Patent application title: Stationary slick line pumping method
Aaron Mathew Hunter (Midland, TX, US)
IPC8 Class: AE21B4300FI
Class name: Wells processes producing the well
Publication date: 2009-02-19
Patent application number: 20090044952
An alternative apparatus and pumping method for retrieving liquids from a
wellbore without the use of a pumping unit as customarily used in oil
1. An apparatus for recovering liquids from a well containing a tubular
member having an inside and extending from an earth surface to penetrate
a liquid producing subterranean formation, the apparatus comprising:a) a
body having a body top and a body, a round exterior surface, openings in
the body top and a valve in the body;b) a flexible support member
extending from a system for releasing and retrieving the flexible support
member in the wellbore and connected to the body top
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the valve is a ball valve.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the valve is a flapper valve.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the tubular member is a production tubing.
5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the body top includes at least one hole.
6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the flexible support member comprises at least one of a braided wire line, slick line and polymer line.
7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the clearance between the outside of the body and the inside of the tubular member is a tight mechanical tolerance such that minimal fluid will pass by the outside of the body.
8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein seals are positioned on the exterior surface of the body to reduce leakage of fluids between the outside of the body and the inside of the tubular member.
9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the tubular member is a casing.
10. A method for producing fluids from a well containing a tubular member having an inside and extending from an earth surface to penetrate a fluid producing subterranean formation, the method comprising:a) positioning an apparatus comprising a body having a body top and a body, a round exterior surface, openings in the body top and a valve in the body in the well;b) connecting the apparatus to a flexible support member to lift and lower the body;c) producing liquids from the well by raising the body; and,d) lowering the body into the well.
11. The method of claim 11 wherein the fluid comprises at least one of petroleum, distillates, water and natural gas.
12. The method of claim 11 wherein the well is a low fluid production well producing at least petroleum, natural gas, distillates and water.
13. The method of claim 11 wherein the tubular member is a production tubing and wherein liquids are produced by lifting the body through the production tubing.
14. The method of claim 11 wherein the tubular member is a casing and wherein liquids are produced by lifting the body through the casing.
15. The method of claim 11 wherein the well is a low pressure gas well which also produces liquids wherein the liquids are removed to enable the production of gas.
16. The method of claim 11 wherein the body is lowered by opening the valve and allowing liquids to flow into the body and out of the body through the valve and at least one hole in the body top.
17. The method of claim 11 wherein natural gas is produced from the well by periodic removal of liquids.
18. The method of claim 11 wherein the flexible support member comprises a wire line, slick line or polymer line.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to an alternative apparatus and pumping method for retrieving liquids from a wellbore without the use of a pumping unit as customarily used in oil field operations. This unit is primarily targeted for gas well deliquification and/or low fluid volume oil or condensate wells.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In typical oil field operations, when liquids are recovered from oil and gas wells, the wells are equipped with a pumping unit which reciprocates sucker rods upwardly and downwardly in the well to activate a down-hole pump which pumps liquids, such as oil, water and mixtures thereof, to the surface. The maintenance of such equipment is relatively expensive, as is the equipment itself. Further in relatively low production wells it is continually necessary to adjust the speed and run time of the pumping unit, and the like to keep the level of the well liquids above the top of the pump. It is detrimental to operate a pump above the level of the liquid.
In many instances, it is desirable to remove liquids from a wellbore by a different approach. The different approach is desirably one which does not require the use of the expensive equipment or the continued adjustments based upon the level of liquids in the well.
Accordingly, a continuing search has been directed to a method for effectively removing liquids from such wells.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to the present invention, such liquids are readily recovered by an apparatus for recovering liquids from a well containing a tubular member having an inside and extending from an earth surface to penetrate a liquid producing subterranean formation, the apparatus comprising: a body having a body top and a body, a round exterior surface, openings in the body top and a valve in the body; a flexible support member extending from a system for raising and lowering the flexible support member in the wellbore and connected to the body top.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a prior art pumping system for recovering liquids from a subterranean liquid producing formation;
FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a further embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of a body used to lift liquids according to the embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of an alternate and larger embodiment of the body to use to lift liquids according to the embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a further alternate apparatus for producing liquids; and,
FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a system useful for raising and lowering a slick line, wire line, copper tubing or the like into and retrieving the line from a well.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
In the discussion of the Figures, the same numbers will be used throughout to refer to the same or similar components.
In FIG. 1 an embodiment of a prior art apparatus for the production of liquids from a subterranean formation is shown. A well 10 is shown extending from an earth surface 12 through an overburden 14 to a liquid bearing formation 16. The well includes a casing 18 which is cemented into place by cement 20 with the casing having an inside 19. Perforations 22 are positioned through casing 18 in the liquid producing formation and a pump 24 is positioned to pump fluids to the surface based upon reciprocal motion of sucker rods 26. The fluids are produced through a production tubing 28 having an inside 30 through which the liquid is pumped and discharged through a production flow line 32. A liquid level 34 is desirably maintained in well 10 above the top of pump 24 for operations. The well may include a tubing anchor catcher and centralizer at a position in the lower portion of the tubing. Such a tubing catcher and centralizer are shown at 39.
In FIG. 2 an embodiment of the present invention is shown. The pump 24 and sucker rods 26 are no longer needed however a seal 38 is positioned in the top of production tubing 28 to permit the entry and movement of a flexible slick line 40 or the like through the seal. "Slick line" refers to a flexible solid wire which may be used to raise and lower apparatus in a production casing or in a production tubing. Other equipment which could be used for such purposes comprises wire lines, braided steel line, plastic line, and other various materials. The use of the term "wire line" is used to refer to a wire like flexible material which may comprise a plurality of strands.
The present invention comprises a body 42, which is shown positioned beneath the liquid level 34. The body is connected via a slick line 40 to a system for raising the body in the production tubing. The body 42 includes a top 44 and a bottom 46. The body is lowered to a position near the bottom 52 of the well. Desirably the body is lowered to a position beneath perforations 22 into subterranean formation 16. Further it may be desirable that seals (not shown) be positioned around the outside surface of the body to minimize the amount of fluid that will leak between the body 42 and tubing 28.
In the operation of the apparatus shown in FIG. 2, liquids are shown to have accumulated to a level 34 in well 10. These liquids may be petroleum, petroleum distillates, water, mixtures thereof and the like. It may be desirable from time to time to recover these liquids. Especially if the well is a relatively low production well, it may not be feasible to maintain a pumping unit at the well so alternate methods of producing these liquids are necessary if the well is to be produced at low, although profitable, levels. The body is positioned so that when raised by the slick line it moves liquids in production tubing 28 upwardly through the well for production through the production flow line 32.
The body in its raised position is shown in FIG. 3 with the well having a reduced level 34. The body may then be lowered into well 10 and is adapted to readily sink into production tubing 28 through the liquid for retrieval to remove additional liquid from the well.
An embodiment of the body 42 is shown in FIG. 4 and, as shown, includes holes 72 in its top through which liquid can flow as shown by arrows 85. Liquid flow into the body is shown by arrow 84. A slick line wire is shown connected to a connector 70 on the top of body 42. As the body 42 is lowered into the liquid, pressure under the ball 50 forces the ball to un-seat from the ball seat 48. The action between ball 50 and seat 48 acts as a ball and seat valve. Liquid can thus flow into and through the body to permit readily lowering the body through a liquid level. If unusual or extreme conditions exist within well 10 rubber or plastic seals (not shown) would be placed in the machined grooves 78 on the outside of the tool 42. The top 44 and bottom 46 of the body 42 are connected by the threaded section 47 at the top of part 46. Machined channels 49 allow for wrenches to tighten part 44 to part 46 without affecting the close tolerance of the tool 42 and the tubing 28. FIG. 5 is an alternative embodiment of FIG. 4 in that it is a larger diameter tool for use in larger diameter tubing.
In FIG. 6 an alternate embodiment of the body shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 is shown. This embodiment is shown in a position for lowering the body into a liquid. Further, seals not shown in this embodiment are slightly different and comprise seals similar to o-rings seated in grooves 78 in a wall of the body 42
A variety of seals of different configurations can be used with equal success. The seals shown are considered to be illustrative of the use of seals and it should be noted that the drawings are not drawn to scale. In a preferred embodiment, the mechanical clearance between the outside of body 42 and inside 30 of production tubing 28 is maintained at very close tolerances. This permits the withdrawal of the liquid effectively by the use of the body without respect to the seals.
In some applications, it is desirable to have seals rather than closer tolerances since it is considered that the seals can be more effectively lowered into the liquid layer than can a very tightly toleranced body. Typically when no seals are used it is desirable that the clearance between an outer surface of the body 42 and the inside surface of the production tubing be such that a very small amount of liquid would flow past the body 42. Somewhat larger tolerances between outer surface and the inside of the production tubing may be used when seals are used since the seals will facilitate prevention of leakage of liquids past the body.
In FIG. 7 a system is shown for lowering the slick line into the well. Slick line 40 is passed over a roller and mounting bracket 56 and accumulated on or discharged from a slick line drum 58. As indicated previously, wire lines, polymer lines and the like may be used in lieu of the slick line. The wire line drum is supported on a support 60 and includes a pulley 62 which is driven by a belt 68 from a motor 64, which is preferably an electric motor, which is supported on a stand 66. The stand 66 is either mounted to a cement foundation or directly to the ground. Other configurations can be used for this operation as well known to those skilled in the art.
The operation of the apparatus of the present invention is effective to lower the body into a well through a layer of liquid and to withdraw the body upwardly through the well to discharge liquids through a recovery line. This permits the recovery of significant amounts of liquids from wells which may not produce enough liquid to justify maintaining pumping unit equipment at the well. Further it does not require extensive control of the level since if the level rises too high it will simply be recovered through the recovery line 32 and the well can then be emptied using the slick line and the body at intervals as desired. The alternate pumping system of the present invention can also be used to operate wells of higher production but more frequent operation of the recovery cycle is necessary. Further the recovery cycle can be automated to run at selected intervals with only infrequent attention from the operator although it is anticipated that the operator of the well will periodically operate the well manually as required. This application also allows the operator of low liquid volume wells to set this application below perforations 16 if desired to further lower the bottom-hole pressure. Currently with most other forms of artificial lift, it is not recommended to set the pump intake below the perforations.
A further application of the present invention is the removal of liquids which may accumulate in low pressure gas wells. In such wells, the gas may be produced at a pressure sufficiently low that it will not flow upwardly through the liquid layer. In such instances, lowering the liquid layer to a sufficiently low level is crucial to the production of the natural gas. Accordingly, it is clear that the apparatus of the present invention and the method of the present invention can be used for a variety of purposes such as the operation of recovery from a relatively high producing well to recovery of liquids from a relatively low producing well or for the removal of undesired liquids from low pressure gas wells.
Furthermore this application lends itself to be powered by a standard electricity source such as power lines, or by alternative energy sources such as solar power, wind generators or any other alternative energy source that generates clean reliable energy.
While not discussed above, it will be understood that the apparatus of the present invention could also be used inside a casing as it is used inside production tubing. In such instances, the body must be configured to suitably interact with the inside surface of the casing. In other respects the operation is the same as discussed above for operation of production tubing. This may also be desirable in some wells since it may be used in wells which are not fully completed or from which the tubing has been withdrawn. In some instances it may be desirable to limit the amount of liquid which is positioned for removal by the slick line withdrawal. Weight considerations may require that the amount of liquid which could be moved upwardly by the body be limited to the weight lifting capacity of the slick line.
The liquids recovered are typically petroleum, petroleum distillates, water, brine, and mixtures thereof. The gas recovered typically comprises natural gas. The recovery of these valuable materials is facilitated by the use of the present invention in instances where it is not desirable or feasible to use a pumping unit with a submersible pump and the like.
While the present invention has been described by reference to certain of its preferred embodiments, it is pointed out that the embodiments described are illustrative rather than limiting in nature and that many variations and modifications are possible within the scope of the present invention. Many such variations and modifications may be considered obvious and desirable by those skilled in the art based upon a review of the foregoing description of preferred embodiments.
Patent applications in class Producing the well
Patent applications in all subclasses Producing the well