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SPE 146300

Impact of Water Hammer in Deep Sea Water Injection Wells

Suk Kyoon Choi, SPE, and Wann-Sheng (Bill) Huang, SPE, Chevron Energy Technology Company

Copyright 2011, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in Denver, Colorado, USA, 30 October2 November 2011.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Water hammer is a known pressure pulse or surge that may occur by the instant shut-in of a valve in a flow line. Sudden
momentum change may create a pressure cyclic pulse that could cause damage to valves, bending parts in tubing, and/or
joints. Usually this effect has been well managed in surface facility design; however, it tends to be overlooked in subsurface
well design. Additional possible impact by water hammer in subsurface wells could be on the sandface completions. The
severe water hammer could cause failure of formation integrity, resulting in sand production. It may also damage the
wellbore and downhole completions. Especially for deep sea water injection and/or production operations, water hammer
effect needs to be thoroughly investigated and properly managed because it could be more severe due to longer flow line and
higher flow rate.
The purpose of this study is to have a comprehensive investigation on water hammer effect for an actual water injection
well in Chevrons deep water project with different design parameters and operating parameters. The design parameters
include a) height of vertical riser; b) tubing diameter; c) injectivity index (skin or completion type); d) sandface wellbore
length; and e) well deviation. The operational parameters include a) injection rate; b) closing time; and c) injection water
temperature. Multiphase transient fluid flow model OLGA is used for the water hammer simulation.
Results of the water hammer parameter study for optimum well design and operating strategy are reported here. It is
shown that the impact of water hammer can be significantly mitigated or eliminated at well design stage or by adjusting the
operating parameter(s).

The importance of water injectors has increased as waterflooding is entrenched as the most popular secondary recovery
process in matured reservoirs. However, inappropriate shut-in operation and well design of water injectors frequently causes
water hammer, resulting in severe damage by sand production, detrimental accident by tubing or valve rupture, and
premature abandonment by wellbore collapse. Water hammer effect is a well known phenomenon that can occur at the
pipeline where water is being transported. A transient nature of pressure wave occurs when water in motion is forced to stop
or change its direction suddenly. Two different mechanisms can explain the causes of water hammer downstream and
upstream of the shut-in valve. Upstream of the valve, when the valve is rapidly closed, the mass of water (that is moving
forward) builds up to a high pressure and shock wave at the position of the valve and the pressure wave travels back and forth
until the energy dissipates due to friction. On the other hand, downstream of the valve, the mass of water tends to continue
flowing by law of inertia, when the valve is instantly closed. It creates a temporary vacuum just below the shut-in valve,
pulling the water body back to hit the shut-in valve and then rebound again. It is a cyclic process that gradually dissipates
due to friction. Water hammer intensity is at the peak at the shut-in valve and it tends to fade away farther from the valve
because the pressure wave loses its energy during propagation due to friction.
The study of water hammer was first initiated in the nineteenth century and many researchers have put forth considerable
effort to understand the principle of water hammer and develop appropriate expressions1-9. A big milestone was made by
Joukowsy4. He developed a well known analytical equation called fundamental equation of water hammer, which is still in
popular use. The Joukowsys equation is:
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a V
P = a V or H = (1)
where = fluid density, a = acoustic wave speed, V = cross-sectional average velocity, H = piezometric head, and g =
gravitational acceleration. The acoustic wave speed is defined as:
1 d dA
= + (2)
a 2 dP A dP
The first term in the right hand side indicates fluid compressibility effect and the second term represents pipe flexibility
effect. In the oil and gas industry, only a few papers10-16 have been published on water hammer and corresponding sand
production issue, which has recently become recognized as a critical area.
The objectives of this paper are (a) to have a comprehensive investigation on water hammer for an actual water injection
well in Chevrons deep water project in order to understand possible causes of water hammer in (deep sea) water injection
operations, and (b) to run an extensive sensitivity study to explore the opportunities to reduce the water hammer impacts with
different design parameters and operating parameters. It will provide a useful and practical guideline to mitigate or eliminate
possible water hammer at the well design stage as well as in field operations. The water hammer (pressure wave) data could
also be used as key input parameters for geomechanical simulations to evaluate the possibility of sand production and
determine the sand volume, if any.

A base case model was first developed and extensive sensitivity studies were performed by switching the model parameter
one by one in order to investigate how each parameter affects water hammer. The base case represents the current design and
operation conditions of Chevrons actual water injector. A transient wellbore and flowline simulator called OLGA (SPT
group) version 6.2.7 was used in this study. OLGA numerically solves mass conservation, momentum conservation, and
energy conversation equations, which enables it to handle various transient and steady state problems with multiphase flow.
The PVT file of water properties were generated by water package in PVTsim (Calsep Inc.) version 19.2.0 and imported
into OLGA for water PVT calculation.

Model Setup and Key Input Parameters for the Base Case
Figure 1 shows a schematic diagram for a water injector in scope and the well trajectory is illustrated in Figure 2. The well
is drilled in a vertical direction to approximately 2,200 ft from the sea bed and starts to deviate for the horizontal section.
The sandface wellbore is exactly horizontal with the lateral length of 2,000 ft. A Sub-Sea Test valve (SSTV) is installed as a
major shut-in valve in the Christmas tree at the sea bed and a Surface-Controlled Subsurface Safety valve (SCSSV) can be
located in either one of three possible locations (300, 1,718, and 7,753 ft MD). The major input parameters for the base case
are given below.
Injection Rate : 50K BWPD
Closing Time : 30 seconds
Injection Temperature : 32 F
Shut-In Valve : SSTV
Tubing Diameter : 7 / #29
Injectivity Index : 7 x 10-4 kg/s/pa
Sandface wellbore : 2,000 ft horizontal
The captured screen of OLGA model is shown in Figure 3. The model covers the fluid flow from SSTV on the sea bed all
the way down to total depth (TD). The wellbore is divided into 102 segments; each represents about 100 ft of the pipe. Out
of 102 sections, the 2,000-ft sandface lateral section (7,753 9,753 MD) is divided into 21 sections representing the well
outflow to the formation. The heat transfer through the tubing walls by temperature difference is considered by
implementing wall layers with the corresponding heat properties into OLGA.
SPE 146300 3

0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000







Figure 1. Schematic Diagram of a Water Injector Figure 2. Well Trajectory of a Water Injector


TransientDuration (sec)


Figure 3. Captured Screen of OLGA Model Figure 4. Terminology Nomenclature

Case Definitions
A total of nine parameters (considered to affect water hammer) were carefully chosen and studied as sensitivity variables.
Table 2 shows the case definition of the parameters and their study ranges. Note that the values in yellow boxes are the base
case values. Three operating variables (that are controllable in field operations) are (a) injection rate; (b) closing time; and
(c) injection water temperature. The well design parameters (that need to be determined before drilling) include (a) shut-in
valve location; (b) height of vertical riser; (c) tubing diameter; (d) injectivity index; (e) sandface wellbore length; and (f) well
deviation. The case studies were performed by changing only one parameter while leaving other parameters the same as the
ones in the base case, except in the case of sandface wellbore length. Since the open area to reservoir changes with the
sandface wellbore length, the injectivity index was adjusted accordingly (Table 2). In the well deviation parameter, the build
section was artificially corrected as needed to achieve realistic wellbore trajectory, as shown in Figure 5.
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Table 2. Case Definition of the Variables and Their Study Ranges

0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000



6000 90deg

8000 45deg



Figure 5. Well Trajectories (True Vertical Depth versus Displacement) for 0, 45, and 90 deg Deviation Cases
SPE 146300 5

Terminology Nomenclature
The following four terminologies are defined to help with understanding the study results. Figure 4 displays the schematic
definitions of these four terms.
Pressure Decline (psi) : Maximum pressure Minimum pressure
Back Pressure Pulse (psi) : Final stabilized pressure Minimum pressure
Transient Duration (sec) : Time that it takes from the start of shut-in until the pressure fluctuation diminishes
within a certain specific amplitude
Water hammer : Pressure fluctuation or wave as shown in the shaded oval area in Figure 4
In particular, back pressure pulse is an important variable to help estimate sand production. When the back pressure pulse
occurs locally (the sandface in the well), it changes the flow direction and increases the instant velocity, creating a drag force
in the pores of the sandface. The drag force causes dismantling rock formation, enhancing sand production if it exceeds a
failure criterion. Therefore, the back pressure pulse will be the main parameter with transient duration for subsequent
geomechanical simulations.

Results and Discussions

In this section, the results of dynamic water hammer modeling for the base case are first provided. Then, the results of
sensitivity studies are classified and grouped by mechanism (cause) of water hammer and provided with the corresponding
examples. There are five mechanisms identified in water hammer phenomenon: (a) velocity; (b) velocity change; (c) water
compressibility; (d) vertical length; and (e) linear velocity at the sandface. Note that all the pressures reported here are
evaluated at the top of the sandface.

Base Case
Figure 6 shows pressure response, valve opening, and water volume flow at standard condition for the injector in the base
case. The valve position (in blue) initially indicates one (fully open position) and goes to zero (fully close position) with the
designated closing time of 30 seconds. Accordingly the water flowrate (in red) decreases by the specified valve characteristic
curve and reaches zero when the valve is fully closed. The pressure at the top of the sandface (in black) decreases, shoots
down to a minimum, recovers a little bit and then fluctuates until it finally stabilizes at the end, which is water hammer. In
the base case, the pressure decline is 32 psi and the back pressure pulse is 7.3 psi with approximately 149 seconds transient
Figure 7 illustrates the pressure responses at the different locations: (a) just below at SSTV (0); (b) at SCSSV (1,718);
and at the top of the sandface, when the SSTV is closed. The biggest pressure pulse is observed at the place just below the
shut-in valve (SSTV) and the magnitude of pressure pulse tends to decrease as the measured point is deeper from the shut-in
valve. As mentioned earlier, pressure wave (that occurs at the shut-in valve) dissipates by friction along the pipeline (tubing)
during the propagation.

Figure 6. Pressure Response, Valve Opening, and Water Volume Flow at Standard Condition (Base Case)
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Figure 7. Pressure Responses at the Different Locations: (a) just below at SSTV (0); (b) at SCSSV (1718); and at the Top
of the Sandface, when SSTV is shut in

Velocity Mechanism
Injection rate and tubing diameter are the variables depending on velocity mechanism for water hammer. Higher velocity (by
increasing injection rate or reducing tubing diameter) increases the difference of cross-sectional average velocity (increases
momentum change), resulting in higher water hammer effect. It can be easily explained with Joukowskys fundamental
equation, Equation (1): P is proportional to V. Figure 8 illustrates the pressure responses of three different water
injection rates: 25K, 50K, and 75K BWPD. As the injection rate increases, the pressure decline increases with the required
well head pressure. Accordingly, the back pressure pulse also increases proportional to injection rate and the pulse lasts
longer for higher injection rate.
The influence of tubing diameter on water hammer is shown in Figure 9. Increasing tubing diameter is a practical way to
decrease water velocity, reducing water hammer. In particular, 9-5/8 diameter can reduce back pressure pulse by more than
one third, compared to 5-1/2 diameter for the same water injection rate. As expected, the well head pressure and the
pressure decline increases as the tubing diameter decreases. Transient duration also increases for smaller tubing diameter.

CASE:Inj. WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

75KBWPD Rate Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(BWPD) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
25K 1978.5 15.5 4.3 135
50K 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
50KBWPD 75K 2959.4 50.0 10.4 150




Figure 8. Pressure Responses for Different Injection Rates (25K, 50K, and 75K BWPD)
SPE 146300 7

CASE:Tube WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

Diameter Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(in) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
51/2 3431.0 38.8 14.3 161
7 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
95/8 1969.1 28.5 3.9 109



Figure 9. Pressure Responses for Different Tubing Diameters (5-1/2, 7, and 9-5/8)

Velocity Change Mechanism

Closing time is one of the well-known variables to control water hammer. Rapid closing of the valve causes the sudden
change in water velocity, resulting in severe water hammer. Figure 10 shows the pressure waves for four different closing
times: 5, 30, 60, and 100 seconds. The closing time of 5 seconds creates approximately 79 psi pressure decline and 50 psi
back pressure pulse, increasing the risk of sand production. As the closing time increases, water hammer effect rapidly
decreases, however, transient duration is still longer. This is because the valve closing time is included in transient duration.
If the closing time is excluded, the real transient duration will be shorter for longer closing time.

28.2psi 26.6psi

30sec 60sec 100sec


CASE: WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient
ClosingTime Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(seconds) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
5secs 5 2368.0 78.9 49.9 146
30 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
60 2368.0 28.2 3.5 165
100 2368.0 26.6 1.9 192

Figure 10. Pressure Responses for Different Closing Time (5, 30, 60, and 100 seconds)

Water Compressibility Mechanism

Injection water temperature is one of the variables to affect water hammer, although its influence is relatively insignificant
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(Figure 11). The range of temperature studied here covers possible field water temperature (32 to 104 F). The main
reason of temperature effect on water hammer is water compressibility. Higher water temperature increases water
compressibility, which enables it to absorb the pressure wave and consequently reduce water hammer. It can be supported by
Joukowskys fundamental equation (there is a fluid compressibility term in the right hand side of acoustic wave speed
formula). The observation that P is inversely proportional to the square root of the fluid compressibility can also explain the
reason of weak temperature dependence on water hammer. Less water hammer according to the increase of injection water
temperature is displayed by the decrease of the pressure decline, the back pressure pulse, and the transient duration, as shown
in Figure 11.

CASE:Inj. WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

32 F WaterTemp. Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
68 F ( F) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
104 F 32 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
68 2283.0 29.7 6.2 145
104 2266.8 28.6 5.8 141


Figure 11. Pressure Responses for Different Water Injection Temperature (32, 68, 104 deg F)

Vertical Length Mechanism

The straight length of the vertical section below the valve is an important factor to control water hammer. A long straight
vertical length has more chance of creating vacuum downstream of the valve, enhancing water hammer when the valve is
rapidly closed. Among the given sensitivity variables, (a) shut-in valve location; (b) height of vertical riser; and (c) well
deviation would be the ones to affect the vertical length of the well. Figure 12 shows the influence of shut-in valve locations
on water hammer. Although the influence of the shut-in valve location on the pressure decline and the back pressure pulse is
small, it can be observed that the transient duration is dramatically reduced when the shut-in valve is located close to the
sandface. The pressure wave is characterized by only one hump in that case. It will be a good practice to reduce or eliminate
water hammer by placing the shut-in valve as close to the sandface as possible.
Figure 13 illustrates the influence of vertical riser height on water hammer the shorter the vertical height, the smaller the
water hammer (less pressure decline, less back pressure pulse, shorter transient duration). Although it is impractical in real
well design because the well depth is determined by reservoir depth, it is worth knowing the shallow well operation has less
chance of water hammer, i.e. more care needs to be taken in offshore deep sea water injection well operations. Figure 14
shows the pressure responses for different well sandface deviations. The pressure decline and the back pressure pulse tend to
be higher in a vertical well (0 degree deviation) than those in a deviated well, i.e., a horizontal well would have less water
hammer effect than a vertical well. The transient duration also has the same trend the longest at 0 degree deviation.
SPE 146300 9

CASE:Shut WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

InLocation Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(ft) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
0 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
1718 2368.0 30.8 6.1 108
7753 2368.0 29.8 5.3 37

30.8psi 0ft
32.0psi 1718ft


Figure 12. Pressure Responses for Different Shut-In Valve Locations (0, 1718, and 7753 ft)

CASE:Vert. WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

Length Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(ft) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
0 3193.0 29.8 5.2 96
2218 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
5000 1339.0 35.1 10.6 221



Figure 13. Pressure Responses for Different height of Vertical Riser (0, 2218, and 5000 ft)
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32.0psi 90

CASE:Well WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

Deviation Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
( ) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
0 1039.0 49.8 9.9 184

45 1693.0 45.0 9.1 161

90 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149

45.0psi 45

49.8psi 0

Figure 14. Pressure Responses for Different Well Deviation (0, 45, and 90 deg)

Linear Velocity at Sandface Mechanism

Injectivity index and sandface length are the variables to affect the linear velocity at the sandface. Although the water
velocity in tubing is the same for the same injection rate, the linear velocity at the sandface will be different due to different
entrance space (defined by injectivity index and sandface length). The increased linear velocity at the sandface increases the
difference of cross-sectional average velocity (at the sandface), inducing more water hammer.
Injectivity index is an important variable in OLGA to define outflow performance between wellbore and reservoir. It
includes the influence of wellbore geometry (downhole completion type) as well as reservoir properties such as skin and
reservoir permeability. Figure 15 shows the pressure responses for different injectivity indexes. As stated above, the
pressure decline and back pressure pulse increase as the injectivity index decreases. It is interesting to see that low injectivity
decreases the transient duration. Low injectivity increases the linear velocity at the sandface, but helps to dampen the
pressure pulse faster due to more friction.
The effect of sandface length on water hammer is shown in Figure 16. As the sandface length decreases for the same
injection rate, the well head pressure and the pressure decline increase, and the transient duration decreases by the same
reason as the injectivity index case. However, the back pressure pulse trend is somewhat different. The blue line in Figure
17 plots only the back pressure to clearly show the trend. From 200 ft up to 1400 ft, the longer sandface length decreases the
back pressure pulse: this trend can be explained by linear velocity mechanism, same as the injectivity index case, i.e., as the
sandface length increases, the linear velocity at the sandface decreases, leading to less water hammer.
On the other hand, the different trend is observed beyond 1400 ft: as the sandface length increases, the back pressure pulse
increases. This is due to horizontal length. In the same reason as the vertical length case, a longer horizontal length has more
chance of creating vacuum downstream of the valve, enhancing water hammer. It can be justified by another sensitivity
study where only the sandface wellbore length was varied while maintaining the same injectivity index (7 x 10-4 kg/s/pa).
The same injectivity index makes the same linear velocity at the sandface in all cases. As shown in Figure 17 (red line), the
back pressure pulse increases with the sandface wellbore length. In summary, the linear velocity mechanism governs up to
1400 ft sandface length, while the horizontal length mechanism dominates from above 1400 ft. Based on this observation, it
is desirable to find the optimum well length to reduce water hammer, if it is economically feasible.
SPE 146300 11

WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient
3x104 kg/s/pa Index Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(104kg/s/pa) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
0.2 2989.0 670.5 13.1 57
3 2390.0 56.1 9.5 136
7 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149
12 2359.7 22.5 6.3 154

7x104 kg/s/pa

32.0psi 0.2x104 kg/s/pa

12x104 kg/s/pa


Figure 15. Pressure Responses for Different Injectivity Indexes (0.2, 3, 7, and 12 x 10 kg/s/pa)

CASE:Well WellHead Pressure BackPress. Transient

Length Pressure Decline Pulse Duration
(ft) (psig) (psi) (psi) (seconds)
200 2475.0 146.2 13.8 101
800 2389.0 51.7 6.0 145
1400ft 1400 2373.0 35.7 5.9 146
2000 2368.0 32.0 7.3 149

35.7psi 2000ft
32.0psi 3000 2365.0 29.8 9.1 161

3000ft 200ft


Figure 16. Pressure Responses for Different Sandface Length (200, 800, 1400, and 2,000 ft)
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14 13.8


10 10.1
8 7.3
5.9 7.3
3.5 5.2
2.2 ConstantInjectivityIndex
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500

Figure 17. Pressure Pulse and Transient Duration for Different Sandface Length (200, 800, 1,400, 2,000 and 3,000 ft)

Tornado Chart
Figure 18 shows a Tornado chart displaying the sensitivity trends for the back pressure pulse. Note that the trends are only
applicable to the water injector in this specific project: the trends may be different for different injector cases. Although the
parameter ranges are arbitrary, it is worthy of preparing such a chart to understand the impact of variables on water hammer,
which can help determine optimum operational and design strategy of water injector.
In this project, the closing time is the most sensitive parameter and the injection water temperature has the least impact.
Only increasing the closing time from 5 to 60 seconds enables a reduction in the potential water hammer by approximately 25
times. If this well is in the planning stage for drilling, it would help to considerably reduce or eliminate the potential water
hammer by using larger tubing size (9-5/8) and placing the shut-in valve at 7,753 ft (just above the top of sandface). It is
also highly recommended that the valve be closed for more than 60 seconds.

Figure 18. Tornado Chart for the Back Pressure Pulse

SPE 146300 13

This paper discussed the potential water hammer with an actual water injection well in Chevrons deep water project and
showed how operating parameters and design parameters can affect water hammer. The following observations are made.
Deep sea water injection well operations have a higher possibility of water hammer than shallow well operations.
Water hammer could cause failure of formation integrity, resulting in sand production. It may also damage the
wellbore and downhole completions.
Back pressure pulse and transient duration are the major parameters to evaluate the possibility of sand production
and determine the sand volume, if any, in geomechanical simulations.
Water hammer is most pronounced at the location of the shut-in, and tends to fade away father from the shut-in
location due to friction.
From the side of operating parameters, (a) reducing injection rate; (b) increasing closing time; and (c) increasing
injection water temperature would help to reduce or eliminate water hammer. The most significant variable
affecting water hammer would be the closing time.
For well design parameters, water hammer can be reduced or eliminated by (a) placing the shut-in valve as deep as
possible; (b) reducing the straight vertical section of the well; (c) increasing tubing diameter; (e) increasing
injectivity; (f) increasing the sandface length (up to the optimum length); and (g) drilling a horizontal well rather
than vertical.
The results would be different case by case. Therefore, water hammer needs to be thoroughly investigated and
properly managed for each water injector at the well design stage as well as in field operations.

a Acoustic wave speed
d Derivative
g Gravitational acceleration
H Piezometric head
V Cross-sectional average velocity
Fluid density

The authors would like to thank Chevron Energy Technology Company for permission to publish this paper.

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