When an international contractor whose pumps were failing in rigorous offshore environments went looking for help, it was offered a creative solution for a tough, portable rig that exceeded the company’s expectations.
The contractor - a large international company who deal primarily in work in oilfields and on oil platforms - contacted Kelair about some Sandpiper pumps that were so damaged from the harsh conditions they had become unserviceable.
Kelair’s novel approach for resolving the problem was to build a custom set of new pumps, housed in frames.
The custom build
As a contractor to the oil and gas industry, the client’s pumps were used in a variety of different jobs on multiple offshore sites.
They needed a portable pump that would handle the oily water with hydrogen sulfide that their clients typically encountered.
Kelair Regional Sales Manager for WA, Michael Charnley, said the client required new pumps because the existing pumps had an extremely harsh life due to the salt water and a highly corrosive environment.
“The hydrogen sulfide is very hard on the pumps internally, but the environment on an oilrig platform is very corrosive - they sit in around three to four inches of water.”
The pumps used were the Sandpiper S30, with a 3” port, generally suitable for moderately abrasive fluids with a suspended solids handling of up to 9.65mm.
The pumps were housed in steel frames 96cm in height, 60cm in width and a depth of 60cm.
Mr Charnley said the Sandpipers were put into frames so that they could be easily moved to a site.
“The idea is that they put slings on these pumps, they crane them in and they drop them down.”
While the pumps were stainless steel and unaffected by corrosion, the frames were fabricated steel and needed coating.
Mr Charnley said, “We were concerned, because of previous pumps in which the frames had rusted out, that if we simply sprayed them with blue paint, they would just scratch, cut up, and show obvious signs of corrosion a few months later.
“We had them powder coated with a very tough, high grade powder coat. It was hard as anything - it was a fantastic coating.”
The frames were made by a Western Australian fabricator, with whom Kelair worked closely every step of the way.
Mr Charnley said, “We went on site with the fabricator and collaborated closely over even the smallest changes, to ensure that all the fittings could be applied and the pump was easy to use without anybody banging their knuckles.”
The client was involved in the project from the outset, giving detailed preliminary instructions on what they wanted the build’s capabilities to be.
“They were clear on what they wanted, where they wanted it to go, and what they wanted it to do, and what their expectations were for the pumps’ performance,” Mr Charnley said.
“Their requirements cued us up to build the pump frames and to put specialist connections on the pump.”
The connections used on the pumps were Weco Unions, standard for offshore use, to ensure quick release of the pumps on site.
As the Sandpiper S30 requires compressed air, Kelair put on air filter regulators, gauges, and brackets, and plumbed those into the pump.
“We provided an air connection on the other side, so when they went out to site, they weren’t actually having do any extra work.
“The idea is that you put them on, and plug your air in, and you go to your Weco unions and you put your hoses on, and you drop them in this filthy, salty mess, and away they go.”
Getting the Kelair treatment
The client paid for the pumps in six-month installments. There were two pumps in the set, with a total value of around $32 thousand.
Mr Charnley said Kelair provided ongoing support to their client throughout the process.
“We looked very hard at what they needed, about how it would function on site, about what sort of commercial terms the client needed. We were quite hands-on with these pumps. I think the client is very happy.”
The client has since sent three other similar packages to Kelair for repairs.
Mr Charnley said the client was returning to Kelair because they had faith that his company could do a job properly.
“Rather than just saying ‘no worries, give us an order number, and we’ll see you in six weeks’, we supplied them a better piece of kit.
“We listened to them, and we talked to them, and the result was something that I think everybody agreed was certainly a better mousetrap.”