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Minimum Wellhead

Requirements

Industry Recommended Practice


(IRP)
Volume 5 - 2002

Sanctioned
2002 - 06

This document as well as future revisions and additions are available from:
The Petroleum Industry Training Service (PITS)
1538 25 Avenue NE
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 8Y3
Phone: (403) 250-9606
Fax: (403) 291-9408
Website: www.pits.ca

Table of Contents
5

Minimum Wellhead Requirements ........................................................ 3


5.0

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer .......................................................3

5.1

Scope and Forward ................................................................................4

5.2

General Requirements...........................................................................7

5.3

Salvaged Wellhead Components ..........................................................9


5.3.1 Inspection of Salvaged Wellhead Components...................9
5.3.2 Remanufacture of Salvaged Wellhead Components .......10
5.3.3 Repair of Salvaged Wellhead Components .......................11
Field Welding Installation Procedures...............................................11

5.4
5.5

5.7

Rod Pumping Wells That Have Capability to Flow to Atmosphere13


5.5.1 Sweet Wells.............................................................................13
5.5.2 Non-Critical Sour Wells .........................................................13
High Pressure Shut Down Systems ....................................................15
5.6.1 Testing Frequency of High Pressure Shut Down System15
5.6.2 Remote Shut In of Pumping Wells.......................................16
Maintenance of Wellhead Equipment................................................16

5.8

Over Stressing of Wellhead Components ..........................................16

5.9

Wellhead Protection.............................................................................17

5.6

Schematic 1 .........................................................................................................19
Typical Basic Rod Pumping Wellhead.............................................19
Schematic 2 .........................................................................................................20
Typical Rod Pumping Wellhead For Sweet Wells That Have
Capability To Flow To Atmosphere ..................................................20
Schematic 3 .........................................................................................................21
Typical Rod Pumping Wellhead For Non-Critical Wells That Have
Capability To Flow To Atmosphere ..................................................21

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Table of Contents i

Table of Contents
Appendix A: Definitions of Terms....................................................................22
Appendix B: Additional References For Wellheads .......................................24

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Table of Contents ii

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

5.0

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

This Industry Recommended Practice (IRP) is a set of best


practices and guidelines compiled by knowledgeable and
experienced industry and government personnel, and is intended
to provide the operator with advice regarding STANDARDS
FOR MINIMUM WELLHEAD REQUIREMENTS.
It was developed under the auspices of the Drilling and
Completions Committee (DACC).
DACC is a joint industry/government committee established to
develop safe, efficient and environmentally suitable operating
practices for the Canadian Oil & Gas industry in the areas of
drilling, completions and servicing of wells. The primary effort
is the development of IRPs with priority given to:

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Development of new IRPs where non-existent procedures


result in issues because of inconsistent operating practices.

Review and revision of outdated IRPs particularly where


new technology requires new operating procedures.

Alberta Energy and Utilities Board

Alberta Human Resources and Employment

British Columbia Workers Compensation Board

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

International Coil Tubing Association

Manitoba Energy and Mines

National Energy Board

Northwest Territories & Nunavut Workers Compensation


Board

Oil & Gas Commission, British Columbia

Petroleum Services Association of Canada

Saskatchewan Energy & Mines

Saskatchewan Labour

Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada

5.1

Scope and Forward

These IRPs have been developed by the Minimum Wellhead


Requirements Subcommittee of the main Drilling and
Completions Committee (DACC). The subcommittee included
representation from CAPP, CAODC, EUB, OH&S, PSAC and
SEPAC.
This document pertains only to wellheads for sweet and noncritical sour wells. The IRPs included herein do not apply to
critical sour wells and heavy oil (conventional and thermal)
wells because wellhead requirements for those well types are
specifically addressed in ARP Volumes 2 and 3 respectively.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

The IRPs for minimum Wellhead Requirements which are


included in this publication stress the importance of the wellhead
as the first line of defense to protect workers and the public and
to minimize environmental risk during the life cycle of a well.
They are intended to complement existing documentation and
regulation.
The IRPs presented here are based on engineering judgement,
accepted good practices and experience. The establishment of
these minimums standards does not preclude the need for
industry to exercise sound technical judgement in the application
and maintenance of wellheads.
The term wellhead, when used in this publication, for the sake
of simplicity, will be used generically to include both Wellhead
components and Christmas Tree components. In essence this
includes all components and related equipment form the top of
the outermost casing string (casing bowl connection) up to but
excluding the flowline valve.
It is not the purpose of this publication to recommend wellhead
configurations for specific application or to address each
component of a wellhead separately. This publication addresses
concerns which were identified by the subcommittee during its
review, specifically related to the following topics:

general wellhead requirements

salvaged wellhead components

field welding practices

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

rod pumping wells that have the capability to flow to

atmosphere

maintenance and testing frequency of high pressure


shutdown devices

over stressing of wellhead components as a result of


abnormal loading

wellhead protection

Additional references for wellhead requirements are given in


Appendix B.
Every effort has been made to ensure completeness, accuracy
and reliability of the data contained in this publication. DACC,
its subcommittees and individual members make no
representations, warranty or guarantee in connection with this
publication or any IRP herein and hereby disclaim liability of
responsibility for loss or damage resulting from the use of this
IRP, or for any violation of any statutory or regulatory
requirement with which an IRP may conflict. In cases of
inconsistency or conflict between any of these IRPs and
applicable legislative requirements, the legislative requirements
shall prevail.
The subcommittee does not endorse the use of any particular
manufacturers product. Any descriptions of product types or
any schematics of components, which may bear resemblance to
a specific manufacturers product, are provided strictly in the
generic sense.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

5.2

General Requirements

IRP 5.2.1

Wellheads and associated piping are to be designed and


installed in accordance with appropriate API, ASME
and/or CSA standards for components and piping
installation

IRP 5.2.2

The selection and configuration of wellhead components are


to be done by or under the direction of a technically
competent individual who is knowledgeable in the proper
application of wellhead components.

Note:

The reader is referred to the Purchasing Guidelines for


Wellhead and Christmas Tree components from API 6A,
Seventeenth Edition which provides a reference for
determination of minimum product specification levels (PSL)
for primary wellhead components, and also to ANCE Standard
MR-01-75.

IRP 5.2.3

The installation and the energizing/pressure testing of


wellhead seals and components is to be done by an
individual knowledgeable of the specifications of the
components and trained in their proper installation
procedure.

IRP 5.2.4

Wellhead components and related equipment are to be


manufactured of materials that are suitable for the
conditions to which they will be exposed, including both
ambient weather conditions and the type of produced or
injected fluids.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

For Example

Wellhead equipment manufactured from ductile iron is not


suitable for use in western Canada when exposed to extremely
low ambient temperatures.
When H2S bearing fluids are being produced or injected,
NACE standard MR-01-75 should be referenced for material
selection.

IRP 5.2.5
Note:

A wellhead must allow full bore access to the production


casing with the well under full control at all times.
Shallow gas operators should note this also pertains to shallow
gas wells that are completed without a tubing string. This
means a master valve which permits full bore access to the
production casing must be left on the well unless the well is
killed prior to any operation requiring full bore access to the
production casing.
This IRP also precludes reducing the casing bowl size if a liner
has been run, unless the liner is tied back to surface.

IRP 5.2.6

Wellhead equipment not included in the scope of API


Specification 6A, current edition (such as stuffing boxes,
rod BOPs, electrical feed through equipment, coiled tubing
wellhead components and so on) is to be designed,
manufactured and tested in accordance with the same
material specifications and quality assurance procedures,
and have similar trace ability requirements, as API
monogrammed wellhead components. Schematic 1
illustrates a typical rod pumping wellhead configuration.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

IRP 5.2.7

Whenever the producing character of a well changes (for


example, due to recompletion, conversion or the influence
of pressure maintenance), the wellhead will be reviewed by
a technically competent individual to confirm proper
application of each component for the new producing
characteristics.

5.3
Note:

Note:

Salvaged Wellhead Components

Section 5.3 applies only to wellhead components that were


originally manufactured to API Specification 6A. Refer to
Section 11 and Appendix J of the API Specification 6A,
Seventeenth Edition.
Concern relating to this topic grows with the volume of
salvaged equipment entering the market due to the increasing
number of wells being abandoned in Alberta.
5.3.1 Inspection of Salvaged Wellhead Components

IRP 5.3.1

Salvaged wellhead components that are to be installed on


licensed wells must be inspected prior to installation, and if
required, repaired or remanufactured as described below in
subsections 5.3.2 and 5.3.3. Such inspection must be done
either in a facility that has an API license for the repair and
remanufacture of wellhead equipment or in a facility that
follows written quality assurance procedures and uses the
appropriate gauges and tools to do the work. If the facility
doing the inspection does not have an API license for the
repair and remanufacture of wellhead equipment,
responsibility rests with the licensee of the well for ensuring
that the inspection is done following written quality

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

assurance procedures and using the appropriate gauges and


tools to do the work.
Note:

The number of times a casing bowl is recycled generated two


concerns for the subcommittee. The first concern relates to the
internal wear to which a casing bowl may be subjected. The
second concern relates to the integrity of the connection of
weld-on bowls that have been recycled multiple times. The
impact that repeated welding operations has on the metallurgy
of the bowl has not been documented, although it is known
from experience that proper heat treating procedures are not
always followed when bowls are welded. Operators are
encouraged to establish guidelines in conjunction with their
wellhead suppliers to address these concerns.
5.3.2 Remanufacture of Salvaged Wellhead
Components

IRP 5.3.2.1

If a component requires remanufacture (which means


welding and / or machining, as defined in API Specification
6A, Seventeenth Edition), the work must be done in a
facility that has an API license for the repair and
remanufacture of wellhead equipment, preferably in the
original equipment manufacturers facility.
Monogramming of remanufactured components is optional.

Note:

The removal of a casing stub from a weld-on casing bowl is,


for the purpose of this publication, deemed to be a repair and
falls within the context of subsection 5.3.3 following.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

10

5.3.3 Repair of Salvaged Wellhead Components


IRP 5.3.3.1

If a component requires remanufacture (which means


welding and / or machining, as defined in API Specification
6A, Seventeenth Edition), the work must be done in a
facility that has an API license for the repair and
remanufacture of wellhead equipment, preferably in the
original equipment manufacturers facility.
Monogramming of remanufactured components is optional.

5.4

Field Welding Installation Procedures

IRP 5.4.1

Field welding installations of casing bowls, casing


extensions and bell nipples must be done by a welder
qualified to undertake pressure welding.

ALERT

The failure of a weld connection on a casing bowl or bell


nipple has potential serious consequences.
Correct field welding procedures, particularly the application of
adequate pre-heat and cool-down requirements, are often not
followed. This occurs for two reasons.
Firstly, in most cases the steel composition of the materials
being welded is not known by the welder. This is due in part to
the large variation in steel composition that exists in oil field
casing products, even within a particular grade, and in various
manufactured wellhead components such as casing bowls and
bell nipples.
Secondly, many of the welders being used do not have a
documented Quality Assurance Program to follow. ASME

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

11

Section IX should be referenced for information on welding


procedure specifications and welder performance qualification.
Operators are encouraged to address the concerns related to
field welding practices by developing their own standards. The
following options are provided for consideration:
Use threaded components where appropriate and eliminate the
need for a weld.
Establish a controlled inventory of casing of known material
composition for use as landing joints and develop a welding
procedure specification (WPS) for each size of casing.
Use a qualified welder from a contractor that follows a
documented Quality Assurance Program.
Establish a welding procedure specification (WPS) for the
specific materials being welded in each instance.
Note:

Welder qualification or registration is done by the Alberta


Boiler Safety Association, the Saskatchewan Boiler and
Pressure Vessel Safety Unit, the Manitoba Boilers Branch, and
the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Skills, and
Training, Apprenticeship Branch.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

12

5.5

Rod Pumping Wells That Have


Capability to Flow to Atmosphere

5.5.1 Sweet Wells


IRP 5.5.1.1

It is recommended that an environmental BOP be installed


on all rod pumping wells that have the capability to flow to
atmosphere.

Note:

Environmental BOPs are manufactured either as an integral


model that is a combination environmental BOP and stuffing
box, or as a separate piece of equipment that can be installed
above or below an existing stuffing box. The environmental
BOP has the primary function of providing a seal across the
bore to prevent the release of hydrocarbons to atmosphere if a
polished rod breaks and pulls out of the stuffing box. The
function is often accomplished with a spring loaded flapper.
Schematic 2 illustrates a typical rod pumping wellhead
configuration with an environmental BOP.
5.5.2 Non-Critical Sour Wells
(Refer to Appendix A for definition of sour well)

IRP 5.5.2.1

A master valve, in conjunction with a rod BOP, is


recommended for all rod pumping non-critical sour wells
that have the capability to flow to atmosphere (see
Appendix A for definition of capability to flow to
atmosphere).

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

13

Note:

The master valve handle should be either removed or chained


and locked during normal production operations to prevent
accidental closure.

IRP 5.5.2.2

A hydraulic rod BOP is recommended for rod pumping


non-critical sour wells that have the capability to flow to
atmosphere. The manufacturers recommendations with
respect to operation during cold weather and frequency of
element replacement are to be followed.

Note:

The primary purpose of the hydraulic rod BOP is to protect


workers safety while changing stuffing box packing elements.
It will also add an important measure of safety while servicing
the well.
The hydraulic rod BOP typically has a flexible element that
collapses inwards on itself under hydraulic pressure. It provides
a positive seal either with equipment such as a sucker rod,
polished rod or wireline to seal on or without equipment in the
well, in which case it will provide a positive seal on itself. Shut
in is effected by applying hydraulic pressure either manually
(hand pump) or automatically (rig hydraulics).
The element in a hydraulic rod BOP will deteriorate with time
dependent upon operating conditions. Manufacturers
recommendations and good operating practice should dictate
when the element has to be replaced. Failure to follow
manufacturers guidelines when function testing, particularly
during cold weather operations, can result in damage to the
element.

IRP 5.5.2.3

It is recommended that an environmental BOP be installed


on all rod pumping non-critical sour wells that have the

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

14

capability to flow to atmosphere.


Note:

Environmental BOPs are manufactured either as an integral


model that is a combination environmental BOP and stuffing
box, or as a separate piece of equipment that can be installed
above or below an existing stuffing box. The environmental
BOP has the primary function of providing a seal across the
bore to prevent the release of hydrocarbons to atmosphere if a
polished rod breaks and pulls out of the stuffing box. The
function is often accomplished with a spring loaded flapper.
Schematic 3 illustrates a typical rod pumping wellhead
configuration for a non-critical sour well that has capability to
flow to atmosphere.

5.6

High Pressure Shut Down Systems

5.6.1 Testing Frequency of High Pressure Shut


Down System
IRP 5.6.1.1

Monthly function testing of high pressure shut down


devices on wells with sour production is recommended as a
minimum frequency.

IRP 5.6.1.2

Bi-monthly function testing of high pressure shut down


systems on wells with sweet production is recommended as
a minimum frequency.

IRP 5.6.1.3

It is recommended that operators maintain records


documenting frequency of testing and maintenance
practices.

Note:

A large percentage of high pressure shutdown systems fail to

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

15

function as required if not regularly maintained and tested,


particularly when in use in a sour environment.
5.6.2 Remote Shut In of Pumping Wells
IRP 5.6.2.1

A pumping well must not be shut in from a remote flowline


location without first shutting down the prime mover at the
well site, except in an emergency.

Note:

The practice of shutting in pumping wells from a remote


flowline location, such as at a battery or satellite facility, relies
on the proper functioning of a high pressure shut down device
at the well to stop the prime mover. This practice presents a
risk to human safety and to the environment because of the
potential for the high pressure shut down device to fail.

5.7

Maintenance of Wellhead Equipment

IRP 5.7.1

All wellhead equipment should be installed, operated and


maintained as per the manufacturers recommendations.

Note:

If a maintenance recommendation is not supplied by the


supplier or the manufacturer of a particular piece of wellhead
equipment, the onus will be on the licensee of the well toe
establish a maintenance recommendation in conjunction with
the manufacturer or supplier.

5.8

IRP 5.8.1

Over Stressing of Wellhead


Components

The flowline riser at the wellhead is to be supported in the


bottom of the ditch in a manner that prevents settling of the

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

16

riser after backfilling.


IRP 5.8.2

All equipment that can generate abnormal loading on


wellhead components (e.g. snubbing equipment, hydraulic
fracture piping systems with or without tree savers, coiled
tubing injectors, surface driver systems for artificial lift
equipment, etc.) must be supported and secured in such a
manner that abnormal stress is not applied to any wellhead
component.

Note:

Settling of flow line risers after tie in can generate abnormal


loading on a wellhead resulting in stress points being created.
This is of particular concern if the wellhead contains a tubing
head adapter (bonnet) with a threaded connection to which a
rod BOP or master valve is attached. The pin connection is
necessarily thin to achieve full bore access to the tubing string.
This pin connection becomes a stress point if an abnormal load
on the wellhead occurs due to settling of the flow line riser.
This condition is accentuated if corrosion is a factor.

5.9 Wellhead Protection


IRP 5.9.1

All wellheads are to be conspicuously marked or fenced


such that they are visible in all seasons. (Wellheads with a
beam pumping unit meet this criteria).

IRP 5.9.2

The licensee and/or operator of the well shall ensure that no


farm or other vehicles operate within a 3 metre radius of
the wellhead, except for vehicles specifically required to do
so as part of an operation being performed on the well such
as a completion, workover or well servicing operation. An
exception also exists for wellheads that are below ground
level and/or protected to accommodate certain unique
operations such as irrigation or military manoeuvres.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

17

Note:

Industry records indicate that a significant number of wellhead


failures occur as a result of impact with vehicles. Farm
equipment and contractors equipment operated too closely to
wellheads are the major sources of these impacts.

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

18

Schematic 1
Typical Basic Rod
Pumping Wellhead

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Schematic 1 19

Schematic 2
Typical Rod
Pumping Wellhead
For Sweet Wells
That Have
Capability To Flow
To Atmosphere

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Schematic 2 20

Schematic 3
Typical Rod
Pumping Wellhead
For Non-Critical
Wells That Have
Capability To Flow
To Atmosphere

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Schematic 3 21

Appendix A: Definitions of Terms


Capability to flow to atmosphere
The well has the potential to flow to atmosphere at sustained
rates of at least 0.33 m3 per hour (8 m3 per day) of liquids.
Drilling and Completions Committee (DACC)
A joint industry/government committee established to address
various drilling and completion related safety issues.
Primary wellhead components
The tubing head, tubing head adapter, tubing hanger and master
valve. (See Schematic 1)
Product Specification Level (PSL)
A specification that defines different levels of technical
requirements for wellhead components depending upon the
service conditions. (Refer to API Specification 6A.)
Repair
Repair is work performed on a piece of wellhead equipment
that does not require any welding or machining to return it to a
reusable condition. (See Appendix J of the 17th edition of API
Specification 6a)
Remanufacture

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Appendix A 22

Remanufacturing occurs when a piece of wellhead equipment


requires machining or welding to return it to reusable condition.
(See Appendix J of the 17th edition of API Specification 6a)
Salvaged Wellhead Component
Any component that has been installed on a well and exposed
to internal pressure or fluids of any kind during any phase of
the well's life, and has been removed and is to be installed on
another well.
Sour Well
Any well that produces fluid containing 10 moles per kilomole
(1%) or greater of H2S in the gas phase.
For purposes of this publication, critical sour wells are
excluded as they are addressed in ARP/IRP Volume 2.
Wellhead
Any All components of a wellhead and related equipment from
the top of the outermost casing string (the casing bowl
connection) up to but excluding the flowline valve. For
purposes of this publication, this includes both Wellhead
Components and Christmas Tree equipment as defined by API
Specification 6A (current edition).

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Appendix A 23

Appendix B: Additional References For


Wellheads
1.

ALBERTA OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION REGULATIONS


Section 6.100 Surface Casing Vent requirement
Section 6.130 Capability to measure surface pressures and
to collect samples
Section 7.050 Requirements for wells with production
exceeding 5% H2S
Section 8.060 Shut down devices for wells close to bodies
of water or streams

2.

ALBERTA RECOMMENDED PRACTICES (ARP'S)


Volume 2, ARP 2.1
Completing and Servicing Critical Sour Wells - Wellheads

3.

INDUSTRY RECOMMENDED PRACTICES (IRPS)


Volume 3, IRP 3.3.9
Heavy Oil - Wellhead Design

4.

EUB Interim Directives (ID'S)


ID 90-1, Completion and Servicing of Sour Wells

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Appendix B 24

ID 90-4, Suspension Guidelines for Inactive Wells


5.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY


Bulletin ASB-24
Over-Pressuring Wellhead Components

6.

API SPECIFICATIONS
Specification 6A
Specification for Wellhead and Christmas Tree Equipment

7.

ASME STANDARDS
Section IX, ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code
Welding and Brazing Qualifications

8.

NACE STANDARDS
Standard MR-01-75
Sulfide Stress Cracking Resistant Metallic Materials for
Oilfield Equipment

Minimum Wellhead Requirements

Appendix B 25