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United States Patent Application 20170130577
Kind Code A1
Cheng; Samuel Heung Yeung ;   et al. May 11, 2017

True Position Indicator

Abstract

A system for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production includes a housing having a body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the body. The inner cavity has a fluid flow path for hydrocarbon development fluids. A moveable member is located within the inner cavity. A sensor assembly is located within one of the body wall and the moveable member, the sensor assembly being positioned within a port. An indicator feature is on the other of the body wall and the moveable member, the indicator feature sensable by the sensor assembly when the moveable member is in a set position.


Inventors: Cheng; Samuel Heung Yeung; (Katy, TX) ; Adams; Keith; (Katy, TX) ; Holgate; Ben Calvin; (Pearland, TX) ; McEvoy; Travis Kyle; (Houston, TX) ; Saleem; Fauad; (Houston, TX)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

GE Oil & Gas Pressure Control LP

Houston

TX

US
Assignee: GE Oil & Gas Pressure Control LP
Houston
TX

Family ID: 1000001986723
Appl. No.: 14/938314
Filed: November 11, 2015


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: E21B 47/09 20130101; E21B 47/12 20130101; E21B 47/0905 20130101; E21B 34/02 20130101
International Class: E21B 47/09 20060101 E21B047/09; E21B 34/02 20060101 E21B034/02

Claims



1. A system for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation, the system comprising: a housing having a body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the body, the inner cavity further having a fluid flow path for hydrocarbon development fluids; a moveable member located within the inner cavity, the moveable member having a set position; a sensor assembly located within one of the body wall and the moveable member, the sensor assembly being positioned within a port; and an indicator feature on the other of the body wall and the moveable member, the indicator feature sensable by the sensor assembly when the moveable member is in the set position.

2. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a second sensor assembly and wherein the moveable member has a second set position, the indicator feature sensable by the second sensor assembly when the moveable member is in the second set position.

3. The system according to claim 1, wherein the senor assembly includes a seal portion, the seal portion in sealing engagement with the port, preventing the hydrocarbon development fluids from passing through the port.

4. The system according to claim 1, wherein the body is a valve body and the moveable member is a valve member, and wherein the set position is one of an open position and a closed position of the valve member.

5. The system according to claim 1, wherein the body is an outer wellhead member and the moveable member is an inner wellhead member and the set position is a landed position of the inner wellhead member within the outer wellhead member.

6. The system according to claim 1, wherein the sensor assembly includes a proximity sensor sensing a distance of the moveable member from the set position.

7. The system according to claim 1, wherein the port extends from the outer surface of the body into the body wall.

8. The system according to claim 1, wherein the port extends from the outer surface of the body to the inner cavity.

9. A system for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation, the system comprising: a housing having a valve body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the valve body; a sensor assembly located within the body wall, the sensor assembly being positioned within a port of the valve body; and a valve member located within the inner cavity, the valve member having a set position and an indicator feature on the valve member, the indicator feature sensable by the sensor assembly when the valve member is in the set position.

10. The system according to claim 9, wherein the set position is one of an open position and a closed position of the valve member.

11. The system according to claim 9, further comprising a second sensor assembly and wherein the valve member has a second set position, the indicator feature sensable by the second sensor assembly when the valve member is in the second set position.

12. The system according to claim 11, wherein the inner cavity has a fluid flow path for hydrocarbon development fluids, and wherein the set position is an open position of the valve member and the second set position is a closed position of the valve member, wherein in the open position, hydrocarbon development fluids can flow through the fluid flow path and in the closed position, hydrocarbon development fluids are blocked from flowing through the fluid flow path.

13. The system according to claim 9, wherein the sensor assembly includes a proximity sensor sensing a distance of the valve member from the set position.

14. A method for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation, the method comprising: providing a housing having a body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the body, the inner cavity further having a fluid flow path for hydrocarbon development fluids; moving a moveable member towards a set position, the moveable member being located within the inner cavity and having an indicator feature on the moveable member; sensing the position of the movable member with a sensor assembly located within a port locating in the body wall when the moveable member is in the set position.

15. The method according to claim 14, further comprising a second sensor assembly and wherein the moveable member has a second set position, the method further comprising sensing the indicator feature with the second sensor assembly when the moveable member is in the second set position.

16. The method according to claim 14, wherein the body is a valve body and the moveable member is a valve member, and wherein the step of moving the moveable member towards the set position includes moving the moveable member towards one of an open position and a closed position of the valve member.

17. The method according to claim 14, wherein the body is an outer wellhead member and the moveable member is an inner wellhead member and wherein the step of moving the moveable member towards the set position includes landing the inner wellhead member within the outer wellhead member.

18. The method according to claim 14, wherein the sensor assembly includes a proximity sensor and the method further includes sensing a distance of the moveable member from the set position with the proximity sensor.
Description



BACKGROUND

[0001] 1. Field of Disclosure

[0002] The present disclosure relates in general to equipment used in hydrocarbon drilling and production operation, and more particularly to sensing the location of components used in such equipment.

[0003] 2. Description of Related Art

[0004] In hydrocarbon drilling and production operations, it can often be desirable to determine a location of moveable members within a piece of equipment. As an example, hydraulic and pneumatic actuated valves used in hydrocarbon drilling and production equipment typically consist of a top shaft or limit switch mounted on the actuator for position indication of the valve member, such as a gate. In other examples, the position of a manual valve with a rotatable shaft can be estimated based on the number of turns made by a hand wheel, or using a thread indicator that moves in conjunction with the valve stem. In yet other examples, a length of tubular member extending from a well can be used to estimate how far into a well an inner wellhead member has been lowered.

[0005] These methods of position indication are limited in accuracy because the indirect position of the moveable member is estimated by measuring the movement of other components that move in conjunction with such moveable member. As such, there are uncertainties in the true position of the moveable member. If the connection between the moveable member and the components that move in conjunction with such moveable member are loose, worn, fail or are otherwise not easily evaluated, the position indicator may provide a false indication of the position of the moveable member. In addition, if the indirect position indicator includes multiple moving components that must interact, the magnitude of error can be further multiplied by cumulative tolerances and other types of uncertainties related to each component.

[0006] A sight glass could be provided through the housing within which the moveable member is located. However, this method is impractical due to visibility issues and the required sight glass thickness to provide sufficient structural integrity.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0007] The systems and methods described herein provide a sensor system with a direct positional indication of a moveable member within a housing of equipment used in hydrocarbon drilling and production operation. The sensor system determines the direct location of the moveable member itself, independent of any other component. As an example, proximity sensors can be used to determine the open or closed position of a valve, or the landing of an inner wellhead member. The output from the sensor will be a signal that corresponds with the position of the moveable member. This signal can be used in conjunction with a visual indicator or control system to let the operator know the location of the moveable member and to provide notifications to the operator automatically or on demand.

[0008] In embodiments of this disclosure, a system for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation includes a housing having a body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the body. The inner cavity further has a fluid flow path for hydrocarbon development fluids. A moveable member is located within the inner cavity, the moveable member having a set position. A sensor assembly is located within one of the body wall and the moveable member, the sensor assembly being positioned within a port. An indicator feature is on the other of the body wall and the moveable member, the indicator feature sensable by the sensor assembly when the moveable member is in the set position.

[0009] In alternate embodiments of this disclosure, a system for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation includes a housing having a valve body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the body. A sensor assembly is located within the body wall, the sensor assembly being positioned within a port of the body. A valve member is located within the inner cavity, the valve member having a set position and an indicator feature on the valve member. The indicator feature is sensable by the sensor assembly when the moveable member is in the set position.

[0010] In yet other alternate embodiments, a method for directly sensing a position of a movable part of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation includes providing a housing having a body with an inner cavity and a body wall with a wall thickness defined between an inner surface of the inner cavity and an outer surface of the body, the inner cavity further having a fluid flow path for hydrocarbon development fluids. A moveable member is moved towards a set position, the moveable member being located within the inner cavity and having an indicator feature on the moveable member. The position of the movable member is sensed with a sensor assembly located within a port locating in the body wall when the moveable member is in the set position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0011] So that the manner in which the features, advantages and objects of the disclosure, as well as others which will become apparent, are attained and can be understood in more detail, more particular description of the embodiments briefly summarized above may be had by reference to the embodiment thereof which is illustrated in the appended drawings, which drawings form a part of this specification. It is to be noted, however, that the drawings illustrate only a preferred embodiment of the disclosure and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope as the disclosure may admit to other equally effective embodiments.

[0012] FIG. 1 is a perspective section view of a valve with a sensor system in accordance with an embodiment of this disclosure.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a section view of a valve with a sensor system in accordance with an embodiment of this disclosure.

[0014] FIG. 3 is a section view of a valve with a sensor system in accordance with an embodiment of this disclosure.

[0015] FIG. 4 is a section view of a valve with a sensor system in accordance with an embodiment of this disclosure.

[0016] FIG. 5 is a section view of a wellhead assembly with a sensor system in accordance with an embodiment of this disclosure.

[0017] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a sensor assembly of a sensor system in accordance with an embodiment of this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DISCLOSURE

[0018] The method and system of the present disclosure will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which embodiments are shown. The method and system of the present disclosure may be in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the illustrated embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey its scope to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

[0019] It is to be further understood that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the exact details of construction, operation, exact materials, or embodiments shown and described, as modifications and equivalents will be apparent to one skilled in the art. In the drawings and specification, there have been disclosed illustrative embodiments and, although specific terms are employed, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for the purpose of limitation.

[0020] Shown in FIG. 1 is an example sensor system 10. Sensor system 10 can be used for directly sensing a position of moveable member 12 of a hydrocarbon drilling and production operation. Moveable member 12 is located within housing 14. Housing 14 includes body 16 having inner cavity 18 and body wall 20 with a wall thickness defined between inner surface 22 of the inner cavity 18 and outer surface 24 of body 16. Inner cavity 18 has fluid flow path 26 for hydrocarbon development fluids. Hydrocarbon development fluids can be, for example, lubricant, emergency sealants, descaling solutions, emulsifiers, mud, hydraulic fracturing fluids, hydraulic fracturing propent, water, the hydrocarbon itself, or other common fluids being used or transported during hydrocarbon drilling and production operations.

[0021] Sensor system 10 can include sensor assembly 28. Sensor assembly 28 is located within body wall 20. Sensor assembly 28 is positioned within port 30 of body 16. Port 30 can extend from outer surface 24 of body 16 into body wall 20. This will allow for port 30 to be drilled into body 16 during the construction of body 16. In the examples of FIGS. 1-3 and 5, port 30 extends through to inner surface 22 of inner cavity 18. In the example embodiment of FIG. 4, port 30 does not extend through to inner surface 22, but instead ends within body wall 20 so that there is no potential leak path through port 30 from inner cavity 18 to outside of body 16.

[0022] In the example of FIGS. 1-2 and 5, sensor assembly 28 is secured within port 30 by accessing port 30 through inner cavity 18. In such embodiments, sensor assembly 28 can include a seal portion 32 that can be in sealing engagement with port 30, preventing the hydrocarbon development fluids from passing through port 30. In alternate embodiments of FIGS. 3-4, sensor assembly can be secured within port 30 by accessing port 30 from outer surface 24 of body 16.

[0023] Moveable member 12 includes indicator feature 34. Indicator feature 34 is sensible by sensor assembly 28. Indicator feature 34 can be located along a side of moveable member 12, such as along a guide rail of moveable member 12. The interaction between indicator feature 34 and sensor assembly 28 can be mechanical, electrical, or magnetic in nature, or a combination thereof. As an example, in a mechanical system, indicator feature 34 can be a notch, profile, or other shaped surface that interacts with sensor assembly 28. In such an embodiment, sensor assembly 28 can be, as an example, a mechanical switch, a button, a lever, an inductive sensor, an electrical sensor, or another sensor that could detect the shaped surface of indicator feature 34. Sensor assembly 28 can include a proximity sensor. For example, in some embodiments, indicator feature 34 can extend a distance along moveable member 12 so that sensor assembly can determine where moveable member 12 is located axially within inner cavity 18. In such an embodiment sensor assembly 28 can include a lever switch or button switch can be used to track the movement of moveable member 12 over an axial distance such as throughout the entire stroke of moveable member 12. As the moveable member 12 is moved axially, sensor assembly 28 would react upon indicator feature 34 with varying degrees of displacement. Each displacement value would correspond with a certain position of moveable member 12. This proximity sensor could physically read the instantaneous position of moveable member 12 at a given time.

[0024] Looking at FIG. 4, indicator feature 34 can instead be a magnetic source that is embedded in moveable member 12. In such an embodiment, sensor assembly 28 can be embedded in body wall 20 that tracks the magnetic field of indicator features 34.

[0025] Although indicator feature 34 is shown as part of moveable member 12 and sensor assembly is shown as part of body 16, in alternate embodiments, indicator feature 34 could instead be located in body 16 and sensor assembly 28 could be located in moveable member 12.

[0026] Indicator feature 34 and sensor assembly 28 can be positioned so that sensor assembly 28 detects when moveable member 12 is in a set position. A set position can be, as an example, when a valve is in an open position, when a valve is in a closed position, or when an inner wellhead member is fully landed within an outer wellhead member. In certain embodiments, there can be more than one set position. As an example, a valve can have an open position and a closed position, with one position being a set position and the other being a second set position. A second sensor assembly 28a can be used to detect when moveable member 12 is proximate to the second set position. In alternate embodiments, the set position and the second set position can be in locations other than an open position, a closed position or a fully landed position and sensor assembly 28 or sensor assembly 28a can be used to detect when moveable member 12 is proximate to these other positions. As and example, the set position can be a location where the valve is at a location between the open and closed position. In other alternate embodiments, there can be three or more set positions, and three or more sensor assemblies that can be used to detect when moveable member 12 is proximate to such additional set positions.

[0027] Using electronic signal filters, an output signal can be delivered by a communication line 35 (FIG. 6) of sensor assembly 28 and converted into boolean data that will be delivered to an operator to indicate to the operator whether the moveable member 12 is in a set position or a second set position. Such data can be delivered to the operator through a wire, or wirelessly by way of, for example, telemetry, radio waves, ultrasonic, infrared systems, telephone or computer networks, optical link, and other known means of transmitting data locally or from a remote location.

[0028] In the example of FIG. 1, sensor assembly 28 can be used in valve assembly 36. Valve assembly 36 can be, as an example, associated with a wellhead assembly that is disposed over a well. The wellhead assembly can include a wellhead housing, a production tree or blowout preventer over the housing and flow lines connected to the tree or the wellhead assembly. Valve assembly 36 can be associated with offshore or onshore hydrocarbon drilling and production operations. Valve assembly 36 can also be used for regulating fluids that are designated for entry into the wellhead assembly.

[0029] Valve assembly 36 includes actuator 38 and valve stem 40 that extends from within inner cavity 18 of housing 14 through bonnet 42. Body 16 is a valve body. Actuator 38 actuates valve assembly 36, moving moveable member 12 between an open position and a closed position. Valve assembly 36 of FIG. 1 is a gate valve and moveable member 12 is a valve member such as a gate 44 that is a generally planar member having a solid, or segmented or split portion and an opening 46 formed through the solid or segmented or split portion. In the embodiment of valve assembly 36 shown in FIG. 1, opening 46 registers with fluid flow path 26 so that moveable member 12 is shown in the open position. In the open position, hydrocarbon development fluids can flow through fluid flow path 26. In the closed position, a surface of the solid or segmented or split portion of the gate would block hydrocarbon development fluids from flowing through fluid flow path 26.

[0030] In the example of FIG. 1, the set position can be either the open position or the closed position of moveable member 12. When the set position is the open position, the second set position can be a closed position of moveable member 12. When there is a second set position, a second sensor assembly 28a can be used to detect when moveable member 12 is proximate to the second set position. Therefore, sensor assembly 28 would determine when moveable member 12 is at or proximate to the set position and second sensor assembly 28a would determine when moveable member 12 is at or proximate to the second set position. In embodiments where sensor assembly 28 includes a proximity sensor, sensor assemblies 28, 28a can additionally sense a distance of moveable member 12 from the set position or from the second set position, as applicable.

[0031] Although valve assembly 36 is described as a gate valve, sensor system 10 can be utilized with any type of valve or choke that is used in hydrocarbon drilling and production operations.

[0032] Looking at FIG. 5, housing 14 can alternately include body 16 that is an outer wellhead member and the moveable member 12 can be an inner wellhead member. In such an embodiment, the set position can be the position of the inner wellhead member when the inner wellhead member is fully landed within the outer wellhead member. Therefore, sensor assembly 28 would determine when moveable member 12 is at or proximate to the set position. In embodiments where sensor assembly 28 includes a proximity sensor, sensor assembly 28 can additionally sense a distance of moveable member 12 from the set position.

[0033] In an example of operation, as moveable member 12 moves within housing 14 towards a set position, sensor assembly 28 can detect indicator feature 34 and alert an operator as to the location of moveable member 12. Sensor system 10 can alert the operator when moveable member 12 is at a set position or a second set position. Alternately, sensor system 10 can alert the operator as to the position of moveable member 12 relative to the set position or the second set position. Sensor system 10 can provide information to the operator as to the position of moveable member 12 on demand, or at pre-scheduled times, or when moveable member 12 is in a pre-determined position.

[0034] Systems and methods of this disclosure therefore provide a direct method for determining the position of the moveable member 12 by utilizing an indicator feature 34 that is part of moveable member 12 itself. Embodiments described in this disclosure can be used to accurately ensure that moveable member 12 is correctly positioned within housing 14. Systems and methods described herein can reduce damage to valves due to inadvertently throttling the flow of fluids through fluid flow path 26 because the valve member is not properly aligned within body 16. Systems and methods described herein can alternately, ensure that an inner wellhead member is properly landed within an outer wellhead member.

[0035] The terms "vertical", "horizontal", "upward", "downward", "top", and "bottom" are used herein only for convenience because systems and methods described herein may be installed in various positions, other than with the orientations shown.

[0036] Systems and methods disclosed herein are therefore well adapted to carry out the objects and attain the ends and advantages mentioned, as well as others inherent therein. While a presently preferred embodiment of the disclosure has been given for purposes of disclosure, numerous changes exist in the details of procedures for accomplishing the desired results. These and other similar modifications will readily suggest themselves to those skilled in the art, and are intended to be encompassed within the spirit of this disclosure and the scope of the appended claims.

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