Title:
Well Systems and Associated Methods Incorporating Fluid Loss Control
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore comprises the steps of: installing a completion string including a well screen and a fluid loss control device in the wellbore; then installing a production string in the wellbore; then engaging the production string with the completion string; and then operating the fluid loss control device by varying pressure in a fluid passage. A well system comprises a completion string including a fluid loss control device, a packer and a well screen, the packer being positioned between the fluid loss control device and the screen; and a production string including another packer and engaged with the completion string, the fluid loss control device being positioned longitudinally between the packers, and the fluid loss control device being operable in response to variation of pressure in a fluid passage.



Inventors:
Barlow, Darren R. (Houston, TX, US)
Dowden, Justin A. (Houma, LA, US)
Adams, Shane M. (Houma, LA, US)
Henderson, William D. (Tioga, TX, US)
Williamson, Jimmie R. (Carrollton, TX, US)
Roane, Thomas (Alvord, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/255176
Publication Date:
04/22/2010
Filing Date:
10/21/2008
Assignee:
HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES, INC. (Carrollton, TX, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/374
International Classes:
E21B34/10; E21B33/13
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COY, NICOLE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Locke Lord LLP (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore, the method comprising the steps of: installing a completion string in the wellbore, the completion string including a well screen and a fluid loss control device; then installing a production string in the wellbore; then engaging the production string with the completion string; and then operating the fluid loss control device by varying pressure in a fluid passage.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein in the operating step, the fluid passage comprises a first annulus formed between the wellbore and the production string.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the operating step further comprises increasing pressure in the first annulus to thereby close the fluid loss control device.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein the engaging step further comprises inserting the production string within the completion string, thereby placing an actuator of the fluid loss control device in fluid communication with the first annulus via a second annulus formed between the production string and the completion string.

5. The method of claim 2, wherein in the engaging step, a packer of the completion string is positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device and the screen.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the production string includes a packer, and wherein the engaging step further comprises making a hydraulic wet connect connection between the fluid loss control device on a first side of the production string packer and the first annulus on an opposite second side of the production string packer.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the operating step further comprises closing the fluid loss control device after the fluid loss control device is opened.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein in the operating step, the fluid passage comprises a conduit.

9. A well system for use in a wellbore, the system comprising: a completion string including a fluid loss control device, a first packer and a well screen, the first packer being positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device and the well screen; and a production string engaged with the completion string, the production string including a second packer, wherein the fluid loss control device is positioned longitudinally between the first and second packers, and wherein the fluid loss control device is operable in response to variation of pressure in a fluid passage.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein the passage comprises a conduit.

11. The system of claim 9, wherein the passage comprises an annulus formed between the wellbore and the production string.

12. The system of claim 9, wherein the second packer is positioned longitudinally between the annulus and the hydraulic wet connect.

13. The system of claim 9, further comprising a latching device which releasably secures the production and completion strings, the latching device being positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device and the second packer.

14. The system of claim 9, further comprising a latching device which releasably secures the production and completion strings, the latching device being positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device and the first packer.

15. The system of claim 9, wherein the fluid loss control device is closable in response to variation of pressure in the passage.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein the fluid loss control device is openable in response to variation of pressure in an interior flow passage of the production string.

17. The system of claim 9, wherein the wellbore is gravel packed about the well screen.

18. The system of claim 9, wherein pressure is transmitted between the passage and the fluid loss control device via a hydraulic wet connect.

19. A method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore, the method comprising the steps of: installing a completion string in the wellbore, the completion string including a well screen and a fluid loss control device; then installing a production string in the wellbore; then engaging the production string with the completion string; then opening the fluid loss control device; and then closing the fluid loss control device without intervention into the production string.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the closing step further comprises varying pressure in an annulus formed between the production string and the wellbore.

21. The method of claim 19, wherein the opening step further comprises varying pressure in an interior flow passage of the production string.

22. The method of claim 19, wherein in the engaging step, the fluid loss control device is positioned longitudinally between a packer of the completion string and a packer of the production string.

23. The method of claim 19, wherein in the engaging step, the fluid loss control device is positioned between a packer of the completion string and a packer of the production string.

24. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of gravel packing the wellbore about the well screen prior to the production string installing step.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure relates generally to equipment utilized and operations performed in conjunction with a subterranean well and, in an embodiment described herein, more particularly provides well systems and methods incorporating fluid loss control.

A gravel pack assembly typically includes a packer, a closing sleeve, a fluid loss device and a well screen, with a work string and a multi-position tool engaged within the assembly. A flowpath is provided in the gravel pack assembly for delivery of stimulation fluids and a gravel slurry into a wellbore external to the assembly, and another flowpath is provided for circulating fluids back to surface. Once the operation is completed, the multi-position tool and work string are retrieved.

The fluid loss control device is usually closed upon retrieval of the work string and multi-position tool, in order to prevent loss of fluid from the wellbore. The fluid loss control device is usually opened upon installation of a production string, to thereby allow for production of fluid to the surface via the production string.

Unfortunately, the fluid loss control device cannot be conveniently closed again if there is a need to retrieve the production string, or to carry out other operations, such as chemical washouts for hydrate remediation. In some circumstances, a wireline- or coiled tubing-conveyed shifting tool can be used to close the fluid loss control device, but this requires intervention into the production string, and is costly and inconvenient (particularly if the production string needs to be urgently retrieved, such as during an emergency, or if production is via a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) facility).

Therefore, it will be appreciated that improvements are needed in the art of fluid loss control. These improvements may be useful in operations other than those discussed above.

SUMMARY

In the present specification, well systems and methods are provided which solve at least one problem in the art. One example is described below in which a fluid loss control device is operable multiple times without physical intervention. Another example is described below in which annulus pressure or conduit pressure can be used to close a fluid loss control device after it has been opened.

In one aspect, a method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore is provided. The method includes the steps of: installing a completion string in the wellbore, the completion string including a well screen and a fluid loss control device; then installing a production string in the wellbore; then engaging the production string with the completion string; and then operating the fluid loss control device by varying pressure in a fluid passage (such as a conduit and/or an annulus formed between the wellbore and the production string).

In another aspect, a well system for use in a wellbore is provided which includes a completion string including a fluid loss control device, a packer and a well screen. The packer is positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device and the well screen. A production string is engaged with the completion string, and the production string includes another packer. The fluid loss control device is positioned longitudinally between the packers, and the fluid loss control device is operable in response to variation of pressure in a fluid passage (such as a conduit and/or an annulus formed between the wellbore and the production string).

In yet another aspect, a method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore includes the steps of: installing a completion string in the wellbore, the completion string including a well screen and a fluid loss control device; then installing a production string in the wellbore; then engaging the production string with the completion string; then opening the fluid loss control device; and then closing the fluid loss control device without intervention into the production string.

These and other features, advantages and benefits will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon careful consideration of the detailed description of representative embodiments below and the accompanying drawings, in which similar elements are indicated in the various figures using the same reference numbers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of a well system and associated method embodying principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of the well system after further steps in the method have been performed;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged scale schematic cross-sectional view of a fluid loss control device usable in the well system and method;

FIG. 4 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method;

FIG. 5 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method;

FIG. 6 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method;

FIG. 7 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method;

FIG. 8 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method;

FIG. 9 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method; and

FIG. 10 is a schematic partially cross-sectional view of another configuration of the well system and its associated method.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It is to be understood that the various embodiments described herein may be utilized in various orientations, such as inclined, inverted, horizontal, vertical, etc., and in various configurations, without departing from the principles of the present disclosure. The embodiments are described merely as examples of useful applications of the principles of the disclosure, which are not limited to any specific details of these embodiments.

In the following description of the representative embodiments of the disclosure, directional terms, such as “above”, “below”, “upper”, “lower”, etc., are used for convenience in referring to the accompanying drawings. In general, “above”, “upper”, “upward” and similar terms refer to a direction toward the earth's surface along a wellbore, and “below”, “lower”, “downward” and similar terms refer to a direction away from the earth's surface along the wellbore.

Representatively illustrated in FIG. 1 is a well system 10 and associated method which embody principles of the present disclosure. In the system 10, a completion string 12 has been installed in a wellbore 14, and a gravel packing operation has been performed. The wellbore 14 is depicted in FIG. 1 as being cased, but it is not necessary for the wellbore to be cased, or for a gravel packing operation to be performed in keeping with the principles of this disclosure.

The completion string 12 preferably includes a specialized gravel packing or frac-pack packer 16, a closing sleeve 18, a fluid loss control device 20 and a well screen 22. A work string 24 is engaged with the completion string 12 during installation and subsequent stimulation/gravel packing operations. The work string 24 includes a multi-position tool 26, seals 28 and washpipe 30. Many additional components, other components and combinations of components can be included in the completion and work strings 12, 24 in keeping with the principles of this disclosure.

After the wellbore 14 has been gravel packed about the screen 22, the work string 24 is retrieved from the well and the fluid loss control device 20 is closed to prevent loss of fluid from the wellbore 14 (or the interior of the casing if the wellbore is cased) during retrieval of the work string and installation of a production string 32 (not shown in FIG. 1, see FIG. 2). Except for the fluid loss control device 20, all or any of the components depicted in FIG. 1 may be conventional components of the type well known to those skilled in the art.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 2, the well system 10 is depicted after installation of the production string 32. The production string 32 is inserted into the completion string 12 and is sealingly engaged therein with seals 34 The production string 32 is also sealed and secured in the wellbore 14 using a packer 36.

An annulus 38 is formed radially between the production string 32 and the wellbore 14 (or the interior surface of the casing if the wellbore is cased), and another annulus 40 is formed radially between the completion string 12 and tubing 42 of the production string 32. The annulus 38 is in fluid communication with the annulus 40 via an opening 44 in the completion string 12 above the packer 16, an opening through the packer 36, and another annulus 48 between the packers.

In one unique feature of the system 10, the fluid loss control device 20 can be operated by varying pressure in the annulus 38 (for example, using a pump or other pressurized fluid source at the surface or mudline), which pressure is communicated to the fluid loss control device via the openings 44, 46 and annuli 40, 48. In this manner, the fluid loss control device 20 can be operated even after the work string 24 has been retrieved, and can be operated multiple times after the production string 32 is installed, as desired.

The fluid loss control device 20 may also be operable multiple times by varying pressure in an interior flow passage 50 of the production string 32. For example, the fluid loss control device 20 may be opened by increasing pressure in the flow passage 50, and the fluid loss control device may be closed by increasing pressure in the annulus 38.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 3, an example of a fluid loss control device 20 which may be used in the system 10 and associated method is representatively illustrated. As depicted in FIG. 3, the device 20 includes a ball valve 52 and an actuator 54.

When interconnected in the completion string 12, and with the production string 32 sealingly engaged therein, the flow passage 50 extends through the device 20. A piston 56 of the actuator 54 has one side exposed to pressure in the passage 50 via an opening 58, and an opposite side exposed to pressure in the annulus 40 via an opening 60. A seal bore 62 is provided for sealing engagement with the seal 34 at the lower end of the tubing 42.

It will be readily appreciated that when pressure in the passage 50 is increased until it is greater than pressure in the annulus 40, the piston 56 will displace upward and open the ball valve 52. When pressure in the annulus 40 is subsequently increased until it is greater than pressure in the passage 50, the piston 56 will displace downwardly to close the ball valve 52, as depicted in FIG. 3.

Of course, the device 20 as depicted in FIG. 3 is merely one simplified example of a fluid loss control device which may be used in the system 10. Additional features may be incorporated into the device 20 (such as, shear pins, latches, ratchets, pressurized gas chambers, etc.) to control how and when the device operates, different types of valves may be used (such as flappers, etc.), and other variations may be used in keeping with the principles of this disclosure.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 4, another configuration of the system 10 is representatively illustrated. This configuration is similar in many respects to the system 10 of FIG. 2, but differs at least in part in that the production string 32 includes a fluid loss control device 20 interconnected below the packer 36.

In addition, the production string 32 includes a latching device 64 for releasably securing the production string to the packer 16 of the completion string 12, a latching device 66 for releasably securing the production string to the upper fluid loss control device 20, a telescoping travel joint 68 positioned between the packer 36 and the latching device 66, and a conduit 70 for providing fluid communication between the opening 46 and the latching device 66. The latching device 66 includes a flowpath (not visible in FIG. 4) for providing fluid communication between the conduit 70 and the opening 60 in the upper device 20, so that pressure in the annulus 38 is communicated to the actuator 54 of the upper device.

Thus, the upper device 20 is operable in response to varying pressure in the annulus 38, and is operable in response to varying pressure in the passage 50, as in the description above relating to FIG. 3. However, in the system 10 of FIG. 4, the upper device 20 is positioned longitudinally between the packers 16, 36.

Preferably, the upper fluid loss control device 20 is installed with the production string 32, with the latching device 64 being used to secure the production string (including the device) to the completion string 12. However, if it should become necessary to retrieve the production string 32, the upper device 20 can be closed (for example, by pressurizing the annulus 38), and the production string can be disconnected from the upper device 20 at the latching device 66.

Closing of the upper device 20 will, thus, conveniently prevent loss of fluid from the wellbore 14. The latching device 66 will also permit convenient reconnection of the production string 32 to the upper device 20, with pressure in the passage 50 being used to reopen the valve 52 when desired. This process can be repeated any number of times.

Note that the latching device 66 also serves as a hydraulic wet connect between the upper device 20 and the conduit 70. Fluid communication between the upper device 20 and the conduit 70 can be connected or disconnected using the latching device 66 any number of times.

Alternatively, the travel joint 68 may be used for disconnecting the production string 32. For example, the travel joint 68 could be shear pinned open during installation, with set down weight being used to shear the pins and activate the travel joint when in position.

The production string 32 could then separate at the latching device 66 when it is necessary to retrieve the production string. A wet connect 72 (described below) could be used to reconnect the conduit 70 to the upper device 20 when the production string 32 is again installed. The latching device 64 may be used to retrieve and reinstall the upper device 20, if desired.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 5, another configuration of the system 10 is representatively illustrated. This configuration is similar in many respects to the system 10 of FIG. 4, but differs at least in part in that the latching device 64 is not used to releasably secure the production string 32 to the completion string 12. Instead, the upper fluid loss control device 20 is preferably installed as part of the completion string 12, and the production string is releasably secured to the completion string using the latching device 66 when it is installed.

Preferably, the upper device 20 is constructed as part of the packer 16, or at least is connected thereto when the completion string 12 is installed. The lower device 20 may be used as in conventional stimulating/gravel packing operations to prevent fluid loss, while the upper device 20 remains open. However, after the production string 32 is installed, the upper device 20 is then operable as needed to prevent fluid loss.

Alternatively, the lower device 20 may not be used, in which case the upper device 20 could be closed by the multi-position tool 26 when the work string 24 is retrieved from the well. In this manner, the additional lower device 20 would not be needed.

As described above, the upper device 20 is operable by varying pressure in the annulus 38 and passage 50 to selectively open and close the device. However, in the configuration of FIG. 5, a separate hydraulic wet connect 72 is used between the conduit 70 and the upper device 20. Such a wet connect 72 may be used in the configuration of FIG. 4, if desired.

Thus, in the event that the production string 32 needs to be retrieved from the well, the upper device 20 will be closed (for example, by pressurizing the annulus 38), the production string will be disconnected from the completion string 12 at the latching device 66, and the wet connect 72 will be disconnected. When the production string 32 is installed again, the wet connect 72 will again provide fluid communication between the upper device 20 and the annulus 38.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 6, another configuration of the system 10 is representatively illustrated. This configuration is similar in most respects to the configuration of FIG. 4, but differs at least in that the upper packer 36 is not used on the production string 32, and the conduit 70 extends to a remote location (such as the earth's surface, the mudline in a subsea application, or another location in the well).

In the configuration of FIG. 6, pressure is applied to the valve device 20 via the conduit 70 from the remote location, instead of being applied via the annulus 38. Otherwise, this configuration of the system 10 operates in the same manner as the configuration of FIG. 4.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 7, another configuration of the system 10 is representatively illustrated. This configuration is similar in most respects to the configuration of FIG. 5, but differs at least in that the upper packer 36 is not used on the production string 32, and the conduit 70 extends to a remote location (such as the earth's surface, the mudline in a subsea application, or another location in the well).

In the configuration of FIG. 7, pressure is applied to the valve device 20 via the conduit 70 from the remote location, instead of being applied via the annulus 38. Otherwise, this configuration of the system 10 operates in the same manner as the configuration of FIG. 5.

Referring additionally now to FIGS. 8-10, the well system 10 is representatively illustrated in additional configurations in which the conduit 70 extends to a remote location, as in FIGS. 6 & 7, but the packer 36 is utilized on the production string 32. Pressure is applied to operate the valve device 20 via the conduit 70 from the remote location, instead of being applied via the annulus 38, but otherwise the configurations of FIGS. 8, 9 &10 operate in the same manner as the configurations of respective FIGS. 2, 4 &5 described above.

It may now be fully appreciated that the above description provides several advancements to the art of fluid loss control in wells. For example, the system 10 permits the fluid loss control device 20 to be operated multiple times, and it can be closed after being opened, without intervention into the well. Pressure applied via the annulus 38 can be used to close the device 20 after the production string 32 has been installed, for example, prior to retrieving the production string from the well.

The above disclosure provides a method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore 14, with the method including the steps of: installing a completion string 12 in the wellbore 14, the completion string 12 including a well screen 22 and a fluid loss control device 20; then installing a production string 32 in the wellbore 14; then engaging the production string 32 with the completion string 12; and then operating the fluid loss control device 20 by varying pressure in a fluid passage (such as the conduit and/or an annulus 38 formed between the wellbore 14 and the production string 32).

The operating step may include increasing pressure in the annulus 38 to thereby close the fluid loss control device 20. The operating step may include closing the fluid loss control device 20 after the fluid loss control device is opened.

The production string 32 engaging step may include inserting the production string within the completion string 12, thereby placing an actuator 54 of the fluid loss control device 20 in fluid communication with the annulus 38 via another annulus 40 formed between the production string 32 and the completion string 12.

In the production string 32 engaging step, a packer 16 of the completion string 12 may be positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device 20 and the screen 22. The production string 32 may include a packer 36, and the engaging step may further include making a hydraulic wet connect connection between the fluid loss control device 20 on one side of the production string packer 36 and the annulus 38 on an opposite side of the production string packer 36.

Also provided by the above disclosure is a well system 10 for use in a wellbore 14. The system 10 comprises a completion string 12 including a fluid loss control device 20, a packer 16 and a well screen 22, with the packer 16 being positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device 20 and the well screen 22. A production string 32 is engaged with the completion string 12, with the production string including another packer 36. The fluid loss control device 20 is positioned longitudinally between the packers 16, 36, and the fluid loss control device 20 is operable in response to variation of pressure in a fluid passage (such as the conduit 70 and/or an annulus 38 formed between the wellbore 14 and the production string 12).

The wellbore 14 may be gravel packed about the well screen 22.

Pressure may be transmitted between the annulus 38 and the fluid loss control device 20 via a hydraulic wet connect 72. The packer 36 may be positioned longitudinally between the annulus 38 and the hydraulic wet connect 72.

The system 10 may also include a latching device 66 which releasably secures the production and completion strings 32, 12, with the latching device 66 being positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device 20 and the packer 36.

The system 10 may also include a latching device 64 which releasably secures the production and completion strings 32, 12, with the latching device 64 being positioned longitudinally between the fluid loss control device 20 and the packer 16.

The fluid loss control device 20 may be closable in response to variation of pressure in the annulus 38. The fluid loss control device 20 may be openable in response to variation of pressure in an interior flow passage 50 of the production string 32.

The above disclosure also provides a method of controlling fluid loss from a wellbore 14, which method includes the steps of: installing a completion string 12 in the wellbore 14, the completion string 12 including a well screen 22 and a fluid loss control device 20; then installing a production string 32 in the wellbore 14; then engaging the production string 32 with the completion string 12; then opening the fluid loss control device 20; and then closing the fluid loss control device 20 without intervention into the production string 32.

The closing step may include varying pressure in an annulus 38 formed between the production string 32 and the wellbore 14. The opening step may include varying pressure in an interior flow passage 50 of the production string 32.

In the production string engaging step, the fluid loss control device 20 may be positioned longitudinally between a packer 16 of the completion string 12 and a packer 36 of the production string 32.

The fluid loss control device 20 may be positioned between a packer 16 of the completion string 12 and a packer 36 of the production string 32 in the production string engaging step.

The method may include the step of gravel packing the wellbore 14 about the well screen 22 prior to the production string 32 installing step.

Of course, a person skilled in the art would, upon a careful consideration of the above description of representative embodiments, readily appreciate that many modifications, additions, substitutions, deletions, and other changes may be made to these specific embodiments, and such changes are within the scope of the principles of the present disclosure. Accordingly, the foregoing detailed description is to be clearly understood as being given by way of illustration and example only, the spirit and scope of the present invention being limited solely by the appended claims and their equivalents.