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Subsea pressure relief devices and methods

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Subsea pressure relief devices and methods


A device for relieving pressure in a subsea component comprises a housing including an inner cavity, an open end in fluid communication with the inner cavity, and a through bore extending from the inner cavity to an outer surface of the housing. In addition, the device comprises a connector coupled to the open end. The connector is configured to releasably engage a mating connector coupled to the subsea component. Further, the device comprises a burst disc assembly mounted to the housing within the through bore. The burst disc assembly is configured to rupture at a predetermined differential pressure between the inner cavity and the environment outside the housing.

Browse recent Bp Corporation North America Inc. patents - Houston, TX, US
Inventors: Adam Lee Ballard, Robert Winfield Franklin, Paul Wilhelm Gulgowski, JR., Tony Oldfield, Martin Julio Pabon
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120305262 - Class: 166363 (USPTO) - 12/06/12 - Class 166 
Wells > Submerged Well >With Safety Or Emergency Shutoff

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120305262, Subsea pressure relief devices and methods.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/493,752 filed Jun. 6, 2011, and entitled “Subsea Pressure Relief Device,” which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The disclosure relates generally to systems and methods for managing over pressurization of subsea equipment. More particularly, the disclosure relates to burst disc assemblies and methods of using such assemblies to relieve excessive fluid pressure in subsea equipment such as conduits, pipelines, and fluid containment devices.

2. Background of the Technology

In producing oil and gas from offshore wells, an offshore production system includes flowing hydrocarbons from a subterranean formation through a production string to a wellhead at the sea floor. From the wellhead, hydrocarbons may flow into tubular risers that provide a fluid conduit from the wellhead to the surface, where the hydrocarbons and other fluids may be collected in a receiving facility located on a platform or other vessel. Alternatively, intermediate components may be connected between the wellhead and risers, such as a choke/kill manifold, containment disposal manifold, capping stack, or other various types of subsea equipment. At times, temporary flow lines from the wellhead to a receiving facility or other containment target, such as an existing reservoir, may be installed.

The transfer of fluids from the wellhead to a receiving facility or other containment target often involves flow from a high pressure system to a relatively low pressure system. Normally, the flow of hydrocarbons from a subsea formation is controlled by a primary pressure containment system, such as a series of valves installed on the wellhead, risers, and the receiving facility at the surface designed to withstand anticipated operating pressures emanating from the wellhead. However, such pressures may be erratic, resulting in unanticipated high fluid pressures entering the production system and possibly over pressurizing components of the pressure containment system.

For instance, offshore oil production may take place at depths thousands of feet below the surface, where the ambient water pressure may exceed several thousand pounds per square inch (PSI) at temperatures below 50° F. Such pressure and temperature conditions lead to the formation of hydrocarbon gas hydrates, which may enter the production system. As the hydrates flow up the riser towards the surface, decreasing pressure within the riser at shallower depths allows the hydrates to disassociate into water and gas and rapidly expand, violently ejecting fluid from the riser at the surface. Moreover, back pressure within the pressure containment system may be generated by closing valves or from other processes, which may lead to an over pressurization of equipment in the system. In all such instances, it may be important to prevent pressure from building up in any interconnecting flow lines. Such an imbalance of pressures could also build up due to hydrate formation, sudden pressure changes in the well bore, or back pressure from valve closings or other processes performed on the system.

Many primary pressure containment systems are active in nature, requiring operator monitoring and intervention, and the use of hydraulic, electrical, or acoustic signals to activate the system in the case of an unanticipated over pressurization. The reliance on operator intervention may be problematic in certain situations, such as when inclement weather due to a tropical storm or hurricane forces the evacuation of a production platform, limiting the ability of operators to monitor and manage any unanticipated pressurizations.

Further, because of the immense depths and associated hydrostatic pressures, effectuating repairs of subsea equipment in the production system often requires that equipment and tools be handled by deep diving, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Due to the need for ROVs, repairing or replacing subsea equipment damaged by an unanticipated over pressurization may be cumbersome, time consuming and expensive. Thus, in the case of an unanticipated over pressurization, in order to reduce costs and quicken the time frame of repair it is necessary to ensure that the amount of subsea equipment damaged by the over pressurization is minimized and may be quickly and easily isolated and replaced.

Accordingly, there remains a need in the art for devices and methods for managing unanticipated excessive pressurizations of subsea environment. Such devices and methods would be particularly well received if the pressure setting at which the pressure relief device operates could be easily adjusted. Further, it would be advantageous if the pressure relief device could act passively, not requiring operator monitoring and actuation or the input of any hydraulic, electrical, or acoustic signal for actuation. Still further, it would be advantageous if the pressure relief device could be retrieved and replaced with relative ease.

BRIEF

SUMMARY

OF THE DISCLOSURE

These and other needs in the art are addressed in one embodiment by a device for relieving pressure in a subsea component. In an embodiment, the device comprises a housing including an inner cavity, an open end in fluid communication with the inner cavity, and a through bore extending from the inner cavity to an outer surface of the housing. In addition, the device comprises a connector coupled to the open end. The connector is configured to releasably engage a mating connector coupled to the subsea component. Further, the device comprises a burst disc assembly mounted to the housing within the through bore. The burst disc assembly is configured to rupture at a predetermined differential pressure between the inner cavity and the environment outside the housing.

These and other needs in the art are addressed in another embodiment by a method for relieving pressure within a subsea conduit. In an embodiment, the method comprises (a) deploying a pressure relief device subsea. The pressure relief device includes a housing having an inner cavity and a through bore extending from the inner cavity to an outer surface of the housing, and a burst disc assembly mounted to the housing within the through bore. In addition, the method comprises (b) coupling the pressure relief device to the subsea conduit. Further, the method comprises (c) transferring fluid pressure from the subsea conduit to the inner cavity.

These and other needs in the art are addressed in another embodiment by a device for relieving pressure in a subsea fluid conduit. In an embodiment, the device comprises a manifold including an inlet end and a plurality of outlet ends. In addition, the device comprises a connector coupled to the inlet end of the manifold. The connector is configured to releasably engage a mating connector coupled to the fluid conduit. Further, the device comprises a plurality of valve spools. Each valve spool is coupled to one of the outlet ends of the manifold. Each valve spool includes a valve configure to control a flow of fluids through the corresponding valve spool. Still further, the device comprises a plurality of burst disc assemblies. One burst disc assembly is disposed in a through bore in each valve spool. Each burst disc assembly is configured to rupture at a predetermined differential pressure between the inner cavity and the environment outside the housing.

Embodiments described herein comprise a combination of features and advantages intended to address various shortcomings associated with certain prior devices, systems, and methods. The various characteristics described above, as well as other features, will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the following detailed description, and by referring to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a detailed description of the apparatus, systems and methods disclosed herein, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an offshore hydrocarbon production system;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the containment and disposal manifold assembly of FIG. 1 including an embodiment of a pressure relief device in accordance with the principles described herein;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the containment and disposal manifold assembly of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the pressure relief device of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the pressure relief device of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the pressure relief device of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7A is a cross-sectional view of one of the burst disc assemblies of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7B is a top view of one of the burst disc assemblies of FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a schematic view of the upper riser assembly and lower riser assembly of the free standing riser of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is an isometric view of the pressure relief device coupled to the lower riser assembly of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a side view of the pressure relief device of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the pressure relief device of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the pressure relief device coupled to the upper riser assembly of FIG. 8; and

FIG. 13 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a pressure relief device in accordance with the principles described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE EMBODIMENTS

The following discussion is directed to various exemplary embodiments. However, one skilled in the art will understand that the examples disclosed herein have broad application, and that the discussion of any embodiment is meant only to be exemplary of that embodiment, and not intended to suggest that the scope of the disclosure, including the claims, is limited to that embodiment.

Certain terms are used throughout the following description and claims to refer to particular features or components. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, different persons may refer to the same feature or component by different names. This document does not intend to distinguish between components or features that differ in name but not function. The drawing figures are not necessarily to scale. Certain features and components herein may be shown exaggerated in scale or in somewhat schematic form and some details of conventional elements may not be shown in interest of clarity and conciseness.

In the following discussion and in the claims, the terms “including” and “comprising” are used in an open-ended fashion, and thus should be interpreted to mean “including, but not limited to . . . .” Also, the term “couple” or “couples” is intended to mean either an indirect or direct connection. Thus, if a first device couples to a second device, that connection may be through a direct connection, or through an indirect connection via other devices, components, and connections. In addition, as used herein, the terms “axial” and “axially” generally mean along or parallel to a central axis (e.g., central axis of a body or a port), while the terms “radial” and “radially” generally mean perpendicular to the central axis. For instance, an axial distance refers to a distance measured along or parallel to the central axis, and a radial distance means a distance measured perpendicular to the central axis.

A subsea pressure relief or control system for subsea applications is disclosed herein. Embodiments described herein may be employed in various subsea applications; however, it has particular application as a device to relieve excessive fluid pressures that may develop in subsea flow lines, manifolds, tanks, vessels and reservoirs containing and/or transporting hydrocarbons from the sea floor or between subsea containment systems.

Referring now to FIG. 1, an overview of an offshore hydrocarbon production system 100 is shown. In this embodiment, system 100 comprises a blowout preventer (BOP) 130 mounted to a subsea wellhead, a choke/kill manifold assembly 140 disposed on the sea floor 120, a plurality of processing vessels 170 and collecting vessels 180 disposed at the sea surface 110, a containment and disposal manifold assembly 200 disposed on sea floor 120, and a plurality of subsea free standing risers (FSRs) 600.

Each FSR 600 is vertically oriented and has a first or upper end 600a and a second or lower end 600b. In this embodiment, each FSR 600 includes a buoyancy can 166 at upper end 600a, an upper riser assembly (URA) 610 coupled to can 166, a foundation 168 at lower end 600b, and a lower riser assembly (LRA) 620 coupled to foundation 168. Foundations 168 secure FSRs 600 to the sea floor 120, and buoyancy cans 166 place FSRs 600 in tension. URAs 610 of each FSR 600 are disposed below the wave zone proximal the sea surface 110, thereby minimizing lateral and radial loads applied to FSRs 600. As will be described in more detail below, an embodiment of a subsea pressure relief device in accordance with principles described herein is included in LRA 620 and URA 610 of each FSR 600 to protect such components from over pressurization.

Processing vessels 170 are coupled to URAs 610 of each FSR 600 by a plurality of flexible jumpers 104. In addition, a fluid conduit 108 couples each vessel 170 to a corresponding vessel 180.

In this embodiment, a capping stack 131 is coupled to BOP 130. Examples of capping stacks are disclosed in U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/475,032 filed Apr. 13, 2011, and entitled “Systems and Methods for Capping a Subsea Well,” which is hereby incorporated here in reference in its entirety. Choke/kill manifold assembly 140 is coupled to BOP 130, and a drill string 106 and containment and disposal manifold assembly 200 are coupled to choke/kill manifold assembly 140 by subsea conduits 102. As will be described in more detail below, containment and disposal manifold assembly 200 provides additional protection during an over pressurization. As will be described in more detail below, an embodiment of a subsea pressure relief device in accordance with principles described herein is included in containment and disposal manifold assembly 200.

The offshore hydrocarbon production system 100 may be further explained in provisional application Nos. 61/392,443 and 61/392,899. Provisional application No. 61/392,443 and provisional application No. 61/392,899 are incorporated by reference in their entirety, for all purposes.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, containment and disposal manifold assembly 200 is shown. Manifold assembly 200 includes a base 210, a support frame 220, a manifold 230, an ROV panel 260, and a pressure relief device 400. Base 210 distributes the weight of manifold assembly 200 along the sea floor 120, thereby restricting and/or preventing manifold assembly 200 from sinking into the sea floor 120. In addition, base 210 covers and shields the sea floor 120 from turbulence induced by ROV thrusters, thereby reducing visibility loss due to disturbed mud during installation and operation. Accordingly, base 210 effectively functions as a mud mat.

Support frame 220 sits atop base 210 and provides support for manifold 230. Manifold 230 includes an arrangement of interconnected fluid conduits 238, a plurality of valves 232, and a plurality of vertical connection conduits 234. Valves 232 are configured to control the flow of fluids through conduits 238, 234. For example, each valve 232 has an open position allowing fluid flow therethrough and a closed position restricting and/or preventing fluid flow therethrough. One valve 232 is associated with each conduit 234, thereby controlling fluid communication between that particular conduit 234 and the remaining conduits 238 of manifold 230. ROV panel 260 enables a subsea ROV to selectively and independently control valves 232. The upper end of each conduit 234 includes a connector or hub 236 configured to mate and releasably engage a mating connector. In this embodiment, pressure relief device 400 is releasably coupled to one hub 236.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, pressure relief device 400 has a central or longitudinal axis 405, a first or upper end 400a, and a second or lower end 400b. In this embodiment, assembly 400 includes a connector 420 at lower end 400b and a tubular housing 410 coupled to connector 420.

As best shown in FIG. 6, tubular housing 410 is coaxially aligned with axis 405, and has a first or upper end 410a coincident with end 400a, a second or lower end 410b connected to connector 420, a radially inner surface 418, and a radially outer surface 419 Inner surface 418 defines an inner cavity 416 extending axially between ends 410a, b. Tubular housing 410 also includes a plurality of axially spaced radial bores 417 extending radially between surfaces 418, 419. One burst disc assembly 500 is mounted within each bore 417. In this embodiment, a plurality of lugs or lift eyes 414 extend from outer surface 419 and are used to lift and deploy assembly 400.

A cap 430 is mounted to upper end 410a of tubular housing 410, thereby generally closing upper end 410a. Cap 430 includes a through bore 432 in fluid communication with cavity 416 of tubular housing 410. The upper end of bore 432 includes a receptacle 435 coupled to a conduit 448 that extends to a hot stab receptacle 442 in an ROV panel 446 mounted to tubular housing 410. A valve 444 in panel 446 controls fluid communication between conduit 448 and receptacle 442. Namely, valve 444 has an open position allowing fluid communication between conduit 448 and receptacle 442, and a closed position restricting and/or preventing fluid communication between conduit 448 and receptacle 442.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120305262 A1
Publish Date
12/06/2012
Document #
13470793
File Date
05/14/2012
USPTO Class
166363
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
21B33/00
Drawings
14



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