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Last Updated Sunday, 04 November 2012 17:49
Subsurface safety valves (SSSVs) are installed in the wellbore of hydrocarbon producing wells to shut off the production flow to the surface in case of an emergency. The importance of the correct installation of these valves to ensure well production flow is shut in during an emergency can not be over emphasised.
Improvements in valve design and reliability are of no avail if the valves are not correctly locked in the landing nipples (wire line run) and correctly function tested once installed. This article reviews the installation and testing procedures in order to prevent failure of the SSSV to operate as required. Reference should also be made to AP1 RP 14 B, Recommended practice for design, installation and operation of SSSV systems.
1. Workshop testing/assembly
Following complete redressing and servicing of surface controlled sub-surface safety valves (SCSSVs) in dedicated workshops, the following test/checks should be carried out: 1. Cycle the valve 4 or 5 times by alternately pressurising and depressurising the valve through the hydraulic inlet port. Observe the closure time and compare the opening pressure with the manufacturer's specifications. 2. Pressurise the control line port to the maximum test pressure. 3. Check in each case that the valve moves to the fully open position when it is operated into the open position. 4. Pressure test (to test pressure rating of valve) the SCSSV from below, after installation in a test fixture/landing nipple. 5. Pressure test should be conducted with hydraulic fluid rather than water to avoid corrosion during storage/transport. 6. SCSSV should be stored vertically to avoid flattening of seals (on low side) which may occur if stored horizontally. 7. The SCSSV should be made up, preferably in a dedicated well services workshop into a sub-assembly prior to the well completion operation in order to facilitate rig handling. End caps should be fitted, control line exit/entry ports plugged-off and sub-assemblies filled with hydraulic oil before despatch to the rig site.
The recommended procedure for preparation of sub-assemblies is as follows: - ·Physically check all tubing accessories, clean threads with solvent, thoroughly dry
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·Functionally test all items of equipment with moving parts. . . 2. A primary pressure holding period of not less than three minutes.·Ensure that two sets of each sub-assembly are available for back-up purposes. . with the appropriate API tubing drift.·Accurately measure each sub-assembly and note: 2 / 16 . and not just the pressure gauge. from box end to pin end. depending on equipment criticality.·Carry out an API pressure test in each sub-assembly to the required pressure. Separate drift runs should be made-down to and through no-go nipples. . open and close sliding sleeves. the compound should be applied sparingly to pin ends only: after make up any excess needs to be cleaned off before it dries.·Make-up sub-assemblies as specified in vendor literature. 04 November 2012 17:49 threads and inspect for damage. e. to ensure that minute leaks do not go undetected. as these can be squeezed during make up. paying particular attention to items with moving parts (sleeves).Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. The test pressure should be equal to the maximum allowable pressure of the weakest link. A secondary pressure holing period or not less than three minutes.·Drift all sub-assemblies.g. Observation during the test should include every connection. The most important thing is to check for external leaks of connection and swivels. Connections made-up with pipe locking compound should not be drifted until the compound has hardened. A reduction of the pressure to zero. Ensure that the correct thread compound is used and the correct make up torques are adhered to. thereby preventing/restricting movement. Where it is specified that joints should be made up with pipe locking compound (those below packer). 3. . . The test consists of three parts: 1.
The sub-assemblies including SCSSV should preferably be made up at the base workshop.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. In addition the type of lock mandrel etc. -the position of such items as sliding sleeves. It is recommended that accurate drawings are made of each sub-assembly for retention in the well files.·Replace cleaned pin and box end protectors. Special care is required for CRA materials. . number each valve so that its exact location in the string is known. If damage is excessive. . Dress out any damage.·Examine assemblies for tong damage. using files. 2. 04 November 2012 17:49 -the measurement. .·Should the tubing/sub-assemblies have been internally coated with such compounds as Corban or Petrolite a check should be made for excessively thick deposits which could cause wireline problems later. Installation of SCSSV The procedures for installation of the valve will differ whether a tubing or wireline retrievable valve as discussed below. -the serial numbers of the accessories. a new sub-assembly should be made-up. -for gas lift valves and dummies.·All tubing and sub-assemblies should be box up/pin down unless specified otherwise. In all cases the control line for SCSSVs will need to be run with the completion tubing. will determine specific requirements which need to be referenced in vendor or company specific manuals/documents. . as 3 / 16 .
Generally. 04 November 2012 17:49 discussed above. . .e.·Install at surface a hold open tool (HOT) to hold the TR-SCSSV in the open position throughout the completion operation (flow-tube activated type). on site it is recommended to re-perform the majority of the above checks.·TR-SCSSVs should not be used us a safety barrier when safeguarding a well for workover operations. (This precludes pressurising the tubing. Re-opening problems are particularly associated with ball-type valves due to the fact that the valve is designed for the ball to move down initially prior to rotating to the open position. However. the exact pressure during these operations is not known which further complicates the re-opening operation. Normally. As proper testing facilities are not usually available on-site.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. appreciate safety precautions need to be ensured.1 Tubing Retrievable (TR-) SCSSVs . . 2. A further limiting factor is the working pressure of the control line. In an unperforated or a well with a plugged tailpipe the fluid must be pressurised by this downward movement to permit valve re-opening.·Function test and pressure test the TR-SCSSV at surface prior to running the completion. Reference should be made to API spec 4A Appendix F which describes the recommended procedure for field pressure testing. However. unless a HOT is used. during running-in of the completion string. trapped pressure between a tailpipe plug and TR-SCSSV.·Do not conduct a pressure test on a "TR"-type valve unless the pressure below the valve can be monitored at surface. The SCSSV is a device for safeguarding wells in emergency situations and should be used in this context only. The re-opening operation is even more complicated when pressure exists below the closed TR-SCSSV i. Barriers in the form of positive shut-offs plugs should be used.·If a TR-SCSSV closure results during well completion/workover operations. the control line is pressurised to monitor its integrity. closing the TR valve and bleeding-off the pressure from above). the manufacturers' re-opening procedures should be strictly followed: A typical re-opening instruction of an Otis 'DLS' TR-SCSSV valve is given below to illustrate such as procedure. . the control line must be depressurised at a given moment in order to install the Xmas tree at which stage the TR-SCSSV will close. 4 / 16 .
Apply control line pressure to re-open the valve. 3. resulting in an even higher. 4. Care should also be exercised so as not to exceed the Xmas tree rating. 2. care should be taken not to run/jar into a closed valve. Control line pressure must not exceed 4000 psi above tubing pressure and/or 2000 psi above the working pressure of the valve.2 Wireline retrievable (WL-) SCSSVs Prior to installation in the well the following checks should be made: Cycle the valve using a hydraulic hand pump connected to the hydraulic inlet port. 2. (If the well is plugged below the TR-SCSSV indication of pump-through may not be noticeable. 5. A wireline run may be conducted to ensure the valve is open.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. pressure below the valve). The pressure rating of the control line may be the limiting factor during this re-opening operation.187 in. the use of a small capacity pump and continuous recorder is considered mandatory. diameter).38 in. 04 November 2012 17:49 Re-opening an otis type DLS with pressure below the valve 1. Note that the mandrel lock pin dimensions are critical.·Do not use TR-SCSSVs as a barrier when tubing is plugged below. due to the small overall dimensions (0.·Always use HOT during completion workover when using TR-SCSSVs. Any undersized or rounded-off lock pin shoulders could prevent locking of the fishing neck to the packing mandrel. Due to the importance of recognising WHEN the valve is pumped off-seat. 5 / 16 . Check that the valve fully opens and closes. In general the following points should be considered . long ´ 0. . Ensure that the mandrel and SCSSV packing stacks are undamaged and not bunched. Pressure up the tubing string until there is an indication that the valve is being pumped-through. Check the dimensions and condition of the mandrel lock pin carefully.
Ensure that the broken-out upper lubricator is lowered adjacent to the made-up position of the lower lubricator section. Tighten the prong firmly to the core of the running tool. Check that the hydraulic system in the valve is completely fluid filled. However.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. requires an additional wireline run to retrieve the prong. the prong prevents the ball or flapper from closing and makes retrieval of the SCSSV a standard operation. This practice is not recommended by some manufactures and could lead to damage of the valve. 6 / 16 . Running WR SCSSV 1. Bleed off the hydraulic pressure slowly so that the valve contacts the prong gently. water) and is free of solids. Ensure that the indicator snapring is in the correct position. thus preventing damage to both prong and valve. furthermore check that this fluid is uncontaminated with other fluids (e. before making this zero adjustment on the depth indicator. secured to the Xmas tree.Set zero on the depth indicator accurately so that the no-go or locator keys on the SCSSV are opposite the zero reference point on the wellhead. this type of prong could prove useful during the retrieval of SCSSVs. Install a running tool on the SCSSV as per vendor procedures after applying hydraulic pressure to the SCSSV hydraulic inlet port to open the valve before insertion of the running prong. this.g. Some Operating Companies choose to run the SCSSV with the prong detached from the running tool. but this has the advantage that should a misrun occur with the SCSSV not being properly installed in the landing nipple. 04 November 2012 17:49 Check the alignment of the lock pin with the slot in the 'expander sleeve' to ensure that the fishing neck will be locked when the mandrel is completely closed. resulting in no hydraulic control of the safety valve. Ensure that the hydraulic control fluid using during workshop/surface testing is identical to that used in sub-surface operations. of course.
followed by a 200 lb* overpull.Jar up lightly by hand two or three times. The distance from when the inlet hydraulic port is straddled by the packing sets to the SCSSV hold-up depth is known.Normally an SCSSV installation run is preceded by a recovery run. Continue jarring down gently until this known distance has been traversed by the SCSSV assembly. until a pressure increase is observed on the control line manifold. 04 November 2012 17:49 2. It is therefore recommended to accurately record the wireline depth of the SCSSV before its removal from the well. 7 / 16 .Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. 3. Jar down gently.Check the hanging weight of the tool string some 5 to 10 ft above the SCSSV landing nipple. 7.Flush the control line with the correct hydraulic fluid during running-in operations. 9. higher overpulls are recommended if the wire size and strength permit.) 8. 6.Jar down to shear the top shear pin and lock the SCSSV assembly in the landing nipple. 4. 200 lb* overpull (*minimum value.Jar up to release the running tool from the SCSSV assembly. Stop pumping. continue pumping control line fluid and lower the SCSSV assembly into the nipple. mark the wireline at surface with a suitable marker.Pump the control line to working pressure. 5.Apply tension to the wireline. shut off the air supply to the pump and observe for pressure integrity of the control line. by hand if required. Check the distance required to accomplish full locking using the wireline marker as a reference point.
8 / 16 . allowing sufficient time for stabilisation of the flow (stable tubing head pressure/temperature) before conducting the SCSSV closure test under flowing conditions. 3 Sub surface testing of the SCSSV 3.Depressurise the tubing above the SCSSV in four or five stages to zero or a predetermined pressure and observe for pressure integrity of the valve according to API RP 14 B (refer Section 13). Note the time elapsed after triggering the control line pressure until a reduction in tubing head pressure is observed (Valve closure time).Close the SCSSV by depressurising the control line. note the time required for returns to cease and record the time on the SCSSV record chart. 3. 4.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday.Bring the well into production. During each stage check for leaks.Equalise the pressure across the closed valve.1 Directly following SCSSV installation Following SCSSV installation 1. Check the indicating lock feature. and re-open the SCSSV by hydraulically pressurising the control line. 2. preferably using pressure from another well.Recover the wireline tool string. It is important to conduct this slam closure test under strictly controlled conditions. snap ring and shear pin for full locking of the mandrel.Bleed off the control line pressure to zero. taking care not to set down the tool string during the recovery operation. 04 November 2012 17:49 10. Record this information. Also note the volume of returns from the control lone. 5.
Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. the interval of time between tests should be reviewed periodically. 04 November 2012 17:49 6.Re-open the valve after equalisation and observe the hydraulic pressure required to achieve this. Obviously a valve should be cycled from time to time in order to avoid 'freezing' of the valve in the open position. Once the Frequency of testing of SCSSVs has been established for a particular field/well. The use of a pressure recorder will greatly assist during pressurising or equalisation and its use is therefore strongly recommended. (i. close-in the wellhead flow-wing valve and observe for SCSSV integrity according to API RP 14 B. which is the mode in which the valve is normally maintained when installed downhole. Legislation may influence the frequency of in-situ testing. 7.When the tubing head pressure has decreased to a predetermined pressure. pressure required to initiate valve opening and that required to operate the valve from closed to open position). is required. wax formation.Note the control line operating pressure under flowing conditions.) which could adversely affect valve performance.1 General The frequency of the routine testing of the SCSSV is based on valve performance in each operating area. 8. Recommended routine test procedure 9 / 16 .2 Routine testing of the SCSSV 3. Comparison of the data received will assist in determining the condition of the valve and estimation of the optimum period of time before valve reservicing. This fact should be borne in mind when establishing the interval of time between tests. in the case of the WL-SCSSV. 3.e. Generally a valve in a new field will be tested more frequently than in an established area or field where a reliable valve performance indication has been established over the years. This test frequency review is considered necessary due to changing well conditions (increase in water cut.2. etc. change in gas composition.
2 Record the test data The following data should be accurately measured and recorded during routine SCSSV testing: 1. 3. 04 November 2012 17:49 1. 2. 4. 2. Test procedure according to API RP 14B. (Thermal effects could increase the control line pressure considerably).Minimum control line pressure . 3. SCSSV shut (well closed-in on flow-wing). The maximum pressure build-up allowed during SCSSV tests.Pressure test data. 3.well flowing.2. should be calculated according to the formula published in API RP 14B. both on installation and routinely. These calculations 10 / 16 .Conduct a pressure test across the shut SCSSV by bleeding off the pressure above the valve to zero.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday.Depressurise the control line pressure. Check the control line pressure and adjust it.Control line pressure to re-open the SCSSV after equalisation.Re-open the SCSSV after equalisation. preferably by pressurising with another well and return the well to production.After return of the well to production and stable conditions have been established record accurately the tubing head pressure and flow rate.Close in the well using the flow-wing valve. if required. 4.
In general the fluids used in hydraulic systems consist of a base fluid plus additives to obtain the required characteristics. the acception being for deep well requirements.3 Hydraulic fluids Fluids that are commonly used in hydraulic systems can be classified in the following groups: ·water or water-based fluids.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. ·mineral oils. 11 / 16 . The following fluid characteristics require specific consideration when selecting a hydraulic fluid for SCSSV operation: ·fluid viscosity. The control line fluid selected must be stable under all well conditions including temperature and pressure changes. ·synthetic oils. and compatible with the elastomers and metal with which the control line fluid will be in contact. ·corrosion inhibiting characteristic. The use of water-based or water-diluted hydraulic fluids are not generally recommended. 04 November 2012 17:49 should be calculated prior to commencing the work and included in the work program on an individual well basis. 3.
·fluid filterability and cleanliness. it also. 2. the effectiveness of these additives in the long term will depend on conditions and precautionary measures such as: -fluid de-aeration. a highly viscous fluid could slow down the response time to an unacceptable level. 1. inhibitors are normally added to the hydraulic fluids.Fluid viscosity: Viscosity is an important parameter since it influences the pressure loss in the conduits and consequently also the system response.Corrosion inhibiting characteristics: Corrosion can occur internally in the hydraulic system due to the presence of oxygen in the hydraulic fluid and in the air on top of the fluid in the storage tank.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. To combat internal corrosion. -surface wetting characteristics. affects the lubricating properties of the fluid required for the moving parts in the valves and actuators. 04 November 2012 17:49 ·biological growth inhibiting characteristic. -material compatibility with the corrosion inhibitor. to a certain extent. ·long-term fluid stability. ·fluid-seal compatibility. 12 / 16 . Especially in deep wells.
The filter size must be adapted to the fluid flow rate. 13 / 16 . Fluorelastomer (Viton) and silicon rubber seal materials are not affected by the fluids irrespective of temperature and fluid type. as well as the pump discharge. fluid filters are used in the system.Long-term fluid stability: Sub-sea systems may operate over extended time periods with little or no flushing of the hydraulic fluid taking place. Polytetrafluorethylene (Teflon. The distribution is determined either by optical means (counting particles on a standardised filter using a microscope) or by an automatic particle counter. Components in the hydraulic system that will generate contamination (or particles) include the hydraulic pump unit. 4.Biological growth inhibiting characteristics: Mineral oils and the water-soluble fluids may deteriorate due to biological growth. the fluid cleanliness can be maintained. the allowable number of particles in the fluid and the expected interval between filter element changes When filters with fine mesh sizes are required to meet the fluid cleanliness the selected fluid should not contain additives that will be filtered out. elastomer seals (static and dynamic) are exposed to the hydraulic fluid in the system. Fluor). these bactericides will generally be selected for types or growth that may be expected in the application for the hydraulic fluids. 5 microns in 100 of fluid. Consequently the fluid stability is of paramount importance. 04 November 2012 17:49 3. at the system fluid return line and at the storage vessel aeration opening. To prevent this. To obtain the required stability the hydraulic fluid will contain additives like anti-oxidants and emulsifiers. bactericide dopes are added to these fluids.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. A convenient method is to count the number of particles greater than e. 5. By fitting filters at the pump suction.g. the final control element and the fluid storage vessel.Fluid filterability and cleanliness: To meet the fluid cleanliness requirements. Synthetic or mineral fluid filterability may change considerably when contaminated with water or sea water.Seal material compatibility: In the hydraulic components. Fluid cleanliness is expressed by the particle size distribution of a fluid sample (typically 100 ml). 6.
14 / 16 . the actuation speed is an important parameter. 04 November 2012 17:49 3. It is recommended that detailed flushing and filling procedures are incorporated at the system design phase. ·the diameter and volumetric expansion of the interconnecting conduits. When filling the system with hydraulic fluid. ·the fluid viscosity. Care should be taken that this fluid is compatible with the materials applied in the system and with the fluid that will ultimately be used in the system. this speed determined by: ·the fluid volume. The presence of even small quantities of water can initiate corrosion.4 System flushing To be able to obtain the fluid cleanliness with the fluid in the system. In a dusty/sandy environment the fluid should be filtered into the equipment tank and every precaution taken to preclude entry of dirt into the tank. Containers for hydraulic fluid should be kept sealed until required for use. as some fluids are hydroscopic by nature and will absorb moisture from the atmosphere. filters must be used on the filling connections to make sure that the fluid is of the correct cleanliness. ·the system's fluid supply capacity.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. especially in very humid conditions. ·the distance between the actuator and power source.5 System response For the hydraulic system specification. generally the system tubing and all hydraulic components in the system have to be flushed clean using a flushing fluid. 3.
Prior to running the control line in a completion.1 Installation instructions Swagelok tube fittings come completely assembled. the use of synthetic or mineral oils may not be practical due to their relatively high viscosity when compared to water-based fluids. stainless steel and copper-nickel based alloys. a nominal pressure should be maintained on the control line and it should be kept under tension. The control line should be securely clamped at each tubing connection to both protect the line and retain it against the tubing. following gives the correct procedure for make up of these connections. resulting in an excessively long response time. When deep setting hydraulically operated SCSSV. available in carbon steel. it should be thoroughly flushed with clean control fluid and pressure tested. finger-tight. The lines can be encapsulated in various jackets and supplied in dual form with/without a stress cable.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. Hydraulic tensioning machines are available to assist in running the control line. The mechanical strength of the reflected material needs to be appropriate for the conditions during installation. 04 November 2012 17:49 Of these. 4. 4 Control lines 1/4in OD continuous steel tubing is generally standard for control lines. Disassembly before use can result in dirt or foreign material entering the fitting causing leaks. They are ready for immediate use. Swagelok tube fittings are installed in three easy steps: 15 / 16 . only the viscosity is relevant when selecting the fluid. the other parameters are either fixed by the field lay-out or relevant to the selection of other system parts. During running. 'Swagelok' connections are commonly found to connect control lines. Control line or cable protectors that straddle the collar reduce the number of protectors required and give protection to the control line where they are most susceptible to damage.
It is not a necessary part of the Swagelok installation.2 Swagelok inspection gauge The Swagelok inspection gauge is a device to determine when most fittings have been properly tightened. 04 November 2012 17:49 Step 1: Insert the tube into the Swagelok tube fitting. 16 / 16 . (Watching the scribe mark.2). make one complete revolution and continue to the 9.5. 4. Step 3: While holding the fitting body steady with a back-up wrench or vice turn the nut one-and -one-quarter turns*.00 o'clock position. Ensure that the tubing rests firmly on the shoulder of the fitting and that the nut is finger-tight.00 o' clock position. *For 1/16in. Step 2: Before tightening the swagelok nut.Sub-surface safety valves (SSSV) Last Updated Sunday. By using the scribe mark. It is designed to assist personnel in checking an installation. 1/8in and 3/16in size tubing fittings. it indicates that the fitting has not been sufficiently tightened. If the gauge fits between the Swagelok nut and the body hex of the fitting. there will be no doubt that the fitting has been tightened the one-and-one-quarter turns* required for a proper installation). As a check on correct installation it is recommended that a Swagelok inspection gauge be used (Section 5. scribe the nut at the 6. only 3/4turn from finger-tight in necessary.
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