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Apparatus and system to actuate and pump well bore liquids from hydrocarbon wells

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Title: Apparatus and system to actuate and pump well bore liquids from hydrocarbon wells.
Abstract: Pump apparatus and pump systems for use with hydrocarbon wells are actuated in response to a working fluid delivered at a high pressure to pump a fluid to be pumped or production fluid. The pump advantageously employs translation motion of a piston. Some embodiments employ working fluids at two ports. Other embodiments employ working fluid at one port and a spring. Working fluid may be provided via one or more hydraulically powered piston subassemblies, which may be controlled via one or more hydraulic power supplies. A flush system may include flush pump, flush valve and may be responsive to a characteristic of a fluid in a line. ...


Inventor: Robert Joseph Foster
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120093663 - Class: 417246 (USPTO) - 04/19/12 - Class 417 
Pumps > Successive Stages >Stages Driven By Relatively Movable Motor Working Members

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120093663, Apparatus and system to actuate and pump well bore liquids from hydrocarbon wells.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a U.S. national stage application filed under 35 U.S.C. §371 of International Patent Application PCT/US2010/024151, accorded an international filing date of Feb. 12, 2010, which claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/154,263, filed Feb. 20, 2009, and entitled “Apparatus and System to Actuate and Pump Well Bore Liquids from Hydrocarbon Wells,” both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

This application relates generally to down hole pumps for hydrocarbon wells, and more particularly to an extended life design to operate in high temperature environments and to pump abrasive silt-laden aqueous and/or chemically harsh well-bore liquid (“WBL”) from such wells.

2. Description of the Related Art

Hydrocarbon wells, particularly gas wells, having water and other liquids being produced at the same level in the formation as the desired produce need periodic de-watering because well-bore liquids (“WBL”) block free flow through the casing to the surface and interfere with evacuation of gaseous hydrocarbons rising from production zone. Such WBL typically take the form of a gaseous mixture of caustic water contaminated with oil, but may take other forms. Conventional downhole pumping systems include rotating parts (e.g., shafts and impellers) typically separated by polymer seals and in some cases driven by electrical motors that require insulated wires. Disadvantageously, these devices have a very limited life cycle when subjected to the abrasive and chemically harsh conditions encountered when de-watering well bores. Most of the devices are completely unsuitable for high temperature applications, such as steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) extraction of oil. Similarly, there are formations from which it is necessary to isolate different production zones accessible from a single well for either regulatory or contractual reasons.

BRIEF

SUMMARY

According to the apparatus of the invention a dual-action sliding reciprocating piston non-rotating pump includes a continuous self-cleaning feature according to which each side of the production chamber is alternately flooded and evacuated in the reverse direction every half cycle thereby tending to resist silt build-up at either end of the production chamber or around the piston seals. Further, the continuous monitoring of the net flow of the system permits a PLC to trigger the clean water flushing of the pump body as needed by ejecting a very high (e.g. 5000 psi) pressure stream of flush water through both pressure chambers and the production chamber. In normal operation the low-speed high-volume piston moves smoothly alternating between the ends of its cycle pumping silt on every stroke in both directions so as to transfer silt-laden water up hole at a rate exceeding the installation\'s settling rate and thus keep any sediment in solution making it more efficient to pump out. Whenever the flow monitoring elements of the invented system detect a sufficient decrease in net flow between the pressure and production chambers, the PLC switches the system into flush mode and uses clean water from the surface to wash the inside of the pump under very high pressure returning any material, whether settled out or packed around the seals, to solution for evacuation from the pump. Whereas conventional pumps tend to last less than a year in service in these harsh conditions, advantageously the system of the invention permits this pumping apparatus to remain in service more than 2 years with minimal maintenance and less downtime. When applied to a normal temperature de-watering application the apparatus of the invention may be installed with urethane seals that handle abrasive solids and chemical attack very well. However, when applied to a very high temperature application such as SAGD oil pumping, the apparatus of the invention will preferably be installed with overlapping interlocking metal seals akin to the steel piston rings of a diesel engine.

Actuation of the pumping or output stroke of the apparatus of the invention occurs in 2 embodiments by fluid pressure (this fluid actuation subsystem charges each spring with potential energy) and in a 3rd embodiment by spring pressure forcing liquids uphole, due to which modular design the stacking of spring subs permits the operator to amplify the lift of WBL for use in deeper wells.

Advantageously, the system of the invention operates for a significantly extended life cycle due to the combined effects of having: reduced and less aggressive movement and the elimination of rotating parts (e.g., no shafts or impellers) in the well bore, the related elimination of rubber or other polymer seals that would fail around rotating components, the elimination of electrical wires (e.g., power or control) having insulation that would melt, a nitride hardened interior pump bore, self-priming fluid actuated or assisted, and a self-flushing circuit. These design features result in a system that: is not affected by a high gas to oil ratio, has the ability to pump dry or in high sand cut installations, can operate horizontally, and can pump in high CO2 and H2S conditions as well as Light crude with aromatics. Advantageously the system of the present invention offers both longer life and less downtime (i.e., lower operating cost) but may still be installed at a lower capital cost.

Advantageously the system of the invention by pumping through tubes overcomes the problems associated with regulatory restrictions on co-mingling gas zones and the contractual requirements of separate ownership on shared wells producing from zones of different pressure, quality or value.

A pump suitable for hydrocarbon well applications may be summarized as including an elongated pump body having a first end and a second end opposite the first end, a first port at least proximate the first end and a second port at least proximate the second end, a central body portion between the first and the second ends and a pair of peripheral body portions between the central body portions and respective ones of the first and the second ends, the pump body forming a longitudinally extending pump body chamber extending between the first and the second ports, the first and the second ports providing fluid communication between the longitudinally extending pump body chamber and an exterior of the pump body, the longitudinally extending pump body chamber including a production chamber between the first and the second ends and a pair of pressure chambers between the production chamber and respective ones of the first and the second ends, the production chamber having a circumference that is larger than a circumference of either of the pressure chamber; and a piston having an elongated piston body including a first end and a second end opposite the first end, a central piston body portion between the first and the second ends and a pair of peripheral piston body portions between the central piston body portion and respective ones of the first and the second ends, the central piston body portion having an external circumference sized to be closely received by the production chamber of the pump body and the peripheral piston body portions each having a respective external circumference sized to be closely received by respective ones of the pressure chamber of the pump body, the piston body forming a passageway extending between and through the first and the second ends, the piston body slideably received in the longitudinally extending pump chamber of the pump body such that the central piston body portion divides the production chamber of the pump body into two production chamber portions, each of the production chamber portions having a volume that varies inversely with the volume of the other one of the production chamber portions, and the peripheral piston body portions received by respective ones of the pressure chambers of the pump body such that a respective volume of each of the pressure chambers of the pump body varies inversely with the volume of the other one of the pressure chamber.

The pump may further include a first seal, the first seal received about the circumference of the central piston body to form a seal with the production chamber portion; a second seal, the second seal received about the circumference of one of the peripheral piston body portions to form a seal with a respective one of the pressure chambers; and a third seal, the third seal received about the circumference of the other one of the peripheral piston body portions to form a seal with a respective one of the pressure chambers. The first, the second and the third seals may be urethane ring seals. The first, the second and the third seals are metal ring seals and the pump body chamber may be hardened. The pump body may include a third and a fourth port that provide fluid communication with respective ones of the production chamber portions from the exterior of the pump body to receive and expel fluid to be pumped, and wherein each of the peripheral piston body portions may include a piston head surface positioned in respective ones of the pressure chambers to be acted on by a working fluid introduced under pressure into the pressure chambers via the first and second ports to cause selective translation of the piston in the pump body chamber in two opposed directions.

The pump wherein the piston body forms a first production fluid port that provides fluid communication between the passageway of the piston body and the third port of the pump body and a second production fluid port that provides fluid communication between the passageway of the piston body and the fourth port of the pump body may further include a first valve received in the passageway of the piston body between the first end of the piston body and the third port of the pump body; and a second valve received in the passageway of the piston body between the second end of the piston body and the fourth port of the pump body.

The pump wherein the piston body forms a bypass channel may further include a flush valve received in the passageway of the piston body between the first and the second valves, the flush valve response to a much higher pressure than the first and the second valves.

The pump wherein the piston body forms a bypass channel may further include a first production screen coupled to the third port of the pump body; a first production valve coupled to control a fluid flow via the third port of the pump body; a second production screen coupled to the fourth port of the pump body; and a second production valve coupled to control a fluid flow via the fourth port of the pump body.

Each of the peripheral piston body portions may include a piston head surface, the piston head surface of a first one of the peripheral piston body portions positioned in a respective first one of the pressure chambers to be acted on by a working fluid introduced under pressure into the first one of the pressure chambers via the first port to cause selective translation of the piston in the pump body chamber in a first direction, and may further include a spring positioned to act on the piston head surface of the other one of the peripheral piston body portions to cause selective translation of the piston in the pump body chamber in a second direction opposite the first direction, wherein a fluid to be pumped is received in the pump body via the second port and is expelled from the pump body via the first port. The spring may move the piston in the second direction to a position at which the piston head surface of the first one of the peripheral piston body portions is adjacent the first outlet.

The pump may further include a first valve received in the passageway of the piston body between the first and the second ends of the piston body; and a check valve received in the passageway of the piston body between the first valve and the second end of the piston body, wherein the first valve and the check valve are cooperatively operable to selectively allow a fluid to be pumped to flow from the production chamber to the first pressure chamber without allowing a working fluid to flow from the first pressure chamber to the production chamber.

The pump may further include at least one spring sub removably physically coupled to the pump body and to the spring.

Each of the peripheral piston body portions may include a piston head surface, the piston head surface of a first one of the peripheral piston body portions positioned in a respective first one of the pressure chambers to be acted on by a working fluid introduced under pressure into the first one of the pressure chambers via the first port to cause selective translation of the piston in the pump body chamber in a first direction, and may further include a spring positioned to act on the piston head surface of the other one of the peripheral piston body portions to cause selective translation of the piston in the pump body chamber in a second direction opposite the first direction, wherein a fluid to be pumped is received in the pump body via the second port and is expelled from the pump body via a third port spaced distally from the second port with respect to the first port. The spring may move the piston in the second direction to a home position at which the piston head surface of the first one of the peripheral piston body portions is spaced from the first outlet.

The pump may further include a first valve that selectively controls a flow via the third port of the pump body; and a second valve that selectively controls a flow via the second port of the pump body, wherein the first and the second valves are cooperatively operable to selectively allow a fluid to be pumped to be received via the second port and expelled via the third port without allowing the fluid to be pumped to be expelled via the second port or received via the third port.

The pump may further include at least one spring sub removably physically coupled to the pump body and to the spring.

A pump system suitable for hydrocarbon well applications may be summarized as including a downhole pump apparatus selectively operable to pump a production fluid in response to a pressurized working fluid via translation of a piston; at least one hydraulically powered piston subassembly configured to alternately supply a working fluid at high pressure to actuate the downhole pump apparatus to pump a fluid to be pumped; at least one hydraulic power supply coupled to operate the at least one piston subassembly. The downhole pump apparatus may be a downhole pump apparatus according to any of claims 1 through 15.

The pump system may further include a flushing pump; and a flushing valve, the flushing pump and flushing valve configured to force a very high pressure stream of liquid through the downhole pump apparatus to flush any contaminants or any buildups out of the downhole pump apparatus.

The pump system may further include a sensor line to monitor a flow of fluid in a fluid line; and a controller configured to shutdown the at least one hydraulic power supply and to actuate the flushing pump to generate the very high pressure stream of liquid in response to a characteristic of the flow of fluid in the sensor line that is indicative of debris in the fluid flow. The controller may be configured to cause the very high pressure stream to exist the flush value in at least one of a steady state or in bursts. The at least one hydraulically powered piston subassembly may include two hydraulically powered piston subassemblies, each of the hydraulically powered piston subassemblies coupled a respective first and second working fluid ports of the downhole pump apparatus and configured to alternately supply a working fluid at high pressure to the first the second working fluid ports. The at least one hydraulic power supply may include two hydraulic power supplies, each of the hydraulic power supplies coupled to operate a respective one of the hydraulically powered piston subassemblies.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120093663 A1
Publish Date
04/19/2012
Document #
13202757
File Date
02/12/2010
USPTO Class
417246
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
/
Drawings
9



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