METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR ISOLATING AND TESTING ZONES
DURING REVERSE CIRCULATION DRILLING
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No.
60/521,051, filed February 11, 2004.
FIELD OF USE
The present invention relates to an apparatus and method for isolating and testing individual zones in a vertical, directional or horizontal wellbore during drilling. More particularly, the present invention relates to a zone isolating and testing apparatus and method of use thereof to allow testing of isolated zones 1o for flow of hydrocarbons, formation fluids and drill cuttings during vertical, horizontal or directional reverse circulation drilling of wellbores using concentric drill pipe, concentric coiled tubing, or the like.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The oil and gas industry uses various methods to test the productivity of wells prior to completing a well (see, for example, U.S. Patent No. 4,898,236).
After drilling operations have been completed and a well has been drilled to total depth or prior to reaching total depth in the case of multi-zoned discoveries, it 2o is common to test the zone to estimate future production of oil and gas.
Current technologies used for testing reservoirs such as drill stem testing (DST) are often too expensive to test multi-zone reservoirs, particularly at shallow depths. Furthermore, isolating and testing zones using conventional packer technology can be slow, expensive and sometimes difficult to set and then release.
DMSLegal\052502\00021 \1994903 v 1 1 Traditionally the DST process involves flowing a well through a length of drill pipe reinserted through the static drilling fluid. The bottom of the pipe will attach to a tool or device with openings through which fluid can enter. This perforated section is placed across an anticipated producing formation and s sealed off with packers, frequently a pair of packers place above and below the formation. This packing off technique permits an operator to test only an isolated section or cumulative section.
The present invention allows a fast, safe and economic way to isolate and test 1o zones during reverse circulation drilling, alleviating the need to first remove the drill pipe used for drilling and then reinsert a length of drill pipe for testing.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
15 A zone isolating and testing apparatus comprising an isolation tool and a downhole flow control means and a method of using such apparatus is disclosed. The zone isolating and testing apparatus is particularly useful for testing zones during reverse circulation drilling using concentric drill string, e.g., concentric drill pipe, concentric coiled tubing and the like, said concentric 2o drill string comprising an inner tube and an outer tube forming an annulus therebetween. Thus, the zone isolating and testing apparatus is preferably operably connected to a concentric drill string.
The isolation tool of the zone isolating and testing apparatus comprises an 25 expandable packer means and is adapted to connect to concentric drill string near the drilling means. When the packer means of the isolation tool is in the expanded position, the isolation tool is in the "closed position" and when the packer means is in the contracted position the isolation tool is in the "open position". In a preferred embodiment, the expansion of the packer means is DMSLegal\052502\00021 \1994903v 1 controlled by an electric current for quicker opening and closing of the isolation tool.
It is understood in the art that the area of the zone tested will be dictated by s the distance the isolation tool is placed away from the drilling means. In some instances where the bands of the pay zones are known to be quite broad the isolation tool and the drilling means can be separated from one another by several joints of concentric drill string.
1 o The downhole flow control means of the zone isolating and testing apparatus comprises two valves, one for closing off the annulus between the inner tube and outer tube of the concentric drill string and the other for closing off the inner space of the inner tube. The downhole flow control means is also adapted to connect to concentric drill string near the drilling means. In one embodiment, the isolation tool and downhole flow control means are connected to each other. However, it is understood that these two components may be separated from one another by one or more joints of concentric drill string.
2o During the drilling process, the isolation tool is in the open position, i.e. the packer means is contracted. When the tool is in the open position it does not significantly restrict the flow of hydrocarbons, as the outside diameter of the isolation tool when in the open position is preferably equal to or less than the outside diameter of the concentric drill string. However, it is understood that 25 the outside diameter of the open isolation tool can also be greater than the outside diameter of the concentric drill string and still not significantly restrict the flow of hydrocarbons.
DMSi.egal\052502\0002 L \1994903 v 1 The downhole flow control means is also in the complete open position during drilling, i.e., both valves are open. This allows drilling fluid to be pumped down either the annulus or inner space of the concentric drill string and exhaust drilling fluid and drill cuttings to be removed through the other of said annulus or inner space.
However, when testing is required during the reverse circulation drilling process, the isolation tool is in the closed position, i.e. the packer means expands to abut the adjacent wellbore walls. Further, one of the two valves of 1o the downhole flow control means is also in the closed position. Which valve will be closed is dependent upon whether drilling fluid is being pumped through the annulus or the inner space. For example, if drilling fluid were being pumped down the annulus then during testing the annulus valve would be closed.
Thus, during testing, the zone of the wellbore below the isolation tool is shut off or isolated from the portion of the wellbore above the tool as the expanded packer means will not allow hydrocarbons to flow passed it. The materials present in the isolated zone can then flow through either the annulus or inner 2o space to the surface of the well for testing.
The disclosed invention has one or more of the following advantages over conventional isolation packer technology and drill stem testing:
~ when drilling vertical, directional, and/or horizontal wellbores, individual zones can be isolated and tested much quicker and cheaper without having to interrupt drilling for extended periods of time;
~ open hole testing provides very valuable production data;
DMSLegal\052502\00021\l994903v1 ~ zones which may otherwise be damaged by testing fluids when using drill stem testing can now be tested without damage as testing fluids are not necessary;
~ easier to measure the flow of formation fluids into a zone;
~ decisions on well stimulation can be made while the well is being drilled; and ~ more accurate information on reservoir pressure, temperature, flow rate etc. can be obtained from individual zones.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Figure 1 is a schematic of one embodiment of the isolation tool of the present invention.
Figures 2a and 2b is a schematic of the isolation tool in the open and closed position, respectively.
Figure 3 is a schematic of the downhole blow out preventor.
Figure 4 is a schematic of the surface drilling and testing equipment used in the present invention.
Figure 5 is a schematic of the inner drill string of concentric drill string of the present invention.
Figure 6 is a schematic of one embodiment of the zone isolating and testing apparatus typically used with concentric drill pipe.
DMSL.egal\052502\00021\1994903v1 Figure 7 is a schematic of one embodiment of the zone isolating and testing apparatus typically used with concentric coiled tubing.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
A zone isolating and testing apparatus comprising an isolation tool and a downhole flow control means and method of using such apparatus will now be described with reference to the following preferred embodiment.
1 o Figure 1 schematically illustrates the isolation tool 30 of the zone isolating and testing apparatus and means for attaching the isolation tool 30 between two pieces of concentric drill string 45 and 47. Concentric drill string 45 and 47 both comprise an inner tube 57 and an outer tube 59. Concentric drill string is designed such that at one end of concentric drill string is a threaded pin end i 5 and at the other end is a threaded box end. Thus, pieces of concentric drill string can be connected end to end by screwing the threaded pin end of the new piece of concentric drill string to be added into the box end of the drill string below.
2o As can be seen in Figure 1, concentric drill string 45 has threaded pin end at its bottom end and concentric drill string 47 has threaded box end 35 at its top end. Isolation tool 30 is adapted to be inserted between concentric drill string 45 and 47 by means of threaded box end 37 and threaded pin end 33.
Thus, threaded pin end 31 of concentric drill string 45 screws into threaded 25 box end 37 and threaded pin end 33 screws into threaded box end 35 of concentric drill string 47.
Isolation tool 30 further comprises packer means 39. Packer means 39 can be expanded or contracted by any means known in the art, for example, by DMSl.egal\052502\00021 \1994903v I
means of an electric current flow path as shown in Figure 5. In another embodiment, the packer means comprises an inflatable ring which can be inflated and deflated by pumping various types of fluid into and out of the ring.
Figures 2a and 2b schematically illustrate the isolation tool 30 attached to the concentric drill string in the open and closed position, respectively. During drilling the isolation tool 30 is in the open position and during testing it is in the closed position.
When packer means 39 is contracted or deflated as shown in Figure 2a, the isolation tool 30 is in the open position and hydrocarbons can flow freely through the wellbore annulus 43 formed between the outer wall of the concentric drill string and the wellbore wall 41. When packer means 39 is expanded or inflated as shown in Figure 2b, the packer means 39 is forced ~5 against wellbore wall 41 thereby closing annulus 43 to hydrocarbon movement above or below the packer means 39. Thus, the testing region below the packer is isolated from the surface of the wellbore.
In order to test for hydrocarbon flow, formation fluids, drill cuttings and the like 2o present in the testing zone, the isolation tool is used in conjunction with a downhole flow control means or downhole blow out preventor (downhole BOP) as shown in Figure 3. In Figure 3, downhole BOP 10 is shown attached to the lower end of concentric drill string 47 by threaded pin end 72 of concentric drill string 47 screwing into threaded box end 70 of downhole BOP 10.
In this embodiment, downhole BOP 10 comprises two valve means 3 and 5 for shutting off the flow of drilling fluid, exhausted drilling fluid, drill cuttings and/or hydrocarbons through one or the other of the outer annulus 7 formed between inner tube 57 and outer tube 59 of concentric drill string 47 and inner space DMSLegal\052502\00021\1994903v1 7 of inner tube 57. It is understood that other downhole flow control means can also be used, for example, the downhole flow control means as described in U.S. Patent Applications Publication Nos. 20030155156 and 20030173088, incorporated herein by reference.
Thus, in one embodiment of the invention, the isolation tool 30 and the downhole BOP 10 of the zone isolating and testing apparatus can be separated by a single joint of concentric drill string 47. However, it is understood that in some instances the isolation tool and downhole BOP can ~o be directly threaded or connected by other connection means to each other.
Further, it can be appreciated that the orientation of the two components is not critical; in some instances it may be desirable to have the downhole BOP
attached to the bottom of the concentric drill string first and the isolation tool connected either directly or by means of one or more joints of concentric drill i5 string below the downhole BOP.
It is understood that the drilling means (not shown) can be either directly attached to the bottom of the downhole flow control means, the isolation tool, other downhole tools or an intervening joint of concentric drill string. In 2o general, however, the drilling means is attached to the last in the series of downhole tools.
During reverse circulation drilling with concentric drill string, both valves 3 and 5 of the downhole BOP 10 are in the open position (not shown). In one 25 embodiment, drilling fluid is pumped from surface equipment through the annulus 7 formed between the inner tube 57 and outer tube 59 and exhausted drilling fluid, drill cuttings and/or hydrocarbons 19 flow through the inner space 9 to the surface of the wellbore. It is understood that drilling fluid could also be DMSL.egal\052502\00021\1994903v1 pumped from surface through the inner space 9 and exhausted drilling fluid, drill cuttings and/or hydrocarbons removed through the annulus 7.
When drilling is stopped for testing, the isolation tool 30, which is located at or near the downhole BOP, is put in the closed position as shown in Figure 2b to isolate the testing region below the packer means. In the instance where drilling fluid is being pumped down the annulus 7 and exhausted drilling fluid, drill cuttings and/or hydrocarbons flow through the inner space 9 to the surface of the wellbore, valve means 3 of the downhole BOP 10 is also put in the 1o closed position as shown in Figure 3, as no fluids are being flowed from surface equipment during testing.
Valve means 5, however, remains in the open position as shown in Figure 3 thereby allowing hydrocarbons, formation fluids and/or drill cuttings ~5 (collectively referred to as reference 19 in Figure 3) present in the isolated zone to flow to surface. Well flow test equipment known in the art will be able to determine the hydrocarbon content of the isolated testing area. Optionally, a surface blow out preventor (surface BOP, not shown) is provided to shut off the flow of hydrocarbon from the annulus between the drill string and the 2o wellbore walls that may be present in the zone above the packer means.
Figure 4 schematically shows the surface equipment used during drilling and testing. Drilling rig 70 is equipped with well testing equipment 74. The hydrocarbons in the test region flow through the inner space of the inner tube 25 of the concentric drill string and then through the choke manifold system as shown in 72. Well flow test equipment can also be located at the end of blewie line 78. Surface BOP 76 ensures that there is no escape of hydrocarbons to the surface through the annulus formed between the drill string and the wellbore walls.
DMSLegal\052502\00021\1994903v1 The isolation tool is preferably powered by an electric current for quicker opening and closing operations. Figure 5 is a schematic of a portion of concentric drill string having threaded pin end 31 at one end. The outer tube has been removed to reveal inner tube 57, which is preferably made of a rubber type material, rubber/steel, fiberglass or composite material, capable of withstanding the forces and pressures of the drilling operations. Inner tube further comprises electrical wires 51 that allow the flow of the electric current.
Wire coils 53 and 55 are compressed in each end of the concentric drill string ~o when two pieces of concentric drill string are torqued (screwed) together.
This provides the electric current to operate the isolation tool, e.g., to expand or contract the packer means as needed.
Other means of operating the isolation tool could include fiber optic cables, 5 radio frequency and electric magnetic forces. When using concentric coiled tubing the isolation tool can be operated using small diameter capillary tubes which transmit hydraulic or pneumatic pressure to an actuator at or near the tool.
2o Figure 6 shows one embodiment of the assembled zone isolating and testing apparatus of the present invention, which is typically used with concentric drill pipe. In this embodiment, the isolation tool 30 and the downhole BOP 10 are spatially separated by means of a single joint of concentric drill pipe 47.
Typically, the drilling means (not shown) is attached either directly to the 25 downhole BOP 10 or to other downhole tools that can be attached to the downhole BOP. It may be desirable, however, particularly in instances where the bands of the pay zones are known to be quite broad (i.e., 40 ft or greater), to have the isolation tool and the drilling means separated even further by additional joints of concentric drill string.
DMSLega1\052502\00021 \1994903 v 1 1 Figure 7 shows another embodiment of the assembled zone isolating and testing apparatus, which is typically used when the concentric drill string comprises a continuous length of concentric coiled tubing having a continuous length of inner coiled tubing and a continuous length of outer coiled tubing.
In this embodiment, the isolation tool 30 is connected to the bottom of the concentric coiled tubing 65 by connection means known in the art. The downhole BOP 10 is then connected to the isolation tool 30 by similar connection means known in the art.
The foregoing disclosure and description of the invention are illustrative and explanatory thereof. Various changes in the size, shape and materials as well as the details of the illustrated construction may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.
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