GB2350141A - Remote control for a plug-dropping head - Google Patents

Remote control for a plug-dropping head Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2350141A
GB2350141A GB0020209A GB0020209A GB2350141A GB 2350141 A GB2350141 A GB 2350141A GB 0020209 A GB0020209 A GB 0020209A GB 0020209 A GB0020209 A GB 0020209A GB 2350141 A GB2350141 A GB 2350141A
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GB
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
pin
apparatus
plug
sleeve
position
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Granted
Application number
GB0020209A
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GB0020209D0 (en )
GB2350141B (en )
Inventor
Michael W Holcombe
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Baker Hughes Inc
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Baker Hughes Inc
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Classifications

    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B33/00Sealing or packing boreholes or wells
    • E21B33/02Surface sealing or packing
    • E21B33/03Well heads; Setting-up thereof
    • E21B33/04Casing heads; Suspending casings or tubings in well heads
    • E21B33/05Cementing-heads, e.g. having provision for introducing cementing plugs
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B33/00Sealing or packing boreholes or wells
    • E21B33/10Sealing or packing boreholes or wells in the borehole
    • E21B33/13Methods or devices for cementing, for plugging holes, crevices, or the like
    • E21B33/14Methods or devices for cementing, for plugging holes, crevices, or the like for cementing casings into boreholes
    • E21B33/16Methods or devices for cementing, for plugging holes, crevices, or the like for cementing casings into boreholes using plugs for isolating cement charge; Plugs therefor
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B41/00Equipment or details not covered by groups E21B15/00 - E21B40/00

Abstract

An apparatus for dropping a pumpdown plug or ball is actuated by remote control, employing intrinsically safe circuitry. The plug or ball is dropped when a sleeve is released from its upper position by rotation of a lock pin 172 through 180{ which removes a shoulder on lock pin from a position supporting shoulder 168 on the sleeve. The lock pin 172 is rotated by a driver such as an electric motor via reduction gear 236, shafts 238, 246 and gears 242, 248, 202 and 200. The apparatus is characterised by a transmission operably engaged to the final control element and a clutch in the transmission can disengage from the final control element. The driver is actuated when a release signal (e.g. an infra-red signal) is received by the apparatus. Multiple plug-dropping heads can be stacked, each responsive to a discrete release signal.

Description

2350141 REMOTE CONTROL FOR A PLUG-DROPPING HEAD

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The field of this invention relates to methods and devices usable in the field of oil and gas exploration and production. more specifically devices and methods related to cementing operations involving the cementing of a liner by dropping or by pumping down a plug.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cementing operations have involved the use of plugs as a way of 15, correctly positioning the cement when setting a liner. Some mechanisms have employed the use of pressure or vacuum to initiate plug movement downhole Ibr proper displacement of the cement to its appropriate location for securing the liner properly. The early designs were manual operations so that when it was time to release a plug for the cementing operation, a lever was manually operated to accomplish the dropping of the plug. This created several problems because the plug-dropping head would not always be within easy access of the rig floor. Frequently, depending upon the configuration of the Darticular well b&ing drilled, the dropping head could be as much as. 1 00 ft. (30.48 metres) or more in the derrick. In order to properly actuate the plug to drop, rig personnel would have to go up on some lift mechanism to reach the manual handle. This process would have to be repeated if the plug-dropping head had facilities for dropping more than one plug. In those instances, each time another plug was to be dropped, the operat& of the handle would have to be 1 hoisted to the proper elevation for the operation. In situations involving foul weather, such as high winds or low visibility, the manual operation had nu merous safety risks. Manual operations used in the past are illustrated in U.S.

Patent 4,854,383. In that patent, a manual valve realignment redirected the flow from bypassing the plug to directly above it so that it could be driven downhole.

Hydraulic systems involving a stationary control panel mounted on the rig floor, with the ability to remotely operate valves in conjunction with ce menting plugs, have also been used in the past Typical of such applications is U.S. Patent 4,782,894. Some of the drawbacks of such systems are that for unusual applications where the plug-dropping head turned out to be a ith th substantial distance from the rig floor, the hoses provided wi e hydraulic system would not be long enough to reach the control panel meant to be mounted on the rig floor. Instead, in order to make the hoses deal with these unusual placement situations, the actual control panel itself had to be hoisted off the rig floor. This, of course, defeated the whole purpose of remote opera tion. Additionally, the portions of the dropping head to which the hydraulic lines were connected would necessarily have to remain stationary. This proved somewhat undesirable to operators who wanted the flexibility to continue rotation as well as up or down movements during the cementing operation. Similar such remote-control hydraulic systems are illustrated in U.S. Patent 4,427,065; 4,671,353.

Yet other systems involve the pumping of cement on the rig floor to launch a ball or similar object, the seating of which would urge the cementing plug to drop. Typical of such a system is U.S. Patent 5,095,988. U.S. Patent 2 4,040,603 shows the general concept of a plug-release mechanism using a hydraulic circuit mounted on the rig floor. U.S. Patent 5,033,113 shows generally the concept of using an infrared receiver to trigger the operation of a device such as an electric fan.

One type of previously used plug-dropping head is the model TD put out by Baker Oil Tools. This device has a plug stop to retain the plug, with a shifting sleeve which in a first position allows the flow to bypass around the plug being retained by the plug stop. Upon manual turning of a set screw, the sleeve shifts, allowing the plug stop to pivot so that the plug is released. The shifting of the sleeve also closes the bypass around the sleeve and forces pressure on top of the plug so that it is driven down into the wellbore in the cementing operation.

The apparatus of the present invention has been designed to achieve several objectives. By putting together an assembly that can be actuated by remote control from a safe location on the rig floor, the safety aspects of plug dropping have been improved. No longer will an operator be required to go up in the derrick to actuate a single or multiple levers in the context of liner cementing. Use of the apparatus and method of the present invention also eliminates numerous hydraulic hoses that need to be extended from a control panel to the final element necessary to be operated to allow the plug to drop.

The plug can be dropped while the rotary table is in operation such that not only rotation but movement into and out of the wellbore is possible as the plug is being released to drop. The equipment is designed to be intrinsically safe to avoid any possibility of creation of a spark which could trigger an explosion.

The equipment is compact and economically accomplishes the plug-dropping 3 maneuver while the operator stands in a safe location on the rig floor. The actuation to drop can be accomplished on the fly while the plug-dropping head is being rotated or being moved longitudinally. Plug-dropping heads can be used in tandem and be made to respond to discrete signals. This ensures that the plugs are released in the proper order from a safe location on the rig.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the invention there is provided a control apparatus for a single or multiple plug dropping tool, comprising at least one signal transmitter for sending at least one signal over the air; at least one signal receiver on a body for receiving said signal from said transmitter and to provide an output; at least one control system comprising a primary control element; at least one signal processor to use said output from said receiver to selectively remotely operate said primary control element to allow release of a plug from the apparatus by said system; at least one final control element, said final control element selectively preventing and allowing a plug to drop from the apparatus, whereupon actuation of said primary control element selectively permits actuation of said final control element to drop a plug; said primary control element further comprising a driver; a transmission operably engaged to said final control element to selectively move said final control element so that said plug can be retained or released; and a clutch in said transmission to selectively disengage from said final control element.

4 The invention also provides a method of releasing balls or plugs for liner cementing, comprising erecting an apparatus to drop balls or plugs on a casing or liner string; transmitting a signal over the air from a safe location to said apparatus; receiving said over-the-air signal at the apparatus; using the signal received to trigger release of at least one ball or plug; using a sleeve to selectively support a ball or plug; using a driver coupled to a transmission to selectively retain said sleeve; using said received signal to actuate said driver; releasing said sleeve due to operation of said driver; removing support for said ball or plug by movement of said sleeve; providing a bevelled pin driven by said transmission; rotating said pin from a first position where it supports said sleeve to a second position where, due to said bevel, said pin no longer supports said sleeve; providing a clutching feature in said transmission to allow selective disconnection from said driver; and using a tool to engage said pin with said driver disconnected to return it from said second to said first position.

The assembly can be integrally formed with a plug-dropping head or can be an auxiliary feature that is mounted to a plug-dropping head. The release mechanism is actuated by remote control, employing intrinsically safe circuitry. The circuitry, along With its self-contained power source, actuates a primary control member responsive to an input signal so as to allow component shiffing for release of the pumpdown plug or ball. Multiple plug-dropping heads can be stacked, each responsive to a discrete release signal. Actuaton to drop the pumpdown ball or plug is accomplished even while the components are rotating or are moving longitudinally. Using the apparatus and method of the present invention, personnel do not need to climb up in the derrick to actuate manual valves. There is additionally no need for a rig floormounted control panel with hydraulic lines extending from the control panel to remotely located valves for plug or ball release.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows an existing prior art plug-dropping head for which a preferred embodiment has been developed.

Figures 2A and 213 illustrate the plug-dropping head of Figure 1, with a few parts removed for clarity, illustrated with the release mechanism of the apparatus and method of the present invention installed and ready to release.

Figure 3 illustrates the pistonIcAinder combination in the initial position before release of the plug.

Figure 4 is the same pistonlcylinder combination of Figure 3 in the unlocked position after plug release.

Figure 5 is an end view of the view shown in Figure 2, illustrating the spring action feature.

Figure 6 is a detail of Figure 1. showing the existing pin which is is changed to accept the invention.

Figure 7 is a sectional elevational part exploded view of the apparatus.

Figure 8 is a sectional view of the apparatus showing the rack.

Figure 9 is an electrical schematic representation of the transmitter used in the invention.

Figures 10 and 11 represent the electrical schematic layout of the components to receive the signal from the transmitter and to operate a valve to initiate release of a ball or plug.

Figures 12A and 12B are a sectional elevation of the plug-dropping head illustrating the electric motor drive for actuating the lock pin.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

6 Figure 1 illustrates a prior art plug-dropping head available from Baker

Oil Tools. The preferred embodiment of the apparatus and invention has been configured to be mountable to the plug-dropping head illustrated in Figure I as an add-on attachment. However, those skilled in the art will appreciate that an integral plug-dropping head, with the remote-release mechanism which will be described, can be provided without departing from the scope of the invetition.

In the prior design shown in Figure 1. a top connection 1 is supported from the derrick in the customary manner. Top connection I is connected to a mandrel 9, which is in turn connected to a bottom connection 12. Inside mandrel 9 is sleeve 8. At the bottom of sleeve 8 is plug stop 10, which is connected by roll pin 11 to sleeve 8. In the position shown in Figure 1, plug stop 10 would retain a ball or plug above it since it extends transversely into the central flowpath. With the sleeve 8 shown in the position in Figure 1. flow is bypasses a plug (not shown) which is disposed atop plug stop 10. Flow which comes in through top connection 1 circulates through a bypass passage 13 until it is time to drop the ball or plug. At that time, set screw 3 is operated and turned 180" manually. The turning of set screw 3 releases its hold on sleeve 8 and allows sleeve 8 to drop down. As a result of sleeve 8 dropping down, plug stop 10 can pivot around roll pin 11 and the plug or ball is re leased. Additionally, sleeve 8 comes in contact with bottom connection 12, thereby sealing off bypass passage 13. Thereafter, circulation into top connection 1 can no longer go through bypass passage 13 and must neces sarily bear down on the ball or plug in the central port or passage 15, which 7 results in a pressure being applied above the plug or ball to drive it through bottom connection 12 and into the liner being cemented in the well.

As previously stated, the operation described in the previous paragraph, with regard to the prior art tool of Figure 1, at times necessitated sending personnel significant distances above the rig floor for manual operation of set screw 3. Of course, rotation and longitudinal movement of the tool shown in Figure 1 had to stop in order for set screw 3 to be operated to release sleeve 8.

Referring now to Figure 2, the tool in Figure 1 is shown with many of the component omitted for clarity. At the top, again, is top connection 1, which is connected to mandrel 9, which is in turn connected to bottom connection 12.

Sleeve 8 sits Within mandrel 9, and pin 11 secures the plug stop (not shown) in the position to retain a ball or plug in the position shown in Figure 2. It should be noted that the tool shown in Figure 1 is in the same position when is shown in Figure 2. That is, the plug stop 10 retains the plug while the flow goes around the sleeve 8, through the passage 13. Ultimately, when sleeve 8 shifts, tapered surface 16 contacts tapered surface 18 on bottom connection 12 to seal off passage 13 and to direct flow coming into top connection 1 through the central passage 15 to drive down the ball or plug into the well bore.

However, there is a difference between the assembly shown in Figure 2 and the assembly shown in Figure 1. Set screw 3 of Figures 1 and 6 has been replaced by a totally different assembly which eliminates the manual operation with respect to the embodiment shown in the prior art of Figure 1.

1 nstead, a housing 20 has been developed to fit over top connection 1 until it 8 comes to rest on tapered surface 22. The housing 20 has a mating tapered surface 24 which, when it contacts tapered surface 22, longitudinally orients housing 20 with respect to top connection 1.

Rotational orientation is still properly required. To accomplish this, at least one orienting groove or cutout 26 has been machined into top connec tion 1. For each cutout 26 there is an alignment bore 28 in housing 20. A bolt is advanced through threaded bore 28 until it sticks into and firmly engages cutout 26. Once at least one bolt 30 is inserted into a cutout 26, the radial orientation between housing 20 and top connection 1 is obtained. That orientation can be secured with set screws (not shown) inserted through threaded bores 32 and 34. At that point, not only is housing 20 properly oriented, but its orientation is properly secure. As a result of such orientation, bore 36 in top connection 1 is aligned with bore 38 in housing 20. Bores 36 and 38 are disposed at an angle with respect to the longitudinal axis of top connection 1. A preferably square thread 40 is located in bore 36. Instead of set screw 3 (see Figure 6), a pin 42 (see Figure 7) is installed through aligned bores 36 and 38. Threads 44 on pin 42 engage thread 40 in bore 36.

Figure 7 outlines the assembly procedures for the installation of pin 42.

After aligning housing 20, as previously described, the cover 46 (see Figure 2) is removed, allowing access to bore 38 for installation of pin 42. Pin 42 is advanced and rotated into threads 40 until tapered surface 48 is in an. oflen tation about 18W opposed from that shown in Figure 7. The orientation of surface 48 is determined by the orientation of bore 50, which does not extend all the way through pin 42. Bore 50 is designed to accept a handle 52 (see Figure 2). The orientation of tapered surface 48 is known by the orientation 9 of bore 50. Having aligned tapered surface 48 in a position about 1801, opposed from that shown in Figure 7, the gear 54 is fitted over pin 42 and handle 52 is extended into bore 50. By extending handle 52 through catch 56 ort gear 54, the longitudinal positioning of gear 54 with respect to pin 42 is accomplished. Additionally, the orientation of catch 56 allows initial rotation of both pin 42 and gear 54 to get them into the set position shown in Figure 2.

Prior to securing the gear 54 onto pin 42, a pair of split sleeves 58 are fitted to housing 20 and secured to each other by fasteners 60. A rack 62 (see Figure 8) is secured to sleeves 58 via fasteners 64 (see Figure 7).

As shown in Figure 8, gear 54 meshes with rack 62 such that rotation of pin 42 will rotate sleeves 58. Also connected to sleeves 58, as shown in Figure 8, are lug or lugs 66. In the preferred embodiment there are two lugs 66 secured to sleeves 58 (see Figure 5). Typically for each one, a bolt 68 extends through a piston 70 to secure the piston 70 to lug 66 (see Figures 5 and 8). The piston 70 is an elongated member that extends through a cylin der 72 and is sealed thereto by O-ring seal 74. Disposed between piston 70 and cylinder 72 is floating piston 76, which is sealed against cylinder 72 by seal 78 and it is further sealed against piston 70 by seal 80. A first port 82 allows fluid communication into cavity 84, which is formed between cylinder 72 and piston 70 and between seal 74 on piston 70 and seal 80 on floating piston 76. A second port 86 is also disposed in cylinder 72 ' and communi cates with cavity 88. Cavity 88 is disposed between piston 70 and cylinder 72 on the other side of seal 74.

Cylinder 72 has a mounting fug 90. Bolt 92 secures cylinder 72 in a pivotally mounted orientation to housing 20.

Referring back to Jugs 66, each has a bracket 94 (see Figure 5) to secure an end of spring 96. A lug 98 is rigidly mounted to housing 20 (see Figure 8) and secures the opposite end of spring 96. Spring 96 extends spirally around sleeves 58.

It should be noted that while one padcular piston cyrinder assembly has been described, a plurality of such identical assemblies or similar assemblies can be used without departing from the scope of the invention. There are two in the preferred embodiment In essence. the preferred embodiment illus trates tile preferred way to accomplish a desired movement which is respon sive to a particular signal for remote release of the ball or plug.

The first port 82 has a line 100 leading to a check valve 102 and a commercially available. intrinsically safe solenoid valve 104 mounted in is parallel (see Figure 3). The use of check valve 102 is optional. Coming out of solenoid valve 104 is line 106 which leads back to second port 86. Cavities 84 and 88, as well as lines 100 and 106 are filled with an incompressible fluid.

Solenoid valve 104 is electrically operated and is of the type well-known in the art to be intrinsically safe. This means that it operates on such low voltage or current that it Pall not induce any sparks which could cause a fire or explo sion. The electrical components for the apparatus A of the present invention are located in compartment 108 of housing 20 (see Figure 8). A sensor 110 (see Figures 3 and 8) is mounted in each of bores 112 in housing 20. Each of the sensors 110 is connected to the electronic control system 114. The power for the electronic control system 114 comes from a battery 116. Sen- 11 sor 110 receives over the air a signal 118 from a control 120. Inthepreferred embodiment, the drilling rig operator holds the control 120 in his hand and points it in the direction of sensors 110, which are distributed around the periphery of housing 20 and oriented in a downward direction. The preferred embodiment has six sensors 110. The rig operator points the control 120, which is itself an intrinsically safe device, which emits a signal 118 that ulti mately makes contact over the air with one of sensors 110. The signal c an be infrared or laser or any other type of signal that goes over the air and does not create any explosive fire or other hazards on the rig. The effect. of a signal 118 received at a sensor 110 is to actuate the control system 114 to open solenoid valve 104.

However, prior to explaining the actuation of the release, the initial set up of the apparatus A needs to be further explained. As previously stated, pin 42 is installed in a position which is the fully released position. That position is, in effect about 180" different from the onentation shown in Figure 2. With that initial installation, gear 54 is secured to rack 62. At that point in time, the cylinder 72 is disposed in the position shown in Figure 4, with the spring 96 fully relaxed except for any preload, if built in. When handle 52 is given a rotation, it moves rack 62, which is connected to sleeves 58 as are lugs 66. Accordingly, 180" rotation of handle 52 has the net effect of rotating lugs 66 away from bracket or brackets 98 about 30"-45". The difference in posi tion of lugs 66 with respect to bracket 98 is seen by comparing Figures 3 and 4.

As a result of the 180" rotation of handle 52, pin 42 is now in the posi ton shown in Figure 2. By moving lugs 66 away from bracket 98, spring 96 12 has been stretched. In order to accommodate the rotational movement induced by handle 52, piston 70 must move to a position where it is more extended out of cylinder 72. In making this movement, cavity 88 must grow in volume while cavity 84 shrinks in volume. As a result, there is a net transfer of fluid, which could be oil or some other hydraulic fluid, through conduit 100 as cavity 84 is reduced in volume, through check valve 102, if used, and back into conduit 106 to flow into cavity 88 which is increasing in volume. During this time, of course, floating piston 76 experiences insignificant net differential pressure and merely moves to accommodate the change in volume of cavity 84. It should be noted that if check valve 102 is not used, the operator must use control 120 to trigger valve 104 to open prior to rotating handle 52. This is because without check valve 102, 9 valve 104 remains closed, it will not be possible to turn handle 52 because the rack 62 will not be free to move be cause piston 70 will be fluid-locked against movement into or out of cylinder is 72. Therefore, if an assembly is used without check valve 102, the operator must ensure that valve 104 stays open as the orientation is changed from that shown in Figure 4 to that shown in Figure 3. In the preferred embodiment, a timer can be placed on valve 104 so that when it is triggered to open by control 120, it stays open for a predetermined time (about 4 minutes), thus giving the components time to make their required movements, both in the set-up and the release modes.

The result of the initial rotation of handle 52 about 180 in the preferred embodiment is that pin 42 suspends sleeve 8, which keeps plug stop 10 supporting the ball or plug 122 (see Figure 7).

13 When it is time to release the ball or plug 122, the operator, standing in a safe location on the rig floor, aims the control 120 toward sensors 110.

Having made contact over the air with a signal 118 transmitted from control to one of the sensors 110, the control system 114 is actuated to open valve 104. When valve 104 is opened, the force in expanded spring 96 draws lugs 66 rotationally toward bracket 98. This is allowed to happen as fluid is displaced from cavity 84 through line 100 through valve 104 back through line 106 to cavity 88. As lug 66 rotates due to the spring force which is now no longer opposed by the hydraulic lock provided by having valve 104 in the closed position, the rotation of sleeve 58 rotates rack 62, which in turn rotates gear 54, which in turn rotates pin 42 from the position shown in Figure 2 approximately 1800. This results in the release of sleeve 8 so that it can shift downwardly as previously explained. The downward shiffing of sleeve 8 allows plug stop 10 to pivot on roll pin 11, thus removing the support for the is ball or plug 122. The ball or plug 122 can drop. Its downward progress toward the liner being cemented can also be assisted by pumping down on top of the plug due to passage 13 being cut off upon shifting of sleeve 8, as in the original design shown in Figure 1.

It should be noted that the housings 20 can be stacked in series, each equipped with sensors 110 that respond to different signals so that if there is a stack of housings 20 in use for a particular application requiring several plugs to be dropped, the sensitivity of sensors 110 on different housings 20 to different signals ensures that the plugs are dropped in the proper order.

Accordingly, a separate controller 120 is provided for each apparatus A to be used in series, and aiming one controller with a discrete signal to a sensor 14 will not actuate the apparatus A unless the specific signal that sensor 110 is looking for is received. Alternatively, a single controller 120 can be pro grammed to give different signals 118 in series to accomplish release in the proper sequence.

The control 120 is further illustrated in Figure 9. Control 120 comprises a hand-held transmitter having several components. The transmitter includes A tone generator 101, which generates a multiplicity of frequencies. In the preferred embodiment the tone generator 101 generates 5 frequencies comprising 150 Hz, 300 Hz, 600 Hz, 1200 Hz, and 2400 Hz. Additionally, the tone generator 101 creates a carrier frequency of 38 kHz. The frequencies generated by the tone generator 101, except for the carrier frequency, are passed through a micro- sequencer 103, and ultimately to a mixer 105 where the carrier signal is mixed With the other frequencies generated. The mixed signal is then passed to an amplifier or power driver 107 for ultimate reception at sensors 110 (see Figure 10). As can be seen from the table which is part -of Figure 9, a four-button selector is provided on the transmitter control 120.

The first frequency sent, regardless of the combination selected, is 150 Hz, and the last signal sent is 2400 Hz. It should be noted that selecting different signal combinations on the control 120 will result in actuation of a different ball or plug 122 in an assembly involving a stack of units.

Referring now to Figure 10, any one of the sensors 110 can pick up the transmitted signal and deliver it to the pre-amp and demodulator 109. The carrier frequency of 38 kHz is eliminated in the pre-amp and demodulator, and the individual frequency signals sent are sensed by the various tone decoders 111. Each of the tone decoders 111 are sensitive to a different frequency. When the tone decoder for the 150 Hz detects that frequency, it resets all of the latches 113. The latches 113 emit a binary output dependent upon the input from the tone decoders 113. When the last frequency is detected, that being the 2400 Hz frequency at the decoder 111, the latch 113 associated with the decoder for the 2400 Hz frequency enables the decoder to accept the input from the remaining latches 113 to generate a suitable output which will ultimately trigger valve 104 to open. Again, depending on the binary input to the decoder 115, discrete signals result as the output from decoder 115, which result in a signal transmitted to one shot 117, shown in Figure 11. The one shot 117 triggers a timer 119, which in the preferred embodiment is set for keeping the valve 104 in the open position for 4 min utes. The signal to timer 119 also passes to solenoid driver 121, which is a switch that enables the solenoid 123 to ultimately open valve 104. As a safety precaution to avoid release of any ball or plug 122 if the power supply be is comes weak or is otherwise interrupted, there is a power onjoff detector 125, which is coupled to a delay 127. If the available power goes below a prede termined point, the solenoid 123 is disabled from opening. Thereafter, if the power returns above a preset value, the requirements of time in delay 127 must be met, coupled with a subsequent signal to actuate solenoid 123, before R can be operated. The power supply to the control circuits is provided by a plurality of batteries that are hooked up in parallel. These batteries are rechargeable and are generally recharged prior to use of the assembly on each job. The batteries singly are expected to have sufficient power to con clude the desired operations.

16 In another safety feature of the apparatus, in making the initial rotation of handle 52 to set the apparatus A up for release, if for any time during the rotation of handle 52 it is released, check valve 102 willprevent its slamming back to its original position due to spring 96, which could cause injury to personnel. By use of check valve 102, the initial movement of handle 52 is ensured to be unidirectional so that it holds its ultimate position when released simply because the fluid in the circuit in lines 100 and 106 cannot flow from conduit 106 back to conduit 100 with check valve 102 installed and solenoid valve 104 closed.

The preferred embodiment for actuation of the apparatus, which corn prises a more recently developed improvement on the release mechanism previously described, will now be described in more detail.

Referring to Figures 12A and 1213, the apparatus has a top sub 150 connected to a body 152 at thread 154, which is sealed by seal 156. At its is lower end, the body 152 is connected to bottom sub 158 at thread 160, which is sealed by seal 162. The combination of the top sub 150, body 152, and bottom sub 158 defines a central passage 164. Mounted Within passage 164 is sleeve 166. Sleeve 166 has a reverse shoulder 168 near its upper end 170.

Lock pin 172 has a support surface 174 which, when rotated 18011 from the position shown in Figure 12A, catches the reverse shoulder 168 to support the sleeve 166. Within the sleeve 166 is support plate 176, which is pivoted at pivot pin 178. The support plate 176 has an extending segment 180 which extends beyond the pivot 178 to engage a shoulder 182 on the body 152 in the position shown in Figure 1213. The lower end 184 of sleeve 166 has a taper 186 which ultimately catches on taper 188 of bottom sub 158. Thus, in 17 the position shown in Figures 12A and 1213, the surface 174 has been rotated out of the way from reverse shoulder 168 so that the sleeve 166 is now free to fall until taper 186 bottoms on taper 188. When this occurs, the plug 190 can be pumped down as applied pressure from uphole in passage 164 launches the plug 190. Since there can be no circulation on the outside of sleeve 166 when taper 186 hits taper 188, the full pumping force applied through passage 164 bears down on the plug 190 to drive it down the well.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the downward motion of sleeve 166 in turn allows the support plate 176 to pivot 90" counterclockwise to allow the plug 190 to be pumped down the hole.

The actuation system for lock pin 172 will now be described. Referring to Figure 12A, the lock pin 172 is mounted concentrically to a lock pin sleeve 192. Seal 194 seals around the outside of sleeve 192 while seals 196 and 198 seal between the lock pin 172 and the sleeve 192. Connected to lock pin 172 is gear 200. Gear 200 is outwardly biased toward gear 202 by spring 204. Stop plate 206 has a pin 208 extending therefrom and into a groove 210 in gear 200. The groove 210 is arcuate and generally permits rotation of gear of approximately 180 before the end of groove 210 engages the gear 200, thus arresting any further rotation.

The drive system consists of a motor 212, enclosed in an annular enclosure 214. Seals 216-224 in effect seal off annular enclosure 214. Also located within the annular enclosure 214 is a battery pack and.control system, represented schematically as 226. The battery pack 226 can be recharged through a receptacle 228. A series of downwardly facing openings 230 house 18 within them signal receivers 232, which are connected by a coaxial cable assembly 234 into the control system 226.

The motor 212 is connected to a gear-reducer 236. which is in turn connected to an output shaft 238. A shaft seal 240 surrounds shaft 238. As a result the enclosure 214 can be isolated from the surrounding environment with a positive pressure of an inert gaseous material. preferably nitrogen. As a result, any sparking which occurs from the motor 212 driven by the battery pack 226 through its control system will present no hazards of explosion from any flammable materials existing outside of the enclosure 214. The shaft 238 has a bevel gear 242, which meshes with a mating gear 244. Gear 244 is connected to gear 202 by a common shaft 246, which is in turn supported by a brass bearing 248.

When actuated to release a plug 190, the control system 226 energizes the motor 212 to turn until gear 200 can turn no further because groove 210 is has engaged the pin 208. As previously stated, this generally occurs when the lock pin 172 is rotated 1800 to the position shown in Figure 12A. The control system 226 senses an increase in current demand at motor 212 which generally occurs when further movement of lock pin 172 is impeded by pin 208. The control system 226 stops the motor 212 and runs it in a reverse direction for a few degrees to free up groove 210 of the gear 200 from pin 208. Control system 226 can also, on a timer basis, provide a signal through one of the openings 230 to indicate that a predetermined time has elapsed before the full rotation of lock pin 172 has occurred. The assembly shown in Figures 12A and 12B can be reset manually through access hole 248. A wrench can be inserted through opening 248 onto the end 250 of lock pin 172.

19 End 250 accommodates the wrench that goes through the hole 248 on its way into contact with gear 200. The wrench has a recess in it to accommodate the end 250 as the gear 200 is displaced. The wrench engages gear 200 to facilitate its disconnection from gear 202. The gear 200 can be displaced by pushing against K and compressing the spring 204. In that manner, the gear is pushed out of engagement with gear 202. Once there is a disengage ment between gears 200 and 202, the toot (not shown) stuck through the opening or hole 248 can reset the lock pin 172 in a position where it will grab the reverse shoulder 168 of sleeve 166 which, prior to turning lock pin 172, will have already been replaced into the position shown in Figures 12A and 1213. In other words, from the position shown in Figure 12A, the tool, having disengaged gears 200 and 202, can invert surface 174 so it once again would catch on reverse shoulder 168. The release process can then be repeated for another launching of a plug 190.

is It should be noted that the drive between the gear-reducer 236 and the lock pin 172 can be accomplished in different ways, such as by one flexible shaft therebetween. The important feature that is needed is a clutching mechanism so that after the lock pin 172 is actuated into the position shown in Figure 12A, it can be manually reset to the position where it supports sleeve 166. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that in emergency situations or if for any other reason the control system/battery pack 226 fails to operate, the lock pin 172 can be rotated manually using a tool inserted through opening or hole 248. In other words, for example, a singular continuous flexible shaft can be used from the gear-reducer 236 to what is now illustrated as gear 202. If that is done, there is still the clutching feature, as illustrated in Figure 12A, where the gear 200 can be disengaged from gear 202 for reset It should also be noted that seal 252 assists in preventing the entrance of -moisture into enclosure 254.

This mode of actuating the lock pin 172 is preferred to the multi-linkage hydraulic circuit design earlier described in that additional reliability is obtained by simplifying the drive for the lock pin 172. Using the two linkage systems previously described presents design issues that need to be dealt with such as the cleanliness of the interior of the hydraulic system because contami nants can affe ct the operation of the solenoid 104 or the check valve 102 as described in Figure 3. Additionally, the use of parallel systems could create a situation where one of the two primarily carries the entire load while the other one carries no load. Thus. the embodiment now described for actuating the lock pin 172 is preferred. The motor 212 and gear-reducer 236 are iso is lated in a pressurized environment in enclosure 214. The environment in chamber 214 is also inert thus, the possibility of the presence of any flamma blefluids within the enclosure 214 is eliminated.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the specific embodiment illustrated in Figures 12A and 12B is particularly designed to fit into a compa rable enclosure as the linkage and hydraulic system method of operating the sleeve illustrated in Figures 2A and 213. but a different enclosure can still be used without departing from the spirit of the invention. Any number of differ ent power transmission modes can be used between the electric motor 212 and the lock pin 172 without departing from the scope of the invention.

21 The foregoing disclosure and description of the invention are illustrative and explanatory thereof. and various changes in the size, shape and materials, as well as in the details of the illustrated construction, may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.

22 I

Claims (17)

CLAIMS:
1. A control apparatus for a single or multiple plug-dropping toolfcomprising:
at least one signal transmitter for sending at least one signal over the air; at least one signal receiver on a body for receiving said signal from said transmitter and to provide an output; at least one control system comprising a primary control element; at least one signal processor to use said output from said receiver to selectively remotely operate said primary control element to allow release of a plug from the apparatus by said system; at least one final control element, said final control element selectively preventing and allowing a plug to drop from the apparatus, whereupon actuation of said primary control element selectively permits actuation of said final control element to drop a plug; said primary control element further comprising:
a driver; a transmission operably engaged to said final control element to selectively move said final control element so that said plug can be retained or released; and a clutch in said transmission to selectively disengage from said final control element.
2. The apparatus of Claim 1, wherein:
said primary control element comprises a pin; said final control element comprising a sleeve; said pin engaging said sleeve to support it in a first position and releasing said sleeve when said pin 23 is moved a predetermined amount to a second position.
3. The apparatus of Claim 2, wherein:
said pin has a bevelled end; said sleeve has a shoulder thereon; said bevel in said pin engaging said shoulder on said sleeve in said first position of said pin, said pin no longer extending into said shoulder in its said second position.
4. The apparatus of Claim 3, wherein: said driver through said transmission rotates said pin between said first and second positions.
5. The apparatus of Claim 4, wherein:
said transmis sion is mechanically prevented from further rotation as said second position is reached; said control system sensing a stall condition in said driver by measuring current draw to cut power to said driver.
6. The apparatus of Claim 5, wherein: said control system also cutting off power to said driver within a predetermined time if said stall condition is not detected.
7. The apparatus of Claim 2, wherein: said transmission comprises at least one gear connected to said pin that can be accessed from outside said body and moved out of contact with its mating gear; whereupon said pin can be manually returned to its said first position.
8. The apparatus of Claim 1, wherein:
24 C 8. The apparatus of Claim 1, wherein:
said control system operates off a power source mounted in said housing; and said driver is mounted in said housing and powered by said power source.
9. The apparatus of Claim 8, wherein: said power source comprises a battery.
10. The apparatus of Claim 9, wherein:
said transmission comprises a pin; said plug stop assembly comprising a shoulder on a sleeve within which said plug is selectively supported; said pin engaging said shoulder to support said plug stop assembly in a first position and releasing said shoulder when moved a predetermined amount to a second position.
11. The apparatus of Claim 10, wherein:
said pin has a bevelled end; said bevel in said pin engaging said shoulder on said sleeve in said first position of said pin, said pin no longer extending into said shoulder in its said second position.
12. The apparatus of Claim 11, wherein:
said driver through said transmission rotates said pin between said first and second positions.
13. The apparatus of Claim 12, wherein:
said transmission is mechanically prevented from further rotation as said second position is reached; said control system sensing a stall condition in said driver by measuring current draw to cut power to
14. The apparatus of Claim 13, wherein:
said control system cutting off power to said driver within a predetermined time if said stall condition is not detected.
15. The apparatus of Claim 10, wherein: said transmission comprises at least one gear connected to said pin that can be accessed from outside said body and moved out of contact with its mating gear; whereupon said pin can be manually returned to its said first position.
16. A method of releasing balls or plugs for liner cementing, comprising: erecting an apparatus to drop balls or plugs on a casing or liner string; transmitting a signal over the air from a safe location to said apparatus; receiving said over-the-air signal at the apparatus; using the signal received to trigger release of at least one ball or plug; using a sleeve to selectively support a ball or plug; using a driver coupled to a transmission to selectively retain said sleeve; using said received signal to actuate said driver; releasing said sleeve due to operation of said driver; removing support for said ball or plug by movement of said sleeve; providing a bevelled pin driven by said 26 providing a bevelled pin driven by said transmission; rotating said pin from a first position where it supports said sleeve to a second position where, due to said bevel, said pin no longer supports said sleeve; providing a clutching feature in said transmission to allow selective disconnection from said driver; and using a tool to engage said pin with said driver disconnected to return it from said second to said first position.
17. The method of Claim 16, further comprising:
housing said driver in an enclosure pressurised with an inert fluid.
27
GB0020209A 1996-06-20 1997-06-18 Remote control for a plug-dropping head Expired - Fee Related GB2350141B (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US08667250 US5833002A (en) 1996-06-20 1996-06-20 Remote control plug-dropping head
GB9712867A GB2314361B (en) 1996-06-20 1997-06-18 Remote control for a plug-dropping head

Publications (3)

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GB0020209D0 GB0020209D0 (en) 2000-10-04
GB2350141A true true GB2350141A (en) 2000-11-22
GB2350141B GB2350141B (en) 2001-01-10

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GB0020206A Expired - Fee Related GB2350140B (en) 1996-06-20 1997-06-18 Remote control for a plug-dropping head

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Cited By (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2010047600A2 (en) * 2008-10-23 2010-04-29 Seawell Oil Tools As Cement head with integrated energy supply for operating valves
EP2873801A1 (en) * 2013-11-18 2015-05-20 Weatherford/Lamb Inc. Telemetry operated cementing plug release system
US9428998B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2016-08-30 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Telemetry operated setting tool
US9528346B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2016-12-27 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Telemetry operated ball release system
US9777569B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2017-10-03 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Running tool

Citations (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1994028282A1 (en) * 1993-05-27 1994-12-08 Baker Hughes Incorporated Remote control for a plug-dropping head

Patent Citations (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1994028282A1 (en) * 1993-05-27 1994-12-08 Baker Hughes Incorporated Remote control for a plug-dropping head

Cited By (11)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2010047600A2 (en) * 2008-10-23 2010-04-29 Seawell Oil Tools As Cement head with integrated energy supply for operating valves
WO2010047600A3 (en) * 2008-10-23 2010-06-17 Seawell Oil Tools As Cement head with integrated energy supply for operating valves
GB2477673A (en) * 2008-10-23 2011-08-10 Seawell Oil Tools As Cement head with integrated energy supply for operating valves
GB2477673B (en) * 2008-10-23 2013-01-09 Seawell Oil Tools As Cement head with integrated energy supply for operating valves
US8668003B2 (en) 2008-10-23 2014-03-11 Seawell Oil Tools As Cement head with integrated energy supply for operating valves
EP2873801A1 (en) * 2013-11-18 2015-05-20 Weatherford/Lamb Inc. Telemetry operated cementing plug release system
US9428998B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2016-08-30 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Telemetry operated setting tool
US9523258B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2016-12-20 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Telemetry operated cementing plug release system
US9528346B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2016-12-27 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Telemetry operated ball release system
US9777569B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2017-10-03 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Running tool
US9970251B2 (en) 2013-11-18 2018-05-15 Weatherford Technology Holdings, Llc Telemetry operated setting tool

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
GB2350140A (en) 2000-11-22 application
GB2350140B (en) 2001-01-10 grant
GB0020206D0 (en) 2000-10-04 grant
GB0020209D0 (en) 2000-10-04 grant
GB2350141B (en) 2001-01-10 grant

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Effective date: 20150618