Gas-lifted oil wells are susceptible to failure through malfunction of gas lift valve assemblies (GLV). One failure mode occurs when the GLV check valve fails and product passes into the well annulus, potentially reaching the wellhead. This is a growing concern as offshore wells are drilled thousands of meters below the ocean floor in extreme temperature and pressure conditions, and repair and monitoring become difficult. Currently no safeguard exists in the GLV to prevent product passage in the event of check valve failure. In this paper a design and operational procedures are proposed for a thermally-actuated positive-locking safety valve to seal the GLV in the event of check valve failure. A thermal model of the well and GLV system is developed and compared to well data to verify feasibility of a thermally-actuated safety valve. A 3× scale prototype safety valve is built and tested under simulated failure scenarios and well start-up scenarios. Realistic well temperatures in the range of 20C to 70C are used. Results demonstrate valve closure in response to simulated check valve failure and valve opening during simulated well start-up.

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