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Патент USA US3080931

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March 12, 1963
3,080,921
J. E. LACY
UNDERWATER WELLHEAD APPARATUS
Filed April 27, 1961
3 Sheets-Sheet 1
INVENTOR:
.1 . E .
LACY
FIG. 4
BY =<$¢HMQ
IS AGENT
March 12, 1963
3,080,921
J. E. LACY
UNDERWATER WELLHEAD APPARATUS
Filed April 27, 1961
3 Sheets-Sheet 2
49
56
55
(50
\
FIG. 2
FIG. 3
\NVENTOR:
J. E. LACY
BY! 9 HM‘
H ls AGE
NT
:5
March 12, 1963
J‘ E. LACY
3,080,921
UNDERWATER WELLHEAD APPARATUS
Filed April 27, 1961
3 Sheets-Sheet 3
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FIG.5
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‘
INVENTOR:
J.E. LACY
IS AGENT
3,080,921
vPatented Mar.’ 1-2, 1953
Units " See new
1
tremendous inv size and weight‘ and dit?cult to handle
tat:offshorellocations, especially on a ?oating drill barge.
‘3,680,921 ,
‘, _.
UNDERWATERWELLHEAD- APPARATUS: ‘‘
{For example, one un-derwater‘wellhead support ‘base, in
cluding the guide system rigidly secured thereto, was‘ 16
feet in diameter, about 30. feet high and weighed 34,000
pounds. This support structure was temporarily posi
tioned, during preliminary drilling operations, on the lower
I
John E. Lacy,‘Metairie, La, assignor to .ShellOil Com
‘ pany, New York, ‘N.Y., a corporationof Delaware
Filed Apr. 27, ‘1961, Ser; No. 105,981
5 Claims. (Cl. led-66.5)
deck of a'drilling barge. It' was found to be extremely
difficult and time-consuming to makethe necessary con
This-invention relates to apparatus for use at offshore
‘wells and pertains more particularly- to wellhead apparatus
whereby a well casinghead may be securely locked to‘ a
wellhead support-base adapted ‘to be positioned on' the
ocean
floor.
.
nections by welding components together at the side of
w. the
operation. Yet, due to the size of the equipment
the component parts thereof could not be welded together
previously and ‘then transported to an offshore drilling
'
‘ In‘an attempt to locate new oil ?elds, an increasing
"amount of well drilling has been conducted at offshore
locations'such for example‘, as off the coasts ‘of Louisiana, 15
location.
I
‘
‘
>
.
Iris-therefore, a primary object of the present inven
Texas and California. Asa ‘generalr‘rule, the strings of
casing‘in an offshore wiel-Ltogether with the tubing strings
tion to provide apparatus whereby a well casinghead may
be quickly and positively secured to a wellhead support
or string, extend to a point above the surface of the
structure.
A further object of the present invention is to provide
water where they are closed in ‘a conventional manner
that is used on land wells, with a conventional wellhead 20 apparatus of simple design which is‘self-ac’tuating where
by‘ a well casinghead and a wellhead support structure are
assembly being attached ‘to the-top of the casing strings.
quickly coupled together'whether the wellhead support
Methods and apparatus have recently been provided for
base is positioned on‘ a‘ drilling barge or on the ocean
drilling and completing a well‘ wherein both the well cas
inghead and subsequently the wellhead vassembly ‘and cas
iloor.
,
,
'
.
These and other objects of this invention will ‘be under
inghead equipment are located underwater at a depth suffi 25
stood from the following description taken with reference
cient to allow ships to pass ‘over them. Preferably, the
to the drawing, wherein:
Y
casinghead and the wellhead equipment are located close
FlGUREtl is ‘a diagrammatic view illustrating an off
tothe ocean floor. In order to vinstall equipment of this
type underwater in depths greater than the shallow depth
shore barge ?xedly positioned at a drilling location with
to design entirely new equipment for this purpose.‘ Thus,
?oor;
at which 1a diver can easily operate, it has been necessary 30 the legs of the barge extending downwardly to‘the ocean
oil and gas wells at offshore locations which have'been
drilled and completed in a manner described in copending
patent application, Serial No. 830,53 8, ?led July 30, 1959,
and entitled “Underwater Well Completion Method,”
35 lowered to the ocean ?oor;
I;
FIGURE 4 is a view taken in longitudinal cross~sec
tion, of one form of a casinghead when secured to a
various pieces of ‘ equipment have been developed.
When drilling a well by the above-identi?ed method, a
wellhead support member;
Alternatively, instead of a ?oating drill barge,.a ?oating
drill platform may’be‘empl‘oyed, which‘is. provided with
aplurality of legs which are extendaible down through
the water to the ocean?oor to serve as a ?rm footing
for the barge during drilling operations.
.
,
~
. FiGURE 5 'is a view taken in vertical cross-section of
?ea-table drilling barge is located'ovcr a preselected drill
‘site oifshore prior to ‘commencing drilling operations.
I
FIGURES 2v and 3 are, diagrammatic views illustrating
a conductor pipe depending from a ?oatable barge and
the wellhead support frame and conductor pipe being
during the drilling, casing, completion and production of
40
the clamping and anchoring means employed in the pres
ent invention;
7
FIGURE 6 is a view taken in vertical crossdsection of
another form of the anchoring and clamping means of
the present invention;
FIGURE 7 is a plan view taken in horizontal cross-sec?
45 tion to illustrate the internal structure of the anchoring
Withan underwater wellhead support base temporarily
and clamping means of the present invention and the
supported in the drilling slot of the barge, preferably at a
manner
in which it cooperates with the casinghea-d; and,
level below the operating deck thereof, a large diameter
FIGURE 8 is a view taken in vertical cross-section of
conduct-or pipeis inserted downwardly through the tempo
rarily supported support base and positioned under the 50 another form of the anchoring and clamping means of
the present invention.
rotary table of the ‘barge so that drilling operations may
Referring to FIGURE 1 of the drawing, any suitable
be carried out by running the drill stem and bit down
type of offshore barge is schematically illustrated as hav
through the support base and conductor pipe to the ocean
ing an operating deck 11 through which a series of legs
floor. As the drill bit drills a hole in the ocean floor the
‘lower end of the conductor pipe is lowered therein and 55 12 and 13 extend'downwardly to the ocean ?oor and are
adapted to be raised therefrom at a later date by means
may follow the drill bituntil the de-siredldepth of hole
of suitable elevator devices 14 and 15 of the type de
‘has been drilled. Whenthe drill bit‘ and drill stem are‘ re
scribed in Composite Catalog of Oil Field Equipment,
gm‘oved from the conductor pipe in order to cement'it in
25th Edition, p, 4814. The barge deck 11 is provided
the hole, the lower end of the conductor pipe is offrtl'le
bottom of the hole adistancelat least equal to the distance 60 with‘a rotary table ‘16 and a derrick 17 positioned there
above, ,as well as the other auxiliary equipment needed
between the temporarily supported wellhead support base
to
drill a well. Extending downwardly from the barge
‘on the barge and the bottom .of the body of water on
‘deck 11 are a series of braces 20, 21, 22 and 23 having
which the support base is to be positioned. At this time
suitable removable support members 24 and 25 attached
the upper'end of the conductor. pipe has a casinghead
"theretopfor supporting a wellhead support base 26‘.
‘ attached toit which i-sin turn ?xedly securedto the well
The wellhead support base 26 may be provided with
»headsupport base, normally by welding. With the sup
two or more guide columns or posts 27 and 28. The well
:port base ?xedly secured to the casinghe'ad and conduc
head support base 26 is provided, preferably on the upper
tor string, the entireassembly-is lowered in any suitable
‘manner, as ‘by'hoist' lines or a running. pipe string,‘ down
i to. the, ocean. ?oor after "which cementing. operations can
be carried out; ..
The equipment
'
'
'
in drilling‘underwat‘er wells
‘surface thereof, with at least ‘a pairof clamping and
I‘anchoring devices 31 and 32 which are positioned on op
70 posite sides’ofa hole centrally located andextending verti'
'ically through't'he wellhead-support base 26. The clamp»
r 3,080,921
3
ing and anchoring devices 31 and 32 are adapted to be
?xedly secured to the wellhead support base 26. A casing
head 33 having a conductor pipe 34 depending therefrom
is shown in FIGURE 4. ' As shown in FIGURE 4, guide
4
engaging the latch members 58 whereby the casinghead or
any other suitable well member is locked to the Wellhead
support base to prevent axial separation of the casinghead
columns 27 and 28 and are ?xedly secured to the bot
tom thereof by means of anchor pins 36 and 27. The
casinghead 33 may be provided with a side outlet valve
40 for controlling the ?ow of ?uid through a cement or
kill line 41. The upper end of the casinghead 33 may be
or well member from the support base. Another arrange
ment of a latch-receiving element is illustrated in FIG
URE 6 wherein the outer wall of the casinghead 33 is
provided with a plurality of recesses 71 cut or formed in
the thick wall of the casinghead. These latch-receiving
recesses 71 may take the form of a peripheral groove cut
10 in the outer surface of the casinghead 33.
provided with a peripheral groove 43 by which other
elements may be connected to the casinghead. Addition
In another arrangement of the latching device, as illus
trated in FIGURE 8, the leading edge of the latch element
cables 34 and 35 extend downwardly through the guide
ally, the casinghead may be provided with one or more
58 is beveled in both directions, with a top bevel 67 and a
landing surfaces 44, 45 and 46 formed on the interior wall
bottom bevel 72. The dimensions of the beveled leading
thereof.
15 edge of the latch 53 are selected so that the lower beveled
In FIGURE 2 a ?oatable barge 48 is illustrated as be
edge 72 contacts the upper edge of the shoulder element
ing provided with derrick 49 positioned over a drilling
70 before the leading point of the latch 58 contacts the
slot 59 in the barge in which a wellhead support member
outer wall of the casinghead 33. It is to be understood
and base 26 is supported in any suitable manner, as by
that the upper bevel 67' in this arrangement could be
means of hoist lines 51 and 52. Projecting upwardly
omitted with a flat top being used instead in the event that
from‘ the support base 26 is an open-top tank 53 which
the latching elements were to be set by hand ‘prior to
contains the guide columns 27 and 28, as described with
lowering the supportbase and the casinghead into the
regard to FIGURE 4. In FIGURE 2 the conductor pipe
water. However, when an upper beveled face 67 is em
34 is shown as having been run nearly all the way to the
.ployed in the latch 58 it is possible to have the latches in
wellhead support base 26 but prior to having the casing 25 their extended operative position prior to latching onto a
head 33 (FIGURE 4) attached thereto. In FIGURE 3 a
casinghead. Thus, in the event that the wellhead support
pair of winches 54 and 55 are shown as unreeling lines 51
member was positioned on the ocean ?oor a casinghead in
and 52 to lower the Wellhead support structure 26 to the
accordance with the present invention could be lowered
ocean ?oor. Alternatively, instead of using the hoist lines
through the water so as to become automatically latched
51 and 52, a running pipe 56 may be attached at its lower
onto the support base since the weight of the casinghead
end at the top of the casinghead 33 so that the entire struc
and the conductor string attached thereto would be suffi
ture may be lowered by the pipe string.
cient to force the latches 58 into their housings until the
Each of the clamping and anchoring devices 31 and 32
shoulder element 70 was seated on the landing surface
of FIGURE 1 comprises a housing 57 (FIGURES 5 and
68. Normally, however, the casinghead and wellhead
7) which is ?xedly secured to the wellhead support base
support member are latched together on the drilling barge
26, as by welding, at a point adjacent the central hole 29
prior to lowering them to their position on the ocean ?oor.
in the base 26. Slidably mounted within the housing 57
By providing latching means in accordance with the pres
and extcndible therefrom along a line forming the radius
ent invention it is possible to run the casinghead through
of the hole 29 in the support base 26 is a plate-like latch
the rotary table prior to connecting it to a wellhead sup
member 58. Preferably, the leading surface of the latch
port member.
58 is curved with a radius substantially equal to the out
I claim as my invention:
side surface of the casinghead 33. One or more springs
1. An underwater wellhead apparatus adapted to be
60, 61 and 62 are positioned within the latch housing 57
positioned on the ocean floor, said apparatus comprising a
for urging the latch 58 outwardly therefrom. Guide pins
wellhead support base having a hole therethrough, a tubu
63, 64 and 65 serve to support the springs 60, 61 and 62
lar well member extending through the hole in said sup
and extend through the back wall of the latch housing 57.
port base, at least the upper portion of said well member
At least one of the guide pins 64 is threaded at its outer
forming at least a portion of a casinghead for a well,
end and provided with a take-up nut 66 so that the latch
laterally~extending seating means carried outwardly on said
58 may be held within the housing 57 in an inoperative
well member, said seating means together with said well
position prior to use. Preferably, the upper edge 67 of 0 member projecting over a length greater than the diameter
the latch 58 is beveled outwardly and downwardly so that
of said support base hole, a plurality of anchoring means
the latch 53 will be forced into its housing 57 when a
?xedly secured to said support base adjacent the hole
weight is applied to the leading edge of the latch. The
therethrough and around the periphery thereof, latch
housing 58 is also provided with a landing surface 63 to
means carried by said anchoring means, and latch-receiv
conform with a seating surface carried on the lower edge 55 ing means carried on the outer surface of said well mem
of a cooperating shoulder member 70 which is secured or
formed on the outside of the casinghead 33. It is to be
understood that the horizontal surface of the wellhead sup
port base 26 may also form the landing surface for the
shoulder member 70.
ber and positioned for registering with and engaging said
latch means whereby said well member and said support
base are locked to prevent axial separation of said well
member and said support base.
.
2. An underwater wellhead apparatus adapted to be
positioned on the ocean ?oor, said apparatus comprising
Preferably, the shoulder member 70, carried outwardly
a wellhead support base having a hole therethrough of a
on the casinghead 33, is in the form of a peripheral ?ange
diameter larger than the diameter of the largest pipe sec~
(FIGURE 7) but it is to be understood that the shoulder
member may be merely portions of a ?ange, the portions
tion to pass therethrough, a tubular well member extending
being of a size which would be engaged by the latch 58. 5 through the hole in said support base, at least the upper
portion of said well member forming at least a portion
At least two latches are to be employed whichare prefer
of a casinghead for a well, laterally extending seating
ably diametrically opposite each other. However, addi
means carried outwardly on said well member, said seating
tional latches may be employed which would be normally
means on opposite sides of said well member together with
arranged so that the latches were equally spaced one from
said well member projecting over a length greater than
another.
;
the diameter of said support base hole, a plurality of an
In the arrangement shown in FIGURE 5 and 7 the
choring means ?xedly secured to said support base adja
lower face of the shoulder member 70 forms the seating
cent the hole therethrough and around the periphery there
vsurface for the casinghead 33 while the upper surface of
the shoulder member forms a latch-receiving element for 75 of, laterally-movable latch means carried by said anchor"
ing means, and latch receiving means carried. on the outer
3,080,921
5
.
surface of said well member and positioned for registering
for cooperating with the outwardly extending seating
with and engaging said latch means whereby said well
member and said support base are locked to prevent axial
separation of said well member and said support base.
3. An underwater wellhead apparatus adapted to be
positioned on the ocean ?oor, said apparatus comprising a
wellhead support base having a hole theret‘nrough of a
diameter larger than the diameter of the largest pipe sec
tion to pass therethrough, a casinghead and a well casing
means on said well member, laterally-movable spring
loaded latch means carried by said anchoring means, and
latch receiving means carried on the outer surface of said
well member and positioned for registering with and en
gaging said latch means whereby said well member and
said support base are locked to prevent axial separation
of said well member and said support base.
5. An underwater wellhead apparatus adapted to be
depending therefrom extending through the hole in said 10 positioned on the ocean floor, said apparatus comprising a
wellhead support base having a centrally located hole
support base, laterally-extending seating means carried out
therethrough of a diameter larger than the diameter of the
wardly on said casinghead, said seating means on opposite
largest pipe section to pass therethrough, a tubular well
sides of said casinghead together with said well member
member extending through the hole in said support base,
projecting over a length greater than the diameter of said
support base hole, a plurality of anchoring means ?xedly 15 at least the upper portion of said well member forming at
least a portion of a casinghead for a well, a laterally-ex?
secured to said support base adjacent the hole therethrough
tending seating ?ange carried outwardly on said well mem
at substantially equally spaced intervals around the periph
her, said seating ?ange extending around said well member
ery thereof, laterally-movable spring-loaded latch means
and being of a diameter greater than the diameter of said
carried on said anchoring means, and latch receiving means
carried on the outer surface of said casinghead and posi 20 support base hole, a plurality of anchoring means ?xedly
secured to said support base adjacent the hole therethrough
tioned for registering with and engaging said latch means
at substantially equally spaced intervals around the periph
whereby said casinghead and said support base are locked
ery thereof, said anchoring means having landing surfaces
to prevent axial separation of said casinghead and said
formed thereon for cooperating with the outwardly extend
support base.
4. An underwater wellhead apparatus adapted to be 25 ing seating ?ange on said well member, laterally-movable
spring-loaded latch means carried on said anchoring
positioned on the ocean floor, said apparatus comprising a
means, and the outwardly extending edge of said latch
wellhead support base having a centrally located hole
means having top and bottom bevels, and a latch-receiving
therethrough of a diameter larger than the diameter of the
downwardly beveled surface formed on the seating ?ange
largest pipe section to pass therethrough, a tubular well
for registering with and engaging said latch means whereby
member extending through the hole in said support base,
said well member and said support base are locked to pre
at least the upper portion of said well member forming
vent axial separation of said well member and said support
at least a portion of a casinghead for a well, laterally ex
base.
tending seating means carried outwardly on said well mem
her, said seating means on opposite sides of said well mem
ber together with said well member projecting over a. 35
length greater than the diameter of said support base hole,
References Cited in the ?le of this patent
UNITED STATES PATENTS
support base adjacent the hole therethrough at substantially
equally spaced intervals around the periphery thereof, said
1,811,013
2,917,281
2,92%610
Humason _____________ __ June 23, 1931
Kofahl _______________ __ Dec. 15, 1959
Stratton ______________ __ Mar. 22, 1960
anchoring means having landing means formed thereon
3,020,069
Word _________________ __ Feb. 6, 1962
a plurality of anchoring means ?xedly secured to'said
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