The world’s largest bearing

Digital drawing of a ship with a field of view below sea level.

Lippstadt to Singapore with a stop in Abu Dhabi

Each slewing bearing from Rothe Erde connects one FPSO ship to the oil field. There is a turret-mooring system installed in the ship’s interior, which connects the lines on the ship to the 59 well centers on the seafloor. The FPSO also dynamically positions itself to compensate for currents and rough seas without entangling the pipes.

An initial request was sent by email in the summer of 2013. “The largest slewing bearings that we had manufactured previously were 14 meters,” says Anja Quadflieg, who works in Sales at thyssenkrupp rothe erde and managed the project. “For the customer, it was sufficient proof of what we are capable of.” The bearings were ready at the end of 2015 and shipped to Abu Dhabi where they were reassembled under the close supervision of four thyssenkrupp employees. Once the pipeline turret-mooring system was installed, everything was transported to the Singapore shipyard where oil tankers are being converted into FPSOs.

Bearings should never be any larger than necessary

The contract was demanding for both our technology and logistics. The bearing diameters are generally based on the planned load, yet they should never be any larger than necessary. For this reason, cranes and wind turbines usually have weldless forged rings with diameters measuring up to eight meters. You couldn’t transport them otherwise. In this specific case, the diameter of the lines that the rings needed to fit around were specified. The slewing bearing for the FPSO ship had to be far larger, which meant it needed to consist of segments. Nevertheless, each segment measures six meters.