Oilfield logistics - Peru

Atalaya, Peru at the junction of Rio Tambo and Rio Urubamba.

CV view

That's as far6014_Peru up river that a flat bottom barge could go. From there hovercraft were used to move equipment to site.

I joined a team providing logitics to a world class oil company that had been successful in its exploration of the Amazon basin. Before we could begin we needed to build facilities for maintaining the hovercraft, storing fuel destined for the operations site some 120 miles up river and restoring the hovercraft back to its former glory after an off-shore poject in Angola.

There are no roads. Rivers are either shallow or dry in the dry season or fast flowing in the wet season. Transport from the furthest in land port of Iquitos to Atalaya could be done by barge but from there up stream towards the Andes could only be achieved by a vehicle that could carry cargo over water, swamp or dry river bed, even through torrents of logs and fallen trees being swept down river as the Amazonian rivers began to swell.

John Pattison changing an engine before the next delivery

After a few weeks we spoke a bit of the local language and the local workers had learned a bit of English. We had formed a formidable team prepared and tooled up for the construction of a logistics and drill site in the rain forest. The local crew pumped diesel from barges at Atylaya into bladder bags on the the hovercraft then into storage tanks at the client's logistics site in Nuevo Mundo some three of four hours up river. Weighty bladder bags provided ballast we were able to carryflat packed PortaCabins on the roof along with other equipment bound for the job site. Miltary type roll outroad and food supplies were all delivered by hovercraft.

An engine change over night for a 6AM start.

graviola bannerI often did 12 hour trips then maintained the craft before bed.

We achieved targets for the construction the site power generation, fuel storage, accommodation, the removal of a 10 year old equipment left by a previous exploration team. Daily deliveries from Atalaya to Nuevo Mundo and Mal Venus 120 miles up stream towards the Andes enabled the project to continue throughout wet and dry seasons of the Amazon.

At the start of the wet season rivers swell after storms and rain in distant parts of the Andes. One of the first signs of the seasonal change is the tempoary housing built by fishermen floating past our operations base. From there on great care must be taken because the rising weater takes with it logs from the river banks and even full trees from the forest edge that we often met head on as we rounded a bend in a river. If a storm was visable in the distant mountains we knew that twleve hours later water would be rising and picking upriver bank logs and trees along the way.

Initially the indigenous people were interested but suspicious of our 25 meter machine. Our attempts to wave and be friendly as we carefully passed villagers doing their daily chores at the river bank didn’t ease their fears for long. Dwellers near the water's edge made their own oppinions based on

Hovercraft delivering aviation and diesel fuel

what they had seen, white faces smiling and waving as the machine rumbled past but people living deeper into the jungle could only hear the propellers and diesel engines rumbling past and made up a story of what might be.

The hovercraft was said to be a monster using human blood as fuel and the rubber skirt was made of human skins. Earlier that year there had been media stories about body parts being sourced from the region and taken back to USA for tranplants. Perhaps this had caused their fears.

The twin bow thrusters mounted on top of the hovercraft were said to be the monster's eyes constantly twitching from side to side scanning the river banks for prey as we steered the hovercraft with bow thrusters and rudders.

It wasn’t long before we were being shot at with barbed arrows and shotguns. With help from the client's PR staff and language experts we took time out to circulate an invitation to villagers to board the craft, meet the crew and relieved their fears....

We were welcomed from there on and provided many services to the villagers in times of flooding. We even transported a 12 feet high statue from one village to another along with a troop of heavily armed Peruvian soldiers to position the statue on arrival.

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Roberto, Maximo, Juan & Juan display gun shot damage to Manta

Gun shot damage to hovercraft in Ataylaya Peru

At completion I was part of the crew to take the hovercraft through a record breaking 1800 miles overland journey to Coari via the Columbian border and Manaus for the start of a project laying pipe throughout the Brazilian Amazon during the dry season. Between the crew of three we had all the skills we needed, pilot, mechanical and elecrtrical experts so we had no problems in crossing the continent and arrived on time to start a new project

Hovercraft in the dry season

The same hovercraft in the same location before the wet season Hovercraft in wet season

Flood in Nuevo Modo 12 hours after storms thundered in theAndes


The roof in the picture/s covers a 20ft container (as did the water)

Flood in Peru







After the flood

Picture taken from normal river level after the flood.


1 of 4 engines out for repair in the jungle workshop

Oil pressure dropped syddenly but Steve stopped one engine before too much damage was done. When I stripped it there was a priece of rag blocking the oil pick up so a set of bearings was all it needed. How the rag got there remined a mystery as the fillier is only 25m wide and dropping it in accidentally is very unlikely. The 1.3 tonne V12 twin turbo diesel engine was refiitted within hours.. . . . . . . .


2 bladder bags of fuel inside the hovercraft with 2 flat pack accommodation units on the roof was a typical load from Atalaya to Amazon houseOur military froendsNueavo Mundo. 

Our military friends based in the jungle were a great help in resolving who and why we were shot at.

  Hovercraft maintenance team - Peru


 Hovercraft maintenance team - Peru