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Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]


In the hydrocarbon exploration and recovery arts, control lines have long been an important component of successful operations downhole. These may be hydraulic, electrical, fiber, etc. Control lines are needed to communicate with devices positioned downhole and therefore remote from a surface location at which personnel may be stationed.
Because of the harsh downhole conditions, including chemical and mechanical stress, among others, protection of control lines is desirable.
To this end, the industry has produced tubing encapsulated conductors (TEC) which configures an electrical or other conductor, inside a tube of usually 1/4 inch diameter. TEC line is very effective but unfortunately still suffers from stresses in the downhole environment.
In order to improve longevity, the industry has created what is commercially known as a "flat pack". A flat pack is matrix of material, usually a polymer, into which is embedded a control line and cables for crush resistance. The control line is completely encapsulated which is beneficial but the concept suffers in application due to the need at certain downhole tools to strip off the flat pack in order to pass the control line through the device. A packer is one such device. The result of a pass through is an exposed control line for a length which may be quite extended. The exposed length of control line is subject to all stress factors. This has been avoided by using many splices in the line (i.e., no real feed-throughs, just breaks and splices at devices). There has been, however, no practical solution to the problem.

Disclosed herein is a control line protector including a matrix having at least one bumper and at least one receptacle.
Further disclosed herein is a method for protecting a bare control line by positioning a protector having a matrix at least one bumper and at least one receptacle configured to accept the control line.

Referring now to the drawings wherein like elements are numbered alike in the several figures:
Figure 1 is a cross-sectional representation of a first embodiment of a retrofit protector;
Figure 2 is a cross-sectional representation of a second embodiment of a retrofit protector;
Figure 3 A is a cross-sectional representation of a third embodiment of a retrofit protector;
Figure 3B is an elevation view of the protector of Figure 3 A;
Figures 3C-3F are alternate elevation view like 3B but with distinct constructions of the protector;
Figure 4 is a cross-sectional representation of a fourth embodiment of a retrofit protector; and
Figure 5 is a cross-sectional representation of a fifth embodiment of a retrofit protector.

Referring to Figure 1, a first embodiment of a retrofit protector is illustrated. The protector 10 comprises a matrix 12, at least one bumper 14 and at least one receptacle 16. The matrix comprises a material capable of being formed to a configuration substantially as shown and holding that shape. In addition the matrix comprises a material that is resistant to vibration, abrasion, erosion, chemicals and mechanical compression or tension. In one embodiment the material is polymeric. Bumper(s) 14 comprise any relatively strong material having both tensile and compression resistant characteristics such as steel cable. Since flexibility is also desirable, stranded cable may be indicated for some embodiments. In each of the embodiments illustrated the matrix and bumpers are similar but the receptacle 16 is distinct.
Still referring to Figure 1, receptacle 16a is configured to extend into a control area 20 of matrix 12 from one side 22 of protector 10. In this particular embodiment receptacle opening 24 is of a dimension smaller than a control line (not shown) to be housed in receptacle 16a to a degree calculated to provide retention of the control line in receptacle 16a while taking into account deformability of matrix 12 such that a control line is "snappable" into receptacle 16a by hand or by suitable equipment, depending upon application. For example only, one embodiment employees a receptacle bore 26 of about 6 1/2 millimeters whereas the receptacle opening 24a is about 4 millimeters wide. It should be noted that in this and some of the
embodiments discussed below, that receptacle 16a is offset from a centerline of the protector 10 in the longer direction depicted. This position reduces insertion force of the control line and increases protection of the control line by enhancing crush resistance particularly from crushing against a casing or open bore wall of a wellbore in which the protector is run.
In a second embodiment, referring to Figure 2, receptacle opening 24b is provided with an angle to ease installation of a control line. The angle is of about 5° to about 25° and reduces the force required to insert the control line into receptacle 16b, while still requiring passage through a smaller dimension area calculated to retain the control line. Depending upon the type of control line being inserted, this system may be helpful in that it will tend to be more gentle on the control line.
A third embodiment is illustrated in Figure 3. This embodiment provides closure of the receptacle opening discussed in the previous embodiments. The embodiment of Figure 3 includes a living hinge 30 on surface 32. Surface 32 as illustrated is shown continuous. This is because receptacle opening 24c is configured to overlap itself when the protector 10 is in the closed position. In order to insert a control line in protector 10, protector 10 is bent such that surface 32 becomes N-shape to open receptacle opening 24c, thus allowing a control line to be installed into receptacle bore 26. Protector 10 is then bent back to straighten surface 32, and close receptacle opening 24c around the control line. In such configuration the control line is well protected 360° around the line. To illustrate the receptacle opening 24c, Figure 3B is provided which is taken on line 3B-3B in Figure 3A. Alternate overlapping structures visible on the 3B view are illustrated in Figures 3C-3F.
Referring to Figure 4, another embodiment of protector 10 is illustrated. In this embodiment receptacle 16d is simply U-shaped and cut into surface 22. In this embodiment the retention of the control line may be provided by an adherent such as a thermo fixed glue or an epoxy formulation or other glue applied to the receptacle before or after installation of the control line. Alternatively a polymer or other type of stick tape is similarly employable. It is also contemplated that mechanical
compression against the control line occasioned by the protector 10 being clamped to a tubular with the receptacle opening toward the tubular and the clamp positioned perimetrically around both to clamp the protector to the tubular. Due to the curved outside surface of the tubular, the protector is urged into an arcuate condition when considered in cross-section. Because of the arcuate condition the sides of the receptacle opening are urged toward each other effectively pinching the control line in place. It will also be appreciated that each of the foregoing methods for retention may be combined in whole or in part.
Finally, referring to Figure 5, a receptacle 16e is fully enclosed to both of side 22 and side 32 of protector 10. In this embodiment, bore 26e is in fact a closed bore through the center area of a matrix 12. In this embodiment the control line 26 is fed through receptacle bore 26e from one end.
In each of the embodiments illustrated herein a control line, which by prior art means would have to be left exposed in the wellbore, or could be protected by an excess number of splices can be effectively protected without the drawbacks inherent in the prior art.
While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, various modifications and substitutions may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the present invention has been described by way of illustration and not limitation.