Pump Repair
and Maintenance


Lewis Morrison

Lewis Morrison

I am now able to go into meetings with suppliers with a better knowledge of our own systems. I also know what maintenance signs to look out for, when to act for repair and when to look at overhaul. From bp’s point of view, we’ll save money because there will be a reduced need for specialist vendors to go offshore…. I also expect bp to see a return from improved performance of our routine equipment.

Verified by an engineer

Lewis, 27, studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Upon graduation in the summer of 2018, he moved to Aberdeen, joining bp on the graduate programme. He has been with bp since and is now assigned to Glen Lyon as a maintenance specialist. “Glen Lyon is bp’s crown jewel asset in the North Sea,” explains Lewis. “It is a brand-new Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) vessel based west of Shetland. Essentially, it’s a huge floating vessel with a moored turret, that processes oil and gas to then offload via an oil tanker and gas pipeline.

“I am responsible for maintenance of some of our critical rotating equipment, including gas compressors, water injection pumps, key service generators, diesel engines and so on. The role involves planning of key maintenance scopes that we carry out at six-month, annual, two-year or even five-year intervals. I work with our specialist vendors, get them offshore, go offshore myself, and help and train our core crew.

“When you are offshore, time is money. Completing maintenance efficiently is vital to us. We aim to carry out preventative maintenance to make sure everything runs smoothly.”


Why the Pump Repair and Maintenance course?

“As a Maintenance Specialist on Glen Lyon, I’m accountable for critical, safety maintenance activities; this includes our water injection pumps which have seen some reliability issues. The main thing is keeping everyone safe and keeping the hydrocarbons in the pipe.

“The reason this course interested me was that I wanted to upskill my technical knowledge on pumps and pump systems. I was especially keen to learn more about centrifugal pumps. I wanted to find out about repair methods, overhaul techniques, operating conditions – with particular reference to seals – what we can do to mitigate failures and how to run more reliable pumps.

“We have three water injection pumps on Glen Lyon. We’ll run two on normal operation and have one on standby. They are critical for our production and are a key part of offshore topside equipment – if we can’t handle the water, we can’t take oil and gas from the reservoir.

“We always work closely with pump manufacturers and vendors, such as Sulzer. I hoped by talking this course, I would be able to have a more detailed conversations with them, rather than just getting an overview or summary of a pump’s performance.

“I have a cartridge change out for one of the water injection pumps coming up – that is on a five yearly maintenance regime. It’s the first time we’re doing it on Glen Lyon and it’s a big job that I’m responsible for. I really wanted to be upskilled before that job. Of course, we do have internal training within bp, but I thought it’d be good to have a look at what else is out there. The IMechE is obviously very established, I’m a member and the course had been recommended by a colleague. It was an easy choice.”

What was your experience of the course?

“It was a two-day course at the IMechE in London. We went through what we’d like to get out of the course. I looked at it in a bit of a selfish way! I wanted to know how the course related to my current and upcoming work. The course leader, Alex Yates, had so much content he could draw on and so was able to tailor the two days to our needs – that was really appreciated. It was a very interactive style of delivery, which really worked for me. It kept me engaged, focused and informed.

“Other delegates were from industries such as water, sewage and even submarines, as well as oil and gas like me, so it was pretty varied. Alex bought in various small pumps which we stripped down and rebuilt. He also had some internal components from failed equipment – damaged impellers, motors and shafts – as well as photos of offshore pumps where there was cavitation erosion.

“The course was more about pump overhauls and the troubleshooting side of pump maintenance. It’s not a course about the basics or fundamentals of pump systems. [Note: find out more about pump fundamentals.]

“We went over pump curves, ideal operating ranges for different pumps, what to do if you’ve got low suction, strategies to boost suction pressure, how to deal with high seal leakage rates, bearing lubrication and lots of other practical knowledge. It was a good technical depth. Alex suggested repair methods and other strategies that you wouldn’t think of by looking in a textbook.

“It definitely helped me that I came with some current problems that I was working on. I was able to ask for Alex’s opinion and get some advice and guidance – he’s an expert. If there was anything that I was unclear about, I would just ask Alex to explain further.”

What are the key reasons someone should attend Pump Repair and Maintenance?

  1. “Understanding that to run a pump efficiently, it’s important to keep it within its normal operating range and within the pump curve. If I see a pump behaving badly, the first question I ask myself now is: ‘Is it operating in its pump curve? Where is it on the pump curve?’ That was a key piece of information. It’s not always the pump’s fault but human interaction with the pump.”
  2. “We’re taught that when we are offshore, we should have a chronic sense of unease. If it doesn’t look right or smell right, it is likely there’s going to be something wrong. It’s not worth closing a blind eye. You’re better off investigating and if there is nothing wrong with the pump, at least you can put that to bed. But, as Alex said, it’s more than likely there’s going to be something there. It was really useful learning from a subject matter expert what to do when you sense these things.”
  3. “You’ll gain practical knowledge that Alex has amassed from years of experience. So, if I hear or smell something abnormal, I now have a mental checklist. Do the bearings need changing? Is the shaft damaged? What about the impellers and couplings? Is it wear and tear? What parts can we repair or is it better to replace the pump?”

What’s been the impact?

“On Glen Lyon, we see a lot of sand coming up in water streams and higher temperatures than we would like in driving and non-driving seals. I asked Alex what he would do if he saw this. He said, ‘Have you checked your seal plan? Are there blockages? Are there containments in your barrier fluid?’ He suggested a troubleshooting checklist to go through, plus what would be considered best practice.

“To be fair, it was what we were already doing but it was good to confirm our response with an expert. We cleaned out the seal system and topped it up – and we did see a drop in the temperature of the bearings and seals. That was a good learning. Longer term, it may be what we need is an operational change.

“Following the course, I am now able to go into meetings with suppliers with a better knowledge of our own systems. I also know what maintenance signs to look out for, when to act for repair and when to look at overhaul. From bp’s point of view, we’ll save money because there will be a reduced need for specialist vendors to go offshore. We can ask our core crew to do things, instead. I also expect bp to see a return from improved performance of our routine equipment.”

Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees

1 “You need to understand pump fundamentals and have some experience of working with pumps to get the most from this course. Alex will recap it all but, if you are unsure, it is worth doing his Pump Fundamentals course first.”

2 “Take current or previous examples of issues you have faced with pumps. It’s really useful. It could be photos or even pump operating trends – Alex will try to use your examples in the course.”

3 “Dig out your pump maintenance programmes – and check if you actually do the maintenance! Also, consider, is it the right maintenance programme? That way, you’ll be able to relate the course to your own experience.”

What’s next?

“Short-term, I’m just writing up my application for chartership. Hopefully, I will be chartered by the summer of 2024. It’s a good milestone to reach.

“In the medium term, our main businesses at bp are still oil and gas, and I love the variety of my present work. But renewables are major focus for bp and there is a lot of growth there. I am interested in making the transition over to them at some point.

“I’ve started to try to upskill on renewable and already taken a wind energy course at the University of Denmark and an internal course on hydrogen as part of energy supply systems. Plus, bp is launching a major renewable energy hub in Perth, Western Australia, with onshore wind, onshore solar and hydrogen hubs. That is something I am interested in. When I was at university, I did a semester in Brisbane, Australia and it gave me a taste for the Australian lifestyle!”

Pump Repair and Maintenance

  • Duration:
    2 days
  • Location
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec:
    E, C, B