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Water Hammer Likely Cause of Large Oil Spill in North Sea

[+] Author Affiliations
Erik D. Nennie, Harry J. C. Korst

TNO Science and Industry, Delft, The Netherlands

Knud Lunde, Rune Myklebust

StatoilHydro, Stavanger, Norway

Paper No. PVP2009-77770, pp. 417-425; 9 pages
  • ASME 2009 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 4: Fluid-Structure Interaction
  • Prague, Czech Republic, July 26–30, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4367-3 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3854-9
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


On December 12, 2007, the second largest oil spill in the history of Norwegian oil exploration occurred on StatoilHydro’s Statfjord Alpha platform. The spill was caused by a snapped 20″ oil off-loading hose. Thorough investigations by StatoilHydro [1] and by the Norwegian authorities [2] revealed the chain of events that led to this incident. One of the links in this chain was the unintended fast closure of the shuttle tanker’s bow loading valve during off-loading. This closure initiated a pressure surge in the oil off-loading system. As part of the internal investigation by StatoilHydro, TNO carried out a water hammer analysis of the entire oil off-loading system, including the off-loading hoses to the seabed and further subsea piping up to the platform. These simulations revealed that high pressures could occur in the oil off-loading system due to fast closure of the bow loading valve followed by multiple reflections at diameter changes. The maximum pressures were more than 100 bar above the normal operating pressure of 10 bar. The diameter changes were introduced into the oil off-loading system to maximize the off-loading capacity. The results of the water hammer analysis provided the missing link between the fast closure of the valve and the damaged hose and also showed that this damage most likely occurred within 0.5 second after the closure of the valve. Based on the results of this analysis, also other oil off-loading systems are being reinvestigated to prevent a similar incident to occur in the future.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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