By Patrick W. McKone, WSP USA

Injection wells serve many purposes, such as the safe and permitted disposal of oilfield produced water, waste injection, brine mining, desalination brine, and hazardous chemicals in formations deep underground. WSP USA’s expert geoscience team and drilling team each have a strong track record of drilling injection wells for the many varied purposes our clients require.

WSP is well known for extensive capabilities in creating underground storage caverns in salt formations and in hard rock. The firm is also recognized as an expert in designing, drilling, completing and operating injection wells. WSP has permitted, drilled, completed, operated, and reported on injection wells in most states, and we’re expanding internationally.

WSP has a wealth of experience with the permitting, design, installation and repair of class 2 oilfield injection wells throughout the U.S. and abroad. Our expert staff has developed proven project management procedures related to design, installation, workover, and repair projects, and are fully up to date with current technologies.

The technical expertise and innovative approach WSP provides has helped clients design, drill and maintain underground storage and disposal wells under various conditions safely and efficiently, and adapt to unusual or unexpected challenges that may arise in uncertain underground environments.

Our drilling engineers are experienced in drilling through difficult underground environments, including thick salt deposits, thick sections of “gumbo” shale, over-pressured zones, lost circulation zones, and underground disposal zones containing 100 percent waste. To ensure that viable location is selected for an injection well, WSP designs and installs test wells that enable the evaluation of site-specific subsurface conditions generating data that determines the most appropriate project design and project feasibility.


Recently one of our major clients invited the firm to evaluate a cavern development plan for an existing salt dome location in Texas. A component of that plan was leaching the caverns based on the existing injection well capacity.

However, during the initial evaluation, WSP identified that by doubling the leaching rate, the cavern completion time could be cut dramatically, allowing the caverns to be ready for operation sooner. We demonstrated to the client that the infrastructure required to leach more quickly was feasible on the site, and within the existing site footprint – no additional land would be required for the leaching process. This was quite an exciting discovery. It not only lowered the cost for the client, but the time that it took to develop the project was also reduced.

Unfortunately, this led to another challenge, as it was determined that the existing brine injection well could not flow enough leaching brine to enable the “fast track” to support the leaching plan.

The WSP team jumped at the chance to evaluate the existing injection well for the client to determine if the injection rate could be improved. This evaluation showed stimulation and re-perforation would improve the rate; but still, to achieve the “fast track” injection rate would require drilling a new injection well. It was determined that we could keep the injection well cost lower by using the existing well and drilling one new well. The client supported the idea and sanctioned WSP to develop the permit applications.

An integral part of WSP’s injection well project work is the permitting process, led by the firm’s team in Houston. Permit applications for disposal into a non-productive formation were prepared by the team for client approval, a routine professional service the firm provides. This close collaboration with the client allowed WSP to showcase its problem-solving prowess, providing an “above and beyond” solution for the client.

WSP has provided a wide range of specialty well services to support injection, storage, geothermal energy and in-situ mining activities to numerous clients, including many Fortune 500 clients. WSP is plugged in to the requirements of industrial and commercial clients as well as the demands of state and federal regulatory agencies. An industry-leading understanding of geology, formation properties and well control allows our professionals to provide consistent, efficient service while finding the best solutions to suit each client’s individual needs.

WSP has provided a wide range of specialty well services to support injection, storage, geothermal energy and in-situ mining activities to numerous clients, including many Fortune 500 clients.