Title:
Swell set wet connect and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A connector including a housing, a contact, and a swellable material in operable communication with the contact and with the housing, the contact being displaceable upon swelling of the swellable material and method.



Inventors:
Stoesz, Carl W. (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/904099
Publication Date:
03/26/2009
Filing Date:
09/26/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
175/315
International Classes:
E21B12/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SAYRE, JAMES G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP (Hartford, CT, US)
Claims:
1. A connector comprising: a housing; a contact; and a swellable material in operable communication with the contact and with the housing, the contact being displaceable upon swelling of the swellable material.

2. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the contact further includes a cover thereon.

3. The connector as claimed in claim 2 wherein the cover is defeatable to allow signal propagating contact therethrough.

4. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the contact is displaceable radially.

5. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the connector further comprises a second contact positioned within the connector, the second contact being contactable by the contact upon swelling of the swellable material.

6. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the swellable material is swellable upon exposure to water, oil, methane, and combinations including at least one of the foregoing.

7. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the connector further comprises an insulator insulating the contact from the swellable material.

8. A signal connection system comprising: a first housing having a contact; a second housing selectively engagable with the first housing, the second housing having a second contact; and a swellable material positioned to upon swelling, and when the first housing and the second housing are engaged, urge at least one of the contact and the second contact toward the other of the contact and the second contact.

9. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 8 wherein the swellable material is positioned to urge both of the contact and the second contact toward one another upon swelling.

10. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 8 wherein the first housing and the second housing engage when nested with one another.

11. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 8 wherein the contacts are environmentally sealed until the swellable material swells and signal propagating connection is made between the contact and the second contact.

12. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 11 wherein environmental sealing remains about the contact and the second contact post connection.

13. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 11 wherein the swellable material is dome shaped.

14. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 11 wherein the swellable material is selectively modified for enhanced wettability in selected areas.

15. The signal connection system as claimed in claim 11 wherein the swellable material is selectively reinforced.

16. A method for connecting contacts in a wellbore comprising: nesting at least one pair of contacts; exposing a swellable material to a condition that causes swelling of the swellable material; and urging the contacts into connection with one another.

17. The method as claimed in claim 16 wherein the exposing is by contacting the swellable material with a fluid to cause the swelling of the swellable material.

18. The method as claimed in claim 16 wherein the urging includes defeat of an environmental cover covering at least one of the contacts.

Description:

BACKGROUND

In the oil and gas industry, a copious amount of time is spent by many different individuals or teams of individuals devising ways to accomplish desired ends in the downhole environment. All such efforts are rendered particularly difficult by the hot, tight, and harsh environment. Traditionally, mechanical connections were the most common connections made in the downhole environment. More recently, however, with the growing reliability and popularity of intelligent wells, signal bearing connections are becoming the more common connection in the downhole environment. Signal bearing connections represent a greater level of difficulty in the downhole environment because generally such connections need to be made in a clean environment and need to have a conductive path between the two conductors but to not have any conductive leak paths. Having such a leak path will cause loss in the circuit thereby rendering the signal received suspect. If the signal received cannot be relied upon, then there is relatively little point in using the information at all.

There are currently many available connectors for all types of conductors. These work well for their intended purposes. Nevertheless, in view of changing requirements and conditions in which such connectors are used, new connector concepts and methods are always well received by the art.

SUMMARY

A connector including a housing, a contact, and a swellable material in operable communication with the contact and with the housing, the contact being displaceable upon swelling of the swellable material.

A signal connection system including a first housing having a contact, a second housing selectively engagable with the first housing, the second housing having a second contact and a swellable material positioned to upon swelling, and when the first housing and the second housing are engaged, urge at least one of the contact and the second contact toward the other of the contact and the second contact.

A method for connecting contacts in a wellbore including nesting at least one pair of contacts, exposing a swellable material to a condition that causes swelling of the swellable material, and urging the contacts into connection with one another.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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

FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a connector assembly according to the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional representation of a contact with a spike feature thereon; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of a swellable material with a domed configuration for an alternate embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a connector 10 is illustrated. The connector 10 comprises a housing 12, which may be any of a large number of possible configurations, one being schematically illustrated at the numeral indicated in FIG. 1. The housing 12 is intended merely to contain the more active components of the connector 10, disclosed in detail hereunder, and thus does not itself require any particular form. In the illustration, the housing 12 is a mandrel of the downhole tool or string 14 in which one side of the connector 10 is installed. Regardless of what the housing 12 presents as, its purpose remains the same with respect to the connector 10 disclosed herein and that is to contain the other components of one side of the connector 10. As the connector 10 is configured to make a signal bearing connection in the downhole environment, there must necessarily be an interface between the two sides of the connector 10. The interface is identified in FIG. 1 at numeral 16. A counter housing 18 supports the other side components of the connector 10. In the particularly illustrated embodiment, the housing 12 is received at an inside dimension of the counter housing 18 in a radially nested manner. This is not to say that the configuration of the connector 10 must be thus but only that this is one possible configuration and is useful for an understanding of the disclosure hereof. Certainly, the operative components disclosed in this document can be rearranged physically but still cause mechanical changes that facilitate signal bearing connection.

At each side of the interface 16, one or more contacts are positioned. As illustrated, the contacts are numbered 20, 22, 24, and 26 for clarity. It is to be understood, however, that more or fewer contacts could be employed and that their exact positions can be altered without departing from the scope of this disclosure. What is needed is only the pairs of contacts that are physically positioned such that upon a relatively simple displacement, they will come into contact with one another. The simple displacement may be of a single vector direction or may have multiple vector directions but with increasing numbers of vector directions, alignment and therefore ultimate signal connection becomes more difficult. Thus, fewer vector directions built into the connector simplifies the configuration. In the illustrated embodiment, substantially one vector direction is implicated in the movement necessary to facilitate signal connection.

Another thing that is to be understood is that the components of the connector 10 are reversible. As illustrated, and assuming that the left side of FIG. 1 is the uphole side, as is conventional in downhole apparatus illustration, the portion of the connector in the well first is the portion at the resulting inside dimension, meaning that the tool is configured as an overshot type tool. This can be easily reversed without departing from the scope of the disclosure by configuring the device as a stab in type tool such that the portion of the connector 10 that is downhole first is at the outside dimension and the second part stabs into it at the inside dimension.

Continuing now with the identification of components of the connector 10 and still referring to FIG. 1, a swellable material 30 is positioned between the housing 12 and the contacts 20 and 24. Optionally, there may also be an insulator 32 positioned between the swellable material and the contacts 20 and 24 if anticipated conditions dictate. Such insulator 32 may be useful in the event that the swellable material is sufficiently conductive to degrade the signal, which, of course, would be undesirable. An insulator 34 is also generally placed adjacent the complementary contacts 22 and 26. Each of the contacts 20, 22, 24 and 26 is connected in a signal transmissive manner to a conductor 36 or 38 as illustrated by broken lines on the drawing.

In operation, the connector 10 is so positioned that a swelling fluid is brought into contact with the swellable material 30. The swellable material is responsive to oil, water, methane or combinations including at least one of the foregoing. The swelling fluid may be specifically applied to the swellable material by means of a conduit embodied in the string in which the connector 10 is carried or may be an environmental fluid. In the case of an environmental fluid, the running to the connector into position will tend to expose the swellable material 30 to the swelling fluid prior to landing of the connector side with the other side. The swelling fluid may also simply be in the environment of the connector 10 after landing and simply migrates through the tool to contact the swellable material. In any of these modes of operation, the end result is the same. More specifically, the swellable material will swell, thereby forcing the contacts 20 and 24 in the illustrated embodiment toward the contacts 22 and 26. It is to be appreciated that additional swellable material may be positioned adjacent contacts 22 and 26 to cause those contacts to move toward the contacts 20 and 24 at the same time or alternatively move toward contacts 20 and 24 without the contacts 20 and 24 moving toward contacts 22 and 26. In other words, depending upon the placement of the swellable material, one side contacts, other side contacts or both side contacts can be moved by the swellable material. Upon sufficient movement of the moved contacts, a signal capable connection is made between contact 20 and 22 and/or contact 24 and 26. As noted above, more or fewer pairs of contacts may be included as desired and needed.

In one embodiment, the contacts are covered by a cover material to keep them clean. This cover is located at the line between the contacts 20 and 22, and 24 and 26. The cover may be of any material that is physically capable of protecting the contacts from dirt and debris while still being defeatable during the swelling of the swellable material to facilitate signal bearing connection. In some embodiments and particularly electrical embodiments, it may be desired to configure the contacts with one or more spikes 40 to ensure solid electrical contact therebetween (see FIG. 2 for example). It is to be further appreciated that electrical connections are not the only type of connections makable through the configuration taught herein, rather electrical, optical, and other types of connections are possible to be made.

In another embodiment, the swellable material is contoured differently than that illustrated in FIG. 1. The swellable material is substantially flat in FIG. 1 while in FIG. 3, one will easily perceive that the swellable material is dome shaped. This configuration has the advantage that it will tend to squeegee fluid out of the interface 16 when the swellable material is swelling. Consideration should be given, however, to contact make force as the swellable material makes contact with the other side of the connector 10 prior to the contacts making contact. Thus, the contact force at the contacts may be less.

Further, it is to be understood that similar squeegeeing effect is obtainable by causing certain areas of the swellable material to be wetted first or more than other areas such as by providing grooves or passages therein that will allow the swelling fluid easier access to certain parts of the swellable material. Moreover, an additional material could be added to the swellable material such as for example a nonwoven textile that is unevenly applied so that the swellable material resists swelling in areas having more reinforcement than others. These treatments can be applied to either the flat or the contoured embodiments of the swellable material with similarly controllable results.

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.