Expert main oil line pump upgrade saves time and cost

Offshore platforms depend on main oil line (MOL) pumps to transfer oil to processing and storage facilities, and their reliability is essential for continued production. In this case, after nearly 20 years of operation, a new development in the oil field had led to increased abrasion in the pumps and a rapid repair was required. Applying its expertise as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Sulzer achieved a 12-week turnaround on the pump at a fraction of the cost for a new casing.

Customer International oil company (IOC)
Location Offshore, Malaysia
Industry Upstream Oil & Gas
Key Services


75 %


76 %


5 years


Best-in-class pump retrofit solution meets field expansion needs quickly and cost effectively.

The Challenge

Expanded oil field accelerates abrasion of pump components and failure risks

Having achieved excellent reliability for almost 20 years with very little change in pump performance,engineers on an offshore platform detected accelerated abrasion rates on one of its MOL pumps during monthly ultrasonic testing (UT). An expanded oil field had led to a change of application, causing a marked increase in sand and particles passing through the pump. The IOC required a rapid pump repair and upgrade while a standby operated as the main asset to secure oil transfer uptime.

  • Increased erosion identified at impeller tip, internal passage flow, shrouds, inlet vanes and casing cut-water areas.
  • Repairs to the pump casing, shrouds, inlet vanes and a new impeller were required.
  • The lead time on a new pump casing was one year.
  • New pump upgrades were needed to resist abrasion, improve durability and maximize service life.
  • Any downtime would halt the transfer of oil from the platform.

The Solution

360 retrofit solution extending pump durability

Thanks to its unmatched experience and expertise as a global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for pumps, along with its reliable supply chain, Sulzer could complete the upgrade in 12 weeks. A fast-tracked alternative to procuring an entirely new pump casing which would take 1 year. Sulzer’s leading technical expertise within the upstream oil and gas sector ensured it could meet the durability requirements of the new oil field application. A comprehensive solution supported by root cause analysis, abrasiveness evaluation, mechanical design changes, specialized coating deposition and robust testing was delivered within with expected timeframe.

  • Weld overlay and hard-facing techniques were used to build up the base casing material and improve abrasion resistance.
  • A section of the volute had to be removed and replaced to complete the casing repair.
  • The pump was upgraded with new seals and bearings.
  • Sulzer’s metallurgists applied high velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) coating to all wetted areas except for nozzles, suction areas and seal chamber as agreed with customer.
  • A new impeller was installed, which underwent boron chemical vapor deposition to enhance durability.
  • The cutwater design optimization upgrade will eliminate horseshoe vortex formations around cut waters. The shaped cutwater suppresses the conditions that generate the vortex and eliminate the erosion process.
  • The pump was reassembled, tested and returned to the IOC on time.

Explore our solutions

  • Retrofit
    Retrofitting your critical assets with the latest technology will maximize performance, minimize costs, and improve reliability.

  • Inspection and analysis
    Inspection and analysis provides you with the confidence of knowing the condition of your equipment. Maintenance and overhauls reduce the risk of failure and additional costs and knowing the condition of your equipment provides an opportunity for modifications to reach optimized performance levels.

  • Reverse engineering
    Re-engineering provides customers with an alternative for sourcing parts for their equipment. Whether looking to upgrade components, quicker deliveries, or replacing parts, re-engineering provides an opportunity to ensure your equipment keeps running at peak performance.

The Customer Benefit

A long service life on a short lead time

By carrying out a turnkey pump repair and upgrade, Sulzer’s experts were able to greatly reduce the lead time and cost compared to specifying new components, all while meeting the demands of the new application. The fast turnaround minimized the risk to platform uptime, safeguarding oil transfer operations.

  • The retrofit was completed in 12 weeks with zero external site modification, avoiding a 1-year lead time for a new pump casing.
  • All work was completed at 25% of the cost of a new casing.
  • The pump was upgraded to provide a long service life and resist increased abrasion.
  • A fast repair turnaround time helped to safeguard platform uptime.
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