(19)
(11)EP 3 623 572 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
18.03.2020 Bulletin 2020/12

(21)Application number: 19208183.4

(22)Date of filing:  29.04.2016
(51)Int. Cl.: 
E21B 33/06  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 01.05.2015 US 201562155992 P

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
16788951.8 / 3289169

(71)Applicant: Kinetic Pressure Control Limited
City of Lewes, DE 19958 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • ANGSTMANN, Steven Antony
    Houston, Texas 77041 (US)
  • GALLAGHER, Bobby James
    Houston, Texas 77041 (US)

(74)Representative: Harrison IP Limited 
3 Ebor House Millfield Lane
Nether Poppleton, York YO26 6QY
Nether Poppleton, York YO26 6QY (GB)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 08.11.2019 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)BLOWOUT PREVENTER


(57) A blowout preventer and method of closing a wellbore. The blowout prevented has a main body containing a wellbore, a passage transverse to the wellbore, a shearing device located in the passage; and a charge that, when activated, propels the shearing device along the passage and across the wellbore to close the wellbore and prevent a blowout.




Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The invention relates to a blowout preventer. In particular, although not exclusively, the invention relates to a blowout preventer for an oil or gas well.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] Blowout preventers (BOPs) for oil or gas wells are used to prevent potentially catastrophic events known as a blowouts, where high pressures and uncontrolled flow from a well reservoir can blow tubing (e.g. drill pipe and well casing), tools and drilling fluid out of a wellbore. Blowouts present a serious safety hazard to drilling crew, the drilling rig and the environment and can be extremely costly.

[0003] Typically BOPs have rams that are hydraulically pushed across the wellbore to close off the wellbore. In some cases the rams have hardened steel shears to cut through a drill string which may be in the wellbore.

[0004] A problem with many of the hydraulically actuated rams is that they require a large amount of hydraulic force to move the rams against the pressure inside the wellbore and to cut through drill strings.

[0005] An additional problem with hydraulically actuated rams is that the hydraulic force is typically generated away from the blowout preventer, making the blowout preventer susceptible to failure if the hydraulic line conveying the hydraulic force is damaged. Further problems may include the erosion of cutting and sealing surfaces due to the relatively slow closing action of the rams in a flowing wellbore. Cutting through tool joints, drill collars, large diameter tubulars and off centre drill strings under heavy compression may also present problems for hydraulically actuated rams.

[0006] Typically, once the rams have closed off the wellbore and the well has been brought under control, the rams are either retracted or drilled through so that drilling may be resumed.

[0007] It will be clearly understood that any reference herein to background material or information, or to a prior publication, does not constitute an admission that any material, information or publication forms part of the common general knowledge in the art, or is otherwise admissible prior art, whether in Australia or in any other country.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION



[0008] It is an object of the invention to overcome or at least alleviate one or more of the above problems and/or provide the consumer with a useful or commercial choice.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION



[0009] In one form, although it need not be the only or indeed the broadest form, the invention resides in a blowout preventer comprising:

a main body containing a wellbore;

a passage transverse to the wellbore;

a shearing device located in the passage; and

a charge, that when activated propels the shearing device along the passage and across the wellbore.



[0010] Preferably, the shearing device has a body section that can effectively block the wellbore and prevent the mass passage of wellbore fluids through the wellbore. Preferably the shearing device has a sealing face of sufficient length and thickness to engage with a wellbore sealing arrangement to prevent passage of wellbore fluids. Preferably, the shearing device has a cutting edge that can cut through tubular sections in the wellbore. The cutting edge is typically of very hard material such as metallic or ceramic alloys.

[0011] Preferably the blow out preventer comprises a retaining device. Typically the retaining device retains the shearing device in a predefined position in the passage until a sufficient force is exerted on the shearing device. Preferably the retaining device comprises a shear pin arrangement.

[0012] Preferably the shearing device has two slots in the outer edges of the body section, which are adapted to engage with an arresting mechanism.

[0013] Preferably the shearing device has at least one pressure equalising channel in a upper surface of the body section.

[0014] Preferably the charge comprises a chemical propellant. For example, the chemical propellant may be a deflagrating charge. Alternatively the charge may be an explosive charge. Preferably, the charge is activated by an initiator. For example, the initiator may be a detonator. The charge is typically contained within a cartridge casing. Alternatively, the charge may be contained within a portion of the shearing device.

[0015] Preferably the passage transversely intersects the wellbore. Preferably the passage has two portions, a first portion on a first side of the wellbore and a second portion on a second side of the wellbore. Preferably the shearing device is initially located in the first portion of the passage on the first side of the wellbore. Preferably the passage comprises a space in the first portion of the passage between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore. Preferably the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is at least as long as half the diameter of the wellbore. More preferably the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is longer than the diameter of the wellbore. Preferably the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is devoid of liquid. More preferably the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is filled with a gas. Preferably, the passage has a liner which fits within the passage and provides a close tolerance fit between itself and the shearing device.

[0016] Typically the passage is fluidly sealed from the wellbore. Preferably a seal fluidly seals the passage from the wellbore. Preferably, the seal is in the form of a cylinder that extends in the direction of the wellbore. The seal is typically of a material that is strong enough to withstand the pressure differences between the wellbore and the passage. The seal typically prevents wellbore fluids from entering the passage prior to being sheared by the shearing device.

[0017] Preferably, the blowout preventer comprises an arresting mechanism. Preferably the arresting mechanism is located in the passage. Preferably the arresting mechanism is located in the second portion of the passage on the second side of the wellbore. Preferably the arresting mechanism is in the form of an energy absorption mechanism. The energy absorption mechanism is typically adapted to absorb the energy of the shearing device once it has been propelled across the wellbore.

[0018] Preferably the energy absorption mechanism has a front portion (i.e. facing towards the shearing device), a rear portion and a body of energy absorbing material located between the front portion and the rear portion.

[0019] Preferably the portion of the passage that the energy absorption mechanism is located in has a larger cross sectional area than the portion of the passage that the shearing device is initially located in.

[0020] Preferably the front portion of the energy absorption device is adapted to attach to the shearing device.

[0021] Preferably, behind the rear portion of the energy absorption mechanism (i.e. other side of the energy absorption mechanism to the shearing device), the passage is filled with a hydraulic fluid. Preferably the rear portion of the energy absorption mechanism is a sliding piston, which can slide within the passage.

[0022] Preferably the blowout preventer further comprises a wellbore sealing arrangement adapted to seal between the wellbore and the shearing device once the shearing device is located across the wellbore. Preferably the wellbore sealing arrangement has a sealing ring that is adapted to be pressed onto the sealing face of the shearing device. Preferably the sealing ring is located concentrically with the wellbore, having a larger diameter than the wellbore.

[0023] Preferably the blowout preventer is connected to an existing wellhead. More preferably, the blowout preventer is connected in line between the existing wellhead and one or more standard blowout preventers.

[0024] Preferably the blowout preventer is capable of operating in up to 18,000 feet Salt Water. Preferably the blowout preventer is capable of withstanding well bore pressures of up to 20,000 PSI. More preferably the blowout preventer is capable of withstanding well bore pressures of up to 30,000 PSI. However, it will be appreciated that the blowout preventer may be equally capable of operating at sea level or at elevations above sea level. For example, the blowout preventer may be used as a surface blowout preventer or on a land rig.

[0025] In another form the invention resides in a drilling rig comprising a blowout preventer as described in this specification.

[0026] In a further form the invention resides in a deep water drilling vessel comprising a drilling rig and a blowout preventer as described in this specification

[0027] In yet a further form, the invention relates to a method of closing a wellbore located within a main body of a blowout preventer, the method including the step of:
activating a charge to propel a shearing device along a passage transverse to the wellbore, such that the shearing device travels across the wellbore to inhibit the flow of wellbore fluids through the wellbore.

[0028] Preferably the method includes the step of the shearing device being propelled through a seal fluidly sealing the passage from the wellbore.

[0029] Preferably the method includes the step of the shearing device travelling into an energy absorption mechanism located in the passage.

[0030] Typically when the charge is activated, this results in a rapid expansion of gases which accelerates the shearing device along the passage, imparting kinetic energy on the shearing device. Preferably the shearing device is accelerated along the passage in the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore. Typically, the amount of kinetic energy imparted on the shearing device is sufficient to shear any elements which may be present in the wellbore with or without the assistance of pressure from the charge acting on the shearing device.

[0031] Preferably the step of activating the charge includes activating the charge by an initiator in response to a control signal. For example, the chemical propellant may be activated by the initiator in response to a hydraulic signal or an electrical signal. The chemical propellant may also be activated in a fail safe manner. For example, the chemical propellant may be activated by the initiator in response to a loss of a control signal.

[0032] Preferably the method includes retaining the shearing device until a sufficient expansion of the charge has occurred. For example, a retaining device in the form of a shear pin arrangement retains the shearing device until a sufficient expansion of the charge (e.g. hot gases) has occurred after activation of the charge, this assists in the rapid acceleration of the shearing device before it travels across the wellbore, or touches the seal.

[0033] Preferably the method includes the step of guiding the shearing device during its rapid acceleration with a liner located in the passage.

[0034] Preferably the method further includes the step of venting the activated charge downwards into the wellbore. For example, once a body section of the shearing device has travelled sufficiently far across the wellbore, remaining hot expanding gases (from the activated charge) can vent downwards into the wellbore, through at least one equalising channel in a upper surface of the body section, thus removing the propelling force for continued forward motion of the shearing device along the passage.

[0035] Preferably the method includes the step of absorbing the kinetic energy of the shearing device. Preferably an energy absorbing material absorbs the kinetic energy of the shearing device. The energy absorbing material is typically adapted to progressively crumple at a predefined rate, as it absorbs energy from the shearing device, eventually bringing the shearing device to rest.

[0036] Preferably the step of absorbing the kinetic energy of the shearing device includes hydraulically dissipating the kinetic energy. For example, if there is still residual kinetic energy in the shearing device when it has dissipated some of the kinetic energy by 'crumpling' the energy absorbing material, hydraulic fluid located in the passage behind the energy absorbing device will prevent the shearing device from passing beyond the position where it inhibits the flow of wellbore fluids through the wellbore.

[0037] Preferably the method includes the step of sealing between the wellbore and a sealing face of the shearing device to inhibit progression of wellbore fluids through the blowout preventer. Typically, the wellbore sealing arrangement is actuated by an external hydraulic force. Preferably, the external hydraulic force firmly presses a sealing ring against the sealing face of the shearing device to form a seal against further progression of wellbore fluids through the blowout preventer. It will be understood that if the shearing device is to be pulled clear of the wellbore, the sealing ring is typically retracted from the sealing face of the shearing device.

[0038] Preferably the method includes the step of pulling the shearing device clear of the wellbore. This is typically done once well control has been re-established, so that further well control or recovery operations may continue. Typically, the shearing device is pulled clear of the wellbore by venting at least a portion of the hydraulic fluid from the passage. Typically, when the hydraulic fluid is vented from the passage, the energy absorption mechanism acts as a piston to pull the shearing device clear of the wellbore.

[0039] Further forms and/or aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0040] To assist in understanding the invention and to enable a person skilled in the art to put the invention into practical effect, preferred embodiments of the invention will be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a sectioned view of a blowout preventer according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer prior to being activated;

FIG. 3 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer that has been activated;

FIG. 4 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer with the shearing device accelerating along the passage;

FIG. 5 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer with the shearing device piercing the seal;

FIG. 6 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer with the shearing device across the wellbore;

FIG. 7 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer with the shearing device contacting the energy absorption mechanism;

FIG. 8 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer with the energy absorption mechanism absorbing the kinetic energy of the shearing device;

FIG. 9 shows a cross section view of a blowout preventer with the energy absorption mechanism pulling the shearing device clear of the wellbore; and

FIG 10 shows exploded views of a shearing device.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0041] With reference to FIG. 1, there is shown a sectioned view of a blowout preventer 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The blowout preventer 100 has a main body 110 having a wellbore 112. The blowout preventer 100 also has a passage 114 that is located transverse to the wellbore 112. A shearing device 116 having a cutting edge 118 is located in the passage 114 on a first side 120 of the wellbore 112. A charge in the form of a chemical propellant 122 is located between the shearing device 116 and an end cap 124. The chemical propellant 122 is adapted to propel the shearing device 116 along the passage 114 and across the wellbore 112, as will be described in greater detail below.

[0042] A seal in the form of a cylinder 126 fluidly seals the passage 114 from the wellbore 112.

[0043] An arresting mechanism in the form of an energy absorption mechanism 128 is located in the passage 114 on a second side 130 of the wellbore 112. The energy absorption mechanism 128 has a front portion 132 facing towards the shearing device 116, a rear portion 134 and a body of energy absorbing material 136 located between the front portion 132 and the rear portion 134. The energy absorption mechanism 128 is adapted to absorb the kinetic energy of the shearing device 116, as will be described in greater detail below. The rear portion 134 of the energy absorption mechanism 128 is a sliding piston, which can slide within the passage 114 on the second side 130 of the wellbore 112. As can be seen in FIG. 1 the passage 114 on the second side 130 of the wellbore 112 has a larger cross section than the passage 114 on the first side 120 of the wellbore 112. The portion of the passage 114 between the rear portion 134 of the energy absorption mechanism 128 and an end cap 138 is filled with hydraulic fluid.

[0044] The operation of the blowout preventer 100 will now be explained with reference to FIGs 2-8.

[0045] With reference to FIG. 2, there is shown a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100 prior to being activated. As can be seen in FIG. 2, the chemical propellant 122 and shearing device 116 are located in the passage 114 on a first side 120 of the wellbore 112.

[0046] FIG. 2 also shows an initiator in the form of a blasting cap 140 which is adapted to activate the chemical propellant 122. FIG. 2 also shows the cylinder 126 fluidly sealing the passage 114 from the wellbore 112.

[0047] Around the wellbore 112 is located a wellbore sealing arrangement 142, which will be explained in more detail below.

[0048] The energy absorption mechanism 128 is located within the passage 114 on the second side 130 of the wellbore 112.

[0049] FIG. 3 shows a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100 where the chemical propellant 122 has been activated by the blasting cap 140. The shearing device 116 is held in place by a shear pin (not shown) until a sufficient expansion of hot gases has occurred after activation of the chemical propellant 122.

[0050] FIG. 4 shows a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100 where a sufficient expansion of hot gases has occurred after activation of the chemical propellant 122 to shear the shear pin (not shown). At this stage, the shearing device 116 is accelerating along the passage 114 towards the cylinder 126 and wellbore 112.

[0051] FIG. 5 shows a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100. At this stage, the shearing device 116 has begun to shear the cylinder 126. The shearing device will also shear any wellbore tubulars, tools, drill strings or the like which are present in the wellbore. The passage 114 on the first side 120 of the wellbore 112 contains a passage liner (not shown). The passage liner provides a close tolerance fit between itself and the shearing device 116. The liner controls the by-passing of the hot expanding gases from the exothermic reaction of the chemical propellant 122 and guides the shearing device 116 during its rapid acceleration and shearing phase of operation.

[0052] FIG. 6 shows a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100. At this stage, the shearing device 116 has sheared through the cylinder 126 and anything else that may have been located in the wellbore 112. The upper portion of the shearing device 116 has channels (not shown) such that once the shearing device 116 is sufficiently across the wellbore 112, the expanding gases from the chemical propellant 122 are vented down into the wellbore.

[0053] FIG. 7 shows a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100 where the shearing device 116 has connected with the front portion 132 of the energy absorption mechanism 128. An attachment mechanism (not shown) attaches the shearing device 116 to the front portion 132 of the energy absorption mechanism 128.

[0054] FIG. 8 shows a cross section view of the blowout preventer 100 where the body of energy absorbing material 136 of the energy absorption mechanism 128 has crumpled to a predetermined amount, absorbing the kinetic energy of the shearing device 116. The hydraulic fluid in the passage 114 between the rear portion 134 of the energy absorption mechanism 128 and the end cap 138 dissipates any residual energy of the shearing device 116.

[0055] The energy absorption mechanism 128 will retain the shearing device 116 in such a position that a sealing face (not shown) of the shearing device 116 is sufficiently aligned with the wellbore sealing arrangement 142. Once the shearing device 116 is sufficiently aligned with the wellbore sealing arrangement 142, the sealing arrangement 142 will firmly press a sealing ring (not shown) against the sealing face (not shown) of the shearing device 116, to stop the flow of wellbore fluids through the wellbore 112, securing the well. Once the well is secured, well control operations (for example choke and kill operations) can commence.

[0056] Once well control has been re-established, the blowout preventer 100 can be de-activated as seen in FIG. 9. In FIG. 9, the sealing arrangement 142 retracts the sealing ring (not shown) from the sealing face (not shown) of the shearing device 116, then the hydraulic fluid in the passage 114 between the rear portion 134 of the energy absorption mechanism 128 and the end cap 138 is vented, pulling the energy absorption mechanism 128 along the passage 114 and the shearing device 116, which is attached to the front portion 132 of the energy absorption mechanism 128, clear of the wellbore 112.

[0057] FIG. 10 shows exploded views of a shearing device 116. The shearing device 116 has a cutting edge 170. The cutting edge 170 is made of a very hard material such as metallic or ceramic alloys that can cut through tubular sections which may be present in a wellbore. The cutting edge 170 has a rib 172 extending around its sides and rear face. In the assembled form, the rib 172 sits in a slot 174 of the shearing device 116. The shearing device 116 has a body section 174 that in operation blocks a wellbore and prevents the mass passage of wellbore fluids through the wellbore. The shearing device 116 optionally has a sealing face 178 which is adapted to engage with a wellbore sealing arrangement to prevent passage of wellbore fluids. In an alternate embodiment (not shown), a sealing face may optionally be present on a upper portion of the shearing device.

[0058] The shearing device 116 has two slots 180 which are adapted to attach to an energy absorption mechanism.

[0059] An advantage of the present invention is that the blow out preventer can be actuated without having to produce hydraulic forces to hydraulically push rams across the wellbore to close off the wellbore. Instead, the energy required to close the wellbore is contained in the charge in the blowout preventer where it is required.

[0060] An advantage of holding the shearing device 116 in place by a shear pin is that this assists in the rapid acceleration of the shearing device 116 along the passage 114 once sufficient force has been generated by the expanding gases of the chemical propellant 122.

[0061] An advantage of having the cylinder 126 fluidly sealing the passage 114 from the wellbore 112 is that the shearing device 116 can accelerate along the passage 114 unhindered by wellbore fluids or other liquids until the shearing device 116 starts to shear the cylinder 126.

[0062] An advantage of using an energy absorption mechanism 128 is that excess kinetic energy of the shearing device 116 is not directly transferred into a structural portion of the blowout preventer 100.

[0063] An advantage of pulling the shearing device 116, which is attached to the front portion 132 of the energy absorption mechanism 128, clear of the wellbore 112 is that the shearing device 116 does not have to be drilled through for wellbore operations to recommence.

[0064] The foregoing embodiments are illustrative only of the principles of the invention, and various modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art. The invention is capable of being practiced and carried out in various ways and in other embodiments. For example, individual features from one embodiment may be combined with another embodiment. It is also to be understood that the terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

[0065] In the present specification and claims (if any), the word "comprising" and its derivatives including "comprises" and "comprise" include each of the stated integers but does not exclude the inclusion of one or more further integers unless the context of use indicates otherwise.

SUMMARY PARAGRAPHS



[0066] 
  1. 1. A blowout preventer comprising:

    a main body containing a wellbore;

    a passage transverse to the wellbore;

    a shearing device located in the passage; and

    a charge that, when activated, propels the shearing device along the passage and across the wellbore.

  2. 2. The blowout preventer of paragraph 1, wherein the shearing device has a body section that can effectively block the wellbore and prevent the mass passage of wellbore fluids through the wellbore.
  3. 3. The blowout preventer of paragraph 1 or 2, wherein the shearing device has a cutting edge that can cut through tubular sections in the wellbore.
  4. 4. The blowout preventer of paragraph 3, wherein the cutting edge comprises a metallic or ceramic alloy.
  5. 5. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs, further comprising a retaining device that retains the shearing device in a predefined position in the passage until a sufficient force is exerted on the shearing device.
  6. 6. The blowout preventer of paragraph 5, wherein the retaining device comprises a shear pin.
  7. 7. The blowout preventer of paragraph 5 or 6, wherein the shearing device has two slots in the outer edges of the body section, which are adapted to engage with an arresting mechanism.
  8. 8. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 5 to 7, wherein the shearing device has at least one equalising channel in a upper surface of the body section.
  9. 9. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs wherein the charge comprises a chemical propellant.
  10. 10. The blowout preventer of paragraph 9, wherein the chemical propellant comprises a deflagrating charge.
  11. 11. The blowout preventer of paragraph 9, wherein the charge comprises an explosive charge.
  12. 12. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein the charge is activated by an initiator.
  13. 13. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein the passage has two portions, a first portion on a first side of the wellbore and a second portion on a second side of the wellbore.
  14. 14. The blowout preventer of paragraph 13, wherein the shearing device is initially located in the first portion of the passage on the first side of the wellbore.
  15. 15. The blowout preventer of paragraph 13 or claim 14, wherein the passage comprises a space in the first portion of the passage between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore.
  16. 16. The blowout preventer of paragraph 15, wherein the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is at least as long as half the diameter of the wellbore.
  17. 17. The blowout preventer of paragraph 16, wherein the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is longer than the diameter of the wellbore.
  18. 18. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 15 to 17, wherein the space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore is devoid of liquid.
  19. 19. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs, wherein the passage has a liner which fits within the passage and provides a close tolerance fit between itself and the shearing device.
  20. 20. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs, further comprising a concentric seal that extends in the direction of the wellbore to fluidly seal the passage from the wellbore.
  21. 21. The blowout preventer of any one of the preceding paragraphs, further comprising an arresting mechanism.
  22. 22. The blowout preventer of paragraph 21, wherein the arresting mechanism is located in the passage.
  23. 23. The blowout preventer of paragraph 21 or 22, wherein the arresting mechanism is located on an opposite side of the wellbore to the location of the shearing device before the charge has been activated.
  24. 24. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 21 to 23, wherein the arresting mechanism is in the form of an energy absorption mechanism adapted to absorb the energy of the shearing device once it has been propelled across the wellbore.
  25. 25. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 21 to 24, wherein the energy absorption mechanism has a front portion facing towards the shearing device, a rear portion, and a body of energy absorbing material located between the front portion and the rear portion.
  26. 26. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 21 to 25, wherein the front portion of the energy absorption device is adapted to attach to the shearing device
  27. 27. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 21 to 26, wherein behind the rear portion of the energy absorption mechanism the passage is filled with a hydraulic fluid.
  28. 28. The blowout preventer of paragraph 27, wherein the rear portion of the energy absorption mechanism is a sliding piston which can slide within the passage.
  29. 29. The blowout preventer of any one of paragraphs 21 to 28, wherein the portion of the passage that the energy absorption mechanism is located in has a larger cross sectional area than the portion of the passage in which the shearing device is initially located.
  30. 30. A drilling rig comprising a blowout preventer as claimed in any one of paragraphs 1 to 29.
  31. 31. A method of closing a wellbore located within a main body of a blowout preventer, the method comprising the step of:
    activating a charge to propel a shearing device along a passage transverse to the wellbore, such that the shearing device travels across the wellbore to inhibit the flow of wellbore fluids through the wellbore and shear any tubulars or downhole tools that may be present in the wellbore.
  32. 32. The method of paragraph 31, further comprising the step of the shearing device being propelled through a seal fluidly sealing the passage from the wellbore.
  33. 33. The method of paragraph 31 or paragraph 32, further comprising the step of the shearing device travelling into an energy absorption mechanism located in the passage.
  34. 34. The method of any one of paragraphs 31 to 33, wherein when the charge is activated, this results in a rapid expansion of gases which accelerates the shearing device along the passage, imparting kinetic energy on the shearing device.
  35. 35. The method of paragraph 34, wherein the shearing device is accelerated along the passage in a space between the initial location of the shearing device and the wellbore.
  36. 36. The method of any one of paragraphs 31 to 35, further comprising the step of retaining the shearing device until a sufficient expansion of the charge has occurred.
  37. 37. The method of any one of paragraphs 31 to 36, further comprising the step of venting the activated charge downwards into the wellbore.
  38. 38. The method of any one of paragraphs 31 to 37, further comprising the step of absorbing kinetic energy of the shearing device.



Claims

1. A blowout preventer (100) comprising:

a main body (110) containing a wellbore (112);

a passage (114) transverse to the wellbore (112);

a shearing device (116) located in the passage (114);

a charge (122) that, when activated, propels the shearing device (116) along the passage (114) and across the wellbore (112);

characterized in that an arresting mechanism (128) is disposed in the passage (114),

wherein the arresting mechanism (128) is configured to absorb energy imparted on the shearing device (116) such that excess energy is not directly transferred into a structural portion of the blowout preventer (100).


 
2. The blowout preventer (100) of claim 1, wherein the arresting mechanism (128) comprises an energy absorption mechanism adapted to absorb the energy once the shearing device (116) has been propelled across the wellbore (112).
 
3. The blowout preventer (100) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the arresting mechanism (128) is configured to crumple as it absorbs the energy.
 
4. The blowout preventer (100) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the shearing device (116) comprises a cutting edge (170).
 
5. The blowout preventer (100) of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a retaining device that retains the shearing device (116) in a predefined position in the passage until an expansion of gases from the charge (122) has occurred.
 
6. The blowout preventer (100) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the charge comprises a chemical propellant (122).
 
7. The blowout preventer (100) of claim 6, wherein the charge (122) is activated by an initiator (140).
 
8. A method of use of the apparatus of any of claims 1-7 for operating a blowout preventer having a wellbore located within a main body therein, comprising:

activating a charge to propel a shearing device along a passage transverse to the wellbore, such that the shearing device travels across the wellbore to sever a device that may be present in the wellbore, wherein activating the charge results in a rapid expansion of gases that accelerates the shearing device along the passage, imparting kinetic energy on the shearing device; and

absorbing energy imparted on the shearing device with an arresting mechanism disposed in the passage such that excess energy is not directly transferred into a structural portion of the blowout preventer.


 
9. The method of claim 8, wherein the arresting mechanism comprises an energy absorption mechanism adapted to absorb the energy once the shearing device has been propelled across the wellbore.
 
10. The method of claim 8 or 9, wherein the arresting mechanism is configured to crumple as it absorbs the energy.
 
11. The method of any one of claims 8 to 10, further comprising blocking the wellbore once the shearing device has travelled across the wellbore.
 
12. The method of any one of claims 8 to 11, further comprising retaining the shearing device in an initial position until an expansion of gases from the charge has occurred.
 
13. The method of any one of claims 8 to 12, wherein the shearing device comprises a cutting edge.
 
14. The method of any one of claims 8 to 13, wherein the charge comprises a chemical propellant.
 
15. The method of claim 14, comprising activating the charge using an initiator.
 




Drawing