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Subsea Wellhead Ball–Valves

Shutoff off Subsea Wellheads With Integrators for Medium Pressure Ball–Valves

| Author / Editor: BILL MENZ / Dominik Stephan

Swagelok Company had developed – but not yet released – the Swagelok FKB series medium-pressure ball valve, employing a new technology that would enable the valve to seal and reseal reliably across the entire pressure range up to 15,000 psig.

Offering to beta test the valve, AGI built a testing fixture designed to put the valve through a rigorous set of cycles simulating conditions on a methanol injection skid for deep water exploration. The test employed methanol as the fluid medium and involved the following steps:

  • A small pneumatic pump slowly built pressure to 15,000 psig on a closed FKB series medium-pressure ball valve,
  • The valve was opened and the pressure was released to atmosphere
  • The valve was closed, and The process was repeated.

AGI planned to cycle the test valve until failure. The test ran for two and a half days, with the valve completing more than 4,000 cycles without failure.

One Cycle Per Month – But Every Cycle Counts: Ball–Valves in Well Heads

At that point, AGI was satisfied with the performance and stopped the test. Over the 20-year life of a chemical injection skid, an instrument ball valve is typically cycled 300 times, about once per month. The challenges concerning medium-pressure ball valves apply to other oil and gas applications as well.

When the Going Gets Tough: Shutting Off Subsea Wellheads

In wellhead control panels, workover vessels or workover panels, medium-pressure ball valves are used to deliver hydraulic pressure to the large wellhead safety shutoff valves at the subsea wellhead. Pressures up to 15,000 psig are required because of the depth of the wells. Medium-pressure ball valves are also used on hydraulic power units, where hydraulic pressure for platform utilities is maintained. In all of these applications, leakage is a serious issue...

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