OA12321A - Controllable production well packer. - Google Patents

Controllable production well packer. Download PDF

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Publication number
OA12321A
OA12321A OA1200200278A OA1200200278A OA12321A OA 12321 A OA12321 A OA 12321A OA 1200200278 A OA1200200278 A OA 1200200278A OA 1200200278 A OA1200200278 A OA 1200200278A OA 12321 A OA12321 A OA 12321A
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OA
OAPI
Prior art keywords
packer
well
electrically
accordance
petroleum
Prior art date
Application number
OA1200200278A
Inventor
Harold J Vinegar
Robert Rex Burnett
William Mountjoy Savage
Carl Frederick Gordon Jr
John Michele Hirsch
Original Assignee
Shell Int Research
Priority date (The priority date 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 date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US18637500P priority Critical
Application filed by Shell Int Research filed Critical Shell Int Research
Publication of OA12321A publication Critical patent/OA12321A/en

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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
    • E21B47/00Survey of boreholes or wells
    • E21B47/12Means for transmitting measuring-signals or control signals from the well to the surface or from the surface to the well, e.g. for logging while drilling
    • E21B47/122Means for transmitting measuring-signals or control signals from the well to the surface or from the surface to the well, e.g. for logging while drilling by electromagnetic energy, e.g. radio frequency
    • 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
    • E21B33/12Packers; Plugs
    • E21B33/129Packers; Plugs with mechanical slips for hooking into the casing
    • E21B33/1294Packers; Plugs with mechanical slips for hooking into the casing characterised by a valve, e.g. a by-pass valve

Abstract

An apparatus and method for operating an electrically powered device (42) in a packer (40) using the piping structure (24) of the well (38) as an electrical conductor for providing power and/or communications. The electrically powered device (42) may comprise an electrically controllable valve (44), a communications and control module, a modem, a sensor, and/or a tracer injection module.

Description

1 012321

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

The présent invention relates to a controllable production well packer. In oneaspect, it relates to a petroleum production well packer comprising an electricallypowered device, in which the device may comprise an electrically controllable valve, acommunications and control module, a sensor, a modem, a tracer injection module, orany combination thereof.

Description of the Related Art

Petroleum wells (e.g., oil and/or gas wells) typically pass through formationscontaining multiple zones that may produce differing fluids, as well as imperméablezones. The fluid-bearing zones may produce saline or clear water, oil, gas, or a mixtureof these components.

It is désirable and customary to maintain hydraulic isolation between zones sothat the fluids produced from each zone may be received separately at the surface. Evenif a particular zone is not producing petroleum products, it is usually necessary to ensurethat fluids from that zone do not travel to other zones using the wellbore as a transportpath, and to avoid contamination of the fluids in each zone.

The necessary isolation between zones is often provided by packers. A typicalhydraulically set production packer of the prior art is schematically shown in FIG. 1.Packers are mechanical devices that close the annulus between the production tubing andthe casing, and seal to both. Packers are typically installed at the time of well completionby attaching them to a tubing string as it is lowered into the well. Thus, duringplacement, the packer must pass freely within the casing. Once it is in place, a hydraulicactuator (energized and controlled from the surface) opérâtes the sealing mechanism ofthe packer, which clamps the packer to the casing and effects a fluid-tight seal in theannular space between the tubing and the casing. 2 012321 5 Packers may provide complété isolation between the annular spaces above and below them, or may be equipped with one or more preset mechanically-actuated valvesto control flow past them. When control valves are included, however, their settings canonly be altered by mechanically inserting a slick-line tool, which is inconvénient, slow,and relatively costly. Additionally, when there are multiple zones and multiple packers it 10 is often impossible or impractical to reach the lowermost packers with a slick-line tool.This lack of a fast and inexpensive method for controlling valves in a packer is aconstraint on well design and production operations.

Conventional packers are known such as described in U.S. Patents 6,148,915,6,123,148, 3,566,963 and 3,602,305. 15 Ail references cited herein are incorporated by reference to the maximum extent allowable by law. To the extent a reference may not be fully incorporated herein, it isincorporated by reference for background purposes, and indicative of the knowledge ofone of ordinary skill in the art.

20 DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application daims the benefit of the following U.S. Provisional Applications, ail ofwhich are hereby incorporated by reference: COMMONLY OWNED AND PREVIOUSLY FILED U.S. PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATIONS T&K# Serial Number Title Filing Date TH 1599 60/177,999 Toroidal Choke Inductor for Wireless Communication and Control Jan. 24, 2000 TH 1600 60/178,000 Ferromagnetic Choke in Wellhead Jan. 24, 2000 TH 1602 60/178,001 Controllable Gas-Lift Well and Valve Jan. 24, 2000 3 01232 1 TH 1603 60/177,883 Permanent, Downhole, Wireless, Two-Way TelemetryBackbone Using Redundant Repeater, SpreadSpectrum Arrays Jan. 24,2000 TH 1668 60/177,998 Petroleum Well Having Downhole Sensors,Communication, and Power Jan. 24,2000 TH 1669 60/177,997 System and Method for Fluid Flow Optimization Jan. 24, 2000 TS6185 60/181,322 A Method and Apparatus for the Optimal Predistortion of an Electromagnetic Signal in a Downhole Communications System Feb. 9,2000 TH 1599x 60/186,376 Toroidal Choke Inductor for Wireless Communication and Control Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1600x 60/186,380 Ferromagnetic Choke in Wellhead Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1601 60/186,505 Réservoir Production Control from Intelligent Well Data Mar. 2,2000 TH 1671 60/186,504 Tracer Injection in a Production Well Mar. 2,2000 TH 1672 60/186,379 Oilwell Casing Electrical Power Pick-Off Points Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1673 60/186,394 Controllable Production Well Packer Mar. 2,2000 TH 1674 60/186,382 Use of Downhole High Pressure Gas in a Gas Lift Well Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1675 60/186,503 Wireless Smart Well Casing Mar. 2,2000 TH 1677 60/186,527 Method for Downhole Power Management Using Energization from Distributed Batteries or Capacitorswith Reconfigurable Discharge Mar. 2,2000 TH 1679 60/186,393 Wireless Downhole Well Interval Inflow and Injection Control Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1681 60/186,394 Focused Through-Casing Resistivity Measurement Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1704 60/186,531 Downhole Rotary Hydraulic Pressure for Valve Actuation Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1705 60/186,377 Wireless Downhole Measurement and Control For Optimizing Gas Lift Well and Field Performance Mar. 2,2000 TH 1722 60/186, 381 Controlled Downhole Chemical Injection Mar. 2, 2000 TH 1723 60/186,378 Wireless Power and Communications Cross-Bar Switch Mar. 2, 2000

The current application shares some spécification and figures with the following commonly owned and concurrently filed applications, ail of which are hereby incorporated by reference: 4 01232 1 COMMONLY OWNED AND CONCURRENTE Y FILED U.S PATENT APPLICATIONS T&K# Serial Number Title Filing Date TH 1601US 09/ Réservoir Production Control from Intelligent Weil Data TH 1671US 09/ Tracer Injection in a Production Well TH 1672US 09/ Oil Well Casing Electrical Power Pick-Off Points TH 1674US 09/ Use of Downhole High Pressure Gas in a Gas-Lift Well TH 1675US 09/ Wireless Smart Well Casing TH 1677US 09/ Method for Downhole Power Management Using Energization from Distributed Batteries or Capacitors with Reconfigurable Discharge TH 1679US 09/ Wireless Downhole Well Interval Inflow and Injection Control TH 1681US 09/ Focused Through-Casing Resistivity Measurement TH 1704US 09/ Downhole Rotary Hydraulic Pressure for Valve Actuation TH 1705US 09/ Wireless Downhole Measurement and Control For Optimizing Gas Lift Well and Field Performance TH 1722US 09/ Controlled Downhole Chemical Injection TH 1723US 09/ Wireless Power and Communications Cross-Bar Switch 5

The current application shares some spécification and figures with the followingcommonly owned and previously filed applications, ail of which are hereby incorporatedby référencé: 10 COMMONLY OWNED AND PREVIOUSLY FILED U.S PATENT APPLICATIONS T&K# Serial Number Title Filing Date TH 1599US 09/ Choke Inductor for Wireless Communication and Control TH 1600US 09/ Induction Choke for Power Distribution in Piping Structure TH 1602US 09/ Controllable Gas-Lift Well and Valve TH 1603US 09/ Permanent Downhole, Wireless, Two-WayTelemetry Backbone Using Redundant Repeater 5 01232 1 TH 1668US 09/ Petroleum Well Having Downhole Sensors, Communication, and Power TH 1669US 09/ System and Method for Fluid Flow Optimization TH 1783US 09/ Downhole Motorized Flow Control Valve TS 6185US 09/ A Method and Apparatus for die OptimalPredistortion of an Electro Magnetic Signal in a Downhole Communications System

The benefit of 35 U.S.C. § 120 is claimed for ail of the above referenced commonlyowned applications. The applications referenced in the tables above are referred to hereinas the “Related Applications.”

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The problème and needs outlined above are largely solved and met by the présentinvention. In accordance with one aspect of the présent invention, a packer adapted foruse in a petroleum well, wherein the packer comprises an electrically powered device, isprovided. The electrically powered device may comprise an electrically controllablevalve adapted to control fluid communication from one side of the packer to another sideof the packer when the packer is operably installed. The electrically powered devicemay further comprise a communications and control module being electrically connectedto the electrically controllable valve, wherein the module comprises a modem adapted toreceive control commands encoded within communication signais. The module can beadapted to décodé the control commands received by the modem and control themovement of the valve using the control commands when the packer is operablyinstalled. Altematively, the electrically powered device may comprise a sensor adaptedto detect at least one physical characteristic of a surrounding environment and generatedata corresponding to the physical characteristic, as well as a modem adapted to receivethe data from the sensor and electrically transmit the data in the form of an electricalcommunication signal. Hence, the electrically powered device can comprise anelectrically controllable valve, a sensor, a modem, a communications and controlmodule, a tracer injection module, or any combination thereof. 6 012321

In accordance with another aspect of the présent invention, a petroleumproduction well incorporating the packer described above is provided. The petroleumwell comprises a piping structure, a source of time-varying current, an electrical retum,an induction choke, and the packer. The piping structure of the well comprises anelectrically conductive portion extending along at least part of the piping structure. Thepiping structure can comprise a production tubing string of the well. The source of time-varying current comprises two source terminais. A first of the source terminais iselectrically connected to the electrically conductive portion of the piping structure. Theelectrical retum electrically connects between the electrically conductive portion of thepiping structure and a second of the source terminais of the time-varying current source.The electrical retum can comprise a well casing of the well, part of the packer, anotherpacker, and/or a conductive fluid within the well. The induction choke is located aboutpart of the electrically conductive portion of the piping structure at a location along thepiping structure between the electrical connection location for the first source terminaland the electrical connection location for the electrical retum, such that a voltagepotential is formed between the electrically conductive portion of the piping structure ona source-side of the induction choke, and the electrically conductive portion of the pipingstructure on an electrical-retum-side of the induction choke as well as the electricalretum when time-varying current flows through the electrically conductive portion of thepiping structure. The induction choke can comprise a ferromagnetic material. Also, theinduction choke need not be powered when its size, geometry, and magnetic propertiescan provide sufficient magnetic inductance for developing the voltage potential desired.The electrically powered device of the packer is electrically connected across the voltagepotential such that part of the time-varying current is routed through the device due to theinduction choke when the time-varying current flows through the electrically conductiveportion of the piping structure.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the présent invention, a method ofproducing petroleum products from a petroleum well comprising an electrically poweredpacker is provided. A conventional petroleum well includes a cased wellbore having a tubing string positioned within and longitudinally extending within the casing. In a preferred embodiment, a controllable packer is coupled to the tubing to provide a seal of the 7 01232 1 annular space between the tubing and casing. A valve in the packer (and/or otherdevices, such as sensors) is powered and controlled from the surface. Communicationsignais and power are sent from the surface using the tubing and casing as conductors.At least one induction choke is coupled about the tubing downhole to magneticallyinhibit altemating current flow through the tubing at a choke. An insulating tubing joint,another induction choke, or another insulating means between the tubing and casing canbe located at the surface above a location where current and communication signais areimparted to the tubing. Hence, most of the altemating current is contained between thedownhole choke and the insulating tubing joint, or between the chokes when two chokesare used.

The Related Applications describe alternative ways to provide electrical powerfrom the surface to downhole modules, and to establish bidirectional communications fordata and commande to be passed between the surface and downhole modules usingsurface and downhole modems. A preferred embodiment utilizes the production tubingand the well casing as the electrical conduction path between the surface and downholeequipment. The cost réduction and simplification of installation procedures whichaccrue from obviating the need for electrical cables to provide power, sensing, andcontrol fonctions downhole allow wider deployment of active equipment downholeduring production.

In the context of downhole packers, the ability to power and communicate withthe packer has many advantages. Such a controllable packer in accordance with theprésent invention may incorporate sensors, with data from the sensors being received inreal time at the surface. Similarly, the availability of power downhole, and the ability topass commands from the surface to the controllable packer, allow electrically motorizedmechanical components, such as flow control valves, to be included in packer design,thus increasing their flexibility in use. Notably, the control of such components in thecontrollable packer hereof is near real time, allowing packer flow control valves to beopened, closed, adjusted, or throttled constantly to contribute to the management ofproduction.

In a preferred embodiment, a surface computer having a master modem can impart a communication signal to the tubing, and the communication signal is received at 8 012321 5 a slave modem downhole, which is electrically connected to or within the controllable ,,,. packer. The communication signal can be received by the slave modem either directly or indirectly via one or more relay modems. Further, electric power can be input into the tubing string and received downhole to power the operation of sensors or other devices in the controllable packer. Preferably, the casing is used as a conductor for the electrical 10 retum.

In a preferred embodiment, a controllable valve in the packer régulâtes the fluidcommunication in the annulus between the casing and tubing. The electrical retum pathcan be provided along part of the controllable packer, and preferably by the expansion ofthe expansion slips into contact with the casing. Altematively, the electrical retum path 15 may be via a conductive centralizer around the tubing which is insulated in its contactwith the tubing, but is in electrical contact with the casing and electrically connected tothe device in the packer.

In enhanced forms, the controllable packer includes one or more sensorsdownhole which are preferably in contact with the downhole modem and communicate 20 with the surface computer via the tubing and/or well casing. Such sensors astempérature, pressure, acoustic, valve position, flow rates, and dififerential pressuregauges can be advantageously used in many situations. The sensors supplymeasurements to the modem for transmission to the surface or directly to aprogrammable interface controller operating a downhole device, such as controllable 25 valve for controlling the fluid flow through the packer.

In one embodiment, ferromagnetic induction chokes are coupled about the tubingto act as a sériés impédance to current flow on the tubing. In a preferred form, an upperferromagnetic choke is placed around the tubing below the casing hanger, and the currentand communication signais are imparted to the tubing below the upper ferromagnetic 30 choke. A lower ferromagnetic choke is placed downhole around the tubing with thecontrollable packer electrically coupled to the tubing above the lower ferromagneticchoke, although the controllable packer may be mechanically coupled to the tubingbelow the lower ferromagnetic choke instead.

Preferably, a surface computer is coupled via a surface master modem and the 35 tubing to the downhole slave modem of the controllable packer. The surface computer 9 012321 can receive measurements from a variety of sources (e.g., downhole sensors),measurements of the oil output from the well, and measurements of the compressed gasinput to the well in the case of a gas lift well. Using such measurements, the computercan compute desired positions of the controllable valve in the packer, and moreparticularly, the optimum amount of fluid communication to permit into the annulusinside the casing.

Construction of such a petroleum well is designed to be as similar to conventionalconstruction methodology as possible. That is, after casing the well, a packer is typicallyset to isolate each zone. In a production well, there may be several oil producing zones,water producing zones, imperméable zones, and thief zones. It is désirable to prevent orpermit communication between the zones. For example when implementing the présentinvention, the tubing string is fed through the casing into communication with theproduction zone, with controllable packers defining the production zone. As the tubingstring is made up at the surface, a lower ferromagnetic choke is placed around one of theconventional tubing strings for positioning above the lowermost controllable packer. Inthe sections of the tubing strings where it is desired, another packer is coupled to thetubing string to isolate zones. Controllable gas lift valves or sensor pods also may becoupled to the tubing as desired by insertion in a side pocket mandrel (tubing conveyed)and corresponding induction chokes as needed. The tubing string is made up to thesurface where an upper ferromagnetic induction choke is again placed around the tubingstring below the casing hanger. Communication and power leads are then connected tothe tubing string below the upper choke. In an enhanced form, an electrically insulatingjoint is used instead of the upper induction choke. A sensor and communication pod can be incorporated into the controllable packerof the présent invention without the necessity of including a controllable valve or othercontrol device. That is, an electronics module having pressure, température or acousticsensors, power supply, and a modem can be incorporated into the packer forcommunication to the surface computer using the tubing and casing as conductors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 10 012321

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent uponreading the following detailed description and upon referencing the accompanyingdrawings, in which: FIG. 1 is a schematic showing a typical packer of the prior art; FIG. 2 is a schematic showing a petroleum production well in accordance with apreferred embodiment of the présent invention; FIG. 3 is a simplified electrical schematic of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2;and FIG. 4 is an enlarged schematic showing a controllable packer, from FIG. 2,comprising an electrically controllable valve.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numbers are used herein todesignate like éléments throughout the various views, a preferred embodiment of theprésent invention is illustrated and further described, and other possible embodiments ofthe présent invention are described. The figures are not necessarily drawn to scale, andin some instances the drawings hâve been exaggerated and/or simplified in places forillustrative purposes only. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate the manypossible applications and variations of the présent invention based on the followingexamples of possible embodiments of the présent invention, as well as based on thoseembodiments illustrated and discussed in the Related Applications, which areincorporated by reference herein to the maximum extent allowed by law.

As used in the présent application, a “piping structure” can be one single pipe, atubing string, a well casing, a pumping rod, a sériés of interconnected pipes, rods, rails,trusses, lattices, supports, a branch or latéral extension of a well, a network ofinterconnected pipes, or other similar structures known to one of ordinary skill in the art.The preferred embodiment makes use of the invention in the context of a petroleum wellwhere the piping structure comprises tubular, metallic, electrically-conductive pipe ortubing strings, but the invention is not so limited. For the présent invention, at least a 11 012321 portion of the piping structure needs to be electrically conductive, such electricallyconductive portion may be the entire piping structure (e.g., Steel pipes, copper pipes) or alongitudinal extending electrically conductive portion combined with a longitudinallyextending non-conductive portion. In other words, an electrically conductive pipingstructure is one that provides an electrical conducting path from a first portion where apower source is electrically connected to a second portion where a device and/orelectrical retum is electrically connected. The piping structure will typically beconventional round métal tubing, but the cross-section geometry of the piping structure,or any portion thereof, can vary in shape (e.g., round, rectangular, square, oval) and size(e.g., length, diameter, wall thickness) along any portion of the piping structure. Hence,a piping structure must hâve an electrically conductive portion extending from a firstportion of the piping structure to a second portion of the piping structure, wherein thefirst portion is distally spaced from the second portion along the piping structure.

Note that the terms “first portion” and “second portion” as used herein are eachdefined generally to call out a portion, section, or région of a piping structure that may ormay not extend along the piping structure, that can be located at any chosen place alongthe piping structure, and that may or may not encompass the most proximate ends of thepiping structure.

Similarly, in accordance with conventional terminology of oilfield practice, thedescriptors "upper", "lower", "uphole" and "downhole" are relative and refer to distancealong hole depth from the surface, which in deviated or horizontal wells may or may notaccord with vertical élévation measured with respect to a survey datum.

Also note that the term “modem” is used herein to generically refer to anycommunications device for transmitting and/or receiving electrical communicationsignais via an electrical conductor (e.g., métal). Hence, the term “modem” as usedherein is not limited to the acronym for a modulator (device that couverts a voice or datasignal into a form that can be transmitted)/demodulator (a device that recovers anoriginal signal after it has modulated a high frequency carrier). Also, the term “modem”as used herein is not limited to conventional computer modems that convert digitalsignais to analog signais and vice versa (e.g., to send digital data signais over the analogPublic Switched Téléphoné Network). For example, if a sensor outputs measurements in 12 012321 an analog format, then such measurements may only need to be modulated (e.g., spreadspectrum modulation) and transmitted—hence no analog/digital conversion needed. Asanother example, a relay/slave modem or communication device may only need toidentify, filter, amplify, and/or retransmit a signal received.

As used in the présent application, "wireless" means the absence of aconventional, insulated wire conductor e.g. extending from a downhole device to thesurface. Using the tubing and/or casing as a conductor is considered "wireless." Theterm “valve” as used herein generally refers to any device that fonctions to regulate theflow of a fluid. Examples of valves include, but are not limited to, bellows-type gas-liftvalves and controllable gas-lift valves, each of which may be used to regulate the flow oflift gas into a tubing string of a well. The internai workings of valves can vary greatly,and in the présent application, it is not intended to limit the valves described to anyparticular configuration, so long as the valve functions to regulate flow. Some of thevarious types of flow regulating mechanisms include, but are not limited to, bail valveconfigurations, needle valve configurations, gâte valve configurations, and cage valveconfigurations. The methods of installation for valves discussed in the présentapplication can vary widely.

The term “electrically controllable valve” as used herein generally refers to a“valve” (as just described) that can be opened, closed, adjusted, altered, or throttledcontinuously in response to an electrical control signal (e.g., signal from a surfacecomputer or from a downhole electronic controller module). The mechanism thatactually moves the valve position can comprise, but is not limited to: an electric motor;an electric servo; an electric solenoid; an electric switch; a hydraulic actuator controlledby at least one electrical servo, electrical motor, electrical switch, electric solenoid, orcombinations thereof; a pneumatic actuator controlled by at least one electrical servo,electrical motor, electrical switch, electric solenoid, or combinations thereof; or a springbiased device in combination with at least one electrical servo, electrical motor, electricalswitch, electric solenoid, or combinations thereof. An “electrically controllable valve”may or may not include a position feedback sensor for providing a feedback signalcorresponding to the actual position of the valve. 13 012321

The term “sensor” as used herein refers to any device that detects, détermines,monitors, records, or otherwise senses the absolute value of or a change in a physicalquantity. A sensor as described herein can be used to measure physical quantitiesincluding, but not limited to: température, pressure (both absolute and differential), flowrate, seismic data, acoustic data, pH level, salinity levels, valve positions, or almost anyother physical data. FIG. 1 is a schematic showing a conventional hydraulically set productionpacker 20 of the prior art set within a well casing 22 of a well. The packer 20 of FIG. 1is threaded to a production tubing string 24. The conventional packer 20 has a tail piece26 that may terminate with an open or closed end for the lowest packer in the completedwell, or the tail piece 26 may be threaded onto tubing (not shown) that passes to lowerrégions of the well. The conventional packer 20 has a section of slips 28 and a sealsection 30. Both the slips 28 and the seal section 30 can pass freely inside the wellcasing 22 during placement, and are operated by a hydraulic actuator 32. When thepacker 20 is at its final location in the casing 22, the hydraulic actuator 32 is used toexert mechanical forces on the slips 28 and the seals 30 causing them to expand againstthe casing. The slips 28 lock the packer 20 in place by gripping the internai surface ofthe casing 22 so that the packer cannot be displaced by differential pressure between thespaces above and below the packer. The seal section 30 créâtes a liquid-tight sealbetween the spaces above and below the packer 20. The hydraulic actuator 32 isoperated using high-pressure oil supplied from the surface (not shown) by a control tube34. However, the conventional packer 20 does not comprise an electrically powereddevice. FIG. 2 is a schematic showing a petroleum production well 38 in accordance witha preferred embodiment of the présent invention. The petroleum production well 38shown in FIG. 2 is similar to a conventional well in construction, but with theincorporation of the présent invention. In this example, a packer 40 comprising anelectrically powered device 42 is placed in the well 38 in the same manner as aconventional packer 20 would be—to separate zones in a formation. In the preferredembodiment, the electrically powered device 42 of the packer 40 comprises anelectrically controllable valve 44 that acts as a bypass valve, as shown in more detail inFIG. 4 and described further below. 14 012321

In a preferred embodiment, the piping structure comprises part of a productiontubing string 24, and the electrical retum comprises part of a well casing 22. Aninsulating tubing joint 146 and a ferromagnetic induction choke 48 are used in thispreferred embodiment. The insulating joint 146 is incorporated close to the wellhead toelectrically insulate the lower sections of tubing 24 from casing 22. Thus, the insulatingjoint 146 prevents an electrical short-circuit between the lower sections of tubing 24 andcasing 22 at the tubing hanger 46. The hanger 46 provides mechanical coupling andsupport of the tubing 24 by transferring the weight load of the tubing 24 to the casing 22.The induction choke 48 is attached about the tubing string 24 at a second portion 52downhole above the packer 40. A computer System 56 comprising a master modem 58and a source of time-varying current 60 is electrically connected to the tubing string 24below the insulating tubing joint 146 by a first source terminal 61. The first sourceterminal 61 is insulated from the hanger 46 where it passes through it. A second sourceterminal 62 is electrically connected to the well casing 22, either directly (as in FIG. 2)or via the hanger 46 (arrangement not shown). In alternative to or in addition to theinsulating tubing joint 146, another induction choke (not shown) can be placed about thetubing 24 above the electrical connection location for the first source terminal 61 to thetubing.

The time-varying current source 60 provides the current, which carries power andcommunication signais downhole. The time-varying current is preferably alternatingcurrent (AC), but it can also be a varying direct current (DC). The communicationsignais can be generated by the master modem 58 and embedded within the currentproduced by the source 60. Preferably, the communication signal is a spread spectrumsignal, but other forms of modulation could be used in alternative.

The electrically powered device 42 in the packer 40 comprises two deviceterminais 71, 72, and there can be other device terminais as needed for otherembodiments or applications. A first device terminal 71 is electrically connected to thetubing 24 on a source-side 81 of the induction choke 48, which in this case is above theinduction choke. Similarly, a second device terminal 72 is electrically connected to thetubing 24 on an electrical-retum-side 82 of the induction choke 48, which in this case isbelow the induction choke. In this preferred embodiment, the slips 28 of the packer 40provide the electrical connection between the tubing 24 and the well casing 22. 15 012321

However, as will be clear to one of ordinary skill in the art, the electrical connectionbetween the tubing 24 and the well casing 22 can be accomplished in numerous ways,some of which can be seen in the Related Applications, including (but not limited to):another packer (conventional or controllable); conductive fluid in the annulus betweenthe tubing and the well casing; a conductive centralizer; or any combination thereof.Hence, an electrical circuit is formed using the tubing 24 and the well casing 22 asconductors to the downhole device 42 within the packer 40. FIG. 3 illustrâtes a simplified electrical schematic of the electrical circuit formedin the well 38 of FIG. 2. The insulating tubing joint 146 and the induction choke 48effectively create an isolated section of the tubing string 24 to contain most of the time-varying current between them. Accordingly, a voltage potential develops between theisolated section of tubing 24 and the well casing 22 when AC flows through the tubingstring. Likewise, the voltage potential also forms between tubing 24 on the source-side81 of the induction choke 48 and the tubing 24 on the electrical-retum-side 82 of theinduction choke 48 when AC flows through the tubing string. In the preferredembodiment, the electrically powered device 42 in the packer 40 is electrically connectedacross the voltage potential between the source-side 81 and the electrical-retum-side 82of the tubing 24. However in alternative, the device 42 can be electrically connectedacross the voltage potential between the tubing 24 and the casing 22, or the voltagepotential between the tubing 24 and part of the packer 40 (e.g., slips 28), if that part ofthe packer is electrically contacting the well casing 22. Thus, part of the current thattravels through the tubing 24 and casing 22 is routed through the device 42 due to theinduction choke 48.

As is made clear by considération of the electrical équivalent circuit diagram ofFIG. 3, centralizers which are installed on the tubing between isolation device 47 andchoke 48 must not provide an electrically conductive path between tubing 24 and casing22. Suitable centralizers may be composed of solid molded or machined plastic, or maybe of the bow-spring type provided these are fumished with appropriate insulatingéléments. Many suitable and alternative design implémentations of such centralizers willbe clear to those of average skill in the art. 16 012321

Other alternative ways to develop an electrical circuit using a piping structure andat least one induction choke are described in the Related Applications, many of whichcan be applied in conjunction with the présent invention to provide power and/orcommunications to the electrically powered device 42 of the packer 40 and to form otherembodiments of the présent invention.

Tuming to FIG. 4, which shows more details of the packer 40 of FIG. 2, it is seenthat the controllable packer 40 is similar to the conventional packer 20 (shown in FIG.1), but with the addition of an electrically powered device 42 comprising an electricallycontrollable valve 44 and a communications and control module 84. Thecommunications and control module 84 is powered from and communicates with thecomputer System 56 at the surface 54 via the tubing 24 and/or the casing 22. Thecommunications and control module 84 may comprise a modem 86, a power transformer(not shown), a microprocessor (not shown), and/or other various electronic components(not shown) as needed for an embodiment. The communications and control module 84receives electrical signais from the computer System 56 at the surfece 54 and décodéscommande for controlling the electrically controlled valve 44, which acts as a bypassvalve. Using the decoded commands, the communications and control module 84Controls a low current electric motor that actuates the movement of the bypass valve 44.Thus, the valve 44 can be opened, closed, adjusted, altered, or throttled continuously bythe computer System 56 from the surfece 54 via the tubing 24 and well casing 22.

The bypass valve 44 of FIG. 4 Controls flow through a bypass tube 88, whichconnects inlet and outlet ports 90, 92 at the bottom and top of the packer 40. Theports 90, 92 communicate freely with the annular spaces 94, 96 (between the casing 22and the tubing 24), above and below the packer 40. The bypass control valve 44therefore Controls fluid exchange between these spaces 94, 96, and this exchange may bealtered in real time using commands sent from the computer System 56 and received bythe controllable packer 40.

The mechanical arrangement of the packer 40 depicted in FIG. 4 is illustrative,and alternative embodiments having other mechanical features providing the samefunctional needs of a packer (i.e., fluidly isolating and sealing one casing section fromanother casing section in a well, and in the case of a controllable packer, regulating and 17 01232 1 controlling fluid flow between these isolated casing sections) are possible andencompassed within the présent invention. For instance, the inlet and outlet ports 90, 92may be exchanged to pass fluids from the annular space 94 above the packer 40 to thespace 96 below the packer. Also, the communications and control module 84 and thebypass control valve 44 may be located in upper portion of the packer 40, above theslips 28. The controllable packer 40 may also comprise sensors (not shown) electricallyconnected to or within the communication and control module 84, to measure pressuresor températures in the annuli 94, 96 or within the production tubing 24. Hence, themeasurements can be transmitted to the computer System 56 at the surface 54 using thecommunications and control module 84, providing real time data on downholeconditions. Also the setting and unsetting mechanism of the packer slips may beactuated by one or more motors driven and controlled by power and commands receivedby module 84.

In other possible embodiments of the présent invention, the electrically powereddevice 42 of the packer 40 may comprise: a modem 86; a sensor (not shown); amicroprocessor (not shown); a packer valve 44; a tracer injection module (not shown); anelectrically controllable gas-lift valve (e.g., for controlling the flow of gas from theannulus to inside the tubing) (not shown); a tubing valve (e.g., for varying the flow of atubing section, such as an application having multiple branches or laterals) (not shown);a communications and control module 84; a logic circuit (not shown); a relay modem(not shown); other electronic components as needed (not shown); or any combinationthereof.

Also in other possible embodiments of the présent invention, there may bemultiple controllable packers and/or multiple induction chokes. In an application wherethere are multiple controllable packers or additional conventional packers combined withthe présent invention, it may be necessary to electrically insulate some or ail of thepackers so that a packer does not act as a short between the piping structure (e.g.,tubing 24) and the electrical retum (e.g., casing 22) where such a short is not desired.Such electrical insulation of a packer may be achieved in various ways apparent to one ofordinary skill in the art, including (but not limited to): an insulating sleeve about thetubing at the packer location; a rubber or urethane portion at the radial extent of thepacker slips; an insulating coating on the tubing at the packer location; forming the slips 18 01232 1 5 from non-electrically-conductive materials; other known insulating means; or anycombination thereof. The présent invention also can be applied to other types of wells(other than petroleum wells), such as a water well.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art having the benefit of thisdisclosure that this invention provides a packer comprising an electrically powered 10 device, as well as a petroleum production well incorporating such a packer. It should beunderstood that the drawings and detailed description herein are to be regarded in anillustrative rather than a restrictive manner, and are not intended to limit the invention tothe particular forms and examples disclosed. On the contrary, the invention includes anyfurther modifications, changes, rearrangements, substitutions, alternatives, design 15 choices, and embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, without departingfrom the spirit and scope of this invention, as defined by the following daims. Thus, it isintended that the following daims be interpreted to embrace ail such fiirthermodifications, changes, rearrangements, substitutions, alternatives, design choices, andembodiments.

Claims (24)

19 012321 THE INVENTION CLAIMEDIS:
1. A packer adapted for use in a well, said packer including an electricallypowered device adapted for receiving AC power from the surface using at least one ofthe tubing or casing as a conductor.
2. A packer in accordance with claim 1, wherein said electrically powereddevice comprises an electrically controllable valve adapted to control fluidcommunication from one side of said packer to another side of said packer.
3. A packer in accordance with claim 2, wherein said electrically powereddevice further comprises a communications and control module being electricallyconnected to said electrically controllable valve, said module comprising a modemadapted to receive control commands encoded within communication signais, and saidmodule being adapted to décodé said control commands received by said modem andcontrol the movement of said valve using said control commands when said packer isoperably installed.
4. A packer in accordance with claim 1, wherein said electrically powereddevice comprises: a sensor adapted to detect at least one physical characteristic of a surroundingenvironment and generate data corresponding to said physical characteristic; and a modem adapted to receive said data from said sensor and electrically transmitsaid data in the form of an electrical communication signal. 20 012321
5. A petroleum well for producing petroleum products, comprising: a piping structure comprising an electrically conductive portion extending alongat least part of said piping structure; a source of time-varying current electrically connected to said electricallyconductive portion of said piping structure; an electrical retum; and a packer including an electrically powered device, said electrically powereddevice being electrically connected potential such that part of said time-varying current isrouted through said device when said time-varying current is applied through saidelectrically conductive portion of said piping structure.
6. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricallypowered device comprises an electrically controllable valve adapted to control fïuidcommunication between one side of said packer and another side of said packer whensaid packer is operably installed.
7. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricallypowered device comprises a sensor adapted to measure a physical quantity.
8. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricallypowered device comprises a modem adapted to send and receive communications alongsaid electrically conductive portion of piping structure. 21 012321
9. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricallypowered device comprises a Chemical injection module adapted to controllably inject asubstance into a flow stream.
10. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricallypowered device comprises an electrically controllable valve adapted to control fluidcommunication between an exterior and an interior of a production tubing string.
11. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricallypowered device comprises an electrically controllable valve adapted to control fluid flowwithin a production tube.
12. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said pipingstructure comprises a production tubing string of said well.
13. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said pipingstructure comprises a well casing of said well.
14. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricalretum comprises a well casing of said well.
15. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said electricalretum comprises at least a portion of an earthen ground. 22 012321
16. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, further comprising a secondinduction choke, said second induction choke being located about another part of saidelectrically conductive portion of said piping structure and at a location along said pipingstructure such that said electrical connection location for said time-varying current source is located between said induction chokes.
17. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, further comprising a second packer.
18. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 17, wherein said secondpacker comprises an electrical insulator so that said electrically conductive portion ofsaid piping structure is not electrically connected to said electrical retum at said secondpacker when said second packer is operably installed.
19. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 17, wherein said secondpacker is part of said electrical retum.
20. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said packer is located on said source-side of said induction choke.
21. A petroleum well in accordance with claim 5, wherein said packer is located on said electrical-retum-side of said induction choke. 23 012321
22. A method of operating a petroleum well comprising: providing anelectrically powered packer in a petroleum well; providing a piping structure in said well, said piping structure comprising anelectrically conductive portion extending along at least part of said piping structure; operably installing said electrically powered packer in said well, said electricallypowered packer comprising an electrically powered device, such that said device iselectrically connected to said electrically conductive portion of said piping structurewhen said well is opérable for petroleum production; operably installing an induction choke about part of said electrically conductiveportion of said piping structure; supplying time-varying current to said piping structure; routing part of said time-varying current through said electrically powered deviceusing said induction choke; and producing petroleum products with said well.
23. A method in accordance with claim 22, further comprising the steps of:measuring a physical quantity with said electrically powered device, wherein said electrically powered device comprises a sensor; and varying a flow of petroleum products in said well based on said measurements.
24. A method in accordance with claim 22, further comprising the step of:electrically controlling fluid communication between sections of said well using said packer, wherein said electrically powered device comprises an electrically controllable valve.
OA1200200278A 2000-03-02 2001-03-02 Controllable production well packer. OA12321A (en)

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DE60125020D1 (en) 2007-01-18
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CA2401730A1 (en) 2001-09-07
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RU2002126210A (en) 2004-02-20
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CA2401730C (en) 2009-08-04
EP1259709A1 (en) 2002-11-27
MXPA02008582A (en) 2003-04-14

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