Bearings to Brazil – adventures in getting a rig urgently back into production

When engine problems occur on an oil rig, the consequences can be devastating for the owners and managers. When the pumps are down, the extraordinarily high running costs of the operation quickly begin to eat away at profits. This March, one of Somec International’s rigs faced this exact crisis.

Because the platform workers remained on site, the 24 hour offshore support vessel stayed in position. At a typical daily cost of $100,000 it’s easy to see how such a situation can become critical. The race was on to get this platform back into operation.

It was no surprise then, that the email Simplex-Turbulo received from Somec International’s sales manager Bruno Cubiaco was labelled “urgent – high importance.”

The parts requested consisted of a specialist set of undersized main bearings suitable for their Nohab F20 engine and an even more specialist set of undersized thrust bearing halves.

Somec International contacted the original engine manufacturer directly to source the critical components, but were quoted a lead time of over 120 days! Four months downtime for an oil rig is simply not an option. So, Somec engineers extended their search in earnest.

The first contact was made with Simplex-Turbulo on the 5th March, but within days the requirements had increased and the urgency of the situation had escalated – the rig was now out of operation. With Simplex-Turbulo able to provide these parts ex-stock, the choice of supplier was clear.

The finalised list of required components reached Simplex on March the 10th at 22:00 UK time, the Simplex staff worked urgently to get the order fulfilled. Over the next 55 minutes, Somec International’s order was quoted for and processed, allowing diesel department manager Mike Gregory to finally return home, tired and satisfied at 22:55 that day.

In the meantime, in order to ensure the quickest and safest delivery of these parts, Bruno Cubiaco was on the next flight to England…

14 hours later, on the following day, the flight touched down in the UK and soon after that the nine pieces were collected personally from Simplex’s warehouse. Their return journey to Brazil involving planes, cars and helicopters was more like something out of an action thriller then the usual freight delivery.

Although this personal collection may seem over the top to some; those in the industry, particularly the staff at Simplex, understand the urgency of such requests and the sense of relief the Somec engineers will have felt after they were able to get their rig back into production.

bearings, Brazil, rig
Mike Evans, manager for Latin America at Simplex, introduces Bruno Cubiaco, sales manager of Somec International to his new bearings