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United States Patent Application 20160281470
Kind Code A1
Sheets, Jr.; Don L. September 29, 2016

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR MAINTAINING A GAS OR OIL WELL

Abstract

An apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well, including: a first opening proximate a first end; a second opening proximate a second end; a wall connecting the first and second ends; a protrusion extending from the wall in a radial direction; a space enclosed by the wall and continuous with the first and second openings; and a seal element. The apparatus is arranged to be placed into production tubing for a gas or oil well. The seal element arranged to seal the wall with respect to the production tubing. The protrusion is arranged to contact a nipple in the production tubing to block movement of the apparatus past the nipple. The first opening is arranged to receive compressed air. The space is arranged to channel the compressed air through the second opening to an area of the oil or gas well deeper than a position of the apparatus in the production tubing.


Inventors: Sheets, Jr.; Don L.; (Aztec, NM)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Sheets, Jr.; Don L.

Aztec

NM

US
Family ID: 1000001655206
Appl. No.: 14/668076
Filed: March 25, 2015


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: E21B 37/00 20130101
International Class: E21B 37/00 20060101 E21B037/00

Claims



1. An apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well, comprising: a longitudinal axis; a first longitudinal end; a second longitudinal end; at least one wall connecting the first and second longitudinal ends; a first opening at the first longitudinal end; a first space: enclosed by the at least one wall; and, continuous with the first opening; at least one of: a second opening at the second longitudinal end, the second opening: continuous with the first space; and, facing in a first longitudinal direction parallel to the longitudinal axis; or, at least one second opening passing through the at least one wall and continuous with the first space; and, a seal element radially disposed about the at least one wall, wherein: the apparatus is arranged to be placed into a production tubing for a gas or oil well; the seal element is arranged to seal the wall with respect to the production tubing; the one of the second opening at the second longitudinal end or the at least one second opening passing through the at least one wall is arranged to receive compressed air; and, the first space is arranged to channel the compressed air through the first opening to an area of the oil or gas well deeper than a position of the apparatus in the production tubing.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the longitudinal axis passes through the first longitudinal opening.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one opening passes through the at least one wall and is continuous with the first space.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a protrusion: extending outward from the at least one wall in a radial direction orthogonal to the longitudinal axis; disposed between the sealing element and the first longitudinal end in a second longitudinal direction parallel to the longitudinal axis; and, arranged to contact a nipple in the production tubing to block movement of the apparatus past the nipple toward a bottom of the gas or oil well.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein: the apparatus includes the at least one second opening passing through the at least one wall and continuous with the first space; and, the at least one second opening includes a plurality of openings.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a pipe including: a third longitudinal end directly connected to the first longitudinal end; and, a fourth longitudinal end with a third opening continuous with the first space, wherein: the longitudinal axis passes through the third opening; or, the third opening faces in a radial direction orthogonal to the longitudinal axis.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a stop element connected to the second longitudinal end and arranged to contact an interior surface of the production tubing to prevent displacement of the apparatus within the production tubing.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein: the apparatus includes the second opening at the second longitudinal end; and, the stop element includes a through-bore continuous with the second opening.

9. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein: the apparatus includes the second opening at the second longitudinal end; and, the stop element includes: a second space continuous with the second opening; and, at least one second opening through a wall of the stop element and continuous with the second space.

10. A method for removing material from a bottom of a gas or oil well, comprising: lowering, in a first direction, an apparatus into a production tubing of the well until a first longitudinal end of the apparatus has penetrated past a top surface of the material to be removed; introducing compressed air into a portion of the production tubing above the apparatus; flowing the compressed air: through a first space enclosed by the apparatus; through a first opening proximate a first longitudinal end of the apparatus; and, into the material; and, displacing the material: out of the bottom of the well; and, in a second direction, opposite the first direction, through a second space between the production tubing and a casement for the gas or oil well.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising: flowing the compressed air: through a second opening, facing the second direction, in a second longitudinal end of the apparatus; and, into the first space.

12. The method of claim 10, further comprising: flowing the compressed air: in a radial direction, orthogonal to the first direction, through an opening in a wall of the apparatus; and, into the first space.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein flowing the compressed air through the first opening proximate the first longitudinal end of the apparatus includes flowing the compressed air through the first opening facing in the first direction.

14. The method of claim 10, wherein flowing the compressed air through the first opening proximate the first longitudinal end of the apparatus includes flowing the compressed air through the first opening facing in a radial direction orthogonal to the first direction.

15. The method of claim 10, further comprising: contacting, with a protrusion extending from a wall of the apparatus, a nipple in the production tubing; and, blocking, with the nipple, further displacement of the apparatus in the first direction.

16. The method of claim 10, further comprising: blocking flow of the compressed air between the apparatus and an interior surface of the production tubing.

17. The method of claim 10, further comprising: once the apparatus is lowered into the well in the first direction, blocking, with a stop element, displacement of the apparatus in the second longitudinal direction.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising: flowing the compressed air through a third space, continuous with the first space, in the stop element.

19. An apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well, comprising: a longitudinal axis; first and second longitudinal ends through which the longitudinal axis passes; a first opening proximate the first longitudinal end; a second opening proximate the second longitudinal end; a wall connecting the first and second longitudinal ends; a protrusion extending from the wall in a radial direction orthogonal to the longitudinal axis; a space enclosed by the wall and continuous with the first and second openings; and, a seal element radially disposed about the wall, wherein: the apparatus is arranged to be placed into production tubing for a gas or oil well; the seal element arranged to seal the wall with respect to the production tubing; the protrusion is arranged to contact a nipple in the production tubing to block movement of the apparatus past the nipple; the first opening is arranged to receive compressed air; and, the space is arranged to channel the compressed air through the second opening to an area of the oil or gas well deeper than a position of the apparatus in the production tubing.

20. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the first opening includes: a first opening through which the longitudinal axis passes; or, a first opening in the wall and facing in the radial direction; and, wherein the second opening includes: a second opening through which the longitudinal axis passes; or, a second opening in the wall and facing in the radial direction.
Description



TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present disclosure relates generally to an apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well, in particular, an apparatus lowered into the well and used to direct compressed air into undesired material in the well to displace the material out of the well. A method of using the apparatus also is disclosed.

BACKGROUND

[0002] FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of prior art rod well W1. Well W1 includes wellhead WH, surface casing SC, production casing PC, and production tubing PT. Well W1 also includes rod pump RP resting on seating nipple N and operated by rods R. Operation of pump RP is well known in the art and is not further discussed here. Gas, oil, or produce water passes through perforations P in casing PC for collection. However, material M, such as fluids and solids, can accumulate in bottom portion B of well W1, preventing gas or oil from passing through perforations P covered by the material, or entraining gas or oil to prevent the gas, oil, or condensates from flowing up the production tube. For example, surface S of the material can extend beyond the end of tubing PT in direction D1. Other problems for well W1 include perforations P clogging even if surface S is below the production tube. The known processes for removing material M, unclogging perforations P, or addressing other problems in well W1 require pulling out rods R, pump RP, and tubing PT, which is a costly and time-consuming process.

[0003] FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of prior art flow gas or oil well W2. Well W2 includes wellhead WH, surface casing SC, production casing PC, and production tubing PT. Gas or oil passes through perforations P in casing PC and flows in direction D1 to wellhead WH or tubing PT for capture. However, material M, such as fluids and solids, can accumulate in bottom portion B of well W2, preventing gas or oil from passing through perforations P covered by the material, or entraining gas or oil to prevent the gas or oil from flowing up the production tube. For example, surface S of the material can extend beyond the end of tubing PT in direction D1. Other problems for well W2 include perforations P clogging even if surface S is below the production tube. The known processes for removing material M, unclogging perforations P, or addressing other problems in well W2 require pulling out tubing PT, which is a costly and time-consuming process.

SUMMARY

[0004] The present disclosure broadly comprises an apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well, including: a longitudinal axis; a first longitudinal end; a second longitudinal end; at least one wall connecting the first and second longitudinal ends; a first opening at the first longitudinal end; a first space enclosed by the at least one wall and continuous with the first opening; at least one of a second opening at the second longitudinal end, the second opening continuous with the first space and facing in a first longitudinal direction parallel to the longitudinal axis, or at least one second opening passing through the at least one wall and continuous with the first space; and a seal element radially disposed about the at least one wall. The apparatus is arranged to be placed into a production tubing for a gas or oil well. The seal element is arranged to seal the wall with respect to the production tubing. The one of the second opening at the second longitudinal end or the at least one second opening passing through the at least one wall is arranged to receive compressed air. The first space is arranged to channel the compressed air through the first opening to an area of the oil or gas well deeper than a position of the apparatus in the production tubing.

[0005] The present disclosure broadly comprises a method for removing material from a bottom of a gas or oil well, including: lowering, in a first direction, an apparatus into a production tubing of the well until a first longitudinal end of the apparatus has penetrated past a top surface of the material to be removed; introducing compressed air into a portion of the production tubing above the apparatus; flowing the compressed air through a first space enclosed by the apparatus, through a first opening proximate a first longitudinal end of the apparatus, and into the material; and displacing the material out of the bottom of the well and in a second direction, opposite the first direction, through a second space between the production tubing and a casement for the gas or oil well.

[0006] The present disclosure broadly comprises an apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well, including: a longitudinal axis; first and second longitudinal ends through which the longitudinal axis passes; a first opening proximate the first longitudinal end; a second opening proximate the second longitudinal end; a wall connecting the first and second longitudinal ends; a protrusion extending from the wall in a radial direction orthogonal to the longitudinal axis; a space enclosed by the wall and continuous with the first and second openings; and a seal element radially disposed about the wall. The apparatus is arranged to be placed into production tubing for a gas or oil well. The seal element arranged to seal the wall with respect to the production tubing. The protrusion is arranged to contact a nipple in the production tubing to block movement of the apparatus past the nipple. The first opening is arranged to receive compressed air. The space is arranged to channel the compressed air through the second opening to an area of the oil or gas well deeper than a position of the apparatus in the production tubing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] The nature and mode of operation of the present disclosure will now be more fully described in the following detailed description of the present disclosure taken with the accompanying figures, in which:

[0008] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an apparatus for maintaining a gas or oil well;

[0009] FIG. 2A is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well;

[0010] FIG. 2B is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well;

[0011] FIG. 2C is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well;

[0012] FIG. 2D is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well;

[0013] FIG. 2D is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well;

[0014] FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of a method of maintaining a gas or oil well;

[0015] FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of a prior art flow gas or oil well; and,

[0016] FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of prior art rod well.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] At the outset, it should be appreciated that like drawing numbers on different drawing views identify identical, or functionally similar, structural elements of the disclosure. It is to be understood that the disclosure as claimed is not limited to the disclosed aspects.

[0018] Furthermore, it is understood that this disclosure is not limited to the particular methodology, materials and modifications described and as such may, of course, vary. It is also understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular aspects only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

[0019] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. It should be understood that any methods, devices or materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the disclosure.

[0020] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this present disclosure belongs. It should be appreciated that the term "substantially" is synonymous with terms such as "nearly", "very nearly", "about", "approximately", "around", "bordering on", "close to", "essentially", "in the neighborhood of", "in the vicinity of", etc., and such terms may be used interchangeably as appearing in the specification and claims. It should be appreciated that the term "proximate" is synonymous with terms such as "nearby", "close", "adjacent", "neighboring", "immediate", "adjoining", etc., and such terms may be used interchangeably as appearing in the specification and claims.

[0021] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of apparatus 100 for maintaining a gas or oil well.

[0022] FIG. 2A is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of apparatus 100 of FIG. 1 in gas or oil well W. Well W includes wellhead WHD, surface casing SC, production casing PC, and production tubing PT. Apparatus 100 includes longitudinal axis LA, longitudinal end 102, longitudinal end 104, and at least one wall 106 (hereinafter referred to as "wall 106") connecting ends 102 and 104. Apparatus 100 includes opening 108 at longitudinal end 102 and space 110. Space 110 is enclosed by wall 106 and is continuous with opening 108. By "continuous with" we mean that space 110 and opening 108 are open to each other and form a single composite space. For example, a fluid can flow directly from space 110 to and through opening 108, and a fluid can flow directly through opening 108 to space 110. Wall 100 can be constructed of any material known in the art.

[0023] FIG. 2B is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of apparatus 100 of FIG. 1 in gas or oil well W. Apparatus 100 includes at least one opening 112 proximate end 104. In the example of FIGS. 2A and 2B, apparatus 100 includes opening 112A at longitudinal end 104. Opening 112A is continuous with space 110 and faces longitudinal direction LD1 parallel to axis LA. Axis LA passes through opening 112A. In the example of FIG. 2B, apparatus 100 also includes at least one opening 112B in wall 106. In an example embodiment, apparatus 100 includes a plurality of openings 112B. Opening 112B is continuous with space 110 and faces in radial direction RD orthogonal to axis LA. Apparatus 100 includes seal element 114 radially disposed about wall 106. Apparatus 100 includes protrusion, or "no-go" 116 protruding radially outward in direction RD from wall 106.

[0024] Apparatus 100 is arranged to be placed into a production tubing, for example tubing PT, for a gas or oil well, for example well W. Protrusion 116 is arranged to contact nipple 118 in tubing PT to prevent further movement of apparatus 100 in longitudinal direction LD2, opposite direction LD1. Seal element 114 is arranged to seal wall 106 with respect to production tubing PT, for example seal element 114 forms a seal with wall 106 and with interior surface 120 of tubing PT. Although a plurality of swab cups are shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B for element 114, it should be understood that any means known in the art can be used for element 114.

[0025] Opening 112A, and in the example of FIG. 2B, opening 112B, is arranged to receive compressed air CA introduced into tubing PT, for example at port 122 in wellhead WHD. Any means known in the art can be used to introduce air CA into tubing PT. Space 110 is arranged to channel compressed air CA through opening 108 to an area of oil or gas well W deeper than a position of apparatus 100 in the production tubing, for example, into material M in bottom portion B of well W. Sealing element 114 is arranged to block flow of compressed air CA past sealing element 114 in direction LD2. Thus, compressed air CA in tubing PT is forced through space 110 and opening 108. The compressed air displaces material M in direction LD1 through space 124 between tubing PT and casing PC and out of space 124 for collection, for example through port 126. Any means known in the art can be used to collect material M flowing out of space 124 in direction LD1.

[0026] FIG. 2C is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of apparatus 100 of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well. In the example of FIG. 2C, apparatus 100 includes openings 112A and 112B. Although a plurality of swab cups are shown in FIG. 2C for element 114, it should be understood that any means known in the art can be used for element 114.

[0027] FIG. 2D is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of apparatus 100 of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well. In the example of FIG. 2D, apparatus 100 includes only at least one opening 112B (there is no opening 112A). In an example embodiment, apparatus 100 includes only a plurality of openings 112B (there is no opening 112A). Although a plurality of swab cups are shown in FIG. 2D for element 114, it should be understood that any means known in the art can be used for element 114.

[0028] In an example embodiment, for example as shown in the respective example embodiments of FIGS. 2A, 2B 2C, and 2D, apparatus 100 includes pipe 128 with end 128A directly connected to end 102. Any means known in the art can be used to secure pipe 128 to end 102, for example, threaded portion 130 of wall 106. End 128B of pipe 128 includes at least one opening 132 continuous with space 110 via space 134 in pipe 130. End 128B of pipe 128 is arranged to be inserted into material M and space 134 is arranged to channel compressed air CA through opening or openings 132 and into material M. Sealing element 114 provides a seal preventing compressed air CA and material M from flowing between sealing element 114 and surface 120 in direction LD1.

[0029] In the respective example embodiments of FIGS. 2A 2B, and 2D, axis LA passes through opening 132. In the example embodiment of FIG. 2C, openings 132 face in radial direction RD. In an example embodiment, pipe 128 includes a single opening 132 facing in radial direction RD. In an example embodiment (not shown), pipe 128 is formed of a same piece of material forming end 102, that is, pipe 128 is integral with wall 106.

[0030] FIG. 2E is a schematic cross-section view of an example embodiment of apparatus 100 of FIG. 1 in a gas or oil well. In an example embodiment, wall 106 is extended past protrusion 116 to form an integral portion similar to pipe 128 and axis LA passes through opening 108. In an example embodiment (not shown), opening 108 faces radial direction RD. Although a plurality of swab cups are shown in FIG. 2E for element 114, it should be understood that any means known in the art can be used for element 114.

[0031] In an example embodiment, for example as shown in the respective example embodiments of FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, and 2E, apparatus 100 includes stop element 136 connected to end 104. Element 136 is arranged to contact interior surface 120 to prevent displacement of the apparatus within production tubing PT, in particular, in direction LD1. Element 136 can be any stop element known in the art. As is known in the art, element 136 can be operated to enable apparatus 100 to be lowered in the well and then locked once apparatus 100 is in the desired location, for example, in contact with nipple 118. When is it is desired to remove apparatus 100 from well W, element 136 can be unlocked. Element 136 provides a safety factor by preventing compressed air in bottom portion B and/or space 124 from uncontrollably displacing apparatus 100 in direction LD1.

[0032] In the respective example embodiments of FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, and 2E, stop element 136 includes through-bore 138 continuous with space 110 and at least one side opening 140 continuous with through-bore 138. Thus, compressed air is channeled through through-bore 138 and openings 140 into space 110. In the respective example embodiments of FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, and 2E, stop element 136 is connected to end 102 with threaded connection 142. However, it should be understood that any means known in the art can be used to connect stop element 136 to end 102.

[0033] In an example embodiment, for example as shown in the respective example embodiments of FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, and 2E, wall 106 includes separate portions 106A and 106B attached to each other by threaded connection 144. It should be understood that wall 106 can include more than two portions. Any means known in the art can be used to connection portions of wall 106. It also should be understood that wall 106 can be formed of a single piece of material.

[0034] In FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, and 2E, for purposes of illustration, a level of material M in well W, prior to insertion of apparatus 100, is shown by surface S1. A level of material M in well W, as compressed air CA is injected in well W through apparatus 100, is shown by surface S2. It is understood that material M continues to be forced up space 124 and out port 126 as compressed air CA continues to be injected through apparatus 100.

[0035] It should be understood that apparatus 100 is not limited to a particular dimension or configuration and that apparatus 100 can be sized and configured to fit any size or type of gas or oil well.

[0036] Advantageously, apparatus 100 addresses the problem noted above of undesired material in a gas or oil well by providing a quicker and more cost-effect means of removing material M, unclogging perforations P, and addressing other problems in well W without requiring the time-consuming and costly removal of tubing PT and rods R. As noted above, to remove material M, compressed air CA is introduced into tubing PT and forced through space 110 into material M. The large pressure differential between space 124 (essentially at atmospheric pressure) and compressed air CA causes compressed air to flow up space 124 in direction LD1, displacing material M up space 124 and out of the well. To unclog perforations P, space 124 can be sealed (for example, port 126 closed) and compressed air introduced through port 122. Once space 124 is pressurized, compressed air CA forces material out of the perforations in radial direction RD, clearing the perforations.

[0037] The following should be viewed in light of FIGS. 1 through 2E. The following describes a method for removing material from a bottom of a gas or oil well. Although the method is presented as a sequence of steps for clarity, no order should be inferred from the sequence unless explicitly stated. A first step lowers, in direction LD1, apparatus 100 into production tubing PT of well W until longitudinal end 128 of the apparatus has penetrated past surface S of material M to be removed. A second step introduces compressed air CA into a portion of the production tubing above apparatus 100. A third step flows the compressed air: through space enclosed 110 by apparatus 100; through opening 132 proximate longitudinal end 128; and into the material. A fourth step displaces the material: out of bottom B of the well; and in direction LD1, opposite direction LD2, through space 124 between the production tubing and production casement CS for the gas or oil well.

[0038] In an example embodiment, a fifth step flows the compressed air: through opening 112A facing direction LD1, in longitudinal end 102 of the apparatus and into space 110. In an example embodiment, a sixth step flows the compressed air: in radial direction RD, orthogonal to direction LD2, through opening 112B in wall 106 of apparatus 100; and into space 110.

[0039] In an example embodiment, flowing the compressed air through opening 132 includes flowing the compressed air through opening 132 facing in direction LD2. In an example embodiment, flowing the compressed air through opening 132 includes flowing the compressed air through opening 132 facing direction RD.

[0040] A seventh step contacts, with protrusion 110, extending from wall 106 of apparatus 100, nipple N in the production tubing. An eighth step blocks, with the nipple, further displacement of the apparatus in direction LD2. A ninth step blocks the flow of the compressed air between apparatus 100 and interior surface 120 of the production tubing. In an example embodiment: a tenth step, once the apparatus is lowered into the well in direction LD2, blocks, with stop element 136, displacement of the apparatus in longitudinal direction LD1; and an eleventh step flows the compressed air through a space, including through-bore 138 and continuous with space 110, in stop element 136.

[0041] FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of a method of maintaining a gas or oil well. Although the method is presented as a sequence of steps for clarity, no order should be inferred from the sequence unless explicitly stated. A first step raises rod pump RP in direction LD1 to separate the pump from nipple N. A second step introduces compressed air CA into production tubing PT, for example at port 122 in wellhead WH. A third step flows the compressed air past nipple N and into material M. A fourth step displaces material M in direction LD1 through space SP between production casing PC and tubing PT and out of well W1, for example, through port 126.

[0042] In an instance in which it is desired to unclog perforations P or treat well issues in casing PC (for example, surface S is below the end of tubing PT in direction LD2, opposite LD1), a first step raises rod pump RP in direction LD1 to separate the pump from nipple N. A second step introduces compressed air CA into production tubing PT, for example at port 122 in wellhead WH. A third step flows the compressed air past nipple N and into bottom portion B of the well. A fourth step forces the compressed air through the perforations to clear the perforations.

[0043] It will be appreciated that various of the above-disclosed and other features and functions, or alternatives thereof, may be desirably combined into many other different systems or applications. Various presently unforeseen or unanticipated alternatives, modifications, variations, or improvements therein may be subsequently made by those skilled in the art which are also intended to be encompassed by the following claims.

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