG. 1A, 3B). A 33 line hydraulic control umbilical with couplers 30 is attached to the subsea connector female half 20 at a junction plate 38 on top of the female connector 20. The unlock function is pressured up to 3,000 psi (20,684 kPa) to move the collet release piston up and to in turn pull the collet release piston up, thus positioning the collet into the open position in order to go over the male half 12 and land out. The female half is lowered into the rough alignment slots of the male half guide funnel 14 The female half 20 continues down and positions itself into the fine alignment pins 37 for final land out and coupler engagement as illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5A and 5B. Once the female is fully landed onto the male half, the unlock function is vented and the lock function is pressured up to 3,000 psi (20,684 kPa) via the line hydraulic control umbilical 33. The collet release piston 32 moves down with the collet release 34 (see FIG. 3B), thus allowing the collet dogs or fingers of collet 41 to engage the male half hub 12 and lock down as illustrated in FIG. 5B. The line hydraulic control umbilical 33 is then used to control the LWRP and Subsea tree to the coupler plate and the male 12 and female 20 halves of the subsea connector 10. Under an emergency disconnect situation, the LWRP and tree valves are closed, as the subsea connector 10 disconnects through designated vented couplers thus preventing environmental impact.

In use of the overall system, the subsea connector 10 is used as a connection point between the riser and the well control system below as illustrated in FIG. 7. The connector 10 allows full bore pressure operations to take place in order for wire line, slick line and coil tubing operations to take place on a subsea well. The connector allows for a controlled disconnect between the riser and the well control system during normal and emergency operations. Under normal operations, the riser may need to be disconnected for sea states or vessel to vessel operations; the subsea connector allows this to take place in a controlled manner. Under emergency situations as in a vessel drive off, the subsea connector 10 allows for a disconnect with no environmental impact or damage to the LWRP and Subsea Tree components. Once the situation is corrected on the vessel, the riser can be reconnected and the operations resumed. All LWRP, Subsea tree, and downhole functions are controlled through the subsea connector via the couplers and control umbilical.

In a discussion of the drawing Figures, reference is first made to FIGS. 1A and 1B which illustrate overall views from the top as seen in FIG. 1A and from the bottom as seen in FIG. 1B of the female portion 20 of the subsea connector 10 as it will be engaged onto the male portion 12.

As seen in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the male lower portion 12 of the connector 10 includes a funnel portion 14 for guiding the female portion 20 thereupon and includes a plurality of couplers, preferably 33 hydraulic couplers 30 which will engage the female portion 20 when it is in place.

In FIGS. 3A and 3B, the connection as seen in the top and side views, where there is provided the male connector body 20 engaged with the collet release piston 32 and the collet release 34. Also shown is collet 41. There is further provided the upper female connector assembly 12 that engages thereto and with a series of walker seals 36 in between to prevent leakage between the two connectors. When hydraulic pressure is applied to the collet retainer housing release piston 32, the collet retainer or release 34 is pulled up, thus engaging item 41 collet fingers and forcing them to slide into the collet retainer and out of the latching area, whereby releasing the upper half of the hydraulic collet connector from the lower collet 12. The collet 41 does not move in any direction.

Turning now to FIG. 4, there is illustrated an overall view of the subsea connector 10 prior to the upper female portion 20 being engaged in to the male portion 12 in its initial alignment as seen in FIG. 4. In FIG. 4, in the initial alignment procedure, one would install both male 12 and female 20 connectors in the following steps; first, the bolt fine alignment pin 37 would be snugged onto the base plate; the next step would be to lower the top connector 20 onto the lower connector 12 as illustrated; the next step is to insure course guides on the funnel 14 clears the alignment pockets in the top connect; next, further lower the top connector until the contact with the fine alignment pin, one would let the pin self align to the holes in the top connector plate and assist if necessary; next, engage the connector completely; next torque down both fine alignment pins SITU as much as possible; and finally repeat steps 1-6 a couple of times to ensure smooth operation.

In discussing the fine alignment procedure as seen in FIGS. 5A and 5B, one would first disengage the connector 10; next remove the funnel 14 from the lower connector unit; next, remove the coupler protection guards 39 as seen in FIG. 5B from the top connector unit 20; next, torque both fine alignment pin to 500 ft-lbs (678 newton meters); next, install all couplers 33 on top and bottom of the connector unit 10; next step would be to lower the top connector 20 onto the lower connector 12 with care not to cock on the fine alignment pins 37; next, engage the connector completely; next measure the gap between all coupler pairs with feeler gage; next, mark location and record the thickness for those out of spec coupler pair; and finally, use 316 SST shim washers 40 to adjust out of the spec coupler pairs.

Turning again to FIG. 5A, there is illustrated the fine alignment of the male portion 20 onto the female portion 12 using the coupler protection where the coupler protection guards have been removed and there is a double jam nut. FIG. 5B is a cut away view showing the coupler protection guards 39 to be removed.

Turning now to FIGS. 6A and 6B, there is seen the final installation procedure between the upper 20 and lower portions 12 of the subsea connector 10. The first step would be to reinstall the funnel 14 onto the lower connection unit 12; next, reinstall the coupler protection guards 39 onto the top connector unit 20; next, full function and load connection unit as required by the operation.

Turning now finally to FIG. 7, there is illustrated the connector 10 of the present invention at a connection point between the riser 50 and the well control system wherein it is engaged right about the Christmas tree 60 in the manner as discussed earlier.

FIG. 8 illustrates 41 collet cut down the middle to depict the interior “I” and exterior “E” finger surfaces.

All measurements disclosed herein are at standard temperature and pressure, at sea level on Earth, unless indicated otherwise. All materials used or intended to be used in a human being are biocompatible, unless indicated otherwise.

The foregoing embodiments are presented by way of example only; the scope of the present invention is to be limited only by the following claims.