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[0001] The field of this invention is a seal or anchor assembly that can be inserted into a downhole seal bore and seal or anchor a tubing string to the bore as a result of expansion.


[0002] Seal bores have been in use to allow a string to be lowered downhole and secured and sealed. Typically, a packer or plug has a polished bore in it to act as the receptacle for the lower end of a string run into the well from the surface after the packer or plug is set. At the lower end of the string is what is known as a tieback seal assembly. This assembly comprised a male component to go into the female seal bore. There is a single or multiple grooves on the male component to hold a seal. The seal can be an o-ring or a stack of chevron shaped rings. Regardless of the nature of the seal material used, there is an interference fit between the seal material and the surrounding bore to energize the seal material in the seal bore. Frequently, the seal bore is polished to minimize damage to the seal assembly during the insertion process. At times, guides or centralizers are used to assist in the alignment of the male component with the seal into the seal bore. One such device is illustrated in U.S. Patent 5,330,001. Other art, such as U.S. Patents 6,098,717 and 6,446,724 illustrate expanding one tubular into another.

[0003] Typically, the seal or seals are placed in a groove in the tieback assembly male component. The removal of metal that is necessary to form the groove or grooves for holding the seal or seals takes away a portion of the wall and reduces the pressure rating of the connection. What is needed and has not previously been provided is a connection that removes this pressure rating reduction due to the presence of the groove or grooves to hold a seal or seals. The present invention addresses this need by providing a tieback assembly where wall portions are not removed to provide a mounting location for a seal or seals. Instead, the concept of expansion in place is used. Where a seal is actually used, it can be in the form of an exterior coating that gets forced into contact with the seal bore receptacle as a result of expansion. Sealing or anchoring with metal-to-metal contact without the use of resilient seals is contemplated using the expansion technique. These and other advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to those skilled in the art from a review of the description of the preferred embodiment and the claims, which appear below.


[0004] A tie back assembly that uses expansion for connection and sealing is disclosed. The male component does not have any wall portions removed to hold a resilient seal. A seal is an option as anchoring and sealing can be accomplished by the expansion alone. The pressure rating of the connection is not reduced by material removed to accommodate a seal. A variety of expansion techniques can be used and the expansion can be done in a single trip with the insertion of the tie back assembly into the receptacle or in a separate trip. Grip enhancing features are possible as is a temporary seal to give a surface signal that the connection is made prior to expansion. The tieback an be movably secured to the liner top to allow pulling out the seals without disconnection of the joint to permit cement delivery into the joint prior to reinsertion of the seals before the cement sets.


[0005] Figure 1 is a section view of the joint with the tie back inserted into the receptacle and prior to expansion;

[0006] Figure 2 is the view of Figure 1 after expansion of the tie back;

[0007] Figure 3 is a run in view showing one form of grip enhancement;

[0008] Figure 4 is the view of Figure 3 in the expanded position;

[0009] Figure 5 shows a thread form of a grip enhancer;

[0010] Figure 6 shows a surface roughness form of a grip enhancer;

[0011] Figure 7 shows an alternative embodiment illustrating the use of a temporary seal, in the run in position;

[0012] Figure 8 is the view of Figure 7 in the expanded position;

[0013] Figure 9 is an alternative embodiment showing seals that engage on insertion and a retainer activated by an expansion tool, in the run in position;

[0014] Figure 10 is the view of Figure 9 with the retainer engaged in the groove after expansion; and

[0015] Figure 11 is the view of Figure 10 with the seals pulled out and a port exposed for cement passage, while the retainer still holds the connection together.


[0016] Referring to Figure 1, a liner top or other body 10 has a receptacle 12. The receptacle 12 may be polished. A tie back 14 is located at the lower end of a tubing string 16. The outside diameter 18 of the tie back 14 before expansion is less than the inside diameter 20 of the receptacle 12. This dimensional relationship allows for easy insertion of the tie back 14 into the receptacle 12. One or more seals, shown schematically as 22 are secured to the outside diameter as an option. The seal 22 can alternatively be secured to the receptacle 12. The wall thickness 24 is not reduced to apply the seal 22. The wall thickness 24 may be initially oversized for the intended pressure rating to compensate for any thinning of the wall during the expansion process. Alternatively, the seal 22 can be omitted and sealing contact between surfaces 26 and 28 can occur through expansion tool 30, which is show schematically in Figure 1. The wall thickness 24 may be constant. However, even the use of a seal 22 will not require a wall thickness reduction for such items as recesses or grooves that could decrease the pressure rating of the finished connection. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a variety of known swage assemblies can be used. The expansion tool 30 can be delivered with the tubing 16 and the expansion initiated when the tie back 14 is inserted into the receptacle 12. Alternatively, the expansion tool can be delivered in a separate trip, through tubing 16.

[0017] As shown in Figure 2, after expansion the seal 22, if used, is compressed between surfaces 26 and 28. The inside diameter 32 of the tie back 14 is at least equal to or greater than the diameter 34 immediately adjacent the receptacle 12. With the tubing 16 secured to the body 10, the expansion tool 30 can now be withdrawn through the tubing 16.

[0018] Referring to Figure 3, the tieback 14 or the body 10 can further include a profile 36 designed to penetrate the opposing member at expansion. The penetration is shown in Figure 4. The profile 36 can be a series of parallel rings, a thread, a regular or irregular pattern of projections and/or depressions. Is can be on either member or on both and if on both the projection 36 on each member could be aligned or misaligned. As shown in Figure 5, a thread 38 can be added to either body, although shown on the tieback 14. A ring, either whole or split or segments banded together 40 can be secured to thread 38. Alternatively, as shown in Figure 6, a surface roughness 42 can be created preferably of randomly positioned carbide particles or equivalent hard material that will preferably penetrate the opposing body in expansion. The roughened surface can be on either body or both and if on both, the sections treated can be in alignment or can be misaligned. Similarly, the threaded ring 40 option shown in Figure 5 can be on one body or both, although it is preferred to put it on the tieback 14 so as to avoid removing material from body 10. If the threaded ring 40 is on both bodies its placement can be aligned or misaligned.

[0019] Referring now to Figure 7, a temporary seal 44 is installed on tieback 14. This seal makes contact with the receptacle 12 during run-in. Its purpose is to allow a surface signal that the connection is made. It doesn't have to hold pressure perfectly and it is possible that it may be extruded out as a result of expansion, shown in Figure 8. Once the tieback 14 is in the receptacle 12 the surface personnel can build pressure and know the connection is made by seeing a pressure buildup at the surface. It should be noted that the seals 22 shown in Figure 1 will not make receptacle 12 contact when the tieback is inserted. Seal 44 can be used with or without seals 22.As shown in Figure 8, the expansion alone can result in the seal even if the temporary seal 44 is squeezed out during expansion.

[0020] Turning now to Figures 9-11, the tieback 14, comprises on or more seals 46, although four are shown. These seals engage the receptacle 12 upon insertion. Many operators like to pump cement into the receptacle 12 after initially inserting the tieback 14 and then temporarily pulling it out. The problem that occurs when the cold cement is pumped into the receptacle 12 the tieback 14 shrinks in length to the point that the connection can come completely apart. Ideally, the operator only wants to get the seals 46 out of the receptacle 12 when the cement is pumped but not any further. The contraction due to the cement pumping made the connection come further apart than was desirable, so that re-insertion of the tieback 14 into the receptacle 12 could create a problem. Timing was important during this procedure because the cement was setting up. To solve this problem the body 10 is provided with a recess 48. The tieback 14 has an inwardly oriented projection 50 preferably near its lower end 52. When the expansion tool 54 is advanced past projection 50 it reverses the orientation of projection 50 so that it looks away from the central axis 56 and into recess 48. A port 56 is provided in tieback 14. As shown in Figure 11, the tieback 14 can be pulled up until projection 50 catches in an end of recess 48. In that position, port or ports 56 are exposed for cement flow and the seals 46 are out of the receptacle 12. However, the connection is not fully apart and can't come apart even due to shrinkage from the flowing cold cement. Instead, a tensile stress develops in the tieback 14 that is resisted by projection 50 engaging the recess 48. After the cement is pumped and before it sets, weight is set down on the tieback 14 to reinsert the seals 46.

[0021] The foregoing disclosure and description of the invention are illustrative and explanatory thereof, and various changes in the size, shape and materials, as well as in the details of the illustrated construction, may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.