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Centurion pump fabricator secures promising oil-sands contract
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16th June 2006
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Pretoria-based Hazleton Pumps has enjoyed a number of triumphs over the past few years, a pattern of success that has been particularly underscored by the company’s making promising inroads into the Canadian mining industry with its Hippo range of submersible pumps.

MD Mathys Wehmeyer tells Mining Weekly in an exclusive interview about recent developments in the company.

“During May, our first two submersible pumps destined for the oil-sands region in Northern Alberta, Canada were tested at the SABS upgraded test facility,” he reports.

“We tested both high-voltage, flameproof, submersible pumps, and the results were encouraging.” Wehmeyer reports that although the order is only for two pumps, with a total value of more than R1-million, he is confident that larger orders will follow after the customer sees what the pumps’ capabilities are.

Hazleton marketing and sales director Johan de Jager details that the pumps are designed to pump slurry with a specific gravity of 1,74, at a rate of 166 ? a second, with a four-bar pressure.

According to De Jager, the pumps are the first high-voltage, flameproof pumps to be produced locally, and are driven by a 275-kW, 4 000-V and 1170-rpm motor.

Wehmeyer explains that the Hippo submers-ible pump is highly suited to the harsh conditions found at the oil sands, featuring a double- discharge casing, which reduces radial loads on the shaft and thereby increases bearing and seal life.

The pump motor is cooled by pumping the product through a jacket that surrounds the motor.

He highlights that, owing to the potentially hazardous conditions that the pumps will be working in, safety is of utmost importance.

“This is why we tested both pumps at the SABS,” Wehmeyer states.

“They are fitted with temperature sensors for the motor windings and the bearings, and the chambers have double seals.” The casing, impeller and liners are manu- factured as standard from hardened high-chrome castings, but could be manufactured from a variety of other materials including stainless steel.

He says that the company developed the pumps with help from Alstom and other companies, building strong relationships with suppliers that have proved to add great value to the final product.

The company already has some 5 000 of its other pumps in the field locally, operating in the diamond, gold, coal and platinum mining industries, and Wehmeyer enthuses that the company has received excellent response from clients regarding its new high-voltage pump.

“The greatest advantage of the high-voltage motor is the reduction of the physical size of the pump and the power-supply cables and switch gear,” he says.

Canada, oh, Canada
Wehmeyer once again emphasises the com- pany’s hopes for further future exports to the North American country, which ranks second-largest in global proved oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia.

The lion share of these reserves, over 174 billion barrels, are found in Alberta’s oil sands, boasting production of almost one million barrels a day in 2003. Important to Hazleton Pumps is that it takes some two tons of sand to produce a barrel of oil, which involves a lot of pumping.

And Wehmeyer reports that the company has managed to keep the price to the Canadians competitive, even in view of the stronger rand.

“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been very supportive in our company’s securing the Canadian contract, subsidising travel costs to the country,” Wehmeyer states.

“We do, however, believe that the DTI should focus on improving research, development and testing in the country.” He explains that Hazleton’s Canadian strategy is similar to the one it implemented in South Africa, where it first established business with a major mining company and expanded its business from there.

“We hope to get a lot of business from oil sands, but have to be careful not to overextend our capacity,” Wehmeyer comments.

“And there are a number of relevant issues that we have been addressing in order to ensure that maximum benefit is enjoyed by both our clients and ourselves.” He says that Hazleton conducts in-house training, where it recruits 15 of the top students a year from a nearby college to do an apprenticeship, and then, hopefully, join the company as skilled artisans.

More about Hazleton
Wehmeyer started the company in 1988, buying most of the manufacturing equipment at auctions, and then refurbishing it. All the Hippo slurry pump’s components are manufatured in-house.

The company provides a profitable, sustainable service and aims to grow into a leading company through continuous development and the manu- facturing of quality pumps and related products.
Edited by: Matthew Hill

 

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Methys Wehmeyer
 

Methys Wehmeyer