USRE42877E1 - Methods and apparatus for wellbore construction and completion - Google Patents

Methods and apparatus for wellbore construction and completion Download PDF

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Publication number
USRE42877E1
USRE42877E1 US12/833,679 US83367910A USRE42877E US RE42877 E1 USRE42877 E1 US RE42877E1 US 83367910 A US83367910 A US 83367910A US RE42877 E USRE42877 E US RE42877E
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Prior art keywords
drill string
borehole
wellbore
fluid
drilling
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US12/833,679
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Brent J. Lirette
David J. Brunnert
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Weatherford Technology Holdings LLC
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Weatherford/Lamb Inc
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Priority to US44604603P priority Critical
Priority to US10/775,048 priority patent/US7311148B2/en
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Assigned to WEATHERFORD TECHNOLOGY HOLDINGS, LLC reassignment WEATHERFORD TECHNOLOGY HOLDINGS, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: WEATHERFORD/LAMB, INC.
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    • 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
    • E21B4/00Drives used in the borehole
    • E21B4/02Fluid rotary type drives
    • 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
    • E21B17/00Drilling rods or pipes; Flexible drill strings; Kellies; Drill collars; Sucker rods ; Cables; Casings; Tubings
    • E21B17/02Couplings; joints
    • E21B17/04Couplings; joints between rod or the like and bit or between rod and rod or the like
    • E21B17/07Telescoping joints for varying drill string lengths; Shock absorbers
    • 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
    • E21B21/00Methods or apparatus for flushing boreholes, e.g. by use of exhaust air from motor
    • 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
    • E21B21/00Methods or apparatus for flushing boreholes, e.g. by use of exhaust air from motor
    • E21B21/08Controlling or monitoring pressure or flow of drilling fluid, e.g. automatic filling of boreholes, automatic control of bottom pressure
    • 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
    • E21B21/00Methods or apparatus for flushing boreholes, e.g. by use of exhaust air from motor
    • E21B21/10Valves arrangements in drilling fluid circulation systems
    • E21B21/103Down-hole by-pass valve arrangements, i.e. between the inside of the drill string and the annulus
    • 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
    • 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
    • E21B33/143Methods or devices for cementing, for plugging holes, crevices, or the like for cementing casings into boreholes for underwater installations
    • 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
    • E21B7/00Special methods or apparatus for drilling
    • E21B7/20Driving or forcing casings or pipes into boreholes, e.g. sinking; Simultaneously drilling and casing boreholes
    • 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
    • E21B7/00Special methods or apparatus for drilling
    • E21B7/20Driving or forcing casings or pipes into boreholes, e.g. sinking; Simultaneously drilling and casing boreholes
    • E21B7/201Driving or forcing casings or pipes into boreholes, e.g. sinking; Simultaneously drilling and casing boreholes with helical conveying means
    • E21B7/203Driving or forcing casings or pipes into boreholes, e.g. sinking; Simultaneously drilling and casing boreholes with helical conveying means using down-hole drives
    • 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
    • E21B21/00Methods or apparatus for flushing boreholes, e.g. by use of exhaust air from motor
    • E21B2021/006Underbalanced techniques, i.e. where borehole fluid pressure is below formation pressure

Abstract

The present invention relates methods and apparatus for lining a wellbore. In one aspect, a drilling assembly having an earth removal member and a wellbore lining conduit is manipulated to advance into the earth. The drilling assembly includes a first fluid flow path and a second fluid flow path. Fluid is flowed through the first fluid flow path, and at least a portion of which may return through the second fluid flow path. In one embodiment, the drilling assembly is provided with a third fluid flow path. After drilling has been completed, wellbore lining conduit may be cemented in the wellbore.

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/269,661 filed on Oct. 11, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,896,075 which application is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/325,636, filed on Dec. 20, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,854,533 which application is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/331,964, filed on Dec. 30, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,857,487 which application is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/446,046, filed on Feb. 7, 2003, and claims benefit of U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/446,375, filed on Feb. 10, 2003, which applications are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety. which application is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/914,338, filed Jan. 8, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,719,071 which was the National Stage of International Application No. PCT/GB00/00642, filed Feb. 25, 2000, and published under PCT Article 21(2) in English, and claims priority of United Kingdom Application No. 9904380.4 filed on Feb. 25, 1999. Each of the aforementioned related patent applications is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/156,722, filed May 28, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,837,313 and published as U.S. Publication No. 2003/0146001 on Aug. 7, 2003, which application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/914,338, filed Jan. 8, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,719,071 which applications are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates apparatus and methods for drilling and completing a wellbore. Particularly, the present invention relates to apparatus and methods for forming a wellbore, lining a wellbore, and circulating fluids in the wellbore. The present invention also relates to apparatus and methods for cementing a wellbore.

2. Description of the Related Art

In the drilling of oil and gas wells, a wellbore is formed using a drill bit that is urged downwardly at a lower end of a drill string. After drilling a predetermined depth, the drill string and bit are removed, and the wellbore is lined with a string of casing. An annular area is thus defined between the outside of the casing and the earth formation. This annular area is filled with cement to permanently set the casing in the wellbore and to facilitate the isolation of production zones and fluids at different depths within the wellbore.

It is common to employ more than one string of casing in a wellbore. In this respect, a first string of casing is set in the wellbore when the well is drilled to a first designated depth. The well is then drilled to a second designated depth and thereafter lined with a string of casing with a smaller diameter than the first string of casing. This process is repeated until the desired well depth is obtained, each additional string of casing resulting in a smaller diameter than the one above it. The reduction in the diameter reduces the cross-sectional area in which circulating fluid may travel. Also, the smaller casing at the bottom of the hole may limit the hydrocarbon production rate. Thus, oil companies are trying to maximize the diameter of casing at the desired depth in order to maximize hydrocarbon production. To this end, the clearance between subsequent casing strings having been trending smaller because larger subsequent casings are used to maximize production. When drilling with these small-clearance casings it is difficult, if not impossible, to circulate drilled cuttings in the small annulus formed between the set casing inner diameter and the subsequent casing outer diameter.

Typically, fluid is circulated throughout the wellbore during the drilling operation to cool a rotating bit and remove wellbore cuttings. The fluid is generally pumped from the surface of the wellbore through the drill string to the rotating bit. Thereafter, the fluid is circulated through an annulus formed between the drill string and the string of casing and subsequently returned to the surface to be disposed of or reused. As the fluid travels up the wellbore, the cross-sectional area of the fluid path increases as each larger diameter string of casing is encountered. For example, the fluid initially travels up an annulus formed between the drill string and the newly formed wellbore at a high annular velocity due to smaller annular clearance. However, as the fluid travels the portion of the wellbore that was previously lined with casing, the enlarged cross-sectional area defined by the larger diameter casing results in a larger annular clearance between the drill string and the cased wellbore, thereby reducing the annular velocity of the fluid. This reduction in annular velocity decreases the overall carrying capacity of the fluid, resulting in the drill cuttings dropping out of the fluid flow and settling somewhere in the wellbore. This settling of the drill cuttings and debris can cause a number of difficulties to subsequent downhole operations. For example, it is well known that the setting of tools, such as liner hangers, against a casing wall is hampered by the presence of debris on the wall.

To prevent the settling of the drill cuttings and debris, the flow rate of the circulating fluid may be increased to increase the annular velocity in the larger annular areas. However, the higher annular velocity also increases the equivalent circulating density (“ECD”) and increases the potential of wellbore erosion. ECD is a measure of the hydrostatic head and the friction head created by the circulating fluid. The length of wellbore that can be formed before it is lined with casing sometimes depends on the ECD. The pressure created by ECD is sometimes useful while drilling because it can exceed the pore pressure of formations intersected by the wellbore and prevents hydrocarbons from entering the wellbore. However, too high an ECD can be a problem when it exceeds the fracture pressure of the formation, thereby forcing the wellbore fluid into the formations and hampering the flow of hydrocarbons into the wellbore after the well is completed.

Drilling with casing is a method of forming a borehole with a drill bit attached to the same string of tubulars that will line the borehole. In other words, rather than run a drill bit on smaller diameter drill string, the bit is run at the end of larger diameter tubing or casing that will remain in the wellbore and be cemented therein. The advantages of drilling with casing are obvious. Because the same string of tubulars transports the bit and lines the borehole, no separate trip out of or into the wellbore is necessary between the forming of the borehole and the lining of the borehole. Drilling with casing is especially useful in certain situations where an operator wants to drill and line a borehole as quickly as possible to minimize the time the borehole remains unlined and subject to collapse or the effects of pressure anomalies. For example, when forming a sub-sea borehole, the initial length of borehole extending from the sea floor is much more subject to cave in or collapse as the subsequent sections of borehole. Sections of a borehole that intersect areas of high pressure can lead to damage of the borehole between the time the borehole is formed and when it is lined. An area of exceptionally low pressure will drain expensive drilling fluid from the wellbore between the time it is intersected and when the borehole is lined. In each of these instances, the problems can be eliminated or their effects reduced by drilling with casing.

The challenges and problems associated with drilling with casing are as obvious as the advantages. For example, each string of casing must fit within any preexisting casing already in the wellbore. Because the string of casing transporting the drill bit is left to line the borehole, there may be no opportunity to retrieve the bit in the conventional manner. Drill bits made of drillable material, two-piece drill bits, pilot bit and underreamer, and bits integrally formed at the end of casing string have been used to overcome the problems. For example, a two-piece bit has an outer portion with a diameter exceeding the diameter of the casing string. When the borehole is formed, the outer portion is disconnected from an inner portion that can be retrieved to the surface of the well. Typically, a mud motor is used near the end of the liner string to rotate the bit as the connection between the pieces of casing are not designed to withstand the tortuous forces associated with rotary drilling. Mud motors are sometimes operated to turn the bit (and underreamer) at adequate rotation rates to make hole, without having to turn the casing string at high rates, thereby minimizing casing connection fatigue accumulation. In this manner, the casing string can be rotated at a moderate speed at the surface as it is inserted and the bit rotates at a much faster speed due to the fluid-powered mud motor.

Another challenge for a drilling with casing operation is controlling ECD. Drilling with casing requires circulating fluid through the small annular clearance between the casing and the newly formed wellbore. The small annular clearance causes the circulating fluid to travel through the annular area at a high annular velocity. The higher annular velocity increases the ECD and may lead to a higher potential for wellbore erosion in comparison to a conventional drilling operation. Additionally, in small-clearance liner drilling, a smaller annulus is also formed between the set casing inner diameter and the drilling liner outer diameter, which further increases ECD and may prevent large drilled cuttings from being circulated from the well.

A need, therefore, exists for apparatus and methods for circulating fluid during a drilling operation. There is also a need for apparatus and methods for forming a wellbore and lining the wellbore in a single trip. There is a further need for an apparatus and methods for circulating fluid to facilitate the forming and lining of a wellbore in a single trip. They is yet a further need to cement the lined wellbore.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to time saving methods and apparatus for constructing and completing offshore hydrocarbon wells. In one embodiment, an offshore wellbore is formed when an initial string of conductor is inserted into the earth at the mud line. The conductor includes a smaller string of casing nested coaxially therein and selectively disengageable from the conductor. Also included at a lower end of the casing is a downhole assembly including a drilling device and a cementing device. The assembly including the conductor and the casing is “jetted” into the earth until the upper end of the conductor string is situated proximate the mud line. Thereafter, the casing string is unlatched from the conductor string and another section of wellbore is created by rotating the drilling device as the casing is urged downwards into the earth. Typically, the casing string is lowered to a depth whereby an annular area remains defined between the casing string and the conductor. Thereafter, the casing string is cemented into the conductor.

After the cement job is complete, a second string of smaller casing is run into the well with a drill string and an expandable bit disposed therein. Once the smaller casing is installed at a desired depth, the bit and drill string are removed to the surface and the second casing string is then cemented into place.

In one aspect, the present invention provides a method for lining a wellbore. The method includes providing a drilling assembly comprising an earth removal member and a wellbore lining conduit, wherein the drilling assembly includes a first fluid flow path and a second fluid flow path. The drilling assembly is manipulated to advance into the earth. The method also includes flowing a fluid through the first fluid flow path and returning at least a portion of the fluid through the second fluid flow path and leaving the wellbore lining conduit at a location within the wellbore. In one embodiment, the method also includes providing the drilling assembly with a third fluid flow path and flowing at least a portion of the fluid through the third fluid flow path. After drilling has been completed, the method may further include cementing the wellbore lining conduit.

In another embodiment, the drilling assembly further comprises a tubular assembly, a portion of the tubular assembly being disposed within the wellbore lining conduit. The method may further include relatively moving a portion of the tubular assembly and the wellbore lining conduit. In a further embodiment, the method may further comprise reducing the length of the drilling assembly. In yet another embodiment, the method includes advancing the wellbore lining conduit proximate a bottom of the wellbore.

In another aspect, the present invention provides an apparatus for lining a wellbore. The apparatus includes a drilling assembly having an earth removal member, a wellbore lining conduit, and a first end. The drilling assembly may include a first fluid flow path and a second fluid flow path there through, wherein a fluid is movable from the first end through the first fluid flow path and returnable through the second fluid flow path when the drilling assembly is disposed in the wellbore. In another embodiment, the drilling assembly further comprises a third fluid flow path.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method for placing tubulars in an earth formation. The method includes advancing concurrently a portion of a first tubular and a portion of a second tubular to a first location in the earth. Thereafter, the second tubular is advanced to a second location in the earth. In one embodiment, the method may include advancing a portion of a third tubular to a third location. Additionally, at least a portion of one of the first and second tubulars may be cemented into place.

In another aspect, a method of drilling a wellbore with casing is provided. The method includes placing a string of casing with a drill bit at the lower end thereof into a previously formed wellbore and urging the string of casing axially downward to form a new section of wellbore. The method further includes pumping fluid through the string of casing into an annulus formed between the string of casing and the new section of wellbore. The method also includes diverting a portion of the fluid into an upper annulus in the previously formed wellbore.

In another aspect, an apparatus for forming a wellbore is provided. The apparatus comprises a casing string with a drill bit disposed at an end thereof and a fluid bypass formed at least partially within the casing string for diverting a portion of fluid from a first to a second location within the casing string as the wellbore is formed.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of drilling with liner, comprising forming a wellbore with an assembly including an earth removal member mounted on a work string and a section of liner disposed therearound, the earth removal member extending below a lower end of the liner; lowering the liner to a location in the wellbore adjacent the earth removal member; circulating a fluid through the earth removal member; fixing the liner section in the wellbore; and removing the work string and the earth removal member from the wellbore.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of casing a wellbore, comprising providing a drilling assembly including a tubular string having an earth removal member operatively connected to its lower end, and a casing, at least a portion of the tubular string extending below the casing; lowering the drilling assembly into a formation; lowering the casing over the portion of the drilling assembly; and circulating fluid through the casing.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of drilling with liner, comprising forming a section of wellbore with an earth removal member operatively connected to a section of liner; lowering the section of liner to a location proximate a lower end of the wellbore; and circulating fluid while lowering, thereby urging debris from the bottom of the wellbore upward utilizing a flow path formed within the liner section.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of drilling with liner, comprising forming a section of wellbore with an assembly comprising an earth removal tool on a work string fixed at a predetermined distance below a lower end of a section of liner; fixing an upper end of the liner section to a section of casing lining the wellbore; releasing a latch between the work string and the liner section; reducing the predetermined distance between the lower end of the liner section and the earth removal tool; releasing the assembly from the section of casing; re-fixing the assembly to the section of casing at a second location; and circulating fluid in the wellbore.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of casing a wellbore, comprising providing a drilling assembly comprising a casing and a tubular string releasably connected to the casing, the tubular string having an earth removal member operatively attached to its lower end, a portion of the tubular string located below a lower end of the casing; lowering the drilling assembly into a formation to form a wellbore; hanging the casing within the wellbore; moving the portion of the tubular string into the casing; and lowering the casing into the wellbore.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of cementing a liner section in a wellbore, comprising removing a drilling assembly from a lower end of the liner section, the drilling assembly including an earth removal tool and a work string; inserting a tubular path for flowing a physically alterable bonding material, the tubular path extending to the lower end of the liner section and including a valve assembly permitting the cement to flow from the lower section in a single direction; flowing the physically alterable bonding material through the tubular path and upwards in an annulus between the liner section and the wellbore therearound; closing the valve; and removing the tubular path, thereby leaving the valve assembly in the wellbore.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of drilling with liner, comprising providing a drilling assembly comprising a liner having a tubular member therein, the tubular member operatively connected to an earth removal member and having a fluid path through a wall thereof, the fluid path disposed above a lower portion of the tubular member; lowering the drilling assembly into the earth, thereby forming a wellbore; sealing an annulus between an outer diameter of the tubular member and the wellbore; and sealing a longitudinal bore of the tubular member; flowing a physically alterable bonding material through the fluid path, thereby preventing the physically alterable bonding material from entering the lower portion of the tubular member.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method for placing tubulars in an earth formation comprising advancing concurrently a portion of a first tubular and a portion of a second tubular to a first location in the earth, and further advancing the second tubular to a second location in the earth.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of cementing a borehole, comprising extending a drill string into the earth to form the borehole, the drill string including an earth removal member having at least one fluid passage therethrough, the earth removal member operatively connected to a lower end of the drill string; drilling the borehole to a desired location using a drilling mud passing through the at least one fluid passage; providing at least one secondary fluid passage between the interior of the drill string and the borehole; and directing a physically alterable bonding material into an annulus between the drill string and the borehole through the at least one secondary fluid passage.

In another aspect, the present invention provides an apparatus for selectively directing fluids flowing down a hollow portion of a tubular element to selective passageways leading to a location exterior to the tubular element, comprising a first fluid passageway from the hollow portion of the tubular member to a first location; a