LARGE BORE ASSEMBLY AND SPHERICAL SWIVEL JOINT

A zipper stack is connected to a wellhead by way of a single straight-line pipe connection. A manifold assembly with high- and low-pressure lines feeding into one or more fluid lines with a large internal bore diameter supplies fracturing fluid to the zipper stack, which in turn supplies the fracturing fluid to the wellhead. A spherical swivel joint with multiple bearings may be used to the connect various piping and fluid lines disclosed herein.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/393,990, filed Sep. 13, 2016 and entitled Adjustable Fracturing System, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference for all intents and purposes.

BACKGROUND

Oil and gas exploration requires complex industrial equipment to be interconnected at a well site in a precise manner. Typically, a drilling rig or well head is connected to a pump of some type to drive drilling and mining operations. A particular site may have numerous wells that are drilled. To improve production at these sites, fluids may be pumped down these well holes to fracture subterranean layers and thereby free oil and natural gas. This process is commonly referred to as “hydraulic fracturing” or simply “fracking.” Hydraulic fracturing produces fractures in the rock formation that stimulate the flow of natural gas or oil, increasing the volumes that can be recovered. Fractures are created by pumping large quantities of fluids at high pressure down a wellbore and into the target rock formation.

Fracking requires specialized equipment to pump fluids, at varying pressures, to the holes. This is conventionally done by a “frac” pump supplying fluids (“frac fluids”) to the well head for selective delivery down the well hole. Frac fluids are conveyed from frac pumps to wellheads using interconnected mechanical networks of piping, commonly referred to in the industry as “flow iron.” In essence, the flow iron piping must provide flow paths for varying degrees of pressurized fracking fluids, such as sand, proppant, water, acids, or mixtures thereof. Fracking fluid commonly consists of water, proppant, and chemical additives that open and enlarge fractures within the rock formation. These fractures can extend several hundred feet away from the wellbore. The proppants—sand, ceramic pellets, acids, or other small incompressible particles—hold open the newly created fractures.

Once the injection process is completed, the internal pressure of the rock formation causes fluid to return to the surface through the wellbore. This fluid is known as both “flowback” and “produced water” and may contain the injected chemicals plus naturally occurring materials such as brines, metals, radionuclides, and hydrocarbons. The flowback and produced water is typically stored on site in tanks or pits before treatment, disposal or recycling. In many cases, it is injected underground for disposal, or it may be treated and reused or processed by a wastewater treatment facility and then discharged to surface water.

Connecting hydraulic pumps to wellheads and carrying flowback water from a site are complex operations. Frac pumps and flowback collectors are usually placed away from wellheads along outside terrain that is both subject to weather conditions and often at different non-uniform elevations. And frac iron piping typically needs to be rigid to convey the pressurized frac fluids, but the wellhead and frac pumps are usually at different elevations in undeveloped land. Maintaining tight, rigid connections between such complicated piping requires a substantial amount of set up time and can be difficult due to outside terrain varying in elevation. Moreover, outdoor weather presents other difficulties. Flow iron and wellhead equipment is typically exposed to nature, and heavy raining or snow can cause underlying land to sink, run-off, and otherwise move, thereby causing carefully positioned flow iron and wellhead equipment to move as well.

SUMMARY

The examples and embodiment disclosed herein are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings. The below Summary is provided to illustrate some examples disclosed herein, and is not meant to necessarily limit all systems, methods, or sequences of operation of the examples and embodiments disclosed herein.

Some aspects are directed to a spherical swivel joint with a first yoke comprising a first flange and defining a first fluid passage. A first bearing is coupled to the first yoke. The spherical swivel joint also includes a second yoke comprising a second flange and defining a second fluid passage, and a second bearing is coupled to the second yoke. The spherical swivel joint also includes a crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing. The crossover spool defines a third fluid passage that creates an aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage.

Some aspects deliver fracturing fluid to a wellhead through a zipper stack. A manifold assembly has at least one tubular member defining a fluid flow line for supplying the fracturing fluid to the zipper stack. The manifold assembly includes and a flow fitting as an outlet for the fracturing fluid to the zipper stack. A first spherical swivel joint is used to that includes a first yoke with a first flange connectable to the flow fitting of the manifold assembly, with the first yoke defining a first fluid passage for the fracturing fluid. The first spherical swivel joint includes a first bearing coupled to the first yoke, with the second yoke having a second flange, and the second yoke defining a second fluid passage for the fracturing fluid. The first spherical swivel joint also includes a second bearing coupled to the second yoke and a first crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing. The first crossover spool defines a third fluid passage that creates a first aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass from the manifold assembly to the zipper stack.

Some examples include a zipper stack coupled to a wellhead; and a spherical swivel joint comprising: a first yoke with a first flange connectable to the zipper stack, the first yoke defining a first fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a first bearing coupled to the first yoke, a second yoke with a second flange, the second yoke defining a second fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a second bearing coupled to the second yoke, and a crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing, the crossover spool defining a third fluid passage that creates an aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass to the zipper stack.

Other aspects, features, and advantages will become apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which are a part of this disclosure and which illustrate, by way of example, principles of the inventions disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a system for supplying fracturing fluid to a wellhead, according to one example.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a manifold assembly including a high-pressure manifold, a low-pressure manifold, and a skid, according to one example.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are top and side views, respectively, of a manifold assembly, according to one example.

FIGS. 5 and 6 are top and side views, respectively, of an instrument assembly, according to one example.

FIGS. 7 and 8 are top and side views, respectively, of an iron assembly, according to one example.

FIG. 9A is a cross-sectional view of a spherical swivel joint, according to one example.

FIG. 9B is a top view of a spherical swivel joint, according to one example.

FIG. 9C is a three-dimensional view of a spherical swivel joint, according to one example.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fracturing stack operably coupled to a wellhead, the fracturing stack including a pair of plug valves, according to one example.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a zipper module, according to one example.

FIGS. 12-16 are perspective views illustrating first, second, third, fourth, and fifth stages, respectively, for interconnecting two of zipper modules and operably coupling the zipper modules with fracturing stacks, according to one example.

FIGS. 17-19 are top, elevational, and side views, respectively, of the fifth stage for interconnecting two of the zipper modules of FIGS. 1 and 11, and operably coupling the zipper modules with fracturing stacks, according to one example.

FIG. 20 is an elevational view of a zipper module having a fluid conduit operably coupled to a swivel tee, according to one example.

FIG. 21 is an elevational view of a zipper module of FIG. 11, in which the fluid conduit of FIG. 20 is replaced with another fluid conduit to thereby change the overall height of the zipper module, according to one example.

FIG. 22 is an elevational view of a zipper module in which the fluid conduit of FIG. 20 and/or the another fluid conduit of FIG. 21 is replaced with yet another fluid conduit to thereby change the overall height of the zipper module, according to one example.

FIGS. 20-22 are elevational view of zipper module with a fluid conduit of the zipper module being replaced with another fluid conduit to increase the overall height thereof, according to one example.

FIGS. 23 and 24 are top and perspective views, respectively, of another embodiment of a zipper manifold having zipper modules each having upper and lower connection tees that are circumferentially offset from each other, according to one example.

FIGS. 25 and 26 are perspective and elevational views, respectively, of a fluid conduit for interconnecting zipper modules while accommodating a vertical misalignment therebetween, according to one example.

FIGS. 27 and 28 are perspective and elevational views, respectively, of another fluid conduit for interconnecting zipper modules while accommodating a vertical misalignment therebetween, according to one example.

FIGS. 29 and 30 are perspective and elevational views, respectively, of a fluid conduit for interconnecting zipper modules while accommodating a vertical misalignment therebetween, according to one example.

FIG. 31 is a perspective view of another fracturing stack having a pair of gate valves configured to be operably coupled to a wellhead, according to one example.

FIG. 32 is a perspective view of another a zipper module, the zipper module including a pair of gate valves, according to one example.

FIGS. 33-36 are perspective, top, elevational, and side views, respectively, of a stage for interconnecting two zipper modules and operably coupling two zipper modules with two fracturing stacks, according to one example.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of an example setup for hydraulic fracking of a subterranean layer for oil and gas extraction. A system generally referred to by the reference numeral 10 includes manifold assemblies 12a and 12b. The manifold assemblies 12a and 12b are in fluid communication with a blender 14, pumps 16a-1, and wellheads 18a-d. One or more fluid sources 20 are in fluid communication with the blender 14. The wellheads 18a-d are each located at the top or head of an oil and gas wellbore (not shown), which penetrates one or more subterranean formations (not shown), and are used in oil and gas exploration and production operations. The wellheads 18a-d are in fluid communication with the manifold assemblies 12a and 12b via, for example, zipper modules 22a-d, an iron assembly 24, and an instrument assembly 26.

The zipper modules 22a-d are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively, and are interconnected to form a zipper manifold 28 to which the iron assembly 24 is operably coupled. Thus, the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24 is operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the zipper manifold 28. And the instrument assembly 26 is operably coupled to both the iron assembly 24 and the manifold assemblies 12a and 12b. In an exemplary embodiment, the one or more fluid sources 20 include fluid storage tanks, other types of fluid sources, natural water features, or any combination thereof.

The system 10 may be fracking operations used to facilitate oil and gas exploration and production operations. The embodiments provided herein are not limited to a hydraulic fracturing system as the exemplary embodiments may be used with, or adapted to, a mud pump system, a well treatment system, other pumping systems, one or more systems at the wellheads 18a-d, one or more systems in the wellbores of which the wellheads 18a-d are the surface terminations, one or more systems downstream of the wellheads 18a-d, or one or more other systems associated with the wellheads 18a-d.

In several exemplary embodiments, the manifold assemblies 12a and 12b are identical to one another and, therefore, in connection with FIGS. 2-4, only the manifold assembly 12a will be described in detail below; however, the description may be applied to every one of the manifold assemblies 12a and 12b. Moreover, in several embodiments, the pumps 16g-1 are connected to the manifold assembly 12b in substantially the same manner that the pumps 16a-f are connected to the manifold assembly 12a and, therefore, in connection with FIGS. 2-4, only the connection of the pumps 16a-f to the manifold assembly 12a will be described in detail below; however, the description below applies equally to the manner in which the pumps 16g-1 are connected to the manifold assembly 12b.

Some examples use “spherical swivel joint” 114, which is described in more detail in reference to FIGS. 9A-9C, to make connections between some of the components in the system 10. Any large-bore (e.g., 5 inches, 6 inches, 7 inches, 8 inches, or the like) connection between the various components may be made using the spherical swivel joint 114. To accommodate such large-bore fluid channels, the spherical swivel joints 114 may have an internal diameter of 3-9 inches. Some specific examples use bore diameters for the spherical swivel joints 114 of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 inches, as well as any measurement therebetween (e.g., 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, or 7.9 inches).

The spherical swivel joint 114 may connect any or all of: the fluid sources 20 to the blender 114, the blender 14 to the manifold assembly 12a, the manifold assembly 12a to the manifold assembly 12b, the manifold assembly 12b to the instrument assembly 26, the instrument assembly 26 to the iron assembly 24, the iron assembly 24 to a zipper module 22b, the zipper modules 22a-d to each other, or any of the zipper modules 22a-d to their respective wellheads 18a-d. Additionally or alternatively, in some examples, the spherical swivel joint 114 is used to connect the manifold assembly 12b directly to one or more of the zipper modules 12a-d.

FIG. 1 illustrates a spherical swivel joint 114 connecting the iron assembly 24 to a middle connection between the zipper module 22b and 22c. This is one example, whereby a tee connection dispels fluid from the spherical swivel connection to each of the zipper modules 22b and 22c. Alternatively, the spherical swivel joint 114 is positioned directly between the iron assembly 24, the instrument assembly 26, or the manifold assembly 12b and one of the zipper modules 22a-d, which in turn distributes fluid to its respective wellhead 18a-c and also at least one other zipper module 22a-d that are connected in series.

FIG. 2 is a block illustration of the manifold assembly of FIG. 1, the manifold assemblies 12a or 12b include, in some examples, a high-pressure manifold 32, a low-pressure manifold 30, and a skid. In some examples, the manifold assembly 12a described in FIG. 1 includes a low-pressure manifold 30 and a high-pressure manifold 32, both of which may be mounted on, or connected to, a skid 34. Skid 34 may be equipped with wheels, bearing, or other ways to move independently, thereby enabling the skid 34 to easily be rolled or moved into place. Alternatively or additionally, the skid 34 may be attached to a trailer that is itself moveable or affixed to a truck or railcar. In some examples, the pumps 16a-f are in fluid communication with each of the low-pressure manifold 30 and the high-pressure manifold 32. In some examples, the pumps 16a-f include or are part of a positive displacement pump, a reciprocating pump assembly, a frac pump, a pump truck, a truck, a trailer, or any combination thereof.

FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate top and side views of the skid 34 for the manifold assemblies 12a and 12b with the aforementioned low-pressure manifold 30 and high-pressure manifold 32. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the skid 34 includes, among other things, longitudinally-extending structural members 36a and 36b, transversely-extending end members 38a and 38b connected to respective opposing end portions of the longitudinally-extending structural members 36a and 36b, and transversely-extending structural members (not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) connecting the longitudinally-extending structural members 36a and 36b.

The low-pressure manifold 30 includes longitudinally-extending tubular members, or flow lines 40a and 40b, that are connected to the skid 34 between the transversely-extending end members 38a and 38b thereof. The flow lines 40a and 40b are in fluid communication with the blender 14. In some embodiments, the low-pressure manifold 30 further includes a transversely-extending tubular member, or rear header (not shown), via which the blender 14 is in fluid communication with the flow lines 40a and 40b. The flow lines 40a and 40b are spaced in a parallel relation, and include front end caps 42a and 42b respectively, and, in those embodiments where the rear header is omitted, rear end caps 44a and 44b.

In some examples, the pumps 16a, 16b and 16c shown in FIG. 2 (though, not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) are in fluid communication with the flow line 40a via one of outlet ports 46a and 46b, one of outlet ports 48a and 48b, and one of outlet ports 50a and 50b, respectively. Connections between the flow line 40a and any of outlet ports 46a and/or 46b, outlet ports 48a and/or 48b, and outlet ports 50a and/or 50b may be made using one or more hoses, piping, swivels, flowline components, other components, or any combination thereof.

In some examples, the outlet ports 46a, 46b, 48a, 48b, 50a, and 50b are connected to the flow line 40a. In an exemplary embodiment, the pumps 16a, 16b, and 16c (not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) are in fluid communication with the flow line 40a via both of the outlet ports 46a and 46b, both of the outlet ports 48a and 48b, and both of the outlet ports 50a and 50b, respectively. Such fluid communication may be effected with various piping, flowline components, or other connective components.

Additionally or alternatively, in some examples, the pumps 16d, 16e and 16f of FIG. 2 (though, not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) are in fluid communication with the flow line 40b via one of outlet ports 52a and 52b, one or outlet ports 54a and 54b, and one of outlet ports 56a and 56b, respectively. Connections between the flow line 40b and any of outlet ports 52a and/or 52b, outlet ports 54a and 54b, and one of outlet ports 56a and 56b, respectively, may be made using various piping, flowline components, or other connective components.

In some examples, the outlet ports 52a, 52b, 54a, 54b, 56a, and 56b are connected to the flow line 40b. In some examples, the pumps 16d, 16e, and 16f of FIG. 2 are in fluid communication with the flow line 40b via both of the outlet ports 52a and 52b, both of the outlet ports 54a and 54b, and both of the outlet ports 56a and 56b, respectively. Such fluid communication may be made with various hoses, piping, flowline components, other components, or any combination thereof.

Looking at FIG. 4, in some examples, the flow line 40a is mounted to the skid 34 via low-pressure mounts 58a, 58b, 58c, 58d, and 58e (visible in FIG. 4). Similarly, the flow line 40b may be mounted to the skid via low-pressure mounts 58f, 58g, 58h, 58i, and 58j (not visible in FIGS. 3 and 4). In some examples, the low-pressure manifold 30 is connected to the skid 34 by lowering the low-pressure manifold 30 down and then ensuring that a respective upside-down-u-shaped or upside-down-v-shaped brackets extend about the flow lines 40a and 40b and engage the low-pressure mounts 58a-j.

In some examples, the high-pressure manifold 32 includes longitudinally-extending tubular members, or flow lines 60a and 60b, and flow fittings 62a-c operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the flow lines 60a and 60b. The flow lines 60a and 60b and the flow fittings 62a-c are supported by the skid 34 between the transversely-extending end members 38a and 38b thereof. The flow fittings 62a and 62b are operably coupled to opposing end portions of the flow line 60a, and the flow fittings 62b and 62c are operably coupled to opposing end portions of the flow line 60b. As a result, the flow fitting 62b interconnects the flow lines 60a and 60b, and the flow fittings 62a and 62c are located proximate the transversely-extending end members 38a and 38b, respectively, of the skid 34.

In some examples, the flow lines 60a-b are “large bore” flow iron, meaning the flow lines 60a-b have an inner bore diameter of 4-9 inches. For example, the inner bores may be 4, 4½, 5, 5½, 6, 6½, 7, 7½, 8, 8½ inches, or any measurement in between. The inner bore may be any type of internal geometric shapes, e.g., circular, ellipsoidal, rectangular, square, triangular, or the like.

In some examples, the pumps 16a, 16b, and 16c shown in FIG. 2 (though, not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) are in fluid communication with the respective flow fittings 62a, 62b, and 62c via isolation valves 64a, 64c, and 64e, respectively. Such fluid communication may be effected with the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIG. 9, one or more hoses, piping, flowline components, other components, or any combination thereof. Similarly, the pumps 16d, 16e, and 16f shown in FIG. 2 (though, not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) are in fluid communication with the respective flow fittings 62a, 62b, and 62c via isolation valves 64b, 64d, and 64f, respectively. Such fluid communication may be effected with the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIG. 9, one or more hoses, piping, flowline components, other components, or any combination thereof.

The flow lines 60a and 60b and the flow fittings 62a, 62b, and 62c are mounted to the skid 34 via a combination of vertically-extending high pressure mounts 66a and 66b and mounting brackets 68a, 68b, and 68c. In some examples, the high-pressure manifold 32 is connected to the skid 34 by lowering the high-pressure manifold 32 down and then ensuring that the flow lines 60a and 60b are supported by the high-pressure mounts 66a and 66b, respectively, and that the flow fittings 62a, 62b, and 62c are supported by the mounting brackets 68a, 68b, and 68c, respectively.

In several examples, with continuing reference to FIGS. 1, 3, and 4, the high-pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12a is operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the high-pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12b. Specifically, the flow fitting 62c of the manifold assembly 12a may be connected to the flow fitting 62a of the manifold assembly 12b via a universal fitting, such as, for example, a spherical joint 70 (a portion of which is shown in FIGS. 3 and 4). In some examples, the specifically joint 70 takes the form of the spherical swivel joint 114 illustrated in FIGS. 9A-9C. The spherical joint 70, e.g., being the spherical swivel joint 114, is designed to accommodate any vertical and/or horizontal offset between the high-pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12a and the high-pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12b.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate examples of an instrument assembly, as described above in reference to FIG. 1. In some examples, as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the instrument assembly 26 includes a fluid conduit 71 that is mounted on, and connected to, a skid 72. The fluid conduit 71 includes longitudinally-extending tubular members, or flow lines 74a, 74b, and 74c, flow fittings 76a and 76b, and valves 78a and 78b. The skid 72 includes, among other things, longitudinally-extending structural members 80a and 80b, transversely-extending end members 82a and 82b connected to respective opposing end portions of the longitudinally-extending structural members 80a and 80b, and transversely-extending structural members (not shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) connecting the longitudinally-extending structural members 80a and 80b. The flow lines 74a, 74b, and 74c, the flow fittings 76a and 76b, and the valves 78a and 78b are connected in series and supported by the skid 72 between the transversely-extending end members 82a and 82b thereof.

The flow fittings 76a and 76b and the valves 78a and 78b are operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the flow lines 74a, 74b, and 74c. Specifically, respective opposing end portions of the flow lines 74a, 74b, and 74c are operably coupled to the flow fitting 76a and the valve 78a, the valves 78a and 78b, and the valve 78b and the flow fitting 76b, respectively. As a result, the valve 78a interconnects the flow lines 74a and 74b, the valve 78b interconnects the flow lines 74b and 74c, the flow fitting 76a is operably coupled to the flow line 74a proximate (e.g., within 1, 2, 3, or 4 feet, in some examples) the transversely-extending end member 82a of the skid 72, and the flow fitting 76b is operably coupled to the flow line 74b proximate the transversely-extending end member 82b of the skid 72.

Valves 78a and 78b may be plug valves and/or check valves in different examples. In some examples, the valve 78a is a plug valve and the valve 78b is a check valve.

In an exemplary embodiment, ports 84a and 84b of the flow fitting 76a and/or ports 86a and 86b of the flow fitting 76b may be used to establish fluid communication with the fluid conduit 71. Such fluid communication may be effected with the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIG. 9, one or more hoses, piping, flowline components, other components, or any combination thereof. Additionally, such fluid communication may be used, for example, to support instrumentation (not shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) for measuring certain characteristics of fluid exiting the respective high pressure manifolds 32 of the manifold assemblies 12a and 12b.

The flow lines 74a, 74b, and 74c, the flow fittings 76a and 76b, and the valves 78a and 78b are mounted to the skid 72 via a combination of vertically-extending high pressure mounts 88a and 88b and mounting brackets 90a, 90b, 90c, and 90d. In some examples, the fluid conduit 71 is connected to the skid 72 by lowering the fluid conduit 71 down and then ensuring that the flow lines 74a and 74c are supported by the high-pressure mounts 88a and 88b, respectively, that the flow fittings 76a and 76b are supported by the mounting brackets 90a and 90d, and that the valves 78a and 78b are supported by the mounting brackets 90b and 90c.

In several exemplary embodiments, with continuing reference to FIGS. 1, 5, and 6, the high-pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12b is operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the fluid conduit 71 of the instrument assembly 26. More particularly, the flow fitting 62c of the manifold assembly 12b is connected to the flow fitting 76a of the instrument assembly 26 via a universal fitting, such as, for example, the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIG. 9, which includes two rotatable ball bearings 143 and 151 that provide flexibility to the connection, or a spherical joint 92 (a portion of which is shown in FIGS. 5 and 6). The spherical joint 92 accommodates any vertical and/or horizontal offset between the high-pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12b and the fluid conduit 71 of the instrument assembly 26.

In some examples, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the iron assembly 24 includes a fluid conduit 93 that is mounted on, and connected to, a skid 94. The fluid conduit 93 includes longitudinally-extending tubular members, or flow lines 96a and 96b, and flow fittings 98a and 98b. The skid 94 includes, inter alia, longitudinally-extending structural members 100a and 100b, transversely-extending end members 102a and 102b connected to respective opposing end portions of the longitudinally-extending structural members 100a and 100b, and transversely-extending structural members (not shown in FIGS. 7 and 8) connecting the longitudinally-extending structural members 100a and 100b. The flow lines 96a and 96b and the flow fittings 98a and 98b are connected in series and supported by the skid 94 between the transversely-extending end members 102a and 102b thereof.

The flow fittings 98a and 98b are operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the flow lines 96a and 96b. Specifically, the flow fittings 98a and 98b are operably coupled to the flow lines 96a and 96b, respectively, and the flow lines 96a and 96b are operably coupled to each other. As a result, the flow fitting 98a is operably coupled to the flow line 96a proximate the transversely-extending end member 102a of the skid 94, and the flow fitting 98b is operably coupled to the flow line 96b proximate the transversely-extending end member 102b of the skid 94. In an some examples, ports 104a and 104b of the flow fitting 98a and/or ports 106a and 106b of the flow fitting 98b may be used to establish fluid communication with the fluid conduit 93. Such fluid communication may be effected with the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIG. 9, one or more hoses, piping, flowline components, other components, or any combination thereof.

In some examples, the flow lines 96a and 96b and the flow fittings 98a and 98b are mounted to the skid 94 via a combination of vertically-extending high pressure mounts 108a and 108b and mounting brackets 110a, 110b, 110c, and 110d. The fluid conduit 93 may be connected to the skid 94 by lowering the fluid conduit 93 down and then ensuring that the flow lines 96a and 96b are supported by the high-pressure mounts 108a and 108b and the mounting brackets 110b and 110c, respectively, and that the flow fittings 98a and 98b are supported by the mounting brackets 110a and 110d, respectively.

In several examples, with continuing reference to FIGS. 1 and 5-8, the fluid conduit 71 of the instrument assembly 26 is operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24. More particularly, the flow fitting 76b of the instrument assembly 26 may be connected to the flow fitting 98a of the iron assembly 24 via a spherical joint 112 (respective portions of which are shown in FIGS. 5-8). In some examples, the spherical joint 112 takes the form of the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIGS. 9A-C to accommodate vertical and/or horizontal offset between the fluid conduit 71 of the instrument assembly 26 and the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24.

As previously mentioned in reference to FIG. 1, the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24 is operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, the zipper manifold 28.

FIGS. 9A-9C illustrates a spherical swivel joint 114 for use making virtually any of the previously discussed fluid-communication connections, including, without limitation, connecting the flow fitting 98b of the iron assembly 24 to the zipper manifold 28. For the sake of clarity, examples are discussed below using the spherical swivel joint 114 to connect the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24 to the zipper manifold 28. The spherical swivel joint 114 is flexible to accommodate vertical and/or horizontal differences—or offsets—experienced by connecting the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24 and the zipper manifold 28 across outdoor terrain, to accommodate for varying grades and elevations of outdoor terrain.

In some examples, the spherical swivel joint 114 includes a pair of yokes 116a and 116b operably coupled to each other via a crossover spool 118. In an example, the yoke 116a is connected to the flow fitting 98b of the iron assembly 24. In an example, the yoke 116b is connected to the zipper manifold 28. In several examples, the yoke 116a is connected to the flow fitting 98b of the iron assembly 24, and the yoke 116b is connected to the zipper manifold 28. In several examples, the yoke 116a and the yoke 116b are substantially identical to each other. Alternatively, yoke 116a may be circumferentially larger than yoke 116b by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, or the like.

The yoke 116a includes a flange 120 and a spool 122, the flange 120 and the spool 122 being connected to each other and together defining an internal flow passage 124 extending along a longitudinal axis 126. The spool 122 defines an external convex annular surface 127 at an end portion thereof opposite the flange 120. Similarly, the yoke 116b includes a flange 128 and a spool 130, the flange 128 and the spool 130 being connected to each other and together defining an internal flow passage 132 extending along a longitudinal axis 134. In this example, the flange 128 is a male-end flange that is configured to reciprocally fit (e.g., through a threaded connection) female flanges on external components that may include, for example but with limitation, the zipper modules; zipper manifolds; flow iron; flow lines; manifold assemblies, instrument assembly; iron assembly; fluid sources, blenders; or the like.

The spherical swivel joint 114 may be used to connect the manifold assemblies in FIGS. 3 and 4 to each other, or one of the manifold assemblies to any of the zipper modules, iron assemblies, instrument assemblies, blenders, and/or fluid sources described herein. In some examples, the manifold assembly 12a in FIG. 3 is connected with a seven inch bore spherical swivel joint 114 to any of the zipper modules in FIGS. 11-22. In other examples, the zipper modules of FIGS. 11-22 are connected a spherical swivel joint 114 to any of the frac stacks in FIGS. 10-22.

Moreover, the crossover spool 118 defines an external convex annular surface 135 at an end portion thereof opposite the flange 128. In some examples, the crossover spool 118 is generally tubular and includes internal concave annular surfaces 136a and 136b at opposing end portions thereof. Crossover spool 118 defines an internal flow passage 160 that is in fluid communication with flow passages 132 and 124. Alternative embodiments may include other internal iron geometries (e.g., triangular, rectangular, octagonal, and the like), and annular surfaces 136a and 136b may instead be convex in shape.

A bearing housing 138 is connected to, and extends about, the spool 122 of the yoke 116a, thus defining an annular space within which a spherical bearing 140 is positioned. The spherical bearing 140 includes an inner ring 142 defining a convex surface 143 on the exterior thereof, and an outer ring 144 defining a concave surface 145 on the interior thereof. The inner ring 142 is connected exteriorly about the spool 122 of the yoke 116a and the outer ring 144 is connected interiorly about the bearing housing 138. The convex surface 143 of the inner ring 142 and the concave surface 145 of the outer ring 144 engage one another to pivotably connect the crossover spool 118 to the yoke 116a; pivoting of the crossover spool 118 relative to the yoke 116a is accommodated by the engagement of the external convex annular surface 127 of the spool 122 with the internal concave annular surface 136a of the crossover spool 118.

Similarly, a bearing housing 146 is connected to, and extends about, the spool 130 of the yoke 116b, thus defining an annular space within which a spherical bearing 148 is positioned. The spherical bearing 148 includes an inner ring 150 defining a convex surface 151 on the exterior thereof, and an outer ring 152 defining a concave surface 153 on the interior thereof. The inner ring 150 is connected exteriorly about the spool 130 of the yoke 116b and the outer ring 152 is connected interiorly about the bearing housing 146. The convex surface 151 of the inner ring 150 and the concave surface 153 of the outer ring 152 engage one another to pivotably connect the crossover spool 118 to the yoke 116b; pivoting of the crossover spool 118 relative to the yoke 116b is accommodated by the engagement of the external convex annular surface 135 of the spool 130 with the internal concave annular surface 136b of the crossover spool 118.

In some examples, the spherical ball bearing 151 is an inner-raised plain spherical bearing that is free to rotate in the x, y, or z directions, and the outer ring 152 is an outer-raised plain spherical portion of a bearing that is fixed to the bearing housing 146. Similarly, in some examples, the spherical ball bearing 143 is an inner-raised plain spherical portion of a bearing that is free to rotate in the x-, y-, or z-directions, and the spherical bearing 144 is an outer-raised plain spherical portion of a bearing that is fixed to the bearing housing 146.

The two spherical bearings 151 and 143 create two separate three-dimensional points of rotation that provide much needed flexibility that allows the spherical swivel joint 114 to connect external flanges, ports, fittings, and the like of separate components that are not exactly lined up.

This particular design of the spherical swivel joint 114 provides, in one specific example, up to seven degrees of flexibility in the x-, y-, and z-directions for the spool 118 between the yokes 116a and 116b, as measured along the longitudinal axis 134. In other examples, the spherical swivel joint 114 creates 0-15 degrees of x-, y-, and z-flexibility for the crossover spool 118.

Additionally, the spherical swivel joint 114, with its pair of ball bearings 143 and 151, has shown to provide, in some particular embodiments, up to the five inches of movement in the x-, y-, or z-directions. For example, the spool 118 may move yoke 116b horizontally by 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 inches. The same flexible movement may be experienced in the y- and z-directions as well.

Examples disclosed herein show and reference the spherical swivel joint 114 as only having two spherical bearings 143 and 151 and respective bearing housings 138 and 146. The spherical swivel joint 114 may include additional bearings and bearing housings (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and so on) connected various crossover spools 118. Adding additional bearings provides added flexibility for the spherical swivel joint 114 in the x-, y-, and/or z-directions.

This flexibility of the spherical swivel joint 114 enables the various disclosed interconnected components to be quickly set up without having to find or level outdoor terrain. Put another way, flanges that provide fluid communication through the spherical swivel joint 114 can be connected much faster and, once connected, can adjust to movement of the flow iron caused by workers, weather, or movement of their supportive manifolds or trailers. For example, pipes of disclosed flow iron may be connected via the spherical swivel joint 114, and such connection may be maintained through rain that perhaps causing sinking of one of the flow iron's trailers into wet ground. Myriad other examples exist and need not be discussed at length herein. But it should be noted that the spherical swivel joint 114, with its pair of rotatable spherical ball bearings 143 and 151 provide substantial flexibility and simplicity of alignment for connecting flow iron to itself, to external pressure lines, to zipper modules that integrate with wellheads, and to the wellheads themselves. Setup of the disclosed flow iron and interconnection with the zipper manifolds and modules becomes substantially easier and less time consuming using the spherical swivel joint 114.

In several examples, when the yoke 116a is connected to the flow fitting 98b of the iron assembly 24 and the yoke 116b is connected to the zipper manifold 28, any vertical and/or horizontal offset between the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24 and the zipper manifold 28 is accommodated by the combination of pivoting of the crossover spool 118 relative to the yoke 116a and pivoting of the crossover spool 118 relative to the yoke 116b. Such vertical and/or horizontal offset is shown in FIGS. 9A-9C by the offset between the longitudinal axes 126 and 134 of the yokes 116a and 116b, respectively. In several exemplary embodiments, the length of the crossover spool 118 is selected to accommodate at least one of, the spacing, the vertical offset, and the horizontal offset between the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24 and the zipper manifold 28.

In several exemplary embodiments, the axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 may be varied to accommodate the distance between the iron assembly 24 and the zipper manifold 28. For example, the axial length of the crossover spool 118 may range from about 5 feet to about 30 feet. The axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 may range from about 5 feet to about 25 feet. For example, the axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 may be 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 feet, or any length between such measurements.

In several exemplary embodiments, at least the following combination of components together form a single fluid passageway adapted to accommodate high-pressure fluid flow from the pumps 16a-1 to the zipper manifold 28: the high pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12a; the high pressure manifold 32 of the manifold assembly 12b; the fluid conduit 71 of the instrument assembly 26; and the fluid conduit 93 of the iron assembly 24.

As indicated above, with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the wellheads 18a-d are each located at the top or head of an oil and gas wellbore, which penetrates one or more subterranean formations, and are used in oil and gas exploration and production operations. In several exemplary embodiments, fracturing (or “frac”) stacks 158a-d are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively. The frac stacks 158a-d may be substantially identical to each other (as may the wellheads 18a-d). Therefore, in connection with FIG. 10, only the frac stack 158a will be described in detail below. Though, the description below applies to every one of the frac stacks 158a-d.

Again, to accommodate large-bore fluid channels, the spherical swivel joints 114 may have an internal diameter of 3-9 inches. Some specific examples use bore diameters for the spherical swivel joints 114 of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 inches, as well as any measurement therebetween (e.g., 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, or 7.9 inches.

FIGS. 9B and 9C are top and three-dimensional views of the spherical swivel joint 114 of FIG. 9A. FIGS. 9B and 9C show different perspectives of one particular example of the spherical swivel joint 114, depicting the exteriors and dimensions of yokes 116a and 116b, bearing housings 138 and 16, and spool 118 being cylindrical or tubular in dimension. Additionally, some examples use longitudinally-extending flange connectors 910a and 910b that are positioned around a circumferential edge of the flanges 120 and 128, spaced equidistant from each other. Other examples may use fewer or more flange connectors 910a and 910b. Still other examples position the flange connectors 910a and 910b in different patterns or non-equidistant from each other. The extending flange connectors 910a and 910b have be shown to create tight and rigid connections with flow iron components while the spool 118 is allowed to flexibly move because of the internal ball bearings 143 and 151.

Reciprocal female flange slots may be used on the various flow iron disclosed herein to connect to the ends of the spherical swivel joint 114. Alternative connective techniques may be used. For example, the spherical swivel joint 114 may include receptacle female slots in flanges 120 and 128 that receive similar flange connectors 910a and 910b that are part of the flow iron ends. Still other examples may use various locks, magnets, or other connective mechanisms to connect to the spherical swivel joint 114.

In an exemplary embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 10 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the frac stack 158a includes an adapter spool 160, a pair of master valves, such as, for example, upper and lower plug valves 162 and 164, a production tee 166, a swivel assembly 168, a swab valve, such as, for example, a plug valve 170, and a tree adapter 172. The upper and lower plug valves 162 and 164 are operably coupled in series to one another above the adapter spool 160. In several exemplary embodiments, the upper plug valve 162 of the frac stack 158a is an automatic plug valve, and the lower plug valve 164 is a manual plug valve. The adapter spool 160 facilitates the connection between different sized flanges of the wellhead 18a (not shown in FIG. 10) and the lower plug valve 164. The production tee 166 is operably coupled to the upper plug valve 162 and includes a production wing valve 174a and a kill wing valve 174b connected thereto. The swivel assembly 168 is operably coupled to the production tee 166, opposite the upper plug valve 162, and includes a swivel tee 176 rotatably connected to a swivel spool 178. The swivel tee 176 of the frac stack 158a is configured to rotate about a vertical axis and relative to the swivel spool 178, the production tee 166, the upper and lower plug valves 162 and 164, and the adapter spool 160, as indicated by the curvilinear arrow 180 in FIG. 10. The tree adapter 172 is operably coupled to the plug valve 170 opposite the swivel assembly 168, and includes a cap and gauge connected thereto to verify closure of the plug valve 170.

As indicated above, with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the zipper manifold 28 is formed by the interconnection of the zipper modules 22a-d, which zipper modules, in turn, are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively. Referring additionally to FIG. 11, an example of one of the zipper modules 22a-d is illustrated. In several exemplary embodiments, the zipper modules 22a-d are substantially identical to each other, and, therefore, in connection with FIG. 11, only the zipper module 22a will be described in detail below; however, the description below applies to every one of the zipper modules 22a-d. The zipper module 22a includes a vertical zipper stack 182 supported by an adjustable zipper skid 184.

In an example, as illustrated in FIG. 11 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the vertical zipper stack 182 includes a connection tee 186, a pair of valves, such as, for example, upper and lower plug valves 188 and 190, and a swivel assembly 192. The upper and lower plug valves 188 and 190 are operably coupled in series to one another, the lower plug valve 190 being operably coupled to the connection tee 186. In several exemplary embodiments, the upper plug valve 188 of the vertical zipper stack 182 is an automatic plug valve, and the lower plug valve 190 is a manual plug valve. The swivel assembly 192 is operably coupled to the upper plug valve 188, opposite the lower plug valve 190 and the connection tee 186, and includes a swivel tee 194 rotatably connected to a swivel spool 196. The swivel tee 194 of the vertical zipper stack 182 is configured to rotate about a vertical axis and relative to the swivel spool 196, the upper and lower plug valves 188 and 190, and the connection tee 186, as indicated by the curvilinear arrow 198 in FIG. 11.

In some examples, the adjustable zipper skid 184 is configured to displace the zipper stack 182 to align the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 22a with the corresponding swivel tee 176 of the frac stack 158a, as will be described in further detail below. More particularly, the adjustable zipper skid 184 is configured to displace the zipper stack 182 up and down in the vertical direction, and back and forth in at least two horizontal directions, as indicated by the linear arrows 200, 202, and 204, respectively, in FIG. 11. In several examples, the vertical direction 200 and the at least two horizontal directions 202 and 204 are orthogonal.

In an exemplary embodiment, with continuing reference to FIG. 11, the adjustable zipper skid 184 includes a generally rectangular base 206, a lower carriage plate 208 supported on the base 206, and an upper carriage plate 210 supported on the lower carriage plate 208. The base 206 includes vertical jacks 212a-d (the jack 212d is not visible in FIG. 11) and lifting pegs 214a-d (the lifting peg 214d is not visible in FIG. 11). The lifting pegs 214a-d are configured to facilitate placement of the adjustable zipper skid 184 on a generally horizontal surface proximate one of the frac stacks 158a-d via, for example, a crane, a forklift, a front-end loader, or another lifting mechanism. The vertical jacks 212a-d are operably coupled to respective corners of the base 206 so that, when the adjustable zipper skid 184 is positioned on the generally horizontal surface proximate one of the frac stacks 158a-d, the jacks 212a-d are operable to level, and to adjust the height of, the base 206 relative to the corresponding frac stack 158a-d, as will be described in further detail below.

The lower carriage plate 208 is operably coupled to the base 206 via, for example, a pair of alignment rails 216 and a plurality of rollers 218 disposed between the base 206 and the lower carriage plate 208. The rotation of a handcrank 220 displaces the lower carriage plate 208 in the horizontal direction 202 and relative to the base 206. More particularly, the handcrank 220 is connected to a threaded shaft 222 that is threadably engaged with a stationary mount 224 on the base 206, an end portion of the threaded shaft 222 opposite the handcrank 220 being operably coupled to the lower carriage plate 208. During the displacement of the lower carriage plate 208 in the horizontal direction 202 and relative to the base 206, the alignment rails 216 engage the lower carriage plate 208, thus constraining the movement of the lower carriage plate 208 to the horizontal direction 202 only.

Similarly, the upper carriage plate 210 is operably coupled to the lower carriage plate 208 via, for example, a pair of alignment rails 226 and a plurality of rollers 228 disposed between the lower carriage plate 208 and the upper carriage plate 210. The rotation of a handcrank 230 displaces the upper carriage plate 210 in the horizontal direction 204 and relative to both the lower carriage plate 208 and the base 206. More particularly, the handcrank 230 is connected to a threaded shaft 232 that is threadably engaged with a stationary mount 234 operably coupled to the base 206 via, for example, one of the alignment rails 216 of the lower carriage plate 208, an end portion of the threaded shaft 232 opposite the handcrank 230 being operably coupled to the upper carriage plate 210. During the displacement of the upper carriage plate 210 in the horizontal direction 204 and relative to both the lower carriage plate 208 and the base 206, the alignment rails 226 engage the upper carriage plate 210, thus constraining the movement of the upper carriage plate 210 to the horizontal direction 204 only.

In several exemplary embodiments, instead of, or in addition to the use of handcranks, relative movement between the upper carriage plate 210 and the lower carriage plate 208 may be effected by sliding the plate 210 relative to the plate 208, and vice versa, with a lubricant being disposed between the plates 210 and 208 to facilitate the relative sliding movement. Alternatively or additionally, the plates 208 and 210 may also be displaced by the application of external forces by way of a crane or forklift, for example

A pair of mounting brackets 236 operably couples the connection tee 186 of the vertical zipper stack 182 to the upper carriage plate 210, opposite the rollers 228. Additionally, a pair of support brackets 238a and 238b are also coupled to the upper carriage plate 210 on opposing sides of the connection tee 186, the support brackets 238a and 238b being configured to facilitate the interconnection of the zipper modules 22a-d to from the zipper manifold 28, as will be described in further detail below.

As indicated above, with continuing reference to FIGS. 1, 10, and 11, the zipper modules 22a-d are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively, and are interconnected to form the zipper manifold 28. In several exemplary embodiments, the zipper modules 22c and 22d are incorporated into the zipper manifold 28 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18c and 18d, respectively, in substantially the same manner that the zipper modules 22a and 22b are incorporated into the zipper manifold 28 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18a and 18b, respectively. Therefore, in connection with FIGS. 12-16, only the incorporation of the zipper modules 22a and 22b into the zipper manifold 28 via, inter alia, the connection of the zipper modules 22a and 22b to the wellheads 18a and 18b, respectively, will be described in detail below; however, the description below applies equally to the manner in which the zipper modules 22c and 22d are incorporated into the zipper manifold 28 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18c and 18d, respectively.

In operation, as illustrated in FIGS. 12-19 with continuing reference to FIGS. 1, 10, and 11, a lifting mechanism (not shown), such as, for example, a crane, a forklift, a front-end loader, or the like, engages the lifting pegs 214a-d of the adjustable zipper skid 184 to place the zipper module 22a on the generally horizontal surface proximate the wellhead 18a (to which the frac stack 158a is operably coupled), as shown in FIG. 12. The vertical jacks 212a-d are then adjusted to vertically align the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 22a with the swivel tee 176 of the frac stack 158a, and to level the base 206 of the zipper module 22a. Should the travel of the vertical jacks 212a-d be inadequate to substantially vertically align the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 22a with the swivel tee 176 of the frac stack 158a, the swivel spool 196 of the vertical zipper stack 182 may be omitted in favor of another fixed-length fluid conduit, as will be discussed in further detail below.

The handcranks 220 and 230 of the zipper module 22a are used to move the carriage plates 208 and 210, respectively, and thus the vertical zipper stack 182, in the at least two horizontal directions 202 and 204, respectively; such horizontal movement of the zipper module 22a adjusts the horizontal spacing between the swivel tees 176 and 194. As shown in FIG. 13, once the appropriate vertical alignment and horizontal spacing between the swivel tees 176 and 194 has been achieved through the use of the vertical jacks 212a-d and the handcranks 220 and 230, the swivel tees 176 and 194 are each rotated to face each other, thus facilitating their interconnection via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe 240 with flanged end portions.

In several exemplary embodiments, the straight pipe 240 may be omitted in favor of a spherical joint (not shown) or the spherical swivel joint 114 in FIG. 9A-9C that is substantially similar to the spherical joint 114 and includes all of the components of the spherical joint 114, except that the crossover spool of the spherical joint has a longitudinal or axial length that is less than the axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 of the spherical swivel joint 114. In several examples, the straight pipe 240 may be omitted in favor of a spherical swivel joint 114 that all of the previously mentioned components of the spherical swivel joint 114, except that the crossover spool has a longitudinal or axial length that is greater than the axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 of the spherical swivel joint 114.

In a similar manner, the lifting mechanism (not shown) engages the lifting pegs 214a-d of the adjustable zipper skid 184 to place the zipper module 22b on the generally horizontal surface proximate the wellhead 18b (to which the frac stack 158b is operably coupled), as shown in FIG. 14. The vertical jacks 212a-d are then adjusted to vertically align the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 22b with the swivel tee 176 of the frac stack 158b, to level the base 206 of the zipper module 22b, and to vertically align the connection tee 186 of the zipper module 22b with the connection tee 186 of the zipper module 22a. Should the travel of the vertical jacks 212a-d be inadequate to substantially vertically align the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 22b with the swivel tee 176 of the frac stack 158b, and to substantially vertically align the connection tee 186 of the zipper module 22b with the connection tee 186 of the zipper module 22a, the swivel spool 196 of the vertical zipper stack 182 may be omitted in favor of another fixed-length fluid conduit, as will be discussed in further detail below. The handcranks 220 and 230 of the zipper module 22b are used to move the carriage plates 208 and 210, respectively, and thus the vertical zipper stack 182, in the at least two horizontal directions 202 and 204, respectively. Such horizontal movement of the zipper module 22b adjusts the horizontal spacing between the swivel tees 176 and 194 and the horizontal spacing between the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively. As shown in FIG. 15, once the appropriate vertical alignment and horizontal spacing between the swivel tees 176 and 194, and between the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively, has been achieved through the use of the vertical jacks 212a-d and the handcranks 220 and 230, the swivel tees 176 and 194 are each rotated to face each other, thus facilitating their interconnection via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe 242 with flanged end portions.

In several examples, the straight pipe 242 may be omitted in favor of a spherical swivel joint 114 that all of the previously mentioned components of the spherical swivel joint 114, except that the crossover spool has a longitudinal or axial length that is less than the axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 of the spherical swivel joint 114. In several examples, the straight pipe 242 may be omitted in favor of a spherical swivel joint 114 that all of the previously mentioned components of the spherical swivel joint 114, except that the crossover spool has a longitudinal or axial length that is greater than the axial or longitudinal length of the crossover spool 118 of the spherical swivel joint 114.

Finally, as shown in FIGS. 16-19, the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively, are interconnected via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe 244 with flanged end portions. Respective opposing end portions of the straight pipe 244 are supported by the support bracket 238a of the zipper module 22a and the support bracket 238b of the zipper module 22b. In some embodiments, the zipper manifold 28 includes only the zipper modules 22a and 22b; such embodiments include at least one of: a pipe-and-cap 246a supported by the support bracket 238b of the zipper module 22a and operably coupled to the connection tee 186, opposite the straight pipe 244, and a pipe-and-cap 246b supported by the support bracket 238a of the zipper module 22b and operably coupled to the connection tee 186, opposite the straight pipe 244. In other examples, the zipper manifold 28 further includes the zipper modules 22c and 22d, which are incorporated into the zipper manifold 28 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18c and 18d, respectively, in substantially the same manner as described above with respect to the zipper module 22b and the wellhead 18b; in such embodiments, the pipe-and-cap 246a is supported by the support bracket 238b of the zipper module 22a and operably coupled to the connection tee 186, opposite the straight pipe 244, and the pipe-and-cap 246b is supported by the support bracket 238a of the zipper module 22d and operably coupled to the connection tee 186, opposite a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe that is substantially identical to the straight pipe 244.

In several examples, the above-described connections between each of: the frac tree 158a and the zipper module 22a, the frac tree 158b and the zipper module 22b, and the zipper modules 22a and 22b, are made in whole or in part using automatic controls. In several exemplary embodiments, one or more sensors on the frac trees 158a and 158b and/or the zipper modules 22a and 22b are employed to determine necessary physical adjustments, and sensor data is transmitted to an automatic controller which, in turn, automatically effects physical adjustments in the system. In several examples, one or more electronic devices (such as position sensors and/or transponders) on the frac trees 158a-d ultimately communicate to one or more automatic controllers signals or data indicating the respective positions of the frac trees 158a-d, and the automatic controller(s) automatically effect physical adjustments to the system such as, for example, adjustments to the relative positions between the zipper modules 22a-d.

In examples, as illustrated in FIG. 20 with continuing reference to FIGS. 12-19, a first height H1 is defined between the generally horizontal surface proximate the wellhead 18a (to which the frac stack 158a is operably coupled, as shown in FIG. 12) and a top surface of the upper carriage plate 210 (i.e., opposite the rollers 228). As indicated above, the height H1 is adjustable via the vertical jacks 212a-d of the zipper module 22a. A second height H2 is defined between the top surface of the upper carriage plate 210 and the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 22a. The height H2 is the aggregate of the respective heights of the connection tee 186, the upper and lower plug valves 188 and 190, the swivel spool 196, and the swivel tee 194. In aggregate, the first and second heights H1 and H2 together equal an overall height H3 of the swivel tee 194.

In several examples, as illustrated in FIG. 21 with continuing reference to FIG. 20, the height H2 of the swivel tee 194 above top surface of the upper carriage plate 210 may be changed by omitting the swivel spool 196 of the vertical zipper stack 182 in favor of another fixed-length fluid conduit, such as, for example, a swivel spool 248 that is longer than the swivel spool 196. Although the swivel spool 248 in FIG. 21 is depicted as being longer than the swivel spool 196 in FIG. 20 to increase the height H2 and, thus, the overall height H3, the swivel spool 248 may be omitted in favor of another fluid conduit (not shown) that is shorter than the swivel spool 196 to decrease the height H2 and, thus, the overall height H3. Additionally, although described in relation to the zipper module 22a, the swivel spool 248 may be used in connection with any one of the zipper modules 22a-d.

In several examples, as illustrated in FIG. 22 with continuing reference to FIG. 20, the height H2 of the swivel tee 194 above top surface of the upper carriage plate 210 may be changed by omitting the swivel spool 196 in favor of another fixed-length fluid conduit, such as, for example, the combination of a spool base 250 and a movable internal piston 252 that is movable in and out (longitudinally) of the spool base 250, making the combination of the spool base 250 and the movable internal piston 252 adjustable to reach the height of a wellhead inlet. With the movable internal piston 252 being adjustable vertically, in some examples, fluid conduits of the zipper module may then reach the wellhead with a single straight line of piping. As shown in FIG. 22, the spool base 250 is operably coupled to the upper plug valve 188 and sealingly retains the movable internal piston 252, which is operably coupled to the swivel tee 194. Although the combination of the spool base 250 and the movable internal piston 252 in FIG. 22 is depicted as being longer than the swivel spool 196 in FIG. 20 to increase the height H2 and, thus, the overall height H3, the movable internal piston 252 may be omitted in favor of another fluid conduit (not shown) so that the combined length of spool base 250 and the another fluid conduit is shorter than the swivel spool 196 to decrease the height H2 and, thus, the overall height H3. Additionally, although described in relation to the zipper module 22a, the combination of the spool base 250 and the movable internal piston 252 may be used in connection with any one of the zipper modules 22a-d.

Any combination of the swivel spool 196 (as shown in FIG. 20), the swivel spool 246 (as shown in FIG. 21), the spool base 250 together with the movable internal piston 252 (as shown in FIG. 22), and/or another fluid conduit(s), may be used to change the respective heights H2 of the zipper modules 22a-d to achieve vertical alignment between the respective swivel tees 176 and 194 of the frac stacks 158a-d and the zipper modules 22a-d. Thus, the respective heights H1 and H2 of the zipper modules 22a-d are adjustable to facilitate contemporaneous vertical alignment between each of: the connection tees 186 of the respective zipper modules 22a-d; and the swivel tees 176 and 194 of the frac stacks 158a-d and the zipper modules 22a-d, respectively.

In examples, as illustrated in FIGS. 23 and 24 with continuing reference to FIGS. 10-19, a zipper manifold is schematically shown and generally referred to by the reference numeral 254. The zipper manifold 254 is configured to be operably coupled to the iron assembly 24 in a manner similar to that described above in connection with the zipper manifold 28. The zipper manifold 254 includes zipper modules 256a-c, each including several parts that are identical to the corresponding parts of the zipper module 22a as shown in FIG. 11, which identical parts are given the same reference numerals. The zipper modules 256a-c are operably coupled to wellheads (not shown) via fracturing (or “frac”) stacks 258a-c, respectively, the frac stacks 258a-c each including several parts that are identical to the corresponding parts of the frac stacks 158a-d, which identical parts are given the same reference numerals. Certain components of the zipper modules 256a-c are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24; these omitted components are represented by blank vertical pipes below the respective swivel tees 194 of the zipper modules 256a-c. Additionally, certain components of the frac stacks 258a-c are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24; these omitted components are represented by blank vertical pipes below the respective swivel tees 176 of the frac stacks 258a-c.

The frac stack 258b may be spaced apart from the frac stack 258a by a distance D1 (measured from left to right as viewed in FIG. 23), and the frac stack 258c may be spaced apart from the frac stack 258b by a distance D2 (measured from left to right as viewed in FIG. 23). In several examples, the distance D1 is different than the distance D2.

Additionally, the frac stacks 258a and 258c are offset from the frac stack 258b by distances D3 and D4, respectively (measured from bottom to top as viewed in FIG. 23). The zipper modules 256a-c each include upper and lower connection tees 260a and 260b, respectively, rather than the connection tees 186, as shown most clearly in FIG. 24. The upper and lower connection tees 260a and 260b are configured to accommodate the different spacings and offsets between the frac stacks 258a-c, as represented in FIG. 23 by the distances D1, D2, D3, and D4. In several exemplary embodiments, the respective combinations of the upper and lower connection tees 260a and 260b of the zipper modules 256a-c are substantially identical to each other; therefore, in connection with FIGS. 23 and 24, only the combination of the upper and lower connection tees 260a and 260b associated with the zipper module 256b will be described in detail below; however, the description below applies to the respective combinations of the connection tees 260a and 260b associated with every one of the zipper modules 256a-c.

The upper connection tee 260a is operably coupled to those components of the zipper module 256b that are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24. As indicated above, these omitted components are represented by the blank vertical pipe below the swivel tee 194 of the zipper module 256b. In some examples, the circumferential orientation of the upper connection tee 260a can be changed by, for example, disconnecting the upper connection tee 260a from the components of the zipper module 256b omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24, and, subsequently, re-connecting the upper connection tee 260b to said components of the zipper module 256b with a different circumferential orientation relative thereto. In some examples, the upper connection tee 260a may be connected to the components of the zipper module 256b omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24 via a flange fixedly connected to the upper side of the upper connection tee 260a, the flange having a plurality of circumferentially-spaced flange bolt holes; therefore, the circumferential orientation of the upper connection tee 260a, relative to the components of the zipper module 256b omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24, may be adjusted in increments equaling circumferential spacings between respective pairs of flange bolt holes.

Alternatively, a change in the circumferential orientation of the upper connection tee 260a may be facilitated by a swivel connection (not shown) provided between the upper connection tee 260a and those components of the zipper module 256b that are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24. Such changes in the circumferential orientation of the upper connection tee 260a effect a circumferential offset between the upper connection tee 260a and the components of the zipper module 256b omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24.

Similarly, the lower connection tee 260b is operably coupled to the upper connection tee 260a via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe (not shown). In some examples, the circumferential orientation of the lower connection tee 260b can be changed by, for example, de-coupling the lower connection tee 260b from the upper connection tee 260a, and, subsequently, re-coupling the lower connection tee 260b to the upper connection tee 260a (via the straight pipe between the upper and lower connection tees 260a and 260b) with a different circumferential orientation relative thereto. In an exemplary embodiment, the straight pipe extending between the tees 260a and 260b may be connected to the tees 260a and 260b via respective fixed flange connections, each of which has at least one plurality of circumferentially-spaced flange bolt holes; therefore, the relative circumferential orientation between the tees 260a and 260b may be modified by disconnecting one of the flange connections between the straight pipe and one of the tees 260a and 260b, and then adjusting the relative circumferential orientation between the tees 260a and 260b by rotating the plurality of circumferentially-spaced flange bolt holes of the disconnected flange connection; in this manner, the relative circumferential orientation between the tees 260a and 260b may be adjusted in an increment equaling a circumferential spacing between a pair of flange bolt holes.

Alternatively, a change in the circumferential orientation of the lower connection tee 260b may be facilitated by a swivel connection (not shown) provided between the lower connection tee 260b and the upper connection tee 260a. For example, the swivel connection may be incorporated into the fluid conduit (not shown) between the upper and lower connection tees 260a and 260b. Such changes in the circumferential orientation of the lower connection tee 260b effect a circumferential offset between the lower connection tee 260b and the upper connection tee 260a.

In several exemplary embodiments, the different spacings and offsets between the frac stacks 258a-c, as represented by the distances D1, D2, D3, and D4, are at least partially accommodated by the circumferential offsets of the respective upper connection tees 260a relative to the respective components of the zipper modules 256a-c that are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24. In several examples, the different spacings and offsets between the frac stacks 258a-c, as represented by the distances D1, D2, D3, and D4, are at least partially accommodated by the circumferential offsets of the respective lower connection tees 260b relative to the respective upper connection tees 260a. In several examples, the different spacings and offsets between the frac stacks 258a-c, as represented by the distances D1, D2, D3, and D4, are at least partially accommodated by at least one of: the circumferential offsets of the respective upper connection tees 260a relative to the respective components of the zipper modules 256a-c that are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24; and the circumferential offsets of the respective lower connection tees 260b relative to the respective upper connection tees 260a.

In operation, with continuing reference to FIGS. 23 and 24, the manner in which the zipper modules 256a-c are operably coupled to the frac stacks 258a-c, respectively, and interconnected to form the zipper manifold 254, is substantially identical to the manner in which the zipper modules 22a and 22b are operably coupled to the frac stacks 158a and 158b, respectively, and interconnected to form the zipper manifold 28 (as described above in connection with FIGS. 12-19), with certain exceptions. These exceptions involve the circumferential offsets of the respective upper connection tees 260a relative to the respective components of the zipper modules 256a-c that are omitted from view in FIGS. 23 and 24, and the circumferential offsets of the respective lower connection tees 260b relative to the respective upper connection tees 260a. Therefore, the manner in which the zipper modules 256a-c are operably coupled to the frac stacks 258a-c, respectively, and interconnected to form the zipper manifold 254, will not be described in further detail below.

In the examples illustrated in FIGS. 25 and 26, the straight pipe 254 that interconnects the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively (as shown in FIGS. 16-19), is substituted with another fluid conduit such as, for example, a U-shaped pipe joint 262. Certain components of the zipper modules 22a and 22b are omitted from view in FIGS. 25 and 26 to more clearly show the U-shaped pipe joint 262. The U-shaped pipe joint 262 allows for the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively, to be operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, one another, even when the respective heights H1 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b are different, as shown in FIGS. 25 and 26.

In the examples illustrated in FIGS. 27 and 28, the straight pipe 254 and/or the U-shaped pipe joint 262 that interconnects the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively (as shown in FIGS. 16-19, 25, and 26), is substituted with another fluid conduit such as, for example, a swivel block assembly 264. Certain components of the zipper modules 22a and 22b are omitted from view in FIGS. 27 and 28 to more clearly show the swivel block assembly 264. The swivel block assembly 264 allows for the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively, to be operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, one another, even when the respective heights H1 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b are different, as shown in FIGS. 27 and 28.

In the examples illustrated in FIGS. 29 and 30, the straight pipe 254, the U-shaped pipe joint 262, and/or the swivel block assembly 264 that interconnects the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively (as shown in FIGS. 16-19 and 25-28), is substituted with another fluid conduit such as, for example, a pivot joint 266. Certain components of the zipper modules 22a and 22b are omitted from view in FIGS. 29 and 30 to more clearly show the pivot joint 266. The pivot joint 266 allows for the connection tees 186 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b, respectively, to be operably coupled to, and in fluid communication with, one another, even when the respective heights H1 of the zipper modules 22a and 22b are different, as shown in FIGS. 29 and 30.

In several examples, as illustrated in FIG. 31 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, frac stacks 268a-d are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively. The frac stacks 268a-d are substantially identical to each other (as are the wellheads 18a-d), and, therefore, in connection with FIG. 31, only the frac stack 268a will be described in detail below; however, the description below applies to every one of the frac stacks 268a-d. As shown in FIG. 31, the frac stack 268a includes an adapter spool 270, a pair of master valves, such as, for example, upper and lower gate valves 272 and 274, a production tee 276, a swivel assembly 278, a swab valve, such as, for example, a gate valve 280, and a tree adapter 282. The upper and lower gate valves 272 and 274 are operably coupled in series to one another above the adapter spool 270. In several examples, the upper gate valve 272 of the frac stack 268a is an automatic gate valve, and the lower gate valve 274 is a manual gate valve. The adapter spool 270 facilitates the connection between different sized flanges of the wellhead 18a and the lower gate valve 274. The production tee 276 is operably coupled to the upper gate valve 272 and includes a production wing valve 284a and a kill wing valve 284b connected thereto. The swivel assembly 278 is operably coupled to the production tee 276, opposite the upper gate valve 272, and includes a swivel tee 286 rotatably connected to a swivel spool 288. The swivel tee 286 of the frac stack 268a is configured to rotate about a vertical axis and relative to the swivel spool 288, the production tee 276, the upper and lower gate valves 272 and 274, and the adapter spool 270, as indicated by the curvilinear arrow 290 in FIG. 31. The tree adapter 282 is operably coupled to the gate valve 280 opposite the swivel assembly 278, and includes a cap and gauge connected thereto to verify closure of the gate valve 280.

In several examples, as illustrated in FIG. 32 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the zipper manifold 28 is omitted in favor of a zipper manifold 292 that is formed by the interconnection of zipper modules 294a-d, which zipper modules, in turn, are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively. In several exemplary embodiments, the zipper modules 294a-d are substantially identical to each other, and, therefore, in connection with FIG. 32, only the zipper module 294a will be described in detail below; however, the description below applies to every one of the zipper modules 294a-d. The zipper module 294a includes a vertical zipper stack 296 supported by an adjustable zipper skid 298.

In some examples, as illustrated in FIG. 32 with continuing reference to FIG. 1, the vertical zipper stack 296 includes a connection tee 300, a pair of valves, such as, for example, upper and lower gate valves 302 and 304, and a swivel assembly 306. The upper and lower gate valves 302 and 304 are operably coupled in series to one another, the lower gate valve 304 being operably coupled to the connection tee 300. In several examples, the upper gate valve 302 of the vertical zipper stack 296 is an automatic gate valve, and the lower gate valve 304 is a manual gate valve. The swivel assembly 306 is operably coupled to the upper gate valve 302, opposite the lower gate valve 304 and the connection tee 300, and includes a swivel tee 308 rotatably connected to a swivel spool 310. The swivel tee 308 of the vertical zipper stack 296 may be configured to rotate about a vertical axis and relative to the swivel spool 310, the upper and lower gate valves 302 and 304, and the connection tee 300, as indicated by the curvilinear arrow 312 in FIG. 32.

The adjustable zipper skid 298 is configured to displace the zipper stack 296 to align the swivel tee 308 of the zipper module 294a with the corresponding swivel tee 286 of the frac stack 268a. More particularly, the adjustable zipper skid 298 is configured to displace the zipper stack 296 up and down in the vertical direction, and back and forth in at least two horizontal directions, as indicated by the linear arrows 314, 316, and 318, respectively, in FIG. 32. In several exemplary embodiments, the vertical direction 314 and the at least two horizontal directions 316 and 318 are orthogonal. The adjustable zipper skid 298 is substantially identical to the adjustable zipper skid 184 described above in connection with FIG. 11. Therefore, the adjustable zipper skid 298 will not be described in further detail. Additionally, the parts of the adjustable zipper skid 298 are given the same reference numerals as the corresponding parts of the adjustable zipper skid 184.

As indicated above, with continuing reference to FIGS. 1, 31, and 32, the zipper modules 294a-d are operably coupled to the wellheads 18a-d, respectively, and are interconnected to form the zipper manifold 292. In several examples, the zipper modules 294c and 294d are incorporated into the zipper manifold 292 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18c and 18d, respectively, in substantially the same manner that the zipper modules 294a and 294b are incorporated into the zipper manifold 292 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18a and 18b, respectively. Thus, in connection with FIGS. 33-36, the incorporation of the zipper modules 294c and 294d into the zipper manifold will not be described in further detail below.

Moreover, the zipper modules 294a and 294b are incorporated into the zipper manifold 292 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18a and 18b, respectively, in substantially the same manner as that described above in relation to the zipper modules 22a and 22b (as shown in FIGS. 12-16). Therefore, the incorporation of the zipper modules 294a and 294b into the zipper manifold 292 via the connection of the zipper modules 294a and 294b to the wellheads 18a and 18b, respectively, will not be described in detail below.

In an exemplary embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 33-36 with continuing reference to FIGS. 1, 31, and 32, the swivel tee 308 of the zipper module 294a and the swivel tee 286 of the frac stack 268a are interconnected via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe 320 with flanged end portions. In a similar manner, the swivel tee 308 of the zipper module 294b and the swivel tee 286 of the frac stack 268b are interconnected via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe 322 with flanged end portions. Finally, the connection tees 300 of the zipper modules 294a and 294b, respectively, are interconnected via a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe 324 with flanged end portions. Respective opposing end portions of the straight pipe 324 are supported by the support bracket 238a of the zipper module 294a and the support bracket 238b of the zipper module 294b. In some embodiments, the zipper manifold 292 includes only the zipper modules 294a and 294b; such embodiments include at least one of: a pipe-and-cap 326a supported by the support bracket 238b of the zipper module 294a and operably coupled to the connection tee 300, opposite the straight pipe 324, and a pipe-and-cap 326b supported by the support bracket 238a of the zipper module 294b and operably coupled to the connection tee 300, opposite the straight pipe 324. In other examples, the zipper manifold 292 further includes the zipper modules 294c and 294d, which are incorporated into the zipper manifold 292 and operably coupled to the wellheads 18c and 18d, respectively, in substantially the same manner as described above with respect to the zipper module 294b and the wellhead 18b. In such examples, the pipe-and-cap 326a is supported by the support bracket 238b of the zipper module 294a and operably coupled to the connection tee 300, opposite the straight pipe 324, and the pipe-and-cap 326b is supported by the support bracket 238a of the zipper module 294d and operably coupled to the connection tee 300, opposite a fluid conduit, such as, for example, a straight pipe that is substantially identical to the straight pipe 324.

Additionally or alternatively, any of the disclosed valves shown in the vertical zipper stack or large-bore iron fluid lines of the assembly manifolds—including the high- and low-pressure lines/manifolds—may be electronically controlled and/or monitored (e.g., opened or closed) by a local or remote computer, either on the skids, trailers, or manifolds, or from a remote location. In this vein, one more computing devices (e.g., server, laptop, mobile phone, mobile tablet, personal computer, kiosk, or the like) may establish a connection with one or more processors, integrated circuits (ICs), application-specific ICs (ASICs), systems on a chip (SoC), microcontrollers, or other electronic processing logic to open and control the disclosed valves, which in some examples, are actuated through electrical circuitry and/or hydraulics.

Although described in connection with an exemplary computing device, examples of the disclosure are capable of implementation with numerous other general-purpose or special-purpose computing system environments, configurations, or devices. Examples of well-known computing systems, environments, and/or configurations that may be suitable for use with aspects of the disclosure include, but are not limited to, smart phones, mobile tablets, mobile computing devices, personal computers, server computers, hand-held or laptop devices, multiprocessor systems, gaming consoles, microprocessor-based systems, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, distributed computing environments that include any of the above systems or devices, and the like.

Aspects disclosed herein may be performed using computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, executed by one or more computers or other devices in software, firmware, hardware, or a combination thereof. The computer-executable instructions may be organized into one or more computer-executable components or modules embodied—either physically or virtually—on non-transitory computer-readable media, which include computer-storage memory and/or memory devices. Generally, program modules include, but are not limited to, routines, programs, objects, components, and data structures that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. Aspects of the disclosure may be implemented with any number and organization of such components or modules. For example, aspects of the disclosure are not limited to the specific computer-executable instructions or the specific components or modules illustrated in the figures and described herein. Other examples of the disclosure may include different computer-executable instructions or components having more or less functionality than illustrated and described herein. In examples involving a general-purpose computer, aspects of the disclosure transform the general-purpose computer into a special-purpose computing device when configured to execute the instructions described herein.

Exemplary computer-readable media include flash memory drives, digital versatile discs (DVDs), compact discs (CDs), floppy disks, and tape cassettes. By way of example and not limitation, computer readable media comprise computer storage media and communication media. Computer storage media include volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data. Computer storage media are tangible and mutually exclusive to communication media. Computer storage media are implemented in hardware, are non-transitory, and exclude carrier waves and propagated signals. Computer storage media for purposes of this disclosure are not signals per se. Exemplary computer storage media include hard disks, flash drives, and other solid-state memory. In contrast, communication media typically embody computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and include any information delivery media.

ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES

Some examples include a spherical swivel joint with a first yoke comprising a first flange and defining a first fluid passage. A first bearing is coupled to the first yoke. The spherical swivel joint also includes a second yoke comprising a second flange and defining a second fluid passage, and a second bearing is coupled to the second yoke. The spherical swivel joint also includes a crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing. The crossover spool defines a third fluid passage that creates an aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage.

In an example, the crossover spool is movable through movement of the first bearing.

In an example, the crossover spool is free to move at least one of the x-, y-, or z-directions based on coupling to the first bearing.

In an example, the crossover spool is movable up to seven degrees relative to a longitudinal axis of the first yoke.

In an example, the first bearing is positioned inside a cylindrical bearing housing.

Another example includes one or more longitudinally extending flange connectors extending from the first flange for mating with reciprocal flange receptacles, thereby connecting the first flange to external flow iron components.

In an example, the flange is configured to be threadably connected to external flow iron components.

In an example, the crossover spool enables the second bearing to be moved up to five inches off of a longitudinal axis defined by the first yoke and spanning through the first bearing.

Another example includes a first bearing housing internally containing the first bearing and a second bearing housing internally containing the second bearing. The second bearing housing being movable along a longitudinal axis relative to the first bearing housing.

In an example, the aggregate fluid pathway measures at 4-7 inches in diameter.

In an example, the first bearing includes an inner ring defining a convex surface and an outer ring defining a concave surface.

In an example, the crossover spool defines an external convex annular surface at an end potion of the first yoke opposite the first flange.

In an example, the crossover spool defines an external convex annular surface at an end potion of the first yoke opposite the first flange.

Some examples deliver fracturing fluid to a wellhead through a zipper stack. A manifold assembly has at least one tubular member defining a fluid flow line for supplying the fracturing fluid to the zipper stack. The manifold assembly includes a flow fitting as an outlet for the fracturing fluid to the zipper stack. A first spherical swivel joint is used to that includes a first yoke with a first flange connectable to the flow fitting of the manifold assembly, with the first yoke defining a first fluid passage for the fracturing fluid. The first spherical swivel joint includes a first bearing coupled to the first yoke, with the second yoke having a second flange, and the second yoke defining a second fluid passage for the fracturing fluid. The first spherical swivel joint also includes a second bearing coupled to the second yoke and a first crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing. The first crossover spool defines a third fluid passage that creates a first aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass from the manifold assembly to the zipper stack.

In an example, the zipper stack is coupled to the wellhead along a single straight-line pipe between a zipper stack and the wellhead for supplying the fracturing fluid to the wellhead.

In an example, the zipper stack is connected to the wellhead through a second spherical swivel joint, the second spherical swivel joint comprising: a third yoke with a third flange connectable to the zipper stack, the third yoke defining a third fluid passage for receiving the fracturing fluid, a third bearing coupled to the third yoke, a fourth yoke with a fourth flange, the fourth yoke defining a fourth fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a fourth bearing coupled to the fourth yoke, and a second crossover spool coupled to the third bearing and the fourth bearing, the second crossover spool defining a fifth fluid passage that creates a second aggregate fluid pathway comprising the third fluid passage, the fourth fluid passage, and the fifth fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass from the zipper stack to the wellhead.

In an example, the zipper stack is configured to direct at least part of the fracturing fluid to another zipper stack connected to another wellhead.

In an example, the fluid flow line comprises an inner bore diameter of 4-9 inches.

Some examples include a zipper stack coupled to a wellhead; and a spherical swivel joint comprising: a first yoke with a first flange connectable to the zipper stack, the first yoke defining a first fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a first bearing coupled to the first yoke, a second yoke with a second flange, the second yoke defining a second fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a second bearing coupled to the second yoke, and a crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing, the crossover spool defining a third fluid passage that creates an aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass to the zipper stack.

Other examples include a manifold assembly comprising a fluid line with an internal bore having a diameter between 4-9 inches is connected to the flange of the second yoke of the spherical swivel joint, wherein the manifold assembly supplies the fracturing fluid to the spherical swivel joint for passage to the zipper stack.

It is understood that variations may be made in the foregoing without departing from the scope of the disclosure.

In several exemplary embodiments, the elements and teachings of the various illustrative exemplary embodiments may be combined in whole or in part in some or all of the illustrative exemplary embodiments. In addition, one or more of the elements and teachings of the various illustrative exemplary embodiments may be omitted, at least in part, or combined, at least in part, with one or more of the other elements and teachings of the various illustrative embodiments.

Any spatial references such as, for example, “upper,” “lower,” “above,” “below,” “between,” “bottom,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” “angular,” “upwards,” “downwards,” “side-to-side,” “left-to-right,” “left,” “right,” “right-to-left,” “top-to-bottom,” “bottom-to-top,” “top,” “bottom,” “bottom-up,” “top-down,” etc., are for the purpose of illustration only and do not limit the specific orientation or location of the structure described above.

In several exemplary embodiments, while different steps, processes, and procedures are described as appearing as distinct acts, one or more of the steps, one or more of the processes, or one or more of the procedures may also be performed in different orders, simultaneously or sequentially. In several exemplary embodiments, the steps, processes or procedures may be merged into one or more steps, processes or procedures. In several exemplary embodiments, one or more of the operational steps in each embodiment may be omitted. Moreover, in some instances, some features of the present disclosure may be employed without a corresponding use of the other features. Moreover, one or more of the exemplary embodiments disclosed above, or variations thereof, may be combined in whole or in part with any one or more of the other exemplary embodiments described above, or variations thereof.

Although several “exemplary” embodiments have been disclosed in detail above, “exemplary,” as used herein, means an example embodiment, not any sort of preferred embodiment the embodiments disclosed are exemplary only and are not limiting, and those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many other modifications, changes, and substitutions are possible in the exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the present disclosure. Accordingly, all such modifications, changes, and substitutions are intended to be included within the scope of this disclosure as defined in the following claims. In the claims, means-plus-function clauses are intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents, but also equivalent structures.

Claims

1. A spherical swivel joint, comprising:

a first yoke comprising a first flange and defining a first fluid passage;
a first bearing coupled to the first yoke;
a second yoke comprising a second flange and defining a second fluid passage;
a second bearing coupled to the second yoke; and
a crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing, the crossover spool defining a third fluid passage that creates an aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage.

2. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the crossover spool is movable through movement of the first bearing.

3. The spherical swivel joint of claim 2, wherein the crossover spool is free to move at least one of the x-, y-, or z-directions based on coupling to the first bearing.

4. The spherical swivel joint of claim 3, wherein the crossover spool is movable up to seven degrees relative to a longitudinal axis of the first yoke.

5. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the first bearing is positioned inside a cylindrical bearing housing.

6. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, further comprising one or more longitudinally extending flange connectors extending from the first flange for mating with reciprocal flange receptacles, thereby connecting the first flange to external flow iron components.

7. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the flange is configured to be threadably connected to external flow iron components.

8. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the crossover spool enables the second bearing to be moved up to five inches off of a longitudinal axis defined by the first yoke and spanning through the first bearing.

9. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, further comprising:

a first bearing housing internally containing the first bearing; and
a second bearing housing internally containing the second bearing, the second bearing housing being movable along a longitudinal axis relative to the first bearing housing.

10. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the aggregate fluid pathway measures at 4-7 inches in diameter.

11. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the first bearing includes an inner ring defining a convex surface and an outer ring defining a concave surface.

12. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the crossover spool defines an external convex annular surface at an end potion of the first yoke opposite the first flange.

13. The spherical swivel joint of claim 1, wherein the crossover spool defines an external convex annular surface at an end potion of the first yoke opposite the first flange.

14. A system for delivering fracturing fluid to a wellhead through a zipper stack, wherein the zipper stack is coupled to the wellhead, the system comprising:

a manifold assembly comprising at least one tubular member defining a fluid flow line for supplying the fracturing fluid to the zipper stack, the manifold assembly comprising and a flow fitting as an outlet for the fracturing fluid to the zipper stack; and
a first spherical swivel joint comprising: a first yoke with a first flange connectable to the flow fitting of the manifold assembly, the first yoke defining a first fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a first bearing coupled to the first yoke, a second yoke with a second flange, the second yoke defining a second fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a second bearing coupled to the second yoke, and a first crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing, the first crossover spool defining a third fluid passage that creates a first aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass from the manifold assembly to the zipper stack.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the zipper stack is coupled to the wellhead along a single straight-line pipe between a zipper stack and the wellhead for supplying the fracturing fluid to the wellhead.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein the zipper stack is connected to the wellhead through a second spherical swivel joint, the second spherical swivel joint comprising:

a third yoke with a third flange connectable to the zipper stack, the third yoke defining a third fluid passage for receiving the fracturing fluid,
a third bearing coupled to the third yoke,
a fourth yoke with a fourth flange, the fourth yoke defining a fourth fluid passage for the fracturing fluid,
a fourth bearing coupled to the fourth yoke, and
a second crossover spool coupled to the third bearing and the fourth bearing, the second crossover spool defining a fifth fluid passage that creates a second aggregate fluid pathway comprising the third fluid passage, the fourth fluid passage, and the fifth fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass from the zipper stack to the wellhead.

17. The system of claim 14, wherein the zipper stack is configured to direct at least part of the fracturing fluid to another zipper stack connected to another wellhead.

18. The system of claim 14, wherein the first spherical swivel joint comprises an inner bore diameter of 7 inches.

19. A system for delivering fracturing fluid to a wellhead, the system comprising:

a zipper stack coupled to a wellhead; and
a spherical swivel joint comprising: a first yoke with a first flange connectable to the zipper stack, the first yoke defining a first fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a first bearing coupled to the first yoke, a second yoke with a second flange, the second yoke defining a second fluid passage for the fracturing fluid, a second bearing coupled to the second yoke, and a crossover spool coupled to the first bearing and the second bearing, the crossover spool defining a third fluid passage that creates an aggregate fluid pathway comprising the first fluid passage, the second fluid passage, and the third fluid passage for the fracturing fluid to pass to the zipper stack.

20. The system of claim 19, further comprising a manifold assembly comprising a fluid line with an internal bore having a diameter between 4-9 inches is connected to the flange of the second yoke of the spherical swivel joint, wherein the manifold assembly supplies the fracturing fluid to the spherical swivel joint for passage to the zipper stack.

Patent History

Publication number: 20180073308
Type: Application
Filed: Sep 13, 2017
Publication Date: Mar 15, 2018
Applicant: Seaboard International, Inc. (Houston, TX)
Inventors: Duc Thanh Tran (Spring, TX), Brian C. Witkowski (Weatherford, TX), Matthew Thomas Robinson Webster (Edmonton AB), Nadiya Fuller (Plano, TX), Nuder Said (Fort Worth, TX)
Application Number: 15/703,975

Classifications

International Classification: E21B 17/05 (20060101); E21B 21/02 (20060101);