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Title:
APPARATUS FOR EFFECTING AN ELECTRICAL CONNECTION ACROSS A DRILL PIPE JOINT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/058642
Kind Code:
A3
Abstract:
A composite pipe segment is formed to include tapered in wall thickness ends that are each defined by opposed frustoconical surfaces conformed for self centering receipt and intimate bonding contact within an annular space between corresponding surfaces of a coaxially nested set of metal end pieces. The distal peripheries of the nested end pieces are then welded to each other and the sandwiched and bonded portions are radially pinned. The composite segment may include imbedded conductive leads and the axial end portions of the end pieces are shaped to form a threaded joint with the next pipe assembly that includes contact rings in the opposed surfaces of the pipe joint assembly either pierced by a pointed contact in the other to connect the corresponding leads across the joint or contacting an opposed ring in the other surface.

Inventors:
LESLIE JAMES C (US)
LESLIE JAMES C II (US)
HEARD JAMES T (US)
TRUONG LIEM V (US)
JOSEPHSON MARVIN (US)
NEUBERT HANS (US)
Application Number:
US2005/035018
Publication Date:
December 27, 2007
Filing Date:
September 27, 2005
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ADVANCED COMPOSITE PRODUCTS & (US)
International Classes:
F16L25/00
Foreign References:
US6367564B12002-04-09
US5332049A1994-07-26
US4399877A1983-08-23
US5443099A1995-08-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHOOLEY, Vern (200 Oceangate Suite 155, Long Beach CA, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
IT IS CLAIMED:

1. In a drilling pipe assembly useful in a repeating end-to-end threaded connection for forming a pipe string defined by a generally tubular composite pipe segment including a first end and a second end each said first and second end including a generally equal tapered wall reducing in thickness at the end opening, each tapered end wall being defined by substantially symmetrical interior frustoconical surfaces in opposing alignment with corresponding substantially symmetrical exterior frustoconical surfaces; a first and second end fitting each including an interior and an exterior tubular piece said interior piece being conformed for coaxial telescopically nested receipt within said exterior piece, said interior and exterior pieces each further including a skirt conformed for mating alignment along a corresponding one of said interior and exterior . frustoconical surfaces for bonding therewith, a threaded boss formed on the free end of the interior piece of said first end fitting and a threaded opening formed within the free end of the interior piece of said second end fitting conformed for threaded receipt of said boss, the improvement comprising: a passageway formed through each interior piece communicating between said segment and each free end of said interior piece; a conductive lead imbedded in said pipe segment and extending through said passageway including a conductor surrounded by an insulation sheath, said conductor terminating in exposed portions at each end thereof extending beyond said sheath; an annular recess formed at each free end of said interior pieces in communication with said passageway; an annular seal of an elastomeric material conformed for mating receipt within said annular recess and including a perforation conformed for mating with said insulation sheath, said seal further including an inner and an outer concentrically aligned wall forming an annular groove therebetween for receiving a corresponding exposed end of said conductors;

a contact ring conformed for mating receipt within said annular groove for connecting with the corresponding exposed end of said conductor, selected ones of said rings including cut off portions φr receiving excess elastomeric material of said seal upon the compression of said rings into the corresponding interior of said grooves.

2. In a pipe assembly according to claim 1 , wherein; each said ring includes spaced axial projections aligned for receipt in said annular groove of said seal and said seal includes conforming pockets for receiving said projections; and each said recess includes conformingly spaced cavities for receiving said pockets.

3. In a pipe assembly according to claim 2, wherein: selected ones of said rings include peripheral chamfers of the exterior edges thereof.

4. In a pipe assembly according to claim 3, wherein; said composite pipe segment includes carbon fiber filament arrays.

5. In a pipe assembly according to claim 4, wherein; said composite pipe segment further includes impervious wrapping layers.

6. A pipe assembly conformed for repeating end-to-end threaded connection to form a pipe string, comprising: a generally tubular composite pipe segment defined by a first end and a second end each said first and second end including a tapered wall reducing in thickness at the end opening, each tapered end wall being defined by interior frustoconical surfaces in opposing alignment with corresponding exterior frustoconical surfaces; a first and second end fitting each including an interior and an exterior tubular piece said interior piece being conformed for coaxial telescopically nested receipt within said exterior piece, said interior and exterior pieces each further including a skirt conformed for mating alignment along a corresponding one of said interior and exterior frustoconical surfaces for bonding therewith; a threaded boss formed on the free end of the interior piece of said first end fitting;

a threaded opening formed within the free end of the interior piece of said second end fitting conformed for threaded receipt of the next adjacent one of said bosses; a conductive lead imbedded in said pipe segment conformed for connection at one end thereof to a contact ring deployed in concentric alignment at the free end of one of said interior pieces and to a spring biased piercing projection received in the peripheral end edge of the other one of said interior pieces; and pressure means for extending said piercing projection beyond said peripheral end edge for piercing contact with the next adjacent one of said contact rings.

7. A pipe assembly according to claim 6, wherein: said inner and outer pieces each include peripheral projections conformed for adjacent welded engagement upon the nested receipt thereof.

8. A pipe assembly according to claim 7, further comprising; a plurality of radial pins piercing in interference through said extrior and interior skirts and said tapered end wall therebetween.

9. A pipe assembly according to claim 8, wherein; said composite pipe segment includes carbon fiber filament arrays.

10. A pipe assembly according to claim 9, wherein; said composite pipe segment further includes impervious wrapping layers.

11. A pipe assembly according to claim 10, wherein; said inner and outer pieces are each formed of metal.

12. A method for fixing the ends of composite pipe segments within metal end fitting assemblies, comprising the steps of; inserting each end of said composite pipe segment into an annular gap formed between concentrically nested exterior and interior tubular end pieces conformed to thereby center the nested end piece assembly on each said pipe segment end; bonding the interior and exterior end surfaces of each end of said pipe segment to the corresponding surfaces of said exterior and interior end pieces; welding together the peripheral edges of said interior and exterior end pieces distal of said of said interior and exterior surfaces while concurrently cooling those portions of said end pieces that are bonded to the ends of said segment; and

pressing in interference fit a plurality of radially aligned pins through the bonded combination of said segment ends received between said exterior and interior end pieces.

13. A method according to claim 12, wherein: the step of inserting each end of said composite pipe segment includes the further step of forming the exterior and interior surface portions of said segment ends to define opposed frustoconical surfaces.

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein: the step of bonding includes the further step of aligning the adjacent portions of said interior and exterior pieces into intimate contact with the corresponding ones of said frustoconical surfaces.

15. A method according to claim 14, wherein: said step of forming further includes wrapping graphite fibers together with imbedded conductors; and said step of bonding further includes conveying the ends of said conductors through said interior pieces.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The Technical Field:

The present invention relates to drill pipe strings and the method for forming same, and more particularly to bridging connections for transmitting signal and/or power across the joints forming the pipe string. The Prior Art:

As the known formations containing oil and/or gas are depleted drilling for new deposits is invariably at a greater depth and/or greater lateral reach, with the depth and reach limits determined mainly by the cumulated weight and unit strength of the pipe string. Traditionally, the use of steel pipe has fixed these weight-to-strength ratios, setting a limit that has been particularly bothersome in ultra-deep, deep directional and/or extended reach drilling caused either by the weight of the pipe or by the weight induced friction of the rotating pipe string as it rests on the walls of the well bore, or rubs against the casing wall. The increasingly large expenses of remote drilling or drilling from a platform, moreover, impose some rigor in directional response which is best effected by drill pipe capable of short turning radii, again a facility that is difficult to obtain in steel pipe. The drilling entrepreneur, therefore, has been limited for some time by the stiffness; the unit weight; and the fatigue, shear and tensile strength limits of meta pipe. As a result various material alternatives have been proposed both to reduce the linear weight and flexure of the string and to improve its fatigue, shear and tensile limits. This search for light weight and high strength material substitutes has led to composite pipe structures, particularly since composites also offer the added benefits of being more resistive to corrosion.

Composites, however, are less effective at forming mechanical joints while virtually all drilling operations require limited length pipe segments, determined by the size of the drilling rig and/or the handling power of any lifting equipment, and the step of joining such pipe segments into a long string is a fundamental aspect of all drilling. For this reason the more recent development focus has been directed to the interface between the composite wall of the pipe and metal end fittings on each end of the segment.

Composite materials have a further advantage that heretofore has not been extensively recognized, namely the convenient imbedding of signal and/or power conductors into the laminates forming the pipe wall. This function is particularly useful with short radius directional drilling as it allows for an uninterrupted, continuous down hole signal feedback and also control augmentation while drilling, thus maximizing the effectiveness of the invariably very high drilling costs at the remaining remote or deeply submerged formations. This synergistic aspect of composite pipe has not been fully recognized nor exploited in the art, simply because the technical challenge of forming an effective connection between the composite tube wall and the end fitting has overwhelmed all other considerations. The process of imbedding conductors or connecting them across a joint has therefore been relegated to inattention.

At the core is the inherent difficulty in forming a high integrity interface between the composite pipe wall and the joining surfaces of the end fitting. In the past fitting assemblies with variously opposing surface geometries have been proposed to effect a secure capture of the composite end within the fitting. Some examples of such end fittings include those taught in US patents 5,233,737 to Policelli; 4,810,010 to Jones; 6,315,002 to Antal et al.; and others. While suitable for the purposes intended each of the foregoing assemblies include threaded or otherwise releasably engaged parts clamping the composite between each other with inherently uneven load concentrations resulting in highly uneven shear stresses. This uneven load distribution between adjacent parts, of course, results in correspondingly uneven local strain deformations when exposed to the various high loadings in the course of use. There is therefore an inherent incidence of local bond separation between the composite itself and the adjoining fitting surface, with some consequence for failure.

Alternatively, end fitting assemblies have been proposed in which radial pins or other radial fasteners are added to the assembly, as exemplified by the teachings of US patents 5,332,049 to Tew; 5,288,109 to Auberon et al.; 5,443,099 to Chaussepied et al.; and others. Once again, while some improvement in structural integrity is realized from these radial interconnections the essentially separated nature of the assembly components is also susceptible to uneven load transfer with the consequent local separations an

inherent possibility. A low stress concentration interface between a metal end fitting and a composite pipe is therefore the significant attribute for effective composite drilling pipe construction. Once inventively realized the non-conductive nature of the composite filaments may then be rendered even more useful by imbedded conductive leads with the bridging interconnection of the leads carried across the interface between the mated end fittings in a single, integral structure.

In the past various conductor connection arrangements bridging a pipe joint have been proposed for transmitting power and signals down metallic pipe strings. Examples of such arrangements can be found in the teachings of US patents 6,367,564 to Mills et al.; 4,220,381 to van der Graaf; 2,748,358 to Johnston; and 5,334,801 to Mohn. Each of these, and others similarly implemented, either refer to indirect coupling like that obtained by capacitive coupling or by Hall effect, or speak of full insulation of paired leads in light of the conductive nature of the pipe string, as in the '564 patent to Mills. Thus while suitable for the purposes intended these prior art teachings do not avail themselves to all the advantages of a composite, non-conducting pipe string and it is these advantages that are realized herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is the general purpose and object of the present invention to provide an end fitting assembly mated to the composite pipe ends that effects direct electrical contact between lead ends in the course of threaded mating..

Other objects of the invention are to provide an end fitting assembly conformed to mate to the ends of composite pipe segments and to interconnect with electrical, fiberoptic or other leads imbedded in the segment.

Yet further objects of the invention are to provide mating end fittings on the ends of composite pipe segments which further include bridging interconnections thereacross for connecting corresponding leads imbedded in the mated segments.

Additional objects of the invention are to provide a threaded pipe segment interconnection for joining composite pipe that is also useful in transmitting data, power, optical or other signals across the threaded joint.

Briefly, these and other objects are accomplished within the present invention by forming reinforced composite tubular segments each of a generally uniform wall thickness each having both ends linearly tapered to a reducing wall thickness over a fixed axial increment. Both the interior and exterior tapers of these substantially identical end surfaces are then each mated and bonded to corresponding linearly tapered portions of cylindrical inner and an outer metal fitting pieces with the remaining parts of the inner and outer pieces being further conformed for a closely fitted annular nested assembly. Once fully nested the dimensions.of the tapered gap thus formed between the fittings closely match the end tapers of each composite segment, assuring an intimate surface contact and therefore an effective bond over the full surface of the metal to composite Interfaces, the centralizing taper assuring this bond with or without bond line control . The end of the interior piece is formed to extend beyond its nested receipt within the exterior piece to form either the male or female end of a threaded drill pipe connection, commonly referred to as the 'pin end' and the 'box end' of the pipe segment.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the foregoing assembly results in a fairly large composite-to-metal interface surface for effecting the bond, thus widely diffusing any load concentrations thereacross. Nonetheless, the greatly dissimilar elastic moduli of metal and composite and the rugged environment associated with drilling result in wholly unpredictable loading patterns across the bonding joint with a substantial risk of relative movement between the parts producing localized deflection mismatches and consequent local separation. This then starts the failure avalanche that propagates into full separation. To minimize the incidence of such relative movement of parts the present invention provides further steps for integrating the assembly into a unitary structure once the initial bond has been made. More precisely, the distal portions of the nested inner and outer pieces are each in direct contact presenting adjacent exterior flange rings which are then welded to each other while the portions thereof forming the interface cavity with the composite end bonded therein are cooled by water spray. Following this welding step the bonded portion may receive a plurality of radial pins press fit and secured through matched openings in the tapered skirts of the inner and outer piece and also through corresponding openings in the tapered end of the composite pipe segment

bonded therein to folly tie the separate items into an integral structure, with the press fit receipt of the pins in the more resilient composite insuring an internal compression pre- stress across the bond. In this manner all the conveniences of a part- wise assembly are retained while the resulting end structure has all the advantages of an integral unit. More importantly, this manner of assembly insures a self-centralizing benefit where the tapered ends of the composite segment themselves provide the reference structure against which the inner and outer pieces are aligned. Once this centralized alignment is fixed by bonding the intimately aligned surfaces to each other the subsequent welding, and pinning if desired of the nested pieces assures the end structure integrity necessary to transfer the large stresses developed across the joint.

The same convenience of part- wise assembly that results in an integral structure is also useful in realizing further benefits associated with composite tubes, namely the benefit of bridging across the pipe joint electrical or signal continuity between imbedded signal or power leads in each segment, ha a first example the part-wise assembly process allows insertion of exposed ends of imbedded conductors into passages formed in the exterior piece for connection to axially aligned spring biased pins mounted on pistons within a sealed manifold. Application of pressure to the manifold then extends the pins against their spring bias to pierce the insulation covering on concentric annular contact rings deployed in the opposed mating surface of the next adjacent exterior piece threadably mated therewith, with the contact rings in turn connected for electrical contact with corresponding conductors imbedded in the next segment, and so on.

In a second example both the opposed faces surrounding the threaded connection each include opposing annular recesses within which coaxial contact rings are received within an interleaved concentric alignment between the lateral wall of an insulating seal. Preferably the contact rings project slightly beyond each of the opposing surfaces and as the pipe joint of the next segment is threadably coupled to the pipe string the resulting compression of the rings against each other then effects the contact between the opposed joint ends. To assure complete sealing of each ring by the walls of the insulating seal the peripheries of some of the ring surfaces may be chamfered to provide annular voids

into which the excess insulation material can flow as the joint ends are threaded together. Each of the rings, moreover, may be perforated to engage a corresponding lead end extending through the insulator which then similarly seals by material flow this part of the surface and the buried edge of the rings may include axial projections that extend into confoπning pockets formed in the seal to engage depressions in the groove bottom and thereby fix the ring and seal combination against rotation in the groove as the threaded pipe joint is made.

Thus a quick and expedient contact mechanism is devised either effected by the pressurizing step or by the threaded advancement of the joint ends onto each other thereby providing for a convenient transmission of signal or power down the well bore. The foregoing connection sequence may be utilized with composite segments of a layered construction including one or more impervious barrier sheets wrapped between the fiber layers, resulting in a fully sealed pipe string, a manner of construction that obtains further convenience for fabrication mandrel release by introducing internal pressure once the core layer has been formed with the pressurized core then serving as its own mandrel for next the successive wrappings of fiber and further interleaved membranes.

Those in the art will appreciate that this layered construction process allows for introduction of sealant between selected layers, while appropriate compliance selection of the other layers and the fiber wrapping angle can then be used to control the bending compliance, and thus the turning radius, of the resulting piece. In this manner all the desired functions and attributes can be accommodated in the assembly process which then renders pipe segments that are particularly useful in the ultra deep and extended reach drilling efforts that are currently required. // // // // // //

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig. 1 is a perspective illustration, separated by parts, of a conventional drill pipe string extended into a well bore;

Fig. 2 is yet another perspective illustration, separated by parts and in partial section, of the inventive metal to composite end fitting assembly;

Fig. 3 is a further perspective illustration of the inventive composite pipe assembly incorporating the parts illustrated in Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 is a side view, in section, of a pipe joint illustrating the inventive pressure activated electrical contact mechanism in accordance with the present invention;

Fig. 5 is a further perspective illustration, in partial section, of the tooling arrangement useful in combining the inventive assembly into an integral fixture;

Fig. 6 is a further diagrammatic view, in perspective, illustrating the inventive implementation of a forming facility useful in forming the composite pipe segment on a rotary mount incorporating portions of the inventive end fitting assembly;

Fig. 7 is a sequence diagram of an end fitting assembly sequence in accordance with the present invention;

Fig. 8 is a further perspective illustration, separated by parts, of another alternative implementation of an electrical contact mechanism bridging electrical conduction across a threaded pipe joint;

Figs. 9a and 9b are each sectional detail views of the inventive contact mechanism shown generally in Fig. 8 respectively before and after the full threaded engagement of a pipe joint;

Fig. 10 is a further detail illustration, in section, of the connection between the exposed lead ends of a conductor and the corresponding one of the contact rings; and

Fig. 11 is a sectional view through a pipe joint illustrating the contact mechanism shown in Figs 8-10.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As shown in Fig. 1 current drilling practices depend on a string SP composed of drill pipe segments PS connected end-to-end to turn a cutting tool CT mounted on the lower string end. In the course of such turning the tool CT grinds and penetrates through the bottom of the well bore WB with the particulates continuously brought out to the surface by a circulating flow of drilling mud DM pumped into the bore to equalize bore pressures. As readily available formations are depleted these drilling projects now extend to much greater depth, and/or greater lateral reach, with the weight of the pipe string SP and/or its friction load in the well bore setting the practical exploration limits. The complexity of a drilling rig RG conformed for such long reach drilling is enormous and the logistics of its movement, alone, encourage directional capability along with an increasing pipe string. This same complexity of the rig also determines the manipulation convenience of each of the pipe segments PS, again resulting in its own logistic and mechanical constraints resolved by the size of the rig (or off-shore platform) that can be effectively implemented at the well site, thereby limiting the length of each segment PS and multiplying the number of required joints JT that need to be made to extend the string to the desired depth. The combined weight of the string, including all the down hole joints and any wear knots or pipe protectors PP shielding the pipe from wall contact, along with the friction load resulting from this wall contact, are thus resolved at the last surface joint which sets the design limit It is within this limit that the rig operator tries to discover oil by periodic insertion of instruments down the bore, or simply by inspecting the drilling debris brought to the surface.

In addition to the above physical concerns there are also those imposed by various laws and ordinances dealing with the environment. There is currently substantial public resistance to the equipment clutter associated with crude oil production appearing in one's neighborhood, further promoting directional drilling, a technique that compounds torsional loading as very long drill pipe strings are turned while resting on the wall of the well. This same technique also demands shorter radius turns, or a more flexible pipe, and also accurate instrumentation to inform the operator of the actual direction that is being drilled and of any formation details that are encountered. For all these reasons light

weight, high strength, but elastic pipe is desired, particularly if signal and power conductors can be combined therewith. All these concerns are now substantially resolved in the inventive structure and process described by reference to Figs. 2-7.

By particular reference to Fig. 2 - 4 the inventive pipe assembly, generally designated by the numeral 10, comprises a tubular composite pipe segment 11, formed by laying up reinforcing fiber, such as carbon fiber, preferably laid in stress determined orientation patterns between plies of interleaved wrapping of generally impervious elastic sheets, all bonded together by resinous filler to form a cylindrical structure of a generally uniform wall thickness over most of its length. A selected portion of each end of pipe segment 11 is tapered along a generally uniform taper to a reducing wall thickness, illustrated as a first tapered end 12-1 and a second tapered end 12-2, each defined by an inner frustoconical surface 12i and an oppositely aligned exterior frustoconical surface 12e that cooperatively form the tapered ends that are then received within conforming circular cavities formed between a set of nested high strength steel end pieces shown as an inner end piece 20-1 nested in an outer end piece 30-1 to form an annular cavity therebetween for receiving tapered end 12-1 and a similarly nested set of end pieces 20-2 and 30-2 forming a similar cavity to receive the other tapered end. Like numbered parts functionήig in like manner, each of the annular cavities are formed by axially aligning an exterior tapered surface 22e formed on the exterior of a skirt 23 included in both the end pieces 20-1 and 20-2 adjacent an oppositely tapered surface 32i on the interior of a skirt 33 included in end pieces 30-1 and 30-2. Surfaces 22e and 32i are each closely matched to the respective dimensions and tapers of the interior and exterior surfaces 12i and 12e of each of the ends 12-1 and 12-2, thereby providing a self- centralizing assembly with closely held bonding interface that can then be effected by any well known high temperature epoxy resin. The close fit of this bonding process is further enhanced by axial advancement and close dimensional matching between the coaxially nested exterior and interior pieces so that the exterior piece forms a peripheral support for the tapered end as the interior piece is slid into its position.

Each of the skirts 23 and 33, moreover, include a radially matched set of lateral openings 24 and 34 dimensioned for press fit, or interference receipt, of corresponding pins 45 that also pass through corresponding circular openings 15 formed in the tapered ends 12-1 and 12-2 once the ends are fully received, bonded and indexed within their receiving cavities. This same indexed alignment orients the exposed ends 18 of conductor leads 17 that are woven into the filament matrix of the pipe segment 11 into alignment with longitudinal drillings 37 formed in skirts 33 to effect an electrical connection across the pipe joint herein " described. Beyond this bonding receipt each of the pieces is formed as a closely dimensioned telescoping cylindrical segments 26 and 36 which are each provided with corresponding exterior flanges 29 and 39 aligned next to each other when the skirts are properly positioned. Of course, the same drillings 37 extend through the flange 36 on the exterior to convey the lead ends 18 therethrough.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that while pieces 20-1 and 20-2, and also pieces 30-1 and 30-2, are described above by identical descriptions, in application one of the nested end piece sets serves as the male portion of the threaded joint, otherwise referred to as the 'pin end', and the other end piece set serves as the female threaded, or the 'box end'. Accordingly, those parts of the inner end pieces 20-1 and 20-2 that are exterior of flanges 29 are of necessity different depending on the joint function that is formed. Thus interior end piece 20-1 includes a threaded boss 51-1 extending beyond the exterior shoulder 29-1 of the flange 29 that is conformed for threaded receipt in a threaded cavity 51-2 formed in the other exterior shoulder 29-2 of the other flange 29 on the interior end piece 20-2. Each of the flanges 29, moreover, includes drilling continuations shown as drillings 27-1 and 27-2 aligned with drillings 37, drilling 27-1 conveying the conductor end 18 into a circular recess 53-1 formed in the flange shoulder surface 29-1 where the lead is connected to one of several insulated rings 54-1 conformed for receipt within the interior of recess 53- 1.

At the other end piece 20-2 a similar drilling 27-2 is indexed with drilling 37 in the exterior piece 30-2 to convey the other lead end 18 into a manifold 56 formed in flange 29 and terminating in one or more openings 57 through shoulder surface 29-2 opposing the recess 53-1 when the ends are threadably mated. Opening 57, in turn, is

provided with a spring biased piston 58 carrying a bayonet poμit 59. Once the end fittings are joined a pressure fitting 56p in manifold 56 is then useful to pressurize the manifold interior, advancing piston 58 against the spring bias to drive the bayonet point 59 through the insulation on the opposingly aligned contact ring 54-1. In this manner circuit continuity is effected between the conductors 17 imbedded in the joined segments regardless of their relative orientation.

It will be appreciated that each of the conductive filaments 17 may be variously effected either as an electrical power lead, a signal lead or even a fiberoptic filament. Of course, known techniques of signal superposition, frequency and/or pulse modulation or other signaling formats can then be effected by these leads to bring out down hole information directly to the rig operator as the drilling is taking place which can then be used to modify, in known techniques, the drilling direction and the cutting rate, commonly referred to as LWD or 'logging while drilling' and MWD or 'measuring while drilling .' In this manner all the control and pipe compliance conditions can be conveniently accommodated in a pipe string that, because of its light weight, is particularly suited for ultra deep and/or extended reach drilling.

Those in the art will further appreciate that the foregoing arrangement is particularly suited for custom forming of composite pipe segments 10 by way of the nested end fittings described herein. By particular reference to Figs. 5-7 the inner end pieces 20-1 and 20-2 may be combined with a forming mandrel effected by an inner sleeve 111, to form the turning core for the subsequent winding of fiber plies FP and the remaining interleaved layers LL forming the composite pipe 11 , in step 201. In this step the winding pitch, fiber density and the selection of any sealing wraps may also be determined by the particular parameters of the well and the mandrel structure may be further stiffened and assisted by internal pressurization while the fiber lay-up tension is controlled. Of course, conductive leads 17 may be concurrently also imbedded into the wrap, again in accordance with the type and nature of the signals and/or power that may be conveyed thereon. Once the structural conditions are met the inner end pieces are withdrawn from the core layer 111 and thereafter nested in the exterior pieces 30-1 and 30-2 in step 202. A bonding agent, such as a high temperature epoxy resin is then

applied to the pipe ends 12-1 and 12-2 and the ends are then re-positioned into the interiors of pieces 30-1 and 30-2 with the inner pieces 20-1 and 20-2 then pressed into their common interiors, shown as the self-centralizing step 203. In the course of this same step the exposed conductor ends 18 are conveyed into their appropriate drillings to be thereafter connected either to the bayonet contact 59 or the contact ring 54-1. In step 204 the foregoing assembly is then brought into a spray cooled welding fixture illustrated hi Fig. 5 in which a weld WW is applied by a welding device 151 to join the exterior flanges of the nested end pieces 20-1 and 30-1 to each other (and by the same example also the nested end pieces 20-2 and 30-2) while water spray heads 152 and 153 cool the adjacent structure. Once thus fixed by their flanges the inner and outer end pieces with the ends 12-1 and 12-2 captured therebetween are then drilled, in step 205, with perforations 34 which thereafter receive press fit pins 45.

In this manner a self-centralized end arrangement is useful both in the manufacture and also in effecting a closely held bond interface between the high strength metal end pieces and the composite pipe segment with the interface further stabilized and fixed by welding and press fit pins. The resulting high strength joint is then further complemented by the appropriately selected lay-up pitch, weave density and interleaving that are selected for the particular task. Thus the fabrication and the ending structure are rendered both highly effective and convenient.

By reference to Figs. 8-11 a further alternative contact implementation is obtained by bedding coaxial contact rings in each of the opposing shoulder surfaces 29-1 and 29-2 surrounding both the 'pin' end and the 'box' end of the joint assembly. Once again, like numbered parts functioning in a manner like that previously described, shoulder surfaces 29-1 and 29-2 are each provided with an annular groove 53-1 and 53-2 of a sectional dimension conformed to receive a corresponding elastomeric annular seal 255-1 and 255- 2. Seal 255-1 is generally shaped as a U sectioned structure defined by concentric inner and outer annular walls 256i and 256o extending from a bottom wall 257. A conforming contact ring 261 chamfered along its upper edges by a peripheral chamfer 26 Ie is then captured by elastic stretching within the annular cavity 256 formed between the inner and outer sealing walls 256i and 256o of the seal 255-1 with the outer wall stretching just

over the chamfer to retain the ring in position. A similarly dimensioned contact ring 262 is then received in the annular cavity 258 formed between the inner and outer walls 258i and 258o of the 'box' end seal 255-2, with the groove depth (or wall height) of walls 258i and 258o being substantially greater than the thickness of the ring and the depth of the receiving recess 53-2. The height of seal 255-1, in turn, is somewhat less than its receiving recess 53-1. Preferably, both the contact rings are inserted within then- respective seals so that each contact surface projects just slightly above the corresponding surface 29-1 and 29-2, a projection determined by the dimensions of the annular recesses or grooves 53-1 and 53-2 and the dimensions of each seal. Of course, walls 258i and 258o each project beyond the corresponding surface of ring 262 before the threaded engagement of the joint, as illustrated in Fig. 9a. in this projecting deployment both the opposing seals and the rings seated therein ( are fixed in rotation in each corresponding recess 53-1 and 53-2 by way of spaced axial pins 263 and 264 that project from the buried edges of each of the rings 261 and 262 into conforming pockets 259 in each of the seal bottoms which are then inserted into conforming cavities 269 formed in the bottoms of each of the recesses 53-1 and 53-2. The projecting seal edges and the rings therein therefore slide in rotation relative each other as the pipe joint is made. Once the joint is made, as illustrated in Fig. 9b the excess volume of the elastomeric matter forming each of the seal walls 258i and 258o fills the volume of the edge chamfers 26 Ie which also assist in the spreading of the seal edges to facilitate a direct contact between the rings. Thus the edge chamfers in ring 261 allow for the elastomeric material flow of the seal material as the joint is threaded together, ensuring a completely surrounding sealing closure as the exposed edges of the rings are pressed against each other while the smaller contact dimension formed between the edge chamfers 26 Ie assures a better ring contact while also accommodating a somewhat less precise axial registration between the pipe segments. This same material flow may be utilized to both seal and capture the exterior insulation 275e around a conductor 275 extending through corresponding drillings 271-1 and 271-2 extending into one of the cavities 269 in the bottoms of recesses 53-1 and 53-2 to pass the respective lead ends 275 through the seal material and thereafter into perforations 26 Ip and 262p in the

corresponding rings 261 and 262. A return conductor 285 connected directly between the pipe segment ends can then be utilized to provide the return or common ground. In this manner a rugged and reliable contact is effected, thus accommodating both the power and the signal needs in deep well drilling. In this manner most of the constraints that have earlier inhibited the reach and accuracy of lateral drilling have been conveniently resolve in the apparatus described herein.

Obviously, many modifications and variations can be effected without departing from the spirit of the invention instantly disclosed. It is therefore intended that the scope of the invention be determined solely by the claims appended hereto.

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