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March 2023

New services, new dynamics!


Safety: a question of leadership

Gaël Bodénès
2 min

Safety of operations is the priority of BOURBON, but it is also and above all a personal commitment for each of us, at sea and on land.

Our objective: to protect all our employees and partners, so that everyone can return to their loved ones in good health.
Our ambition: zero incident, on our sites and during our operations.
This is an ambitious challenge that we must meet by developing a genuine safety culture within the Group, for ourselves, for others.

Safety is a question of leadership: that of management but also of each individual, that must be involved and close to his or her teams and colleagues, to ensure that the rules are respected and operations are safe. We must all be responsible for our own safety and that of our colleagues. This is how we can guarantee our clients safe operations and, consequently, the operational excellence we aim to achieve.

The market is recovering and more than ever if we want to achieve sustainable growth, we need to stay focused on our fundamentals, and in particular on operational safety. This is why we have decided to reformulate our 12 Life Saving Rules, aligning them with the rules of the IOGP and our main clients. In doing so, we ensure that we speak the same language and have common requirements.

In 2023, we will deploy these Life Saving Rules on our vessels, at our bases and in our offices. Wherever we operate, at sea or on land, we will do our utmost to ensure that these rules are known, understood and applied. With rigor, for the benefit of all.

Expert insight

Cranes: preventive maintenance... Remotely!

Philippe Duquennoy
Philippe Duquennoy
Operations Director - Hydrauserv
4 min

Within Bourbon Subsea Services, Hydrauserv offers maintenance and optimization services for electro-hydraulic installations. Since 2018, Bourbon Subsea Services has been offering its expertise to its clients and has become a solution provider for electro-hydraulic handling equipment through maintenance services, repair and improvement solutions for equipment and surveys with follow-up. A discipline that is evolving and increasingly emphasizing preventive maintenance. Philippe Duquennoy, Hydrauserv Operations Director, explains.

PartnerSHIP: First of all, could you tell us in a few words what Hydrauserv's core business is?

Philippe Duquennoy: Our core business is the maintenance of electro-hydraulic equipment on vessels and platforms. Our interventions mainly involve handling equipment, cranes, monorails, gantries and winches. Our strong point today is to have a real approach of preventive maintenance and repairing by remote troubleshooting. This is one of our major development axis.

PS: These equipment play a major role in the offshore energy production process...

Ph. D.: It's obvious, it's worth remembering that a platform without a crane simply cannot work. For example, an FPSO with more than 100 people on board means: refueling, waste disposal, process consumables, spare parts, etc. The cranes operate on a daily basis with large volumes exchanged. Hence the importance of maintaining this equipment. Maintenance has a cost, but it is minimal compared to stop of production. Our clients have long understood that the cost of maintenance is to be compared to the cost of possible operating losses.

Maintenance has a cost, but it is minimal compared to a production breakdown. Our clients have understood that the cost of maintenance is to be compared to the cost of possible operating losses.

Philippe Duquennoy

PS: What is your operating procedure?

Ph. D.: We study the process of the equipment, the electrical and hydraulic diagrams, the recommendations of the manufacturers of the critical components, then we define the maintenance plan as well as the associated tasks and periods. Finally, we carry out surveys, every 6 or 12 months. When a manufacturer conducts a survey, he has about 50 control points, we have about 400. We really go into detail. We go as far as studying and checking the protection and maintenance of connecting parts to anticipate possible problems in the event of dismantling. This is why our Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is so high for our fleet of cranes.

PS: How did remote maintenance come about?

Ph. D.: Our offshore equipment is not very accessible, either in the merchant navy, with vessels generally at sea with short port calls, or on offshore structures, where access is complicated. It is therefore essential to limit technician travel as much as possible. These trips are costly, time consuming and generate CO2 emissions. PS: How do you guarantee the quality of the diagnosis, at a distance? Ph. D. : I would like to start by saying that this is a process that has been running for a long time... and is therefore perfectly mastered. If a vessel notices a breakdown, we send it the appropriate test procedures. We don't ask what the failure is, but what they see. This is very different, and allows us to better identify the failure in question. It is important to ask the right questions. Expected answers: yes / no, and definitely not an opinion that can be interpreted. It must be factual. We guide the technicians, we explain to them how to intervene, we show them the safety process before intervention if it takes place, etc. The whole process is framed.

PS: We are here in the curative field, but as you underlined at the beginning of this interview, preventive maintenance tends to become predominant...

Ph. D.: Absolutely. It is better to spend 1€ on preventive maintenance than 10€ on curative maintenance. We made this choice because it has been clearly proven that preventive maintenance - and predictive maintenance - reduces possible equipment breakdowns. Some of our reluctant clients have since adopted preventive maintenance. I remember a client who used to change his cables every 5 years, and we proved to him that with our preventive maintenance and a proper control - especially the magneto-inductive control - that we perform on steel wires cables, he could adopt another approach.

PS: What is the status of digitalization in maintenance? 

Ph. D.: At our level, we equip our technicians with tablets and, thanks to a dedicated software, they establish their report, with positive points, criticisms, etc. When the technician arrives on board, he has a complete detail of all the control points, all the technical information, the data, etc. When the technician arrives on board, he has the complete details of all the control points, all the technical information, the data. The reporting is immediate. When the survey is completed, the reporting is also completed, which is a real step forward. As soon as we receive it, we validate the inspection in an extremely short time. We know instantly if we need to intervene, if the equipment needs to be shut down, etc. On the other hand, for cybersecurity reasons, we cannot use any data provided by the sensors installed on the equipment. And let's not neglect the question of costs. On a large offshore crane, the question of sensors could be asked, but not all our customers have such cranes, like those found on our MPSVs. So the cost is often prohibitive for our customers, for a relative added value. For the moment, I prefer to have technicians who master the maintenance process rather than sensors.

PS: In your opinion, what have been the most significant developments in recent years in terms of maintenance?

Ph. D.: Without a doubt, the balance between curative and preventive maintenance. Fifteen years ago, preventive maintenance was not well perceived on equipment not directly linked to production. This situation is changing for the better. You know, equipment that is not maintained will break down, that's a certainty. That's why it's important to have a survey to detect early or abnormal wear. It is better to schedule a shutdown for a preventive intervention than to suffer an unscheduled shutdown of the equipment for a curative intervention. I would add that the maintenance plan should be a joint project. If the customer is not sufficiently convinced and involved in the maintenance of his equipment, it will not be successful. Part of my job is to make our customers aware of the importance of this process for their business...

Article grues visuel HYDRAUSERV
Expert insight
Their stories

AUV fleet: the first steps of a revolution

Thierry Brizard
Thierry Brizard
Chief Engineer - Arkeocean
4 min
Stephan Midenet
Stephan Midenet
CEO - Bourbon Subsea Services

In order to complete its service offering and focus its development on innovation, BOURBON is joining forces with the French start-up Arkeocean and Seagnal company in a partnership around the "Deep Swarm Positioning" project, which will eventually enable the development of a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs. An interview with Thierry Brizard, Chief Engineer of Arkeocean, and Stephan Midenet, CEO of Bourbon Subsea Services.

PartnerSHIP: Arkeocean has focused its development on AUV technology. Could you describe the specificities of this particular market?

Thierry Brizard : The AUV industry is in the early stages of its history, much like the car industry was at the beginning of the last century. Companies like Kongsberg, BlueFin, Hydroïd or ECA can be considered as pioneers. Today's AUVs are assembled individually by skilled craftsmen and have rather modest operational performance. Because of their high unit price, they can only be released in small numbers into the sea for very specific missions.

PS: What kind of missions are you talking about?

T. B.: To give you an example, in March 2014, a BlueFin-21 AUV costing more than a million dollars was deployed to locate the black boxes of the Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and capture the last acoustic signals transmitted. This mission was a failure because to achieve this, it would have been necessary to mobilize a multitude of coordinated "pinheads", forming a listening network deployed in the water column over several square kilometers. But with AUVs costing tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros, this concept is economically unrealistic.

PS: In a similar way to what is currently happening in floating wind, the turning point will be the industrialization phase of these devices?

T. B.: That's right! The AUV industry is still waiting for its Henry Ford and the advent of the Model T that brought the automobile into the era of mass production. I believe that a similar industrial revolution is inevitable in the AUV field to bring to the market solutions finally adapted to the challenge of underwater exploration. This will probably be achieved through the advent of small connected AUVs, able to operate in coordinated swarms, at a unit price that will allow hundreds, even thousands, to be deployed simultaneously to observe the ocean with an instrument of a size finally adapted to its immensity. The world record for the number of AUVs deployed simultaneously was set in September 2020, with 200 vehicles mobilized during a seismic acquisition operation, but a major oil company is not stopping there and is currently working on a program involving potentially up to 3,000 AUVs.

PS: What is the impact of the AUV market in terms of sales?

T. B.: It is about 2 billion euros today, but, according to analysts, it should reach 4 billion within 3 years.

PS: What is the project you are developing today with BOURBON and Seagnal?

T. B.: The DEep Swarm POsiTioning project aims to develop a positioning system demonstrator enabling a large fleet of AUVs deployed over an area of up to 12km2 to move with an accuracy of 2.5 to 4 meters in the water column, to a depth of 3,000 meters. By moving globally, this system allows AUVs to cover large swaths (shooting width) for multiple applications, such as bathymetry and photogrammetry surveys (3D mapping/imaging of the seabed), geotechnical and geophysical acquisitions, or scientific observations by collecting physicochemical parameters. This system is designed to make thousands of underwater drones evolve together. PS: Stephan Midenet, why did BOURBON want to be involved in this project? Stephan Midenet: Bourbon Subsea Services, through its affiliate BO DNT, is a major operator of ROVs, which are used for a range of services, including inspection, maintenance, repair and survey. It is a technology that is quite mature but tends to develop more and more towards AUVs. Their scope is not quite the same, but they offer certain advantages, particularly in terms of flexibility, which is why we plan to acquire an AUV in 2023. It's a first step that will lead to others, and it's a technology that we want to have in our portfolio of services that we offer to our clients, in oil & gas but also in offshore wind. It also illustrates our desire to move towards more innovation. A start-up like Arkeocean can enable us to position ourselves successfully in this market, to work upstream. This approach is also in the context of developing turnkey services for Bourbon Subsea Services. This means not only providing the equipment but also, in some cases, the associated services according to models we are currently investigating. It is therefore even more important to master the operational model to be more efficient and more competitive than our competitors.

PS: Stephan Midenet, why did BOURBON want to be involved in this project?

Stephan Midenet: Bourbon Subsea Services, through its affiliate BO DNT, is a major operator of ROVs, which are used for a range of services, wether in the field of inspection, maintenance, repair in offshore installations, traditional operations of survey, etc. This is a fairly mature technology, but one that will eventually face increasing competition from AUVs, at least in some applications. Their scope is not quite the same, but they offer some advantages, especially in terms of flexibility. This is why we plan to acquire a "traditional" AUV in 2023 to expand and evolve the range of services we offer. This is a first step that calls for others, so we also want to look to the future and to new technologies that will allow us to offer differentiated services with greater operational efficiency. AUVs fleets are potentially one of these technologies and it is a technology that we would like to have in the future in the portfolio of services we offer our clients, in oil&gas but also in offshore wind. Hence our participation in this project. It also illustrates our desire to move towards greater innovation and higher value-added services

The AUV sector is currently in turmoil. There are historical manufacturers who propose devices with a cost equal to that of an ROV, between 5 and 10 M€. In my opinion, this type of AUV does not reflect what this sector will be tomorrow.

Stephan Midenet
CEO of Bourbon Subsea Services

PS: What do you think of the AUV market?

S. M.: The AUV sector is currently in turmoil. There are historical manufacturers who propose devices with a cost equal to that of an ROV, between 5 and 10 M€. In my opinion, this type of AUV does not reflect what this sector will be tomorrow. There must be a real revolution to gain operational efficiency. Many start-ups are being created all over the world, concepts are being developed, etc. This market is not mature, but it is in the making. BOURBON therefore wishes to add AUVs to its portfolio of subsea activities and equipment. When we analyze the ecosystem that exists around these devices, we believe that there are or will soon be ways to deliver certain underwater services more efficiently. So eventually we want to have those kinds of solutions in our service portfolio. I am interested in the concept of a "swarm" or fleet of AUVs because I believe that if we can, at least for some applications, move from large, expensive AUVs that require complex logistics, mobilize large vessels and represent a real operational complexity, to a fleet of low-cost, flexible AUVs capable of acquiring very large volumes of data, we will open up new possibilities and new markets, particularly in offshore wind energy.

PS: What is your role in this partnership with Arkeocean?

S. M.: We will bring our skills in installation engineering, vessel and operations management, our experience in subsea operations and ROVs, which will be combined with Arkeocean's subsea acoustic skills and Seagnal's expertise. Beyond our expertise, we also bring the credibility of a leader in offshore oil, gas and wind marine services.

T. B.: BOURBON brings us its seniority and gives credibility to the project. In addition, our system is based on a vessel and a marine infrastructure designed by BOURBON engineers whose excellence in terms of engineering and knowledge of the deep sea has already been appreciated. We also expect a lot of cross-fertilization between BOUBON's knowledge of ROVs and ARKEOCEAN's knowledge of AUVs. Our relationship is very fluid, cordial and with shared "benefits"! By this I mean that if we succeed in carrying out our project, BOURBON will be able to offer innovative survey solutions to its clients, thereby strengthening its position in the Oil & Gas and offshore wind energy markets.

PS: Concretely, what stage of development are you at?

T. B.: We are in the process of launching a new type of AUV, quite revolutionary, for military and other applications, which will be sold "ready to sail" with all their equipment and guidance devices at around €20,000 per unit, whereas equivalent AUVs on the market are around €80,000. And we consider this as a step, as the beginning of a great adventure in which Arkeocean, Seagnal and BOURBON will be the driving forces...

Their stories
Successful together

Bourbon Horizon, the birth of a harsh-environment leader

Cliff Gaetz
Managing Director – Bourbon Horizon AS
4 min

In the current climate of offshore-market recovery, BOURBON has teamed up with Canadian marine-support specialist Horizon Maritime Services, in a joint venture created to provide harsh-environment offshore services in the North Sea and Canada. Strong in its combined resources, long experience and geographical location, the JV will be a leading presence in the sector. It also plans to offer external ship-management services. PartnerShip spoke to Bourbon Horizon MD, Cliff Gaetz.

PartnerShip: Can you tell us how BOURBON and Horizon Maritime came together?

Cliff Gaetz: It all started when, in the first quarter of 2019, Horizon Maritime purchased a vessel from BOURBON. We started operating the vessel in the North Sea and maintained and developed a relationship with Bourbon Offshore Norway, who provided vessel management services for us on that vessel for the first year. During the period of operation in the North Sea, we maintained the same crew and management team, who supported us through the transition. Then, in 2020, BOURBON delivered the ship to our home port, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The Newfoundland and Labrador basin is Horizon's main operational base where we support Canada's offshore drilling, exploration, and production operations. That transaction and the subsequent provision of services were thus the foundation of our relationship. Then, we naturally continued our dialogue and supported a floating wind installation project for Bourbon Subsea, in the Atlantic, off the coast of Portugal. This brought us in contact with Bourbon Offshore DNT, in Ravenna, Italy, who specialize in ROVs. After that, we collaborated with BOURBON on another floating wind project, in Norway, called TetraSpar, installing the mooring lines, with the help of the Ravenna team’s ROVs.

PartnerShip: Why was a JV decided on and what are the strengths of Bourbon Horizon in the harsh-environment market?

CG: From a vessel-management perspective, Bourbon Offshore Norway and our team in Atlantic Canada have a lot of common operational experience, sharing several common clients, a harsh-environment specialization and fairly niche markets. We soon saw that mutual support, in this context, was as a really important requirement. The fact that we already had a lot of similar operating practices also became clear, as our relationship developed. An interesting thing about the Canadian offshore market is that when activity in the region slows down, the local offshore vessels will typically transition towards the North Sea and operate there, trading on the North Sea spot market or supporting North Sea projects. So, it has always been common for our vessel fleet to transfer from one market to the next. The equipment is quite similar, the environmental conditions are similar, and there are common working practices and common clients, between the two markets. It’s harsh out there. You need large, robust vessels to operate in these markets and, most importantly, seafarers who are familiar with these conditions. On the Canadian side, when you’re operating in this offshore market, local presence, benefits and Canadian-flag vessels are important to the Operators and local industry. In Norway, it’s much the same. In both markets, there are opportunities to bring in foreign vessels but, traditionally, you really need to have a local operational base and presence, to position yourself strongly in that market, especially in the long term. 

PartnerShip: What are your ambitions for the next few years?

CG: We intend on being a leader in the offshore marine sector, with a strong presence in the North Sea and Atlantic Canada. With our current offices in Fosnavag (Norway)  and St. Jone's (Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada), we are uniquely positioned to support our clients in both markets. In parallel with the management of our base 7 Vessel fleet, we are focused on offering vessel management services for other vessels owners. Lastly, we need to work closely with marine education centers and promote carrers within the maritime industry supporting the development of the next generation of seafarers.

With our current offices in Fosnavag (Norway) and St. Jone's (Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada), we are uniquely positioned to support our clients in both markets.

Cliff Gaetz
Managing Director – Bourbon Horizon AS

PartnerShip: What is your immediate focus this year?

CG: The company (Bourbon Horizon AS) has been incorporated, and now, we will work towards refining our management systems and processes and bring the complete fleet, including Horizon assets and Bourbon Offshore Norway assets, under a common management system and Document of Compliance. We will continue to work towards this goal over the next three quarters, aiming to have finalized this aspect by the year's end. The vessels and personnel, in both countries, will be operating via a common platform. In parallel with that, we will engage with other vessel owners, looking for opportunities to expand the fleet composition and offer management services to vessels outside of our own base fleet.

PS: Regarding offering ship-management to shipowners, what are our strengths in this service?

CG: The industry has been challenging for the last 8-9 years, and that was certainly extended by the pandemic. We saw a significant outflow of experience in the industry. Customers need experienced management teams and assets to support offshore oerations and we have the capacity and expertise to provide this service and support. With our expanded footprint, we now have a strong presence in two key markets and can offer the same presence to other vessel owners. We offer a robust, industry-vetted SMS and a comprehensive digital vessel management system that is now being rolled out through the BOURBON fleet. We're opening up chartering possibilities for vessel owners in adjacent markets, providing local support and a greater range of services and value to the Energy companies (end customers) from the Bourbon Horizon team.

PS: You yourself have been a seafarer. How does that experience help you in your current role?

CG: I started as a Cadet and went through to Master. I sailed on offshore vessels and finished up on pipelay vessel that was operating offshore Brazil. For several years, while primarily based in an offshore role, I would come ashore for short periods to support the company and to gain a better understanding of Vessel Management systems and processes. At that time, the company's owner wanted us to go through all aspects of ship management, so there wasn't a department, that I didn't get the opportunity to be involved in. I supported various vessels, operations, and projects and this helped me to acquire a holistic view of ship management and its processes.

PS: What changes do you see in the industry today?

CG: With the downturn of the market and the pandemic, many have retired and moved on from the industry. A major challenge, therefore, is to find and develop new seafarers. We need to promote carrers at sea, support young people to come into the industry then get them onboard and develop them. I'm a seafarer by trade, a master mariner, and when I was a kid coming out of college, finding a job was a challenge in the Canadian market, just trying to get my foot in the door. Now, when I visit marine schools, I see other shipowners, including senior management engaging with cadets and the schools. We must play an active role in that. Expanding our footprint with other vessel owners and growing our pool of seafarers is key to our future growth and for the industry as a whole. Of course, decarbonization is also a key factor in our daily decision-making processes and is a large topic on its own. Alternative fuels, new engine designs and ship technology have been processing rapidly and we are accountable for making changes in the way we operate, we need to demonstrate this to our partners and recognize that it will also be a key interest for new seafarers who are joining the industry.



Successful together
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"Door-to-rig" in Ivory Coast: a new success

Arnaud Valentin
Arnaud Valentin
Bourbon Mobility New Services Operations Director
4 min

Bourbon Mobility has been offering its clients integrated logistics services since 2020 and the contract signed on the Zinia 2 project in Angola. Today, Geocean has validated this service offer with a first contract in the Ivory Coast, which ran from January to February. Arnaud Valentin explains.

BOURBON@Work: Before detailing the service offered to Geocean, can we go back to the Door-to-Rig offer?

Arnaud Valentin: This is an offer that consists of taking in charge our clients' personnel from the airport of arrival in the countries of operation to their offshore installations (Rigs, vessels, platforms, etc.), and vice versa, to escort those who have completed their missions. It's an integrated, end-to-end logistics solution to help our clients ensure their personnel changes with a single point of contact and optimized costs. We therefore provide our clients with operational comfort and a guarantee of controlled costs. This service offer has become a new business model at Bourbon Mobility, because our challenge is to go further than the maritime part of the personnel transfer, which is our historical core business. Door-to-Rig allows us to bring added value to the chartering activity, it is clearly a differentiating element in our market and a strong competitive advantage. In this case, our surfers become a means of our offer and not the heart of it. Moreover, by mastering the whole chain of value creation of a staff transfer operation, we can create economies of scale and let our customers benefit from them through additional discounts.

B@W: Is the Door-to-Rig offer sufficiently known by our customers today?

A. V.: This is the core of the action led by Jérôme Goutières and myself. The operation that took place in Angola in 2020 as part of the Zinia 2 project demonstrated our ability to deploy Door-To-Rig offers effectively. This first operation became the illustration of our know-how. Following this initial success, our client has again placed its trust in us by signing a new Door to Rig contract with Bourbon Mobility, again in Angola. This operation, scheduled between the 1st quarter of 2023 and the 1st quarter of 2024, will be based on the handling of our client's employees participating in the project from Luanda airport to the vessels involved in the operation in the north of Angola. In support of this, we will use 2 surfers, one for the land-rig shuttle (interfield), the other for the rotation between the different vessels at sea. We will also deploy dedicated flights between Luanda and the base of operations located in Soyo, in the north of Angola.

B@W: Let's go back to Geocean. What was their need?

A. V.: Geocean, which specializes in shallow and near-shore operations, needed a partner to ensure the transfer of personnel to the Baleine field in Côte d'Ivoire. After analyzing the need with Geocean's teams, we were able to define an integrated solution that met Geocean's logistics and transportation challenges. Our offer allowed us to optimize the client's operational costs while meeting their standards of comfort and safety. Over the 2 months of the contract, we will have transported a total of almost 3,500 passengers, which is a number of passengers higher than that of the contract for the Zinia 2 operation.

B@W: In your opinion, what is Bourbon Mobility's major asset on the Door to Rig?

A. V.: For me, without a doubt, our ability to present a tailor-made offer that meets the needs of our clients. Specifically, for Geocean, we were able to design a hosting solution that reduced costs and transportation time and integrated the logistics of the operation. For our previous operation, we implemented an airborne solution to transport the personnel from Luanda to Soyo, in complete safety and with a drastically reduced transit time. It is through our ability to meet these challenges that we demonstrate to our clients the quality of our offer, our added value.

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Compliance: a challenging discipline that reinvents itself

Andrew Hayward
Andrew Hayward
Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer – Subsea7
5 min
Harcourt BOURBON
Eric d’Harcourt
Chief Compliance Officer – BOURBON

A critical aspect of the functioning of major companies today, Compliance used to be primarily anti-corruption centered. The scope of this discipline is shifting, however, and Compliance is becoming more challenging, as it begins to embrace more fields. The Chief Compliance Officers of Subsea7 and BOURBON compared notes, for PartnerSHIP, on the current evolution of their roles. Interview.

PartnerSHIP: What are your greatest challenges as Chief Compliance Officer?

Andrew Hayward: If you’re working for an organization that has values that are truly aligned with your stated Compliance and Ethics priorities, and if your organization has a CEO who actually gets it and is committed, your greatest challenge is largely overcome. Without having those two elements in place, being a Compliance Officer would be an almost impossible task. You’d end up being the dreaded grey man or woman in a suit, enforcing rules from Head Office. Also, Compliance shouldn’t be seen as just “your responsibility.” Even in a very enlightened organization, there’s still a tendency to think “Oh, Andrew or Eric is responsible for that.” Obviously, you’re accountable for it and you may be the subject matter expert but it’s utterly crucial that you embed accountability for Compliance within the business and within your management teams. This challenge never really goes away!

Eric d’Harcourt: My experience confirms what Andrew says. Compliance must be embedded in the mindset of every employee. It can’t be limited to asking employees to read policies, apply procedures and participate in trainings. We must explain and explain again why we’re asking for certain things and remind people that it’s critically important because it’s about protecting the employees and the company.

PS: Have you noticed a change in the last years in the way Compliance is seen both by top management and by employees?

AH: Generally speaking, there’s a lot more awareness out there of Compliance and Ethics. But that’s down to the maturity of Compliance in your organization, coupled with the number of high profile corruption cases. You should see a change, if you’ve been working to embed your Compliance approach within your company and have made some progress. But it’s still a big challenge for a Compliance officer to be business-friendly, business-focused and risk-based, all at once. Any fool can implement a load of bureaucracy, rules and procedures. Actually, though, you’re trying to concentrate on what really makes a difference to Compliance and Ethics risks within your organization – which may, indeed, be about values and incentives. Nothing will be improved by enormous piles of bureaucracy. What’s ultimately important, in fact, is to have a culture of Compliance. If we have these policies and procedures, they’re there for a very good reason and must be followed.

PS: Would you confirm the trend towards an increase in the scope of action of Compliance Officers?

AH: Yes indeed! The burden is becoming unsustainable, with the Corporate Social Responsibility dimension that companies now have to deal with. If Human Rights, for example, is part of your responsibility as a Compliance Officer, there’s a huge and, I would say, unsustainable Human Rights regulatory and stakeholder-expectation burden coming down the track, even before the EU Vigilance law. As Eric says, the challenge is considerable.

EH: We’re currently looking closely at exactly this situation, to establish who is doing what, especially regarding what you just said. In the pure, anti-corruption sense of Compliance, our focus for third parties, for example, is on whether they have corruption policies, etc. Now, though, we must have a much deeper knowledge of our suppliers, to better understand their commitments to sustainable development. So, our scope is much broader than it was a few years ago.

PS: What are the main interests of the Compliance Officers you meet all year long?

AH: In our meetings, I consistently try to persuade my fellow Compliance Officers that we should coalesce around common standards, in relation to anti-bribery and anti-corruption (ABAC) and Human Rights, and have a common approach to assurance. ABAC is being rapidly overtaken by Human Rights, as one of the biggest topics. When companies have a programme in place to manage ABAC or Human Rights risks and provide assurance to clients and stakeholders that they’re managing those risks, what tends to happen is that everybody wants to send their own questionnaire. They want to do their own auditing. The further down you are in the supply chain, as a contractor or subcontractor, the more you’re faced with having to respond to increasingly burdensome questionnaires and audits, from larger and better-resourced companies. The burden is unrealistic. I want to get to a point where we all agree that you should be audited once, by a credible external expert, against a common standard that everyone can agree is appropriate. As a company, we’re trying to persuade our sector to do this, because we spend huge amounts of time trying to respond to questionnaires and audits, in a hugely duplicative and inefficient way.

PS: If you both had to talk about one key priority in 2023, what would it be?

AH: For me, it would be what we just talked about – trying to make an impact on Compliance and Ethics externally. This would also help us manage our risks and provide assurance. Apart from that, though, our 2023 priorities are a combination of two things. Firstly, at Subsea7, we’ve reached a maturity in Compliancy that we’re proud of, whereby our program is largely about ethics and values and integrity. We believe in constantly stressing integrity, to get people to believe and understand that they must bring their personal integrity to work and use that to tackle Compliance issues, rather than thinking “What’s the rule or procedure here?” In parallel with that, there’s making sure we update our dashboards to show how our business is doing in implementing the various requirements of the programme.

EH: In terms of priorities, we have action plans linked to following up on our risk-mapping exercise, as defined last year. We also have to complete our training program, as I said, by adding dedicated training for the most-exposed employees, such as those in Procurement, Commercial, Finance, etc. One of our priorities also is to reinforce accounting control, which is one of the pillars, to ensure we’re really strong in this area.

PS: What is it that makes Compliance a fascinating or exciting discipline for you, today, in 2023?

EH: The first thing is that just doing our best to protect the company and its employees is already a fascinating challenge. The second is that since Compliance is moving and growing and more and more topics are coming under the Compliance umbrella, we’re certainly not doing the same thing every day! There’s always something different to grapple with, coming from Operations or wherever. So, it’s pretty challenging. We’re a pivotal function, working not just in our office but with all the different functions in the Group, with HR, Finance, Procurement, Operations. For me, this is exciting. That said, we have to be careful not to be seen as the guy who can answer every question, the expert on everything, the hotline for all questions. You have to be careful not to do the job of the others! Almost everything can be linked to Compliance.

AH: Absolutely! It’s a huge growth area, so now is a great time to be in Compliance and Ethics. For me, it’s an intellectual and cultural challenge. I’ve always been struck by Peter Drucker’s expression “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Culture also trumps Compliance. So, your strategy and your Compliance have to be aligned with your culture. So, if your culture is all about making money at all costs… Take pharmaceuticals and finance. They probably have the biggest Compliance programmes, with vast numbers of rules, procedures, policies and Compliance Officers. This doesn’t make a scrap of difference if, fundamentally, you’re still incentivizing people by rewarding them for just making sales. It’s a fascinating challenge, I find, to get that balance between the finance control that gives governance a solid black line, for example, and the softer aspects. Persuading people that it’s the culture that makes the difference is hard. But it’s a marvellous challenge!

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The "mild", a new zone of expansion for Bourbon Mobility

Jérôme Goutières
Jérôme Goutières
Chief Commercial Officer - Bourbon Mobility
2 min

Bourbon Mobility is focusing its commercial strategy for the next few years on the Mild market. But what is the Mild and how to address it? Jérôme Goutières explains.

PartnerSHIP: In recent months, Bourbon Mobility has focused on a strategy to conquer the Mild market. What does this mean?

Jérôme Goutières: Our activity can be explained in terms of three geographical areas. The Equator, which is our historical area of activity, between Nigeria and Angola, with sea conditions that are particularly favorable to the transport of personnel by Surfer. Then we find the area Mild, with less clement sea conditions, which pushes our clients to also turn to crew exchanges by helicopter. The Mild is an area between a parallel passing north of Nigeria and another in the south of France. Finally, the Harsh is the other maritime zones, with sea conditions that are difficult to adapt to our crew transfer solutions. In 2022, we have therefore focused on this Mild zone, where we have identified that our clients are increasingly active.

PS: What is the concretization of this strategy, on the commercial level?

J. G.: This has been translated in 2022 by a start of activity in 3 new countries: Senegal, Ivory Coast and Turkey, this last country in partnership with our colleagues of BM&L. We have also prepared the future with very active discussions in new countries of the African continent such as Mauritania, Ghana, Cameroon, Mozambique... Our new frontiers are Asia, where several of our clients wish to deeply evolve their organizations in terms of staff rotation, and South America where we also have strong ambitions.

PS: You explained in your introduction that in this Mild area, clients may tend to use helicopters. How do you plan to address this market?

J. G.: To answer your question, I propose to focus on Guyana, an extremely important development axis for ExxonMobil. Its ambition is to deploy 10 FPSOs there over the next 10 years. The production level of the first FPSO is already very high. In this context, Guyana will become an important player in the market... Operational constraints for ExxonMobil: the fields are far from the coast, the number of personnel to be transported is large and the navigation conditions are difficult. The challenge for ExxonMobil is threefold: to ensure reliable operation of its fields with strict control of its operating costs, to guarantee an optimal level of comfort for its personnel and to respect its social commitments in terms of sustainable development and control of its CO2 emissions. And this is where we can play a role, because helicopters, which are the mode of transport used today, do not meet all these challenges in an optimal way. Nevertheless, we do not have, at the moment, a vessel that can transport passengers in this area. We have therefore imagined the Crew boat of tomorrow for Guyana: the Surfer 560X.  A completely disruptive vessel compared to what we do today.

PS: How is this vessel disruptive?

J. G.: In terms of design, I think it is obvious. Moreover, its equipment has been studied to make it very reliable. It should also be emphasized that it is a light vessel, to reduce its fuel consumption as much as possible and consequently its CO² emissions. This is not the option that has been chosen by other operators. It will also be equipped with a gangway capable of facilitating the transfer of passengers in the sea conditions of Guyana and a high level of interior equipment (completely redesigned cabins inside, closer to aviation standards, with more comfortable seats than those offered by European airlines). This vessel will support Bourbon Mobility strategy in MILD deep water. A poet once said, "The future always begins now," and I think that's totally appropriate for us. And that future should look like this vessel...

Surfer article PartnerSHIP  mild