Oil & Gas Thin Section Bearings

Oil & Gas Thin Section Bearings

Date Published: Mar 09, 2021

Carter is Silverthin’s European Master Distributor for Silverthin precision thin section bearings and slewing ring bearings which are specially designed to cope with heavy loads in the oil and gas industry with precision, durability and reliability.

Deep drilling for oil and gas is one of the most demanding environments for any bearing to survive and perform in. Drill heads sometimes go down more than a mile and often encounter temperatures in excess of 150° Celsius with pressures reaching over 10,000 psi.

Silverthin special oil and gas industry bearings from Carter are increasingly relied on by both offshore and land-based engineers worldwide. When the project calls for light weight, space-saving, corrosion resistant yet rugged and durable thin section bearings Carter can supply from stock or design and manufacture bespoke items.


Silverthin thin section bearings supplied by Carter for oil and gas applications can cope with radial, axial, and overturning moment loads simultaneously and deliver stiffness with low rotational torque. Special casing design and advanced roller manufacturing techniques combine to provide oil and gas engineers with bearings that they can rely on in one of the world’s most expensive exploration environments.


Directional drilling in the oil and gas industry is a technique that places even more severe demands on the equipment being used, especially on the drilling head itself, which creates a bore of more than 8 inches and can operate at angles of more than 30°. In some cases, directional drilling reaches depths below the surface of almost 2 miles, and can spread horizontally across hundreds of metres as the drill head tracks its way to the oil or gas past impenetrable underground obstacles. The stresses placed on the bearings in the drill head are enormous and the Carter Oil and Gas engineering team at Oxford have designed, developed and manufactured special bearings specifically to cope with such applications.


In some cases, to deal with the unprecedented demands of directional drilling, up to 8 Silverthin thin section bearings are assembled in a ‘bearing stack’ to help the design of the drilling head cope with the angular displacements necessary whilst drilling ‘down and across’ using the directional heads. The bearings are designed to be durable, ultra-precise and as friction-free as possible to maximise drilling performance and are frequently exposed to hostile environments including slurry, mud and water in addition to crude oil. This type of bearing is sometimes referred to as a mud bearing as they use this heavy solution as a lubricant.


Silverthin thin section bearings from Carter have a large bore with a small cross-section to offer many design advantages: for example, the use of a large diameter hollow shaft in place of a smaller diameter solid version can achieve significant weight savings in drill heads, and also allow designers to route associated components such as hydraulic lines, airlines or fibreoptic cables more effectively too.


An associated application in which Silverthin thin section bearings have excelled is in NDT for weld systems, where precision testing equipment is expected to endure arduous use inside heavy-duty underground/overground pipelines with bore sizes from 90mm up to a substantial 500mm. In these NDT and other similar applications, machine designers insist on premium-quality bearings that possess the durability, reliability, and hardwearing characteristics which minimise downtime and thus maximise profitability for operators, some of whom are working in extremely remote parts of the world where failure is not an option they are keen to dwell on.


Elsewhere, in some types of machinery for harsh environments, specially designed custom thin section bearings are necessary, and Silverthin have become a ‘go-to’ source for specials like this in the oil and gas industry. The company has the facility to manufacture thin section bearings for challenging conditions using a variety of materials and finishes, together with a wide range of races, balls, cages and coatings. These special thin section bearings from Silverthin are designed to endure harsh environments and reduce downtime and operating costs for contractors.


The Carter Oil & Gas precision bearing team is located near Oxford, in the midst of a high-technology cluster featuring motorsport, nuclear, medical, defence and aerospace industries centred around the Thames Valley. Carter’s expert staff are all highly trained engineers and provide customers with a unique blend of experience, ability and expertise. Critically, they can also provide customers with  access to Carter’s R&D Department, offering advanced simulation software to assist in the selection and/or design of the ideal bearing for high-tech, demanding oil and gas industry applications.


Silverthin sizes and types available for Oil & Gas industry applications:

  • Bore sizes from 25mm to 360mm
  • OD from 41mm to 400mm
  • Cross section from 8mm to 20mm
  • Angular, radial and 4-point contact


Typical applications for Silverthin thin section bearings:


  • NDT Inspection equipment
  • Directional drilling heads
  • Rotary winches
  • Robotics
  • Marine cranes
  • Pipe forming equipment
  • Iron roughnecks
  • Rotary Pipe welding 
  • Mini submarines
  • Top drive power swivels
  • Coil tubing
  • Tubular manipulators
  • Deck Machinery & Motion Control
  • Launch and recovery systems (LARS)
  • Cable laying 
  • Aerial platforms

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