(19)
(11)EP 3 670 827 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
24.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/26

(21)Application number: 20156464.8

(22)Date of filing:  20.11.2014
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
E21B 34/06(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: 26.11.2013 US 201361908844 P

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
14194019.7 / 2876253

(71)Applicant: Weatherford Technology Holdings, LLC
Houston, TX 77056 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • KING, Kyle Allen
    Houston, TX Texas 77041 (US)
  • NOSKE, Joe
    Houston, TX Texas 77006 (US)
  • MCDOWELL, Christopher L.
    New Caney, TX Texas 77357 (US)
  • MICKENS, Brian A.
    Humble, TX Texas 77346 (US)

(74)Representative: Docherty, Andrew John 
Marks & Clerk LLP Aurora 120 Bothwell Street
Glasgow G2 7JS
Glasgow G2 7JS (GB)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 10-02-2020 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)DOWNHOLE ISOLATION VALVE WITH A DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE INDICATOR


(57) An isolation valve (70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 130) for use in drilling a wellbore, comprises a tubular housing (71, 81, 91, 101) for assembly as part of a casing string and for receiving a drill string, a seat (74, 94, 114, 124) disposed in the housing and longitudinally movable relative to the housing, a flapper (53) pivotally connected to the seat between an open position and a closed position, a flow tube (52) longitudinally movable relative to the housing for opening the flapper (53), a hydraulic chamber (56) formed between the flow tube (52) and the housing and receiving a piston of the flow tube (52); a hydraulic passage (58c, 58o) in fluid communication with the chamber (56) and a hydraulic coupling (57c, 57o), and a differential pressure indicator (DPI) linked to the seat for responding to force exerted on the seat by the flapper (53) in the closed position.




Description


[0001] The present disclosure generally relates to a differential pressure indicator for a downhole isolation valve.

[0002] A wellbore is formed to access hydrocarbon bearing formations, e.g. crude oil and/or natural gas, by the use of drilling. Drilling is accomplished by utilizing a drill bit that is mounted on the end of a drill string. To drill the wellbore, the drill string is rotated by a top drive or rotary table on a surface platform or rig, and/or by a downhole motor mounted towards the lower end of the drill string. After drilling a first segment of the wellbore, the drill string and drill bit are removed and a section of casing is lowered into the wellbore. An annulus is thus formed between the string of casing and the formation. The casing string is cemented into the wellbore by circulating cement into the annulus defined between the outer wall of the casing and the borehole. The combination of cement and casing strengthens the wellbore and facilitates the isolation of certain areas of the formation behind the casing for the production of hydrocarbons.

[0003] An isolation valve assembled as part of the casing string may be used to temporarily isolate a formation pressure below the isolation valve such that a drill string, work string, completions string, or wireline may be quickly and safely inserted into or removed from a portion of the wellbore above the isolation valve that is temporarily relieved to atmospheric pressure. Since the pressure above the isolation valve is relieved, the drill/work string can be tripped into the wellbore without wellbore pressure acting to push the string out and tripped out of the wellbore without concern for swabbing the exposed formation.

[0004] Before reopening the valve, pressure above the valve is equalized with pressure below the valve in order to avoid damage thereto. The differential pressure across the valve is determined using available known parameters. However, this results in only an estimate of the differential pressure.

[0005] The present disclosure generally relates to a differential pressure indicator for a downhole isolation valve.

[0006] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention there is provided a differential pressure indicator (DPI) for use with a downhole isolation valve. The DPI includes a tubular mandrel for assembly as part of a casing string and for receiving a tubular string. The mandrel has a stop shoulder and a piston shoulder. The DPI further includes a tubular housing for assembly as part of the casing string and for receiving the tubular string. The housing is movable relative to the mandrel between an extended position and a retracted position and has a stop shoulder and a piston shoulder. The DPI further includes a hydraulic chamber formed between the piston shoulders and a coupling in communication with the hydraulic chamber and for connection to a sensing line. The housing is movable relative to the mandrel and to the extended position in response to tension exerted on the DPI.

[0007] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of constructing a wellbore. The method includes deploying a tubular string into the wellbore through a casing string disposed in the wellbore. The casing string has an isolation valve in a closed position and a hydraulic sensing line extending along the casing string. The method further includes: equalizing pressure across the isolation valve using the sensing line to determine differential pressure across the isolation valve; opening the isolation valve; and lowering the tubular string through the open valve.

[0008] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention there is provided an isolation valve for use in drilling a wellbore. The isolation valve includes: a tubular housing for assembly as part of a casing string and for receiving a drill string; a seat disposed in the housing and longitudinally movable relative to the housing; a flapper pivotally connected to the seat between an open position and a closed position; a flow tube longitudinally movable relative to the housing for opening the flapper; a hydraulic chamber formed between the flow tube and the housing and receiving a piston of the flow tube; a hydraulic passage in fluid communication with the chamber and a hydraulic coupling; and a differential pressure indicator (DPI) linked to the seat for responding to force exerted on the seat by the flapper in the closed position.

[0009] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention there is provided an isolation valve for use in drilling a wellbore. The isolation valve includes a tubular housing for assembly as part of a casing string, for receiving a drill string, and having a shoulder formed in an inner surface thereof for receiving the seat. The isolation valve further includes: a seat disposed in the housing and longitudinally movable relative to the housing; a flapper pivotally connected to the seat between an open position and a closed position; a flow tube longitudinally movable relative to the housing for opening the flapper; a hydraulic chamber formed between the flow tube and the housing and receiving a piston of the flow tube; a hydraulic passage in fluid communication with the chamber and a hydraulic coupling; and a differential pressure indicator (DPI) for measuring force exerted on the isolation valve when the flapper is in the closed position.

[0010] Further aspects and preferred features are set out in claim 2 et seq.

[0011] The present disclosure may be further defined by the following numbered clauses.
  1. 1. A differential pressure indicator, DPI, for use with a downhole isolation valve, comprising:

    a tubular mandrel for assembly as part of a casing string and for receiving a tubular string, the mandrel having a stop shoulder and a piston shoulder;

    a tubular housing for assembly as part of the casing string and for receiving the tubular string, the housing movable relative to the mandrel between an extended position and a retracted position and having a stop shoulder and a piston shoulder;

    a hydraulic chamber formed between the piston shoulders; and

    a coupling in communication with the hydraulic chamber and for connection to a sensing line;

    wherein the housing is movable relative to the mandrel and to the extended position in response to tension exerted on the DPI.

  2. 2. The DPI of clause 1, wherein:

    the coupling is a hydraulic coupling, and

    the DPI further comprises a hydraulic passage providing the communication between the hydraulic chamber and the hydraulic coupling;

    and wherein optionally:

    the hydraulic chamber is operable to move the housing relative to the mandrel and to the retracted position,

    the stop shoulders are engaged in the extended position, and

    the piston shoulders are engaged in the retracted position.

  3. 3. The DPI of clause 1 or 2, wherein the housing is longitudinally movable relative to the mandrel between the positions, and/or a stroke length between the extended position and the retracted position is infinitesimal relative to a length of the DPI.
  4. 4. The DPI of clause 1, 2 or 3, wherein each of the mandrel and the housing have a torsional coupling, and the torsional couplings are engaged in and between the positions;
    and wherein optionally each of the housing and the mandrel includes a piston and an adapter fastened together, the mandrel piston shoulder is formed in an outer surface of the mandrel piston, and the housing piston shoulder is formed in an inner surface of the housing piston;
    and/or the mandrel stop shoulder is a lower end of the mandrel adapter, and the housing stop shoulder is formed in an inner surface of the housing piston;
    and/or the housing torsional coupling is formed in a lower end of the housing piston, and the mandrel torsional coupling is formed in an outer surface of the mandrel piston;
    and/or the hydraulic passage is formed in a wall of and along the housing piston.
  5. 5. A system for use in drilling a wellbore, comprising:

    the DPI of any preceding clause; and

    an isolation valve, comprising:

    a tubular housing for connection to the DPI housing;

    a flapper disposed in the housing and pivotable relative thereto between an open position and a closed position; and

    a flow tube longitudinally movable relative to the housing for opening the flapper;

    the sensing line for connecting the DPI coupling to a control station;

    the control station comprising a microcontroller (MCU) operable to calculate a differential pressure across the flapper.

  6. 6. A method of constructing a wellbore, comprising:

    deploying a tubular string into the wellbore through a casing string disposed in the wellbore, the casing string having an isolation valve in a closed position and a hydraulic sensing line extending along the casing string;

    equalizing pressure across the isolation valve using the sensing line to determine differential pressure across the isolation valve;

    opening the isolation valve; and

    lowering the tubular string through the open valve.

  7. 7. The method of clause 6, wherein the differential pressure is determined using pressure of the sensing line or fluid volume into or from the sensing line;
    and wherein optionally the casing string further has a differential pressure indicator (DPI) connected to the sensing line and the isolation valve, and the method further comprises, before equalization, injecting hydraulic fluid into the sensing line, thereby retracting the DPI;
    and wherein optionally the DPI is in an extended position before deployment of the tubular string, and/or a stroke length of the DPI is infinitesimal relative to a length of the DPI.
  8. 8. The method of clause 6 or 7, further comprising one or more of the following features:

    the casing string has a free portion and a portion cemented into the wellbore, and the isolation valve and the DPI are part of the free portion;

    the casing string further has a control line extending therealong for opening the valve; and

    the method further comprises monitoring the differential pressure during deployment of the tubular string

  9. 9. An isolation valve for use in drilling a wellbore, comprising:

    a tubular housing for assembly as part of a casing string and for receiving a drill string;

    a seat disposed in the housing and longitudinally movable relative to the housing;

    a flapper pivotally connected to the seat between an open position and a closed position;

    a flow tube longitudinally movable relative to the housing for opening the flapper;

    a hydraulic chamber formed between the flow tube and the housing and receiving a piston of the flow tube;

    a hydraulic passage in fluid communication with the chamber and a hydraulic coupling; and

    a differential pressure indicator (DPI) linked to the seat for responding to force exerted on the seat by the flapper in the closed position.

  10. 10. The valve of clause 9, wherein:

    the housing has a piston shoulder formed in an inner surface thereof;

    the seat has a piston shoulder formed in an outer surface thereof, and

    the DPI comprises a hydraulic chamber formed between the piston shoulders and a hydraulic passage extending from the DPI chamber to a hydraulic coupling, and optionally a compression spring disposed in the DPI chamber and having a first end bearing against the housing shoulder and a second end bearing against the seat shoulder.

  11. 11. A system for use in drilling a wellbore, comprising:

    the valve of clause 10;

    a sensing line for connecting the DPI hydraulic coupling to a control station; and

    a control line for connecting the valve hydraulic coupling to a hydraulic manifold;

    wherein the control station is for operating the manifold and comprises a microcontroller (MCU) operable to calculate a differential pressure across the flapper using a pressure of the sensing line or by monitoring volume of hydraulic fluid into or from the sensing line.

  12. 12. The valve of clause 10, wherein:

    the housing has a shoulder formed in an inner surface thereof;

    the seat has a shoulder formed in an outer surface thereof, and

    the DPI comprises:

    a chamber formed between the shoulders;

    a compression spring disposed in the chamber and having a first end bearing against the housing shoulder and a second end bearing against the seat shoulder;

    a sensor for measuring a length of the spring; and

    leads extending from the sensor to an electrical coupling.

  13. 13. The valve of clause 12, wherein the sensor comprises a proximity sensor and/or a position sensor.
  14. 14. An isolation valve for use in drilling a wellbore, comprising:

    a tubular housing for assembly as part of a casing string, for receiving a drill string, and having a shoulder formed in an inner surface thereof for receiving the seat;

    a seat disposed in the housing and longitudinally movable relative to the housing;

    a flapper pivotally connected to the seat between an open position and a closed position;

    a flow tube longitudinally movable relative to the housing for opening the flapper;

    a hydraulic chamber formed between the flow tube and the housing and receiving a piston of the flow tube;

    a hydraulic passage in fluid communication with the chamber and a hydraulic coupling; and

    a differential pressure indicator (DPI) for measuring force exerted on the isolation valve when the flapper is in the closed position.

  15. 15. The valve of clause 14, wherein the DPI comprises a strain gage mounted on a surface of the housing or on the flapper or flapper hinge, and/or a load cell mounted in the housing adjacent to the shoulder.


[0012] So that the manner in which the above recited features of the present disclosure can be understood in detail, a more particular description of the disclosure, briefly summarized above, may be had by reference to embodiments, some of which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is to be noted, however, that the appended drawings illustrate only typical embodiments of this disclosure and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the disclosure may admit to other equally effective embodiments.

Figures 1A-1C illustrate a terrestrial drilling system in a drilling mode, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

Figures 2A and 2B illustrate a differential pressure indicator (DPI) of the drilling system.

Figures 3A-3C illustrate operation of the DPI.

Figures 4A-4D illustrate isolation valves having integrated DPIs, according to other embodiments of the present disclosure.

Figures 5A-5C illustrate further isolation valves having integrated DPIs, according to other embodiments of the present disclosure.



[0013] Figures 1A-1C illustrate a terrestrial drilling system 1 in a drilling mode, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. The drilling system 1 may include a drilling rig 1r, a fluid handling system 1f, a pressure control assembly (PCA) 1p, and a drill string 5. The drilling rig 1r may include a derrick 2 having a rig floor 3 at its lower end. The rig floor 3 may have an opening through which the drill string 5 extends downwardly into the PCA 1p. The drill string 5 may include a bottomhole assembly (BHA) 33 and a conveyor string. The conveyor string may include joints of drill pipe 5p connected together, such as by threaded couplings. The BHA 33 may be connected to the conveyor string, such as by threaded couplings, and include a drill bit 33b and one or more drill collars 33c connected thereto, such as by threaded couplings. The drill bit 33b may be rotated 4r by a top drive 13 via the conveyor string and/or the BHA 33 may further include a drilling motor (not shown) for rotating the drill bit. The BHA 33 may further include an instrumentation sub (not shown), such as a measurement while drilling (MWD) and/or a logging while drilling (LWD) sub.

[0014] An upper end of the drill string 5 may be connected to a quill of the top drive 13. The top drive 13 may include a motor for rotating 4r the drill string 5. The top drive motor may be electric or hydraulic. A frame of the top drive 13 may be coupled to a rail (not shown) of the derrick 2 for preventing rotation thereof during rotation of the drill string 5 and allowing for vertical movement of the top drive with a traveling block 14. The frame of the top drive 13 may be suspended from the derrick 2 by the traveling block 14. The traveling block 14 may be supported by wire rope 15 connected at its upper end to a crown block 16. The wire rope 15 may be woven through sheaves of the blocks 14, 16 and extend to drawworks 17 for reeling thereof, thereby raising or lowering 4a the traveling block 14 relative to the derrick 2.

[0015] The PCA 1p may include, one or more blow out preventers (BOPs) 18u,b, a flow cross 19, a variable choke valve 20, a control station 21, one or more shutoff valves 27c,r, one or more pressure gauges 28d,r, a hydraulic power unit (HPU) 35, a hydraulic manifold 36, an auxiliary valve 31, one or more control lines 37o,c, a sensing line 37s, a choke spool 39, a differential pressure indicator (DPI) 40, and an isolation valve 50. A housing of each BOP 18u,b and the flow cross 19 may each be interconnected and/or connected to a wellhead 6, such as by a flanged connection.

[0016] The wellhead 6 may be mounted on an outer casing string 7 which has been deployed into a wellbore 8 drilled from a surface 9 of the earth and cemented 10 into the wellbore. An inner casing string 11 has been deployed into the wellbore 8, hung from the wellhead 6, and a portion 11c thereof cemented 12 into place. The inner casing string 11 may extend to a depth adjacent a bottom of an upper formation 22u. The upper formation 22u may be non-productive and a lower formation 22b may be a hydrocarbon-bearing reservoir. The inner casing string 11 may include a casing hanger 11h, a plurality of casing joints connected together, such as by threaded couplings, the DPI 40, the isolation valve 50, and a guide shoe 23. The inner casing string may have a free portion 11f including the hanger 11h, a plurality of casing joints, the DPI 40, and the isolation valve 50, and the cemented portion 11c including the guide shoe 23 and a plurality of casing joints. A casing annulus 34c may be formed between the inner casing string 11 and the outer casing string 7 and between the inner casing string 11 and a portion of the wellbore 8 traversing the upper formation 22u. A free portion of the casing annulus 34c (adjacent to the respective free portion 11f) may be open (free from cement 12).

[0017] The sensing line 37s may extend from the HPU 35, through the wellhead 6, along an outer surface of the inner casing string 11, and to the DPI 40. The control lines 37o,c may extend from the manifold 36, through the wellhead 6, along an outer surface of the inner casing string 11, and to the isolation valve 50. The control lines 37o,c and sensing line 37s may be fastened to the inner casing string 11 at regular intervals. The control lines 37o,c may be bundled together as part of an umbilical.

[0018] Alternatively, the sensing line 37s may also be bundled with the control lines 37o,c as part of the umbilical. Alternatively, instead of the inner casing string, the well may include a liner string hung from a bottom of the outer casing string and cemented into the wellbore and a tie-back casing string hung from the wellhead and having a lower end stabbed into a polished bore receptacle of the liner string and the DPI 40 and isolation valve 50 may be assembled as part of the tie-back casing string. Alternatively, the lower formation 22b may be non-productive (e.g., a depleted zone), environmentally sensitive, such as an aquifer, or unstable. Alternatively, the wellbore may be subsea having a wellhead located adjacent to the waterline and the drilling rig may be a located on a platform adjacent the wellhead. Alternatively, a Kelly and rotary table (not shown) may be used instead of the top drive.

[0019] The isolation valve 50 may include a tubular housing 51, an opener, such as a flow tube 52, a closure member, such as a flapper 53, a seat 54, and a receiver 55. To facilitate manufacturing and assembly, the housing 51 may include one or more sections (only one section shown) each connected together, such by threaded couplings and/or fasteners. Interfaces between the housing sections may be isolated, such as by seals. The housing sections may include an upper adapter (not shown) and a lower adapter (not shown), each having a threaded coupling for connection to other members of the inner casing string 11. The isolation valve 50 may have a longitudinal bore therethrough for passage of the drill string 5. Although shown as part of the housing 51, the seat 54 may be a separate member connected to the housing, such as by threaded couplings and/or fasteners. The receiver 55 may be connected to the housing 51, such as by threaded couplings and/or fasteners.

[0020] The flow tube 52 may be disposed within the housing 51 and be longitudinally movable relative thereto between a lower position (shown) and an upper position (not shown). The flow tube 52 may have one or more portions, such as an upper sleeve, a lower sleeve, and a piston connecting the upper and lower sleeves. The flow tube piston may carry a seal for sealing an interface formed between an outer surface thereof and an inner surface of the housing 51. Alternatively, the flow tube portions 52 may be separate members interconnected, such as by threaded couplings and/or fasteners.

[0021] A hydraulic chamber 56 may be formed in an inner surface of the housing 51. The housing 51 may have shoulders formed in an inner surface thereof adjacent to the chamber 56. The housing 51 may carry an upper seal located adjacent to an upper shoulder and a lower seal and wiper located adjacent to the lower shoulder for sealing the chamber 56 from the bore of the isolation valve 50. The hydraulic chamber 56 may be defined radially between the flow tube 52 and the housing 51 and longitudinally between the upper and lower shoulders. Hydraulic fluid 61 may be disposed in the chamber 56. The hydraulic fluid 61 may be an incompressible liquid, such as a water based mixture with glycol or a refined or synthetic oil. An upper end of the hydraulic chamber 56 may be in fluid communication with an opener hydraulic coupling 57o via an opener hydraulic passage 58o formed in and along a wall of the housing 51. A lower end of the hydraulic chamber 56 may be in fluid communication with a closer hydraulic coupling 57c via a closer hydraulic passage 58c formed in and along a wall of the housing 51.

[0022] The isolation valve 50 may further include a hinge 59. The flapper 53 may be pivotally connected to the seat 54 by the hinge 59. The flapper 53 may pivot about the hinge 59 between an open position (shown) and a closed position (not shown). The flapper 53 may be positioned below the seat 54 such that the flapper may open downwardly. The flapper 53 may have an undercut formed in at least a portion of an outer face thereof. The flapper undercut may facilitate engagement of an outer surface of the flapper 53 with a kickoff spring (not shown) connected to the housing 51, such as by a fastener. An inner periphery of the flapper 53 may engage a respective seating profile formed in an adjacent end of the seat 54 in the closed position, thereby sealing an upper portion of the valve bore from a lower portion of the valve bore. The interface between the flapper 53 and the seat 54 may be a metal to metal seal.

[0023] The hinge 59 may include a leaf, a knuckle of the flapper 53, one or more flapper springs, and a fastener, such as hinge pin, extending through holes of the flapper knuckle and a hole of each of one or more knuckles of the leaf. The seat 54 may have a recess formed in an outer surface thereof at an end adjacent to the flapper 53 for receiving the leaf. The leaf may be connected to the seat 54, such as by one or more fasteners.

[0024] The flapper 53 may be biased toward the closed position by the flapper springs, such as one or more inner and outer tension springs. Each tension spring may include a respective main portion and an extension. The seat 54 may have slots formed therethrough for receiving the flapper springs. An upper end of the main portions may be connected to the seat 54 at an end of the slots. The seat 54 may also have a guide path formed in an outer surface thereof for passage of the flapper springs to the flapper 53. Ends of the extensions may be connected to an inner face of the flapper 53. The kickoff spring may assist the tension springs in closing the flapper 53 due to the reduced lever arm of the spring tension when the flapper is in the open position.

[0025] Alternatively, the hinge may include a torsion spring instead of the tension springs and the kickoff spring. Alternatively, the leaf of the hinge 59 may be free to slide relative to the respective seat by a limited amount and a polymer seal ring may be disposed in a groove formed in the seating profile of the seat 54 such that the interface between the flapper inner periphery and the seating profile is a hybrid polymer and metal to metal seal. Alternatively, the seal ring may be disposed in the flapper inner periphery.

[0026] The flapper 53 may be opened and closed by interaction with the flow tube 52. Downward movement of the flow tube 52 may engage the lower sleeve 52b thereof with the flapper 53, thereby pushing and pivoting the flapper to the open position against the tension springs due to engagement of a bottom of the lower sleeve with an inner surface of the flapper. Upward movement of the flow tube 52 may disengage the lower sleeve thereof with the flapper 53, thereby allowing the tension springs to pull and pivot the flapper to the closed position due to disengagement of the lower sleeve bottom from the inner surface of the flapper.

[0027] When the flow tube 52 is in the lower position, a flapper chamber 60 may be formed radially between the housing 51 and the flow tube and the (open) flapper 53 may be stowed in the flapper chamber. The flapper chamber 60 may be formed longitudinally between the seat 54 and the receiver 55. The flow tube bottom may be positioned adjacent to an upper end of the receiver 55, thereby closing the flapper chamber 60. The flapper chamber 60 may protect the flapper 53 from abrasion by the drill string 5 and from being eroded and/or fouled by cuttings in drilling returns 31f. The flapper 53 may have a curved shape to conform to the annular shape of the flapper chamber 60 and the seating profile of the flapper seat 54 may have a curved shape complementary to the flapper curvature.

[0028] The control station 21 may include a console 21c, a microcontroller (MCU) 21m, and a display, such as a gauge 21g, in communication with the microcontroller 21m. The console 21c may be in communication with the manifold 36 via an operation line and be in fluid communication with the control lines 37o,c via respective pressure taps. The console 21c may have controls for operation of the manifold 36 by the technician and have gauges for displaying pressures in the respective control lines 37o,c for monitoring by the technician. The control station 21 may further include a pressure sensor (not shown) in fluid communication with the DPI sensing line 37s via a pressure tap and the MCU 21m may be in communication with the pressure sensor to receive a pressure signal therefrom. The auxiliary valve 31 may be assembled as part of the sensing line 37s and may be a shutoff valve for selectively providing fluid communication between the sensing line and the HPU accumulator.

[0029] Alternatively, the auxiliary valve 31 may be incorporated into the manifold 36 and an upper end of the sensing line 37s may connect to the manifold.

[0030] The fluid system 1f may include a mud pump 24, a drilling fluid reservoir, such as a pit 25 or tank, a solids separator, such as a shale shaker 26, a return line 29, a feed line, a supply line 30, a mud-gas separator (MGS) 38s, and a flare 38f (Figure 3A). A first end of the return line 29 may be connected to a branch of the flow cross 19 and a second end of the return line may be connected to an inlet of the shaker 26. The returns pressure gauge 28r and returns shutoff valve 27r may be assembled as part of the return line 29. A first end of the choke spool 39 may be connected to the return line 29 between the returns pressure gauge 28r and the returns shutoff valve 27r and a second end of the choke spool may be connected to the shaker inlet. The choke shutoff valve 27c, choke valve 20, and MGS 38s may be assembled as part of the choke spool 39. The MGS 38s may include an inlet and a liquid outlet assembled as part of the choke spool 39 and a gas outlet connected to the flare 38f or a gas storage vessel (not shown).

[0031] A lower end of the supply line 30 may be connected to an outlet of the mud pump 24 and an upper end of the supply line may be connected to an inlet of the top drive 13. The supply pressure gauge 28d may be assembled as part of the supply line 30p,h. A lower end of the feed line may be connected to an outlet of the pit 25 and an upper end of the feed line may be connected to an inlet of the mud pump 24. The returns pressure gauge 28r may be operable to monitor wellhead pressure. The supply pressure gauge 28d may be operable to monitor standpipe pressure.

[0032] The drilling fluid 32d may include a base liquid. The base liquid may be refined or synthetic oil, water, brine, or a water/oil emulsion. The drilling fluid 32d may further include solids dissolved or suspended in the base liquid, such as organophilic clay, lignite, and/or asphalt, thereby forming a mud.

[0033] Once the inner casing string 11 has been deployed into the wellbore 8 and cemented 12 into place, the drill string 5 may then be deployed into the wellbore until the drill bit 33b is adjacent to the guide shoe 23. The drilling fluid 32d may then be circulated into the wellbore to displace chaser fluid (not shown) from a drilling annulus 34d formed between the drill string 5 and the inner casing string 11 and between the drill string 5 and a portion of the wellbore 8 being drilled through the lower formation 22b. Once the drilling fluid 32d has filled the annulus 34d, circulation may be halted such that only hydrostatic pressure of the drilling fluid 32 is exerted on an inner surface of the upper sleeve 52u and hydrostatic pressure of the hydraulic fluid 61 is exerted on an outer surface of the upper sleeve 52u. If the isolation valve 50 is not already open, the technician may operate the control station 21 to place the opener control line 37o in fluid communication with a reservoir of the HPU 35 via the manifold 36. The technician may then operate the control station 21 to shut-in the opener line 37o, thereby hydraulically locking the piston 52p in place. The technician may then operate the control station 21 to place the closer line 37c in communication with the accumulator of the HPU 35 via the manifold 36 and then to shut in the closer line with an initial pressure.

[0034] Alternatively, the closer line 37c may be shut-in with no pressure or left open in fluid communication with the HPU reservoir. Alternatively, the opener line 37o may be shut in at surface before deployment of the inner casing string 11.

[0035] To extend the wellbore 8 from the casing shoe 23 into the lower formation 22b, the mud pump 24 may pump the drilling fluid 32 from the pit 25, through a standpipe and Kelly hose of the supply line 30 to the top drive 13. The drilling fluid 32d may flow from the supply line 30 and into the drill string 5 via the top drive 13. The drilling fluid 32d may be pumped down through the drill string 5 and exit the drill bit 33b, where the fluid may circulate the cuttings away from the bit and return the cuttings up the drilling annulus 34d. The returns 32r (drilling fluid plus cuttings) may flow up the drilling annulus 34d to the wellhead 6 and exit the wellhead at the flow cross 19. The returns 32r may continue through the return line 29 and into the shale shaker 26 and be processed thereby to remove the cuttings, thereby completing a cycle. As the drilling fluid 32d and returns 32r circulate, the drill string 5 may be rotated 4r by the top drive 13 and lowered 4a by the traveling block 14, thereby extending the wellbore 8 into the lower formation 22b.

[0036] Figures 2A and 2B illustrate the DPI 40. The DPI 40 may include a tubular mandrel 41m and a tubular housing 41h. The mandrel 41m and the housing 41h may be longitudinally movable relative to each other between an extended position (Figure 2A) and a retracted position (Figure 2B). The DPI 40 may have a longitudinal bore therethrough for passage of the drill string 5. The mandrel 41h may include two or more sections, such as an adapter 42 and a piston 43, each connected together, such by threaded couplings (shown) and/or fasteners (not shown). The housing 41h may include two or more sections, such as a piston 44 and an adapter 45, each connected together, such by threaded couplings (shown) and/or fasteners (not shown).

[0037] The mandrel adapter 42 may also have a threaded coupling (not shown) formed at an upper end thereof for connection to another member of the inner casing string 11. The housing adapter 45 may also have a threaded coupling formed at a lower end thereof for connection to an upper end of the isolation valve 50. The housing adapter 45 may also carry a seal 47e for sealing an interface between the DPI 40 and the isolation valve 50. The mandrel adapter 42 may carry a seal 47a for sealing an upper interface formed between mandrel 41m and the housing 41h and the mandrel piston 43 may carry a seal 47d for sealing a lower interface formed between mandrel and the housing, thereby sealing a bore of the DPI 40 from the casing annulus 34c. The mandrel 41m and housing 41h may be made from a metal or alloy, such as steel, stainless steel, or a nickel based alloy, having strength sufficient to support the isolation valve 50, any casing joints of the free portion 11f below the isolation valve, and the cemented portion 11c.

[0038] The mandrel piston 43 may have an upper portion 43u, a mid portion 43m having an enlarged outer diameter relative to the upper portion, and a lower portion 43b having an enlarged outer diameter relative to the mid portion. The upper portion 43u may have the threaded coupling formed in an outer surface thereof and connecting the mandrel piston 43 to the mandrel adapter 42. A piston shoulder 43p may be formed between the upper 43u and mid 43m portions in an outer surface of the mandrel piston 43. A torsional coupling, such as spline teeth 43s and spline grooves, may be formed between the mid and lower 43b portions in the outer surface of the mandrel piston 43. An outer diameter of the mandrel adapter 42 may be greater than an outer diameter of the mandrel piston upper portion 43u such that a lower end of the mandrel adapter may serve as a stop shoulder 42h. The threaded coupling connecting the mandrel piston 43 to the mandrel adapter 42 may be formed in an inner surface of the mandrel adapter 42 adjacent to the lower end thereof.

[0039] The housing piston 44 may receive a lower portion of the mandrel adapter 42 and the upper 43u and mid 43m portions of the mandrel piston 43. The housing piston 44 may have an upper portion 44u, a mid portion 44m having a reduced inner diameter relative to the upper portion, and a lower portion 44b having an enlarged inner diameter relative to the mid portion. A stop shoulder 44h may be formed between the upper 44u and mid 44m portions in an inner surface of the housing piston 44. A piston shoulder 44p may be formed between the mid 44m and lower 44b portions in the inner surface of the housing piston 44. The mid 44m and lower 44b portions may have the threaded coupling connecting the housing piston 44 to the housing adapter 45 formed in an outer surface thereof. A torsional coupling, such as spline teeth 44s and spline grooves, may be formed in a lower end of the housing piston 44. The housing adapter 45 may receive part of the mid portion 44m and the lower portion 44b of the housing piston 44 and the lower portion 43b of the mandrel piston 43. The housing adapter 45 may have an upper portion 45u, a lower portion 45b having a reduced inner diameter relative to the upper portion, and a shoulder 45h joining the upper and lower portions. The upper portion 45u may have the threaded coupling connecting the housing piston 44 to the housing adapter 45 formed in an inner surface thereof.

[0040] Alternatively, each torsional coupling may include a keyway formed in the respective housing 41h and mandrel 41m and the torsional connection completed by a key inserted therein.

[0041] The piston shoulders 43p, 44p may be engaged when the DPI 40 is in the extended position and the stop shoulders 42h, 44h may be engaged when the DPI 40 is in the retracted position. A hydraulic chamber 46c may be formed longitudinally between the piston shoulders 43p, 44p when the DPI 40 is in the retraced position. The hydraulic chamber 46c may be formed radially between an inner surface of the mandrel piston upper portion 43b and an outer surface of the housing piston lower portion 44b. The housing piston 44 may carry a seal 47b in an inner surface of the mid portion 44m located adjacent to the piston shoulder 44p and the mandrel piston 43 may carry a seal 47c in an outer surface of the mid portion 43m located adjacent to the piston shoulder 43p for sealing the hydraulic chamber 46c from the DPI bore. The hydraulic fluid 61 may be disposed in the chamber 46c. The hydraulic chamber 46c may be in fluid communication with a hydraulic coupling 46f via a hydraulic passage 46p formed in a wall of and along the housing piston 44.

[0042] The DPI 40 may be biased toward the extended position by tension 62 exerted on the DPI mandrel 41m by the free portion 11f being hung from the wellhead 6 and weight of the DPI housing 41h, the isolation valve 50, any casing joints of the free portion 11f below the isolation valve, and the cemented portion 11c. Injection of the hydraulic fluid 61 into the chamber 46c may overcome the bias and retract the DPI 40 by exerting upward pressure on the housing piston shoulder 44p and downward pressure on the mandrel piston shoulder 43p. A stroke length of the DPI 40 may be infinitesimal relative to a length of the DPI 40, such as less than one tenth, one twentieth, one fiftieth, or one hundredth. The infinitesimal stroke length may avoid the need for slip joints in the control lines 37o,c and the sensing line 37s. Torsional connection between the housing 41h and the mandrel 41m may be maintained in and between the retracted and the extended positions by the engaged spline couplings 43s, 44s.

[0043] Figures 3A-3C illustrate operation of the DPI 40. Referring specifically to Figure 3A, during deployment of the inner casing string 11, deployment of the drill string 5, and drilling of the lower formation 22b, the isolation valve 50 may be open and the DPI 40 idle in the extended position.

[0044] Referring specifically to Figure 3B, after drilling of the lower formation 22b to total depth, the drill string 5 may be raised to such that the drill bit 33b is above the flapper 53. The technician may then open the auxiliary valve 31 to supply pressurized hydraulic fluid 61 from the HPU accumulator to the DPI chamber 46c via the sensing line 37s, the coupling 46f, and the passage 46p. The DPI 40 may stroke to the retracted position at a threshold pressure 63t generating a retraction force (not shown) sufficient to overcome the tension 62 in the inner casing string 11 and to stretch the inner casing string 11 by amount corresponding to the stroke length of the DPI 40 (may be negligible due to infinitesimal stroke length). The HPU accumulator may have a level indicator for monitoring a volume expended therefrom to retract the DPI 40. Once the threshold pressure 63t has been reached, the technician may then close the auxiliary valve 31, thereby shutting in the DPI chamber 46c, and instruct the MCU 21m to record the threshold pressure.

[0045] If the tie-back alternative, discussed above, is employed, the retraction force generated by the threshold pressure may only need to overcome the tension in the tieback casing string. Alternatively, pressure may be monitored within the system while tension is pulled on its parent casing to correlate observed pressure fluctuations with the initial tension set on the casing string.

[0046] Referring specifically to Figure 3C, the technician may then close the isolation valve 50 by operating the control station 21 to supply pressurized hydraulic fluid 61 from the HPU accumulator to the closer passage 58c and to relieve hydraulic fluid from the opener passage 58o to the HPU reservoir. The pressurized hydraulic fluid 61 may flow from the manifold 36 through the wellhead 6 and into the wellbore via closer line 37c. The pressurized hydraulic fluid 61 may flow down the closer line 37c and into the closer passage 58c via the hydraulic coupling 57c. The hydraulic fluid 61 may exit the passage 58c into the hydraulic chamber lower portion and exert pressure on a lower face of the flow tube piston, thereby driving the piston upwardly relative to the housing 51.

[0047] Alternatively, the drill string 5 may need to be removed for other reasons before reaching total depth, such as for replacement of the drill bit 33b.

[0048] As the piston 52p begins to travel, hydraulic fluid 61 displaced from the hydraulic chamber upper portion may flow through the opener passage 58o and into the opener line 37o via the hydraulic coupling 57o. The displaced hydraulic fluid 61 may flow up the opener line 37o, through the wellhead 6, and exit the opener line into the hydraulic manifold 36. As the piston 52p travels and the lower sleeve 52b clears the flapper 53, the tension springs may close the flapper. Movement of the piston 52p may be halted by abutment of an upper face thereof with the upper housing shoulder. Once the flapper 53 has closed, the technician may then operate the control station 21 to shut-in the closer line 37c or both of the control lines 37o,c, thereby hydraulically locking the piston 52p in place. Drilling fluid 32 may be circulated (or continue to be circulated) in an upper portion of the wellbore 8 (above the lower flapper) to wash an upper portion of the isolation valve 50. The drill string 5 may then be retrieved to the rig 1r.

[0049] Once circulation has been halted and/or the drill string 5 has been retrieved to the rig 1r, pressure 64u in the inner casing string 11 acting on an upper face of the flapper 53 may be reduced relative to pressure 64b in the inner casing string acting on a lower face of the flapper, thereby creating a net upward force 65 on the flapper which is transferred to the DPI housing 41h via the isolation valve housing 51. Since the net upward force 65 generated by the pressure differential 63u,b across the flapper 53 also tends to retract the DPI 40, the pressure in the DPI chamber 46c is reduced to an indication pressure 63i.

[0050] The indication pressure 63i may be detected by the MCU 21m and used thereby to calculate a delta pressure between the indication and threshold 63t pressures. The MCU 21m may be programmed with a correlation between the calculated delta pressure and the pressure differential 64u,b across the flapper 53. The MCU 21m may then convert the delta pressure to a pressure differential across the flapper 53 using the correlation. The MCU 21m may then output the converted pressure differential to the gauge 21g for monitoring by the technician.

[0051] The correlation may be determined theoretically using parameters, such as geometry of the flapper 53, isolation valve housing 51, DPI housing 41h, and DPI mandrel 41m, and material properties thereof, to construct a computer model, such as a finite element and/or finite difference model, of the DPI 40 and isolation valve 50 and then a simulation may be performed using the model to derive a formula. The model may or may not be empirically adjusted.

[0052] The control station 21 may further include an alarm (not shown) operable by the MCU 21m for alerting the technician, such as a visual and/or audible alarm. The technician may enter one or more alarm set points into the control station 21 and the MCU 21m may alert the technician should the converted annulus pressure violate one of the set points. A maximum set point may be a design pressure of the flapper 53. Weight of the DPI housing 41h, the isolation valve 50, any casing joints of the free portion 11f below the isolation valve, and the cemented portion 11c may be sufficient such that the tension 62 is greater than or equal to the net upward force 65 generated by a pressure differential 64u,b equal to the design pressure of the flapper 65, thereby ensuring that a measurement range of the DPI 40 is broad enough to include the flapper design pressure.

[0053] If total depth has not been reached, the drill bit 33b may be replaced and the drill string 5 may be redeployed into the wellbore 8. The DPI 40 may also be used to monitor differential pressure while tripping into the hole to gauge surge and swab effects.

[0054] Pressure in the upper portion of the wellbore 8 may then be equalized with pressure in the lower portion of the wellbore 8 using the converted pressure differential displayed by the gauge 21g to ensure proper equalization. The technician may then operate the control station 21 to supply pressurized hydraulic fluid to the opener line 37o while relieving the closer line 37c, thereby opening the flapper 53. Once the flapper 53 has been opened, the technician may then operate the control station 21 to shut-in the opener line 37c or both of the control lines 37o,c, thereby hydraulically locking the flow tube piston in place. Drilling may then resume. In this manner, the lower formation 22b may remain live during tripping due to isolation from the upper portion of the wellbore 8 by the closed isolation valve 50, thereby obviating the need to kill the lower formation 22b.

[0055] Once drilling has reached total depth, the drill string 5 may be retrieved to the drilling rig 1r, as discussed above. A liner string (not shown) may then be deployed into the wellbore 8 using a work string (not shown). The liner string and workstring may be deployed into the live wellbore 8 using the isolation valve 50, as discussed above for the drill string 5. Once deployed, the liner string may be set in the wellbore 8 using the work string. The work string may then be retrieved from the wellbore 8 using the isolation valve 50 as discussed above for the drill string 5. The PCA 1p may then be removed from the wellhead 6. A production tubing string (not shown) may be deployed into the wellbore 8 and a production tree (not shown) may then be installed on the wellhead 6. Hydrocarbons (not shown) produced from the lower formation 22b may enter a bore of the liner, travel through the liner bore, and enter a bore of the production tubing for transport to the surface 9.

[0056] Alternatively, each piston shoulder 43p, 44p may be transposed with the respective stop shoulder 42h, 44h, the passage 46p formed in a wall of and along the mandrel 41m instead of the housing 41h, thereby causing the indication pressure 63i to increase with increasing differential pressure 63u,b across the flapper 53. In a further variant of this alternative, the DPI may have a pressure sensor in fluid communication with the DPI chamber and the sensing line may be an electric or optical cable for transmission of a signal from the sensor to the control station.

[0057] Figures 4A-4D illustrate isolation valves 70, 80, 90, 100 having integrated DPIs, according to other embodiments of the present disclosure. Referring specifically to Figure 4A, the isolation valve 70 may include a tubular housing 71, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, a seat 74, a seat receiver 75, and a flow tube receiver (not shown).

[0058] To facilitate manufacturing and assembly, the housing 71 may include one or more sections (only one section shown) each connected together, such by threaded couplings and/or fasteners. Interfaces between the housing sections may be isolated, such as by seals. The housing sections may include an upper adapter and a lower adapter, each having a threaded coupling for connection to other members of the inner casing string 11. The isolation valve 70 may have a longitudinal bore therethrough for passage of the drill string 5. The housing 71 may have the hydraulic chamber 56 (not shown) and the passages 58o,c (not shown) for operation of the flow tube 52. Each of the flow tube receiver and seat receiver 75 may be connected to the housing 71. The housing may also have a piston shoulder 71s formed in an inner surface thereof.

[0059] The flapper 53 may be pivotally connected to the seat 74 by the hinge 59. An inner periphery of the flapper 53 may engage a respective seating profile formed in an adjacent end of the seat 74 in the closed position, thereby sealing an upper portion of the valve bore from a lower portion of the valve bore. The interface between the flapper 53 and the seat 74 may be a metal to metal seal.

[0060] The seat 74 may be longitudinally movable relative to the housing 71 between an upper position (not shown) and a lower position (shown). The seat 74 may be stopped in the lower position by the seat receiver 75. The seat 74 may have a piston shoulder 74s formed in an inner surface thereof. The isolation valve 70 may further include a DPI chamber 76 formed longitudinally formed between the housing shoulder and the seat shoulder 74s. The housing 71 may carry a seal located adjacent to the shoulder 71s and the seat 74 may carry a seal located adjacent to the shoulder 74s for sealing the DPI chamber 76 from the bore of the isolation valve 70. The DPI chamber 76 may be defined radially between the seat 74 and the housing 71. Hydraulic fluid 61 may be disposed in the DPI chamber 76. The DPI chamber 76 may be in fluid communication with the sensing coupling 46f via a hydraulic passage 78 formed in and along a wall of the housing 71. The sensing line 37s (not shown) may connect the coupling 46f to the control station 21 and the HPU 35.

[0061] In operation, the seat 74 may be maintained in the lower position by a threshold pressure in the DPI chamber 76 and the DPI chamber being shut in by the valve 31 whether the isolation valve 70 is closed or open. When the isolation valve 70 is closed, the MCU 21m may monitor pressure in the sensing line 37s, calculate a delta pressure, and use a correlation to calculate differential pressure across the flapper 53. As compared to the DPI 40, a net upward force on the flapper 53 will increase pressure in the DPI chamber 76 instead of reducing pressure and the isolation valve 70 may be located in either the free portion 11f or the cemented portion 11c.

[0062] Alternatively, the DPI chamber 76 may be in fluid communication with either the opener passage or the closer passage and the sensing coupling 46f and sensing line 37s may be omitted.

[0063] Referring specifically to Figure 4B, the isolation valve 80 may include a tubular housing 81, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, a seat 74, a seat receiver (not shown), and a flow tube receiver (not shown). The valve 80 may be similar to the valve 70 except that a biasing member, such as compression spring 82 may be disposed in the DPI chamber 76. An upper end of the compression spring 82 may bear against the housing shoulder 71s and a lower end of the compression spring may bear against the seat shoulder 74s, thereby biasing the seat 74 toward the lower position. A stiffness and stroke of the spring 82 may be selected such that the spring may bottom out at the flapper design pressure. Further, the control station 21 may include an accumulator 83 for operation of the isolation valve 80 having a level sensor 84 in communication with the MCU21m and the shutoff valve 31 and connection to the HPU 25 by the sensing line may be omitted.

[0064] In operation, the DPI chamber 76 may be in communication with the accumulator 83 whether the isolation valve 80 is open or closed. When the isolation valve 80 is closed, a net upward force on the flapper 53 may drive the seat 74 upward against the spring 82, thereby expelling hydraulic fluid 61 from the DPI chamber 76 into the accumulator 83. The MCU 21m may monitor a fluid level in the accumulator 83 using the level sensor 84 to determine a volume of the hydraulic fluid 61 expelled from the DPI chamber 76 and calculate a change in length of the spring 82 using an area of the DPI chamber 76. Once the MCU 21m has calculated the spring length, the MCU 21m may then determine the differential pressure across the flapper 53 using a stiffness of the spring 82 and geometry of the flapper 53.

[0065] Referring specifically to Figure 4C, the isolation valve 90 may include a tubular housing 91, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, a seat 94, a biasing member, such as the compression spring 82, a DPI chamber 96, a seat receiver (not shown), and a flow tube receiver (not shown). The valve 90 may be similar to the valve 80 except that the hydraulic fluid 61 may be omitted from the DPI chamber 96 and a proximity sensor 92s and target 92t disposed at respective ends of the DPI chamber 96. The housing 91 may have a sealed conduit 98 for receiving leads 97 extending from the proximity sensor 92s to an electrical coupling (not shown, replaces hydraulic coupling 46f). A sensing cable (not shown) may extend from the isolation valve 90 to the control station 21 instead of the sensing line 37s. The sensing cable may extend to the control station 21 independently of the control lines 37o,c or be bundled therewith in the umbilical.

[0066] The target 92t may be a ring made from a magnetic material or permanent magnet and may be mounted to the seat shoulder 94s by being bonded or press fit into a groove formed in the shoulder face. The sensor 92s may be mounted to the housing 91 adjacent to the shoulder 91s. Each of the housing 91 and the seat 94 may be made from a diamagnetic or paramagnetic material. The proximity sensor 92s may or may not include a biasing magnet depending on whether the target 92t is a permanent magnet. The proximity sensor 92s may include a semiconductor and may be in electrical communication with the leads 97 for receiving a regulated current. The proximity sensor 92s and/or target 92t may be oriented so that the magnetic field generated by the biasing magnet/permanent magnet target is perpendicular to the current. The proximity sensor 92s may further include an amplifier for amplifying the Hall voltage output by the semiconductor when the target 92t is in proximity to the sensor.

[0067] Alternatively, the proximity sensor may include, but is not limited to inductive, capacitive, optical, or utilization of wireless identification tags. Alternatively, the sensor 92s and target 92t may each be connected to a respective end of the spring 82.

[0068] In operation, when the isolation valve 90 is closed, a net upward force on the flapper 53 may drive the seat 94 upward against the spring 82, thereby moving the target 92t toward the sensor 92s. The MCU 21m may monitor the sensor 92s and determine a length of the spring 82. The MCU 21m may then determine the differential pressure across the flapper 53 using a stiffness of the spring 82 and geometry of the flapper 53.

[0069] Referring specifically to Figure 4D, the isolation valve 100 may include a tubular housing 101, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, the seat 94, a biasing member, such as the compression spring 82, a DPI chamber 96, a seat receiver (not shown), and a flow tube receiver (not shown). The valve 100 may be similar to the valve 90 except for having a position sensor 102i,o instead of the proximity sensor 92s and target 92t.

[0070] The position sensor 102i,o may be a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) having an outer tube 102o and an inner ferromagnetic core 102i. The outer tube 102o may be disposed in the sealed conduit 108 and mounted to the housing 101. The outer tube 102o may be in electrical communication with the electrical coupling via leads (not shown). The inner core 102i may extend from the outer tube 102o, through the DPI chamber 96 and have a lower end connected to the seat shoulder 94s. The outer tube 102i may have a central primary coil (not shown) and a pair of secondary coils (not shown) straddling the primary coil. The primary coil may be driven by an AC signal and the secondary coils monitored for response signals which may vary in response to position of the core 102i relative to the outer tube 102o.

[0071] In operation, when the isolation valve 100 is closed, a net upward force on the flapper 53 may drive the seat 94 upward against the spring 82, thereby contracting the position sensor 102i,o. The MCU 21m may monitor the sensor 102i,o and determine a length of the spring 82. The MCU 21m may then determine the differential pressure across the flapper 53 using a stiffness of the spring 82 and geometry of the flapper 53.

[0072] Alternatively, each end of the position sensor 102i,o may be connected to a respective end of the spring 82.

[0073] Figures 5A-5C illustrate further isolation valves 110, 120, 130 having integrated DPIs, according to other embodiments of the present disclosure. Referring specifically to Figure 5A, the isolation valve 110 may include a tubular housing 111, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, a seat 114, an electrical coupling 116, and a flow tube receiver (not shown).

[0074] To facilitate manufacturing and assembly, the housing 111 may include one or more sections (only one section shown) each connected together, such by threaded couplings and/or fasteners. Interfaces between the housing sections may be isolated, such as by seals. The housing sections may include an upper adapter and a lower adapter, each having a threaded coupling for connection to other members of the inner casing string 11. The isolation valve 110 may have a longitudinal bore therethrough for passage of the drill string 5. The housing 110 may have the hydraulic chamber 56 (not shown) and the passages 58o,c (not shown) for operation of the flow tube 52. Each of the flow tube receiver and seat receiver 75 may be connected to the housing 111. The housing may also have a shoulder 111s formed in an inner surface thereof.

[0075] The upper adapter section may have one or more strain gages 112a,b mounted on an outer surface thereof. Leads 117 may extend from each strain gage 112a,b to the electrical coupling 116. A sensing cable (not shown) may extend from the isolation valve 110 to the control station 21. The sensing cable may extend to the control station 21 independently of the control lines 37o,c or be bundled therewith in the umbilical. Each strain gage 112a,b may be foil, semiconductor, piezoelectric, or magnetostrictive. Each strain gage 112a,b may be oriented (i.e., parallel or diagonal) relative to a longitudinal axis of the housing 111 to measure longitudinal strain of the upper adapter section due to force exerted thereon by the closed flapper 53. Additional strain gages may be disposed on the upper adapter section to account for temperature and/or increase sensitivity.

[0076] The flapper 53 may be pivotally connected to the seat 114 by the hinge 59. An inner periphery of the flapper 53 may engage a respective seating profile formed in an adjacent end of the seat 114 in the closed position, thereby sealing an upper portion of the valve bore from a lower portion of the valve bore. The interface between the flapper 53 and the seat 114 may be a metal to metal seal. The seat 114 may be linked to the housing, such as by a fastener 115 and slot 114t joint to allow limited longitudinal movement of the seat 114 relative to the housing 111 between an upper position (shown) and a lower position (not shown). The seat 114 may have a shoulder 114s formed in an inner surface thereof. The seat 114 may be stopped in the upper position by engagement of the shoulders 114s, 111s.

[0077] In operation, when the isolation valve 110 is closed, a net upward force on the flapper 53 may push the seat 94 upward toward the housing 111 until the shoulders 114s, 111s engage, thereby relieving tension on the upper adapter section. The MCU 21m may monitor the strain gages 112a,b and determine the force exerted on the housing 111 by the closed flapper 53. The MCU 21m may then determine the differential pressure across the flapper 53 using geometry of the flapper 53.

[0078] Referring specifically to Figure 5B, the isolation valve 120 may include a tubular housing 121, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, a seat 124, the slip joint 114t, 115, the electrical coupling 116, and a flow tube receiver (not shown). The valve 120 may be similar to the valve 110 except for having a load cell 122 instead of the strain gages 112a,b.

[0079] A sensing cable (not shown) may extend from the isolation valve 120 to the control station 21. The load cell 122 may be disposed in a sealed conduit 128 adjacent to a shoulder 121s formed in an inner surface of the housing 121 and mounted to the housing. Leads 127 may extend from the load cell 122 to the electrical coupling 116. The load cell 122 may be hydraulic, pneumatic, or mechanical (strain gage). An upper end of the seat 124 may serve as a shoulder 124s for engaging the load cell 122.

[0080] In operation, when the isolation valve 120 is closed, a net upward force on the flapper 53 may push the seat 124 upward toward the housing 121 until the shoulder 124s engages the load cell 122. The MCU 21m may monitor the load cell 122 and determine the force exerted thereon by the closed flapper 53. The MCU 21m may then determine the differential pressure across the flapper 53 using geometry of the flapper 53.

[0081] Referring specifically to Figure 5C, the isolation valve 130 may include a tubular housing 131, an opener, such as the flow tube 52, a closure member, such as the flapper 53, the opener coupling 57o, the closer coupling 57c, the hinge 59, a seat 124, the slip joint 114t, 115, the electrical coupling 116, and a flow tube receiver (not shown). The valve 130 may be similar to the valve 110 except for having a strain gage 112c mounted to the outer face of the flapper 53. The strain gage 112c may be similar to the strain gages 112a,b. Leads 137 may extend from the strain gage 112c to the electrical coupling 116 via a sealed conduit 138. A sensing cable (not shown) may extend from the isolation valve 130 to the control station 21.

[0082] In operation, when the isolation valve 130 is closed, a net upward force on the flapper 53 may push the flapper against the profile of the seat 124 and the seat upward toward the housing 131 until the seat engages the housing. The MCU 21m may monitor the strain gage 112c and determine the differential pressure across the flapper 53.

[0083] Alternatively, the strain gage 112c may be mounted on the flapper hinge 59.

[0084] Alternatively, the drilling system 1 may be a closed loop drilling system including a rotating control device, a supply flow meter, a returns flow meter, an automated choke, and/or a gas chromatograph. The closed loop drilling system may be operated to perform a mass balance during drilling and exert variable backpressure on the returns.

[0085] While the foregoing is directed to embodiments of the present disclosure, other and further embodiments of the disclosure may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof is determined by the claims that follow.


Claims

1. An isolation valve (50) for use in drilling a wellbore, comprising:

a tubular housing (51) for assembly as part of a casing string and for receiving a drill string;

a seat (54) disposed in the housing (51) and longitudinally movable relative to the housing (51);

a flapper (53) pivotally connected to the seat (54) between an open position and a closed position;

a flow tube (52) longitudinally movable relative to the housing (51) for opening the flapper (53);

a hydraulic chamber (56) formed between the flow tube (52) and the housing (51) and receiving a piston of the flow tube (52);

a hydraulic passage (58c, 58o) in fluid communication with the chamber (56) and a hydraulic coupling (57c, 57o) ; and

a differential pressure indicator (DPI) (40) linked to the seat (54) for responding to force exerted on the seat (54) by the flapper (53) in the closed position.


 
2. The valve (50) of claim 1, wherein:

the housing (51) has a piston shoulder formed in an inner surface thereof;

the seat (53) has a piston shoulder formed in an outer surface thereof, and

the DPI (40) comprises a hydraulic chamber (46c) formed between the piston shoulders (43p, 44p) and a hydraulic passage (46p) extending from the DPI chamber (46c) to a hydraulic coupling (46f), and optionally a compression spring (82) disposed in the DPI chamber (46c) and having a first end bearing against the housing shoulder and a second end bearing against the seat shoulder.


 
3. The valve (50) of claim 2, wherein the DPI (40) comprises:

a sensor (84) for measuring a length of the spring (82); and

leads (117) extending from the sensor (84) to an electric coupling (116).


 
4. The valve (50) of claim 2, wherein the DPI (40) is for measuring force exerted on the isolation valve (50) when the flapper (53) is in the closed position.
 
5. The valve (50) of claim 4, wherein the DPI (46c) comprises a strain gage (112a, 112b) mounted on a surface of the housing (51) or on the flapper (53) or a hinge (59) of the flapper (53), and/or a load cell (122) mounted in the housing (51) adjacent to the shoulder.
 
6. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the flapper (53) comprises an undercut formed in at least a portion of an outer face thereof, wherein the undercut facilitates engagement of an outer surface of the flapper (53) with a kickoff spring connected to the housing (51).
 
7. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the flapper (53) is biased toward the closed position by the flapper springs.
 
8. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the flapper (53), when in the open position, is stowed in a flapper chamber (60) formed radially between the housing (51) and the flow tube (52), when the flow tube (52) is in a lower position.
 
9. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the flapper chamber (60) is formed longitudinally between the seat (54) and a receiver (55) connected to the housing (51).
 
10. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the hydraulic chamber (56) comprises an incompressible fluid.
 
11. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein an upper end of the hydraulic chamber (56) is in fluid communication with an opener hydraulic coupling (57o) via an opener hydraulic passage (58o) formed in and along a wall of the housing (51).
 
12. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein a lower end of the hydraulic chamber (56) is in fluid communication with a closer hydraulic coupling (57c) via a closer hydraulic passage (58c) formed in and along a wall of the housing (51).
 
13. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the flapper (53) is positioned below the seat (54) such that the flapper (53) opens downwards.
 
14. The valve (50) of any preceding claim, wherein the flapper (53) engages a respective seating profile formed in an adjacent end of the seat (54) in the closed position.
 
15. A system for use in drilling a wellbore, comprising:

the valve of claim 2;

a sensing line (37s) for connecting the DPI hydraulic coupling (46f) to a control station; and

a control line (37o,c) for connecting the valve hydraulic coupling to a hydraulic manifold (36);

wherein the control station (21) is for operating the manifold (36) and comprises a microcontroller (MCU) operable to calculate a differential pressure across the flapper (53) using a pressure of the sensing line (37s) or by monitoring volume of hydraulic fluid into or from the sensing line (37s).


 




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Search report