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OTC 5574

A New Approach to Completing a Previously Drilled Subsea Well


by J.E. Hed and R.B. Draper, Vetco Gray Inc.

Copyright 1987 Offshore Technology Conference

This paper was presented at the 19th Annual OTC in Houston, Texas, April 27-30 1987. The material is subject to correction by the author. Permission
to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words.

ABSTRACT
I
Offshore operators tie successful completed subsea with relatively simple
subsea exploratory wells into field plans adaptation bases landed over the exist-
when possible and have used a variety of ing guide base that include flowline
adaptation bases to complete the wells. connection and tree alignment provi-
The expense and complexity of these bases sions. Beyond diver depth, adaptation
led to redesign of the subsea wellhead/- bases are complex and expensive, some-
guidebase system to make completion less times requiring a tubing spool adapter.
expensive and easier. Equipment describ- This requires an additional wellhead
ed includes a universal 30" housing, connector and introduces a new set of
retrievable drilling guide structures, seals with consequent leak path poten-
and completion guide structures. Styles tial.
and procedures for diver/Remote Operated
Vehicle-assist, diverless guideline, and The second change is to include
diverless guidelineless installation are satellite subsea completions in field
reviewed. development plans. When drilling a
subsea well with completion a certainty,
In addition to achieving cost a flowline receptacle adaptation system
savings by reusing the retrievable can be incorporated in the drilling
drilling structures, two-stage guide guide base. However, the well is
structure systems described here allow usual.ly drilled 6 to 12 months in
custom design of the completion struc- advance of completion equipment manufac-
ture/flowline assembly after the field ture. Close manufacturing tolerances
development plan is finalized. and expensive test jigs are required to
insure fit-up of the completion tree
INTRODUCTION (Figure 1) and flowline receptacle. Adaptation
systems, whether for wells preplanned
Subsea wellhead systems have been for completion, or discovery wells, also
used for over 20 years for exploratory have the disadvantage of potential tree
and development drilling. Two recent landing problems if excess cement or
changes in operator's standard develop- other debris has collected around the
ment programs have required design permanent guide structure during drill-
changes in the wellhead system to make ing.
exploratory well drilling equipment
adaptable for subsea completion without For these reasons, new retrievable
large initial capital investment. drilling and completion guide bases were
designed to simplify completing subsea
The first change in common develop- wells, making the operation less expen-
ment programs has been to incorporate sive and more reliable. After drilling
successful discovery wells into field a well, the drilling base is retrieved,
development plans. In diver depths, leaving the 30" housing ready to receive
these wells have been historically a completion base. The universal 30"
housing provides a simple interface with
References and Illustrations at end of known manufacturing tolerances. The
paper. completion base is manufactured as a
2 A NEW APPROACH TO COMPLETING A PREVIOUSLY DRILLED SUBSEA WELL OTC 5574

part of the completion system, allowing


I new drilling structure has easy-to-
complete fit-up testing at the factory replace socket-mounted guide posts and
and on the rig installing the completion does not require orientation with the
equipment. 30" wellhead housing to line up cement
return ports. Cement returns are
Several types of retrievable drill- discharged to the mudline by an annular
ing and completion bases have been circulating channel.
designed allowing for diver/ROV assist
and diverless guideline and guidelineless The new guide structures are also
drilling and completion. These bases stronger and more flexible than the
include: previous design. Torsional strength of
o Diver-Assist (bolted) structure is increased to 140,000
o Diver/Remotely Operated Vehicle- ft-lbs. and axial pull on the posts is
Assist 400,000 lbs. each. Bending moment on
o Diverless Guideline the posts is limited to 67,000 ft-lbs.
o Diverless Guidelineless to prevent damage to BOP stack, wellhead
or tree. In the event posts are damag-
The key components of a retrievable ed, they are easily replaced with diver
drilling and completion guide structure or ROV assistance.
system are a retrievable drilling guide
structure with an attached expendable The diver-assist retrievable drill-
gimbal, a universal 30" wellhead housing ing guide structure and an expendable
with an external groove that receives a gimbal are run together as an assembly
completion guide structure, and associ- with the 30" wellhead housing. The
ated running and retrieving tools. upper center ring of the gimbal serves
as a landing shoulder for the 30"
UNIVERSAL 30" HOUSING (Figure 2) wellhead housing. A lockring at the top
of the retrievable drilling guide
The housing is compatible with both structure automatically locks the
the retrievable drilling and the comple- housing in place on the gimbal shoulder.
tion guide structures. It can be run The gimbal lands in the funnel-shaped
with a retrievable guide structure and landing ring on the temporary guidebase,
expendable gimbal assembly for explora- maintaining relative levelness with a
tory drilling, and left in place with a bottom slope of up to 5 O .
wellhead corrosion cap. A completion
guide structure locks to it for a subsea The diver-assist drilling guide
well completion. structure is retrieved by removing the
nuts, or cutting the two replaceable
The universal 30'' housing has studs holding the guide structure to the
washports that feed an annular circulat- gimbal. Wirelines are attached to the
ing channel in the guide structure for four lifting eyes, and the structure is
cement return discharge to the mudline. pulled to the surface, leaving the
This eliminates the need to orient its gimbal behind. This portion of the
position within a guide structure (to structure weighs 9,890 lbs.
align washports), and makes it easier to
run. Handling at sea is also expedited The feature of full retrievability
by elevator preparations on the housing of the structure and gimbal has been
(although pad eyes are still available). retained should the well have to be
plugged and abandoned. Normal plug and
An internal latch profile accepts abandon techniques are used in this
either the standard wellhead housing or a event.
high-capacity lockdown housing.
DIVER/REMOTELY OPERATED VEHICLE (ROV)-
DIVER-ASSIST RETRIEVABLE DRILLING GUIDE ASSIST RETRIEVABLE DRILLING GUIDE STRUC-
STRUCTURE (BOLTED) (Figure 3) TURE (COLLET-TYPE) (Figure 3)
The retrievable drilling guide Instead of stud and nut attachment,
structures are fabricated from heavy the expendable gimbal is attached to the
rectangular structural tubing. An ROV-assist retrievable drilling guide
expendable gimbal attached to the the structure by four collet-type mechanisms
drilling guide structure by studs and carried on the guide structure. In all
nuts. When the structure is to be other respects, including its replace-
retrieved, the studs can be removed by able guideposts, this drilling guide
divers. When the guide structure is structurelgimbal assembly is the same,
retrieved, the gimbal is left on the and is run the same with the universal
well. 30" wellhead housing, as the diver-
assist retrievable guide structure
During the guide structure design described in the preceding paragraphs.
process, additional structural and
operational improvements were made. The Each of the four attachment collets
is expanded into the gimbal by a spring- It is also run as an assembly with the
loaded center pin. Spring expansion universal 30" wellhead housing.
wedges the colletsl tapered fingers
against the gimbal base. A latch lifting However, lifting eyes and cables are
eye threaded to the top of each collet not used to release the collets. The
pln is used by the ROV to release the center pins of the four collet-type
gimbal from the retrievable guide struc- mechanisms that attach this guide struc-
ture. The ROV connects retrieving ture to the expendable gimbal are bolted
cable(s) to a harness connected to the to a latch ring that runs the full
four lifting eyes. The cables are pulled circumference of the structure. The
upward, the collet center pins compress guide structure retrieving tool's spring-
their springs, and the collet fingers loaded dogs snap under this latch ring to
collapse away from the gimbal, releasing release the expanded collets.
the retrievable guide structure from the
expendable gimbal. This part of the When the latch ring is pulled upward
retrievable guide structure weighs 10,120 by the tool, the collet center pins are
lbs. The collet attachments are actuated compressed and the collet fingers col-
by 2000 lbs. weight in addition to string lapse away from the gimbal, releasing the
weight to release the structure from the retrievable guide structure.
gimbal.
RETRIEVAL TOOL FOR DIVERLESS RETRIEVABLE
DIVER-ASSIST COMPLETION GUIDE STRUCTURE DRILLING GUIDE STRUCTURE (Figure 5)
(Figure 4)
This tool is run on drillpipe with
If an exploratory well becomes a softline or a utility guide frame. A
subsea completion candidate, a completion bumper sub or cable between the tool and
guide structure can be installed on the the drill string absorbs landing shock
30" wellhead housing that was run with and vessel motion. The tool's ribbed
the retrievable guide structure, and left body centralizes over the high pressure
behind after exploratory drilling. wellhead housing.
Completion structures are adaptable Four spring-loaded dogs on the tool
to a vertical stab flowline receptacle, a are depressed and snap under the circum-
flowline pull-in receptacle (lay-to), and ferential latch ring on the collet
a first-end trunnion (lay-away) flowline mechanisms attaching the retrievable
receptacle. The flowline receptacle is guide structure to the expendable gimbal.
positioned outside the BOP envelope and Upward pull on the latch ring compresses
provides structural support and anti- the collet latch center pins which
rotation to resist bending and torsional collapse away from the gimbal, releasing
forces during the flowline pull-in the retrievable guide structure. A back
operation. Once installed, the comple- taper on the circumferential latch ring
tion structure becomes integral to the and the individual spring-loaded dogs
universal 30" housing. Load forces are latch the retrieval tool to the drilling
transmitted by the tree to the high guide structure during retrieval. The
pressure housing then to the universal structure weighs 10,220 lbs. and the
30" housing. retrieving tool weighs 667 lbs. As with
the Diver/ROV assist retrievable guide
To install the completion structure, structure, the collet latches can be
guidelines are reestablished to the actuated with 2000 lbs. weight in
temporary guidebase by a diver, and the addition to string weight.
wellhead corrosion cap is removed. The
completion guide structure, run on a DIVERLESS COMPLETION GUIDE STRUCTURE
drillpipe J-type running tool, lands on (Figure 6)
the 30" wellhead housing. The external
profile of this housing has two orienta- The diverless completion guide
tion key slots to which the completion structure locks into the external groove
guide structure can be locked. Eight of the universal 30" wellhead housing
lock dogs on the guide structure are made that was left behind after exploratory
up by a diver with an impact wrench to drilling. A full lock dog connector in
preload the completion structure to the the base of the completion guide struc-
housing. ture is actuated by a cam ring in the
connector body to lock to the 30" housing
DIVERLESS RETRIEVABLE DRILLING GUIDE groove when the well is reentered.
STRUCTURE (COLLET TYPE) (Figure 5)
The hydraulic running & retrieving
The diverless retrievable drilling tool used for guiding and locking the
guide structure is the same, including completion structure initiates the
its replaceable guideposts, as the connector's cam ring movement after the
previously described diver-assist and guide structure lands on the wellhead
ROV-assist retrievable guide structures.
(Figure 7). A full four-arm guide frame The retrievable drilling GRA and
is used to guide and safely land the subbase with expendable gimbal in its
structure. A drill string bumper sub lower end are run as an assembly with the
absorbs landing shock and vessel motion. universal 36"/3OU housing. The subbase
locks permanently to the OD of the
A flowline crossover subassembly, 36"/30" housing, prior to running subsea.
part of the completion guide structure, A lock ring with anti-rotation keys lock
is run to make subsea production tree the subbase/gimbal on the 36"/30n well-
installation possible. The subassembly head housing OD, making a rigid connec-
is custom designed to accommodate requir- tion between the housing and subbase. At
ed tree interface, installation methods, the top of the subbase, four pin recep-
and flowline and control line sizes, tacles accept remote release collet
numbers, and termination assemblies. latches from the retrievable drilling
GRA. The collet latches are of the same
The flowline subassembly can be run type shown in Figure 5 and permit re-
with the completion guide structure or trieval of the GRA without diver or ROV
separately, and can be designed for assistance.
lay-away or lay-to flowline installation.
Figure 6 illustrates the flowline sub- The 36"/30n wellhead housing con-
assembly as integral to the base with tains a landing shoulder for the high
first-end, lay-away capability. pressure wellhead housing, a profile for
a cam-actuated running tool and an
DIVERLESS COMPLETION BASE CONNECTOR AND alignment key, and has two lock ring
RUNNING TOOL (Figure 7) grooves. The lower groove accepts the
subbase lock ring. The upper groove
The completion base connector is a accepts the completion GRA lock dogs.
simple, mechanical, cam-lock connector Two cement overflow ports in the 36"/30n
with windowed dogs to engage the univers- wellhead housing direct cement returns
al 30" housing OD profile. The cam ring away from the well. After the GRA is
has a self locking profile to preload the installed, drilling and BOP stack instal-
lock dogs and provide a field-proven lation is performed using standard
self-locking connector. The cam ring is guidelineless techniques.
connected to an actuator ring with
connecting rods to allow lock and unlock RUNNING AND RETRIEVING TOOL FOR DIVERLESS
of the connector via the hydraulically RETRIEVABLE DRILLING GUIDELINELESS
operated running tool. REENTRY ASSEMBLIES (Figure 8)
The hydraulic running tool has two The retrieval tool for the GRA is of
hydraulic functions. The first function the same design as the guideline diver-
locks the completion base connector to less retrievable drilling guide structure
the running tool. Latch lock cylinder (s) retrieval tool (Figure 5), with a guid-
extend to engage a latch lock ring into ance cone added. The tool is also
an ID profile on the completion base designed to be used with the corrosion
connector. The second function is to cap running and retrieving sub to guide
lock or unlock the cam-dogs of the the corrosion cap into the GRA. The
completion base connector. Actuator corrosion cap is run on a J-type running
cylinders on the tool extend and retract tool and installed on the wellhead prior
an actuator ring with latch dogs that to retrieval of the drilling GRA. It
lock into an OD groove profile on the will also be used to guide the completion
actuator ring of the completion base base when it is run. The corrosion cap
connector. Both hydraulic functions are has a latch dog mechanism to engage the
fail-safe in their operation, in that the cam grooves on the ID of the wellhead
completion base will not be totally housing that are engaged by rotating the
released unless the actuator cylinders running string to the right. The tool is
are extended and the latch lock cylinders released by left hand rotation. After
are retracted. the corrosion cap is installed and locked
in place, the drilling GRA is retrieved
DIVERLESS RETRIEVABLE DRILLING/GUIDELINE- by the tool.
LESS REENTRY ASSEMBLY (Figure 81
DIVERLESS COMPLETION/GUIDELINELESS
The key components of this drilling REENTRY ASSEMBLY (Figure 9 )
assembly are a retrievable drilling
guidelineless reentry assembly (GRA), a This structure provides a mounting
subbase/gimbal, and an externally grooved base for a subsea tree and is similar in
(to receive a completion guide structure) design to the drilling GRA described
universal 36Ia/3O'
I wellhead housing. (The previously. It is custom designed to
options of 36" or 30" conductor are accommodate required tree interface,
available.) The retrievable drilling GRA installation methods, and flowline and
system can be used with the 16-3/4" or control line sizes, numbers, and termina-
18-3/4" guidelineless drilling systems, tion assemblies.
The completion GRA locks into the
external grooves of the universal 36"/301'
housing and uses a similar connector and
running tool to that in Figure 6, with
the addition of a guidance cone. The
completion GRA is run on drillpipe and
landed over the wellhead housing and
corrosion cap using standard guideline-
less pin-up, funnel-down reentry techni-
ques. The base is oriented by key slots
in the subbase/gimbal and blocks (for
optional flowline termination location)
on the completion GRA. The completion
GRA funnel has a key for orientation of
the BOP stack and subsequent completion
equipment. The corrosion cap is retriev-
ed separately after the completion GRA is
installed.
DIVERLESS, GUIDELINELESS COMPLETION
SYSTEM OVERVIEW (Figure 10)
A guidelineless completion can
typically be installed using equipment
and techniques developed for use with the
new retrievable drilling and completion
guide base system.
CONCLUSION
Many of the concepts and much of the
equipment described here have been built
and tested for offshore use. The comple-
tion guide structure is planned for use
offshore Brazil in 1987. The universal
30" housing and diver assist retrievable
drilling guide structure are currently
considered standard drilling equipment.
The system offers great flexibility in
completion system design and installa-
tion, without excessive cost during the
exploratory drilling phase. Equipment
has been designed for all water depths
for installation with guideline or
guidelineless methods.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors wish to thank Candace
Dugan for her editorial assistance and
Bob Swain for assistance with the
illustrations.
TREE RUNNING

TREE PROTECT

- B.O.P. STACK

COMPLETION TREE

DRILLING
GUIDE STRUCTURE
RETRIEVAL TOOL

COMPLETION
GUIDE STRUCTU
RUNNING TOOL

TUBING HANGER

RETRIEVABLE DRILLING
GUIDE STRUCTURE

COMPLETION
GUIDE
STRUCTURE
W/FLOWLINE
TERMINATION

DRILLING SYSTEM COMPLETION SYSTEM

UNIVERSAL
3 0 " HOUSING

Fig. I-Drilling and completion guide structure system overview.

ANTI-ROTATION SLOT
FOR CAM-ACTUATED
30" HOUSING
WELLHEAD HOUSING RUNNING TOOL
LANDING SEAT

COMPLETION BASE
COMPLETION ANTI-ROTATION KEY
BASE SLOTS

3 0 " HOUSING
RUNNING PROFILE

ELEVATOR
LANDING
CEMENT RETURN PORTS
OPTIONAL 1"
OR 1-1/2' WAL

Fig. 2-Universal 30-in. housing.


REPLACEABLE
GUlDE POSTS
WlREMOTE
POST TOPS

TYPICAL
WELLHEAD
HOUSING

LOCK LIFTING E Y E S
\
.
uNlvERsALRING
COMPLETABLE STOP RlNG WlTH
30. HOUSING ORIENTATION KEY

REMOVABLE STUD -.- RETRIEVABLE D R I L L I N G


GUlDE STRUCTURE

RETAINER PIN

GIMBAL

r
I
30. CASING / \ 20. CASING

Fig. 4 - D i ~ e r - a ~ s i s tcompletion guide structure with running tool.


Fig. 3-Diver-assist retrievable drilling guide structure.

D R I L L PIPE
RUNNING STRING
SPRING LOADED DOGS /

OIVERLESS
REPLACEABLE RETRIEVABLE COMPLETION
GUlDE POSTS GUlDE
WlREMOTE STRUCTURE
POST TOPS RUNNING
TOOL
RETRIEVAL TOOL

LIFTING EYE
OPTIONAL COMPLETION
STOP RlNG WlTH DIVERLESS BASE
ORIENTATION KEY
CONNECTOR
TERMINATION
RETRIEVABLE
GUlDE COMPLETION
STRUCTURE GUlDE
STRUCTURE
RETAINER PIN
GIMBAL
STANDARD
TEMPORARY TEMPORARY
GUlDE BASE GUIDE B A S E

3 0 - CASING I \ 20. CASING

Fig. 5-Oiverleps retrievable drilling guide structure with retrieval tool. Fig. 6-Diverless completion guide structure with running tool.
GUIDE A R M S

RETRIEVAL T O O L FOR CORROSION C A P


GUIDELINELESS RUNNING SUB
REENTRY A S S E M B L Y
ACTUATOR CYLINDERS
LATCH (EXTENDED)
CYLlND
(RETRA

WELLHEAD HOUSING

UNIVERSAL
SO- H O U S I N G
TYPICAL

ACTUATOR RING
WELLHEAD
HOUSING , RETRIEVABLE
GUIDELINELESS
UNIVERSAL REENTRY ASSEMBLY
36'/3Ow HOUSING

SUB BASE/GIMBAL COLLET LATCHES

FOUNDATION B A S E
.TEMPORARY
GUIDE B A S E

Fig. 7-Completion base MnnsCtor a n d running tool. Fig. 8-Diverless retrievable drlllinglguidellnelsss reentry assembly w i t h retrieval tool.

DRILL PIPE RUNNINQ STRlNQ


WlCONTROL UMBILICAL TVPlCAL
QUIDELINELESS
PRODUCTION
TREE

RUNNINQ TOOL FOR


DIVERLESS COMPLETION
QUIDELINELESS
REENTRY ASSEMBLY
(SEE FIG. 61
OPTIONAL DIVERLESS CORROSION CAP
FLOWLINE TERMINATION
7

DIVERLESS
COMPLETION
GUIDELINELESS
REENTRY
LLHEAO HOUSING DIVERLESS ASSEMBLY

TYPICAL
WELLHEAD
HOUSINQ

OPTIONAL
FOUNDATION BASE
\ SUB-BASElQlMBAL

OPTIONAL
FOUNDATION UNIVERSAL
36'180' HOUSING

Fig. 9-Diverlees completionlguldelinelessreentry asaembly w i t h r u n n i n g tool.

Fig. 10-Diverless, guidalineless completion system ovewiew.