Title:
Lateral control system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein is a lateral monitoring and/or control system. The system includes at least one splitter having a lateral bore and a main bore, at least one control line at the splitter and at least one of a choke module, monitoring module, flow venturi module and a control module disposed in operable communication with the lateral bore and outside of the main bore. Further disclosed herein is a method for controlling and/or monitoring of a multi-lateral well system. The method includes installing one or more splitter in a borehole, installing at least one control line to communicate remotely with each of the one or more splitters selectively communicating with one or more of at least one of a monitoring module, control module, choke module and flow venturi module.



Inventors:
Murray, Douglas (Humble, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/408635
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
04/21/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/313, 166/319, 166/375, 166/50
International Classes:
E21B47/00; E21B34/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090101345Liner Drilling System with Retrievable Bottom Hole AssemblyApril, 2009Moffitt et al.
20040221984Debris screen for a downhole toolNovember, 2004Cram
20040173363Packer with integrated sensorsSeptember, 2004Navarro-sorroche
20080245528Separating DeviceOctober, 2008Stokka et al.
20070034384Whipstock linerFebruary, 2007Pratt
20090107675Liner Drilling and Cementing System Utilizing a Concentric Inner StringApril, 2009Eriksen et al.
20040194963Subsea well workover system and methodOctober, 2004Torres
20090050314Surface improvement for erosion resistanceFebruary, 2009Holmes
20100051286OPTICAL SENSING SYSTEM FOR WELLHEAD EQUIPMENTMarch, 2010Mcstay et al.
20090065193Multi-Function Indicating ToolMarch, 2009Corbett
20080066901BOX END SUCKER ROD SHEAR COUPLINGMarch, 2008Gereluk



Primary Examiner:
ANDRISH, SEAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP (Hartford, CT, US)
Claims:
1. A lateral monitoring and/or control system comprising: at least one splitter having a lateral bore and a main bore; at least one control line at the splitter; and at least one of a choke module, monitoring module flow venturi module and a control module disposed in operable communication with the lateral bore and outside of the main bore.

2. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the splitter further includes at least one ancillary bore.

3. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 2 wherein at least one of the monitoring module and control module is disposed at the at least one ancillary bore.

4. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 2 wherein the choke module or flow venturi module is disposed in the lateral bore and at least one of the monitoring module and the control module is disposed at the at least one ancillary bore.

5. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 4 wherein the at least one ancillary bore is two ancillary bores.

6. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 4 wherein the choke module or flow venturi module is disposed in the lateral bore and at least one of the monitoring module and the control module is disposed at one of the two ancillary bores.

7. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 6 wherein the other of the monitoring module and the control module is disposed at the other of the two ancillary bores.

8. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 2 wherein the at least one ancillary bore includes a pressure transmissive connection to at least one of the lateral bore and the main bore.

9. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 8 wherein the pressure transmissive connection is a fluid transmissive connection.

10. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the monitoring module monitors at least one of pressure, flow, temperature, chemical constituency and flow direction.

11. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the splitter includes two ancillary bores each having at least one of the monitoring module and the control module and the lateral leg containing the choke module or the flow venturi module.

12. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the choke module is remotely adjustable with respect to flow therethrough.

13. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the system further comprises at least one control line accessing the at least one splitter.

14. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 13 wherein the control line accesses a plurality of splitters.

15. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 13 wherein the control line is at least one of fiber optic based, hydraulic based and electric based.

16. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 14 wherein the control line is at least one of fiber optic based, hydraulic based and electric based.

17. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 13 wherein the control line accesses each lateral bore and is disposed outside of the at least one splitter.

18. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 13 wherein the control line is in operable communication with a plurality of addressable modules in a plurality of splitters for selective communication with such modules.

19. A lateral monitoring and/or control system as claimed in claim 2 wherein the at least one ancillary bore contains a dummy module to protect the at least one ancillary bore.

20. A method for controlling and/or monitoring of a multi-lateral well system comprising: installing one or more splitters in a borehole; installing at least one control line to communicate remotely with each of the one or more splitters; and selectively communicating with one or more of at least one of a monitoring module, a control module, a choke module and a flow venturi module.

21. The method for controlling and/or monitoring of a multi-lateral well system as claimed in claim 20 wherein the method further includes installing at least one of said at least one of a monitoring module, a control module, a choke module and a flow venturi module in a position outside a main bore of the one or more splitters.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/673,529 filed Apr. 21, 2005, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

In the hydrocarbon industry it is becoming more and more common to employ multiple branches known as laterals from a main leg of a wellbore. Wells having this characteristic are known as multilateral wellbores. Multilateral wellbores are advantageous because they, by definition, access different areas of a hydrocarbon bearing formation from a single surface location. This is desirable from a cost standpoint for capital expenditure as well as having a much lesser impact on the surface environment.

Important with respect to multilateral wellbores is control and/or monitoring of fluids produced. It is desirable to monitor produced fluids to optimize production or so that action might be taken to avoid contamination of the well due to, for example, early water breakthrough in one of the laterals.

One of the problems associated with current monitoring and control schemes is that a large number of devices may need to be pulled from the well if entry to a more downhole portion of the well is required. Alternatively, entry may be had to remote portion of the well by using a device small enough to be run through the completion tubing but such devices are inherently small in size. In some cases, devices small enough to be run through the completion string are insufficient desirably address whatever issue prompted the run.

SUMMARY

Disclosed herein is a lateral monitoring and/or control system. The system includes at least one splitter having a lateral bore and a main bore, at least one control line at the splitter and at least one of a choke module, monitoring module, flow venturi module, and a control module disposed in operable communication with the lateral bore and outside of the main bore.

Further disclosed herein is a method for controlling and/or monitoring of a multi-lateral well system. The method includes installing one or more splitter in a borehole, installing at least one control line to communicate remotely with each of the one or more splitters selectively communicating with one or more of at least one of a monitoring module, control module, choke module and flow venturi module.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings wherein like elements are numbered alike in the several Figures:

FIG. 1 is a perspective partial cutaway view of a stackable splitter portion of the system disclosed herein with two auxiliary ports for monitoring and controlling modules;

FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a leg and an auxiliary bore that is parameter transmissively connected; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of a leg and an auxiliary bore that is fluid transmissively connected.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, the lateral control and monitoring system 10 comprises a stackable splitter 12 having an uphole main bore 14, a downhole main leg 16, and a downhole lateral leg 18. The splitter may be embodied as a casing segment or tubing segment. Where the splitter is a casing segment, it is cementable in the hole. It is important to note that the concept hereof provides for one or more of control (decision-type control or flow-type control) and monitoring of a lateral leg of the splitter while leaving the main leg of the splitter (and hence the junction itself) fully open. The method for providing such control/monitoring while leaving the main bore open can be practiced using the splitter illustrated herein either with ancillary bores (described hereunder) or without the ancillary bores, the overriding consideration being the leaving of the main bore patent so that access to laterals and their controls can be gained without pulling a large number of completion string components from the main bore simply to “get to the lateral”. There are clear benefits to arrangements facilitating the ability to reach target laterals from uphole without pulling monitoring or control modules from uphole splitters to gain access thereto. Further, one embodiment the disclosed splitter further provides for a location (which would otherwise be unused space) in which to place components of a downhole system and from which location (referred to herein as the “ancillary bore(s)”) the installed components are retrievable. Since in this embodiment too, the main bore is left open, access to individual control or monitoring modules whether in the lateral leg or in the ancillary bore of splitters that are farther downhole than the subject splitter does not require removal of such components from splitters farther uphole than the subject splitter.

The concept hereof provides for arrangement of modules and control lines in different configurations for different applications all of which maintain an open main bore. This can be in a tubing string and/or a casing string in different systems with differing overall properties. As noted above, control and/or monitoring modules are to be placed so as to interact with a target lateral (or potentially monitor parameters of the main bore) but not occlude the main bore. Thereby, greater access and tighter controls simultaneously with easier maintenance, repair or replacement of components is achieved. In some of the embodiments, components are located directly in the lateral. For example, a choke intended to control flow from a particular lateral or a flow venturi intended to measure flow from or to a particular lateral would be positioned in that lateral. A monitoring or control system however might be located in an ancillary bore and merely have sensors located in the lateral, or may simply have sensors exposed to the lateral (or the main bore) while not being directly in the lateral (or main bore). More particularly (see FIGS. 2 and 3), ancillary bores may be configured with a parameter transmissive interface 40 (temperature, pressure, etc.) or fluid transmissive interface 42 providing for communication with the lateral bore, main bore, or both. In one example a connective opening (interface 40) between the ancillary bore and lateral bore or main bore includes a flexible barrier 44 therein and as such is not fluid transmissive but is parameter transmissive. In another example (FIG. 3), the connective opening (interface 40) is free of a barrier and so in addition to being transmissive to parameters such as temperature and pressure it is also fluid transmissive. It is noted however that each of the devices utilized for a particular application could be placed in the lateral and no ancillary bore provided while remaining in keeping with the unifying principle of this disclosure, which is to maintain the patency of the main bore. In applications utilizing one or more ancillary bores, referring to FIG. 1, the ancillary bores 20, 22 are located in what would otherwise be dead space in a splitter. That is, the space along a diametric line perpendicular to (and in the same plane of) a diametric line, which bisects lateral leg 18 and main leg 16. The ancillary bore(s) 20, 22 are configured to provide signal transmitting capability to other well components including intelligent components, such as monitors, controllers, sensors, etc. and control components such as chokes and other downhole tools. Moreover the ancillary bore(s) may be configured to receive a controller configured to communicate with multiple addressable devices or individual control and monitoring modules. In the event two ancillary bores are provided as illustrated, it is to be understood that they need not both be used. Indeed neither of the bores need be used. They may stay plugged with, for example, dummy modules, indefinitely. One or both may be employed at will for monitoring, control or combination equipment. In the prior art this would have been unused space and is beneficially utilized according hereto to house control and/or monitoring modules(s) 30, 32 in a retrievable manner. Such control and monitoring modules 30, 32 are operably connected to surface or other remote location via control line(s) 34 which may be hydraulic, electric, optic or otherwise or may be combinations of any of these. In one embodiment, the control lines are run outside of the casing segment and penetrate the casing splitter at the ancillary bore or lateral bore or even the main bore to provide communication and/or power for a module of some kind stabbed therein from within the string.

Whether or not ancillary bores are utilized, the disclosure hereof specifically facilitates well control and monitoring control. These can be done alone or in combination. With these two concepts in place, any well configuration is handleable. Where multiple splitters are stacked, flows come from several different regions of a host formation, through lateral bores that extend thereinto. Because of the configuration taught herein, all of these flows are quantified, which then provides a true picture of one condition in the entire well. Where it is known, as in the system of this disclosure, (through monitor, control or both) what condition is prevailing at each of the laterals of a well the condition of the entire well must necessarily be known because it is the sum of its parts. In some embodiments hereof, each downhole control unit installed is addressable so that fewer or even one control line need be installed to communicate with one or more control and/or monitoring units or modules downhole.

Installation of the described device includes running the splitter 12 and cementing it in the wellbore (if a casing segment). If the particular splitter includes ancillary bore(s), dummy modules 30, 32 (as shown) may be installed therein to prevent debris from entering the ancillary bore(s), which might otherwise present difficulties with respect to installation of modules. A straddle wiper plug (not shown), as known in the art, may be employed to prevent cement entrance to profiles in the splitter if the splitter is a casing segment and intended to be cemented in place. In the casing splitter embodiment, once the splitter 12 is at depth it is cemented in place. A lateral bore may be drilled and lined, etc. and suitable device(s) installed. The device(s) may be, as noted above, a controller module, a monitoring module, an adjustable choke 24, a venturi, a combination of the foregoing or other downhole tools. These are installed in leg 18 to control flow between lateral leg 18 and the main bore. These can alternatively be installed in ancillary bores as noted above, in which case, not only will they not impede access down the main bore, but they also will not impede access down the lateral bore. Modules 30, 32 if used, may be installed with such tools as a diverter or kick over tool to replace one or both dummys. It should be noted that the splitter could be configured to accept two or more modules in a single module receptacle, if desired.

A very significant advantage of this system is that access to more downhole laterals of the well may be had without the need to remove devices connected with more uphole laterals.

The choke 24, which may be an adjustable choke and in one embodiment is variable from fully open to fully closed (thereby shutting off the lateral), is configured to land and be retained in lateral leg 18. Choke 24 is also retrievable. The configuration, in one embodiment employs a profile (see FIG. 2) 26 at an uphole end 28 of lateral leg 18 to receive choke 24. Choke 24 may be installed at any time in the well construction program. The profile 26 comprises, in one embodiment, an existing nipple configuration such as for example that utilized in Baker Oil Tools Product Number H80185, a Model AF Seating Nipple.

While preferred embodiments have been shown and described, modifications and substitutions may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the present invention has been described by way of illustrations and not limitation.