Logo Partnership
June 2019

Operational Excellence:

Back to basics!


The strength of our foundations

Any good architect knows that to guarantee the longevity of a building it needs solid foundations that will withstand the test of time. Entrepreneurship is no exception to this common sense rule. BOURBON's recent history provides additional proof.

Our group has indeed known how to conduct, for nearly two years now, an ambitious program of transformation while building on its fundamentals, the pillars of its operational excellence:

  • safety and compliance, our priority commitments, on the site of our operations and on shore, everywhere in the world. Our Life Saving Rules, in terms of safety, are thus a constant reminder of our "zero incident" objective;
  • the skill of our qualified, trained and experienced employees, delivering standards of excellence recognized by our customers and which guarantee their satisfaction;
  • the technical availability of our vessels, reinforced by corrective maintenance and soon to incorporate preventive and predictive maintenance, enabling us to ensure the continuity of our service, despite severe budgetary constraints;
  • cost optimization, notably made possible by the standardization and digitalization of our fleet.

BOURBON has undertaken its transformation, adopted a new state of mind and enhanced its offer with new services while evolving its operatinal model and controlling its costs. That is the ambition of the #BOURBONINMOTION strategic action plan. Nevertheless, the group has not forgotten where it came from and the assets on which its leadership is founded. Its leitmotiv is "ambition & pragmatism". It has made the strategic choice of innovation without neglecting the standards of operational quality that have always been, and continue to be, its strength. Every day, our teams thus carry out their support missions for the Oil & Gas industry, providing their expertise to new partners, in new regions, with a single obsession: our customers' satisfaction.

Gaël Bodénès, 

Expert Insight

BOURBON prepares for an oil boom in Guyana

Oil & Gas insiders say that oil production from ExxonMobil’s Liza and Payara fields in the Guyana Basin off the South American coast will be on a par with Angola within five years. BOURBON has set up a new affiliate in Guyana ready to seize opportunities for PSVs and mooring support vessels. Edward ROSE COOPER, Managing Director of Bourbon Guyana, talks about BOURBON’s prospects in the region.


PartnerShip: What factors led BOURBON to open a new affiliate in Guyana?
I knew that ExxonMobil was very optimistic about its offshore prospection projects, having made substantial discoveries in the Liza 1, Liza 2 and Payara wells in particular. Liza 1 will produce oil in early 2020, followed by Liza 2 and Payara in 2022 and 2023. Five years from now, the region will be rivalling production in Angola – that’s the scale of these opportunities. I helped to convince our senior management what was at stake, and we immediately commenced the process of registering Bourbon Guyana Inc. as a new Bourbon Marine & Logistics affiliate, and opened our office in Guyana on 17th May 2019 less than a month after receiving our registration certificate. It wouldn’t have been viable to bid for contracts in Guyana from our base in Trinidad. The Guyanese government is offering tax incentives to encourage new businesses to establish themselves in the country as its oil boom begins. Initially, we have won contracts for two mooring support vessels and other tenders are under way. We weren’t the first marine services company to establish ourselves in Guyana, but we are very well placed to win future contracts with ExxonMobil and key contractors, such as Saipem.


PartnerShip  What particular strengths of BOURBON will you be able to count on?
E.R.C.: Because of our broad international footprint, we are very experienced in particularly creating “local content” strategies, i.e. making the maximum use of local resources so that the host country and its population benefit from the oil development. Guyana is a very poor country, and its government is determined for its local communities to profit as much as possible from the economic boost provided by oil exploration and production. This very much ties in with our own CSR goals. Our ability to innovate and develop solutions for our clients’ needs during projects are already well appreciated by our potential customers in Guyana, with whom we already work in many other parts of the world. Guyana’s industrial traditions are in mining and logging rather than oil and gas, so we have a great opportunity to supply expertise.

"Our ability to innovate and develop solutions for our clients’ needs during projects are already well appreciated by our potential customers in Guyana"

PartnerShip: What challenges are you facing?
E.R.C.: As the industry is in its infancy in Guyana, the availability of infrastructure and supplies is very limited, so we have a lot of work to do to set up local supplier networks in order to meet the requirements. There’s a framework agreement covering local content. At least 50% of the resources we deploy must come from local sources, including manpower, but in practice a certain degree of discretion is applied. Having said that, it’s important that we demonstrate our commitment to the local economy in every way we can. As an example, almost all the training we give the personnel that we hire has to be carried out locally, rather than making use of our facilities in Trinidad.


PartnerShip: How do you see our future prospects in the region?
E.R.C.: By the time the third development is producing in 2023, I would expect ExxonMobil to require up to 50 PSVs. BOURBON would hope to obtain around 30% of this market, which could amount to 15 vessels. We are also in discussions to supply further mooring support vessels, perhaps between five and seven. In addition to satisfying ExxonMobil’s needs, we would expect to supply Saipem with a number of PSVs. In the medium term, I’m sure that Guyana offshore projects will account for a significant part of the group’s operations.

Three questions for Saipem’s country manager

"At Saipem we are very excited about prospects in Guyana". The Italian energy and infrastructure service provider Saipem was one of the first players to become involved in the ExxonMobil exploration project, explains Thuranthiran Nadarajah, country manager for Guyana.

Why did Saipem decide to operate in this area?

Thuranthiran Nadarajah: ExxonMobil’s announcement of a substantial deep water oil discovery off the coast of Guyana came in 2015. Saipem decided to participate in the project from the very start. Saipem is very good at greenfield projects. Guyana has no previous experience of the oil industry, so we considered that we had the culture, experience and know-how needed to put in place the pipes and subsea infrastructure that would be needed. It felt like a perfect match between our skills and the country’s needs.

What are the development prospects and what obstacles will have to be overcome?

T.N.: Within 4 or 5 years there will be 5 FPSOs operated by just one producer. Other producers are likely to become involved, too, so in 10 to 15 years there could be up to ten FPSOs. There will be substantial requirements – something like 800 to 1,000 km of pipes, 200 to 300 subsea structures and 500 to 800 jumpers. At Saipem we are looking forward to an exciting period in Guyana, with at least 20 years of prospects. The main challenge we are all facing is the complete lack of infrastructure: they don’t even have a road network capable of transporting heavy equipment. Another problem is that in Guyana, every detail of maritime transport and customs procedures is still recorded manually, so things take time. But there is great potential not only for Saipem but also for our partners and vendors to establish new infrastructure and introduce modern systems.

How do you see your partnership with BOURBON in Guyana?

T.N.: BOURBON regularly provides solutions to supplychain challenges. Speaking personally, I have always had excellent relations with BOURBON’s captains and crews, who are very professional. Bearing in mind that other producers will be moving in, too, there are going to be substantial amounts of work for a marine company like BOURBON in the region – supply vessels with DP as well as tugs and barges.

Expert insight
Their stories

Contract with a "fuel incentive": a first!

At the beginning of the year, Bourbon Gabon signed a long-term contract for production support (tanker lifting, product supply, cargo, etc.) for 2 AHTSs, Bourbon Liberty 221 and 225. The particularity of this agreement: it is indexed on an objective of vessel fuel consumption. A first for BOURBON! Some explanations from Gildas Courau, Bourbon Gabon Managing Director.


PartnerShip: BOURBON has never signed this type of contract before. What is the principle and why make this choice?
Gildas Courau: We all know the context, a slump in the OSV market and very low dayrates due to the over-capacity in supply vessels. So, we started to think along these lines: what differentiates our vessels from those of our competitors? The answer is simple: the diesel-electric propulsion that equips most of our fleet. We should also remember that BOURBON possesses 80% of the shallow water diesel-electric fleet! These vessels consume much less than traditionally powered vessels, especially our Bourbon Liberty 200. I believe that there are practically no other vessels on the market that consume so little. We run on less than 5m3 of fuel per day, where others use 9 or 10 m3. It is a real competitive advantage because, remember, it is the client who pays fuel costs. So we decided to propose a «fuel incentive» contract to the client. This means that we are committed to fuel consumption objectives by contract. The dayrate is a little lower but if we perform better than this fuel consumption objective, we will have a bonus of 5% on the dayrate. Otherwise, we will incur a penalty. That’s the general principle.

PS: How did the client take this proposal?
G.C.: The client showed immediate interest for the principle and we demonstrated pedagogy to ensure that it perceived the potential gain as well as possible. In this type of contract, the most important thing is to make the client understand that the potential bonus for BOURBON does not entail an increase in costs for them. If we obtain this bonus, the dayrate will certainly be higher but this additional cost will remain significantly lower than the gain achieved by the fuel savings. The client will therefore remain the main beneficiary of the savings made. The notion of shared gains is essential.

PS: How do you assess the success of this contract?
G.C.: Like for any new model, we had to assess the risks. We used our history of operations with this client to assess the vessel’s average consumption. We didn’t want take a shot in the dark! For the moment, it is a prudent contract that, I hope, will be a first step towards even more ambitious contracts. From the first month of the contract, we observed that crews were highly motivated to reach their objectives. The consumption of the two vessels was considerably reduced to reach 4.5 m3 /day for one and 3.9 m 3 /day for the other. We can congratulate the professionalism of our seafarers! That is why I am reasonably confident for the long term. I think that we should be able to reach our objective if all the players remain this committed.

PS: Do you specifically mean the crew?
G.C.: Yes, but not only. The crews on board obvious play a key role and have been made aware, notably by the Contracts Managers, of the procedures that will enable us to reach our goals. The captains have the means to better manage the consumption of their vessels thanks to ODA1. But I insist that it is above all a real team effort! Everybody has to pull together for it to work - the crew, the Operations Manager, the Contracts Manager - even more so as there are changeovers, backups, etc. We have to be vigilant about the level of information and commitment of everybody involved.

PS: Are there any discussions with other clients for contracts of this type?
G.C.: Fuel consumption can be difficult to assess for a totally new contract, but discussions have just been concluded with the same client for a contract of this type in a different geographical zone. In addition, I have approached other clients to adjust, modify or convert certain current contracts. Moreover, the principle of bonus-malus linked to the performance of the service rate could also apply to Surfers' contracts in the future. But at this stage, reaching this agreement is already a real success, showing us where we need to go.

1 ODA: Operational Data Application. Daily report of vessel data, notably concerning fuel consumption.

Their stories
Successful Together

HYDRAUSERV: a team dedicated to electro-hydraulic equipments

Ever attentive to its customers and to meet their expectations thanks to its expertise with cranes, Bourbon Subsea Services has created HYDRAUSERV, a wide range of maintenance and optimization of electro-hydraulic installations services. Philippe Duquennoy is the manager of this dedicated team. A report.

Bourbon Subsea Services is recognized for the maintenance and availability of its 37 subsea vessels cranes with capacities from 20 t to 250 t and power from 280 KW to 3500 kW. This equipment is maintained by in-house technical experts in electrohydraulics and chief engineers on board vessels.

Bourbon Subsea Services has now assumed the role of solution provider for electro-hydraulic handling equipment: cranes, of course, but also winches, pipe handling and even port equipment. "We offer maintenance services on a one-off or multi-annual contract basis, solutions for the repair and improvement of equipment and surveys with follow-up" explains Philippe Duquennoy. Customer demand for such services was very strong, which led Bourbon Subsea Services to create this new department in 2018. The team thus carries out operations around the globe, on equipment of all brands and capacities. Its strengths? Deep knowledge of electro-hydraulics, its capacity to manage operations rapidly and its ability to provide advice concerning maintenance policy or for the improvement of installations.

"We are inspecting, for example, the lifting cables of the RPS 400 t (Riser Pulling System) in order to connect the risers of the Zinia field with the FPSO Pazflor. This operation includes a magneto-inductive inspection that informs us on the state of the cable at depth, with no need for removal, followed by the forced lubrification of the cable and finally a back-tension to roll it perfectly around its drum. All this without interfering with the production of the FPSO," Philippe Duquennoy testifies. And the feedback from the first customers is excellent. HYDRAUSERV offer has also created detailed safety and technical procedures dedicated to the operation, which is particularly appreciated by the customers. "We provide true technical expertise in this particular area in the offshore sector. We work according to the rules of the trade and with total safety, which are guarantees that are expected by our clients ," he concludes.

"We provide true technical expertise in this particular area in the offshore sector. We work according to the rules of the trade and with total safety, which are guarentees that are expected by our clients"

FPSO Kaombo: HYDRAUSERV to the rescue

The operation of Bourbon Subsea Services teams for the FPSOs Kaombo Norte & Sul illustrates their capacity to solve the most difficult problems. On reception of the FPSO Kaombo Norte, complex malfunctions of the crane were diagnosed. The HYDRAUSERV team were quickly dispatched to the Kaombo Sul construction site in Singapore. They identified assembly and connection errors on 25-ton cranes, which had been incorrectly received and which had not been properly commissioned by the builder. After a week of work and tests, the cranes finally became operational. HYDRAUSERV then proposed to the customer to improve its maintenance procedures to optimize the MTTR (Mean Time To Repair) and MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure). This operation was commended by the customer, who decided to extend this collaboration to the Kaombo Norte.


Successful together
In pictures

Assistance and salvage: Les Abeilles in action!


Since 1976, Les Abeilles has ensured the protection of the 3,120 km of French coastline thanks to 5 assistance, salvage, and pollution-remediation tugs and 2 offshore support vessels.


Les Abeilles tugs carry out missions to prevent wreckages, aid and salvage ships in distress and fight against oil pollution.


Relying on the expertise of over 100 employees, Les Abeilles tugs have performed more than 430 assistance and salvage operations, over 460 vessel escorts and over 720 stand-by near vessels in distress.


The Abeille Bourbon operations, Response, Assistance, and Salvage tug (RIAS) in the Raz de Sein (France), during heavy seas.

In pictures
Shared views

Management & leadership : reaffirming the main principles of safety

Patrick Lièvre, Olivier Vinoche and Vincent Coquelet are the HSE Managers of BOURBON's three stand-alone companies, Bourbon Marine & Logistics, Bourbon Subsea Services and Bourbon Mobility. Whilst the offshore marine services market is tending to recover after an unprecedentedly violent crisis, they explain how BOURBON managed to maintain excellent safety standards for its entire fleet.


PartnerShip: How have these 4 years of crisis affected safety?

Vincent Coquelet: The crisis implied a general decrease in resources, which in certain cases may have generated breakdowns and therefore greater exposure to risks. That was our biggest challenge. We require standards that are difficult to meet when there is a lack of resources, even though safety has always been our priority. But today we have returned to operational standards that are practically identical to those before the crisis, with the Bourbon Mobility Surfers investment plan.

Patrick Lièvre: This crisis pushed us to change our models to find other means to maintain our safety standards. We have gone back to more basic, simple but effective tools, such as the Safety Posts1, which are a big success with both our teams and our customers, and the Life Saving Rules. Moreover, we are developing our Smart shipping program, which also serves safety: the digitization of time-consuming administrative tasks thus enables the crews to remain focused on the assessment and prevention of risk.

PartnerShip: Since 2012 and despite the crisis, BOURBON's results in terms of safety have been largely superior to the IMCA average. How do you account for this?

Olivier Vinoche: The crews remain highly committed and our SMS (Safety Management System) provides a solid base, a robust tool to assist the application of safety on board. Thus, in the first five months of 2019, Bourbon Subsea Services didn't have any recordable incidents reported!

Patrick Lièvre: For me, it is the sign of the company's real maturity. But we cannot rest on these figures, because our results were not as good in 2018. We have to stay humble and mobilized.

Vincent Coquelet: We still have a way to go to achieve an optimal safety culture, but we are not beginners. Safety has been part of BOURBON's DNA for many years. And most of our teams work very well and respect the procedures.

PartnerShip: BOURBON encourages visits by management on board and to the bases. Why do you prioritize this mode of action?

Olivier Vinoche: Yes, indeed, each manager must carry out at least 4 visits per year. That is a lot more than in previous years and it enables better communication with operators and more contact with the field. Information is reported more rapidly and the teams are more involved.

Vincent Coquelet: The involvement of top management is fundamental to the safety policy. It demonstrates that safety is not just the responsibility of the safety manager, it is everybody's business! We also have to go beyond sanctions and focus more on education. The teams must apply the safety policy because they believe in it and not because they are forced to. That is the purpose of these field visits by management.

Olivier Vinoche: I'd like to add that putting pressure on the teams is counter-productive because they then hesitate to report information in case of an incident. Hence the education policy that we carry out.

" The involvement of top management is fundamental to the safety policy. It demonstrates that safety is not just the responsibility of the safety manager, it is everybody's business!"

PartnerShip: Has BOURBON's reorganization into three autonomous companies been beneficial for safety management?

Patrick Lièvre: Segmentation has enabled us to focus on a single activity and thus allows us to better focus on the risks specific to our segment. That doesn't mean that the ties have been broken and we meet very regularly to work together proactively.

Vincent Coquelet: For the Surfers, this change has been extremely beneficial with an entity dedicated to our problematics. We have common BOURBON standards, while being more focused and therefore more effective on our respective core businesses. Contact persons are also better defined.

PartnerShip: Would you like to send a particular message to the crews?

Olivier Vinoche: I'd like to say that we are here to provide them with support, that they can continue their efforts despite the difficulties. The teams manage to perform remarkable operations with total safety thanks to the control over risks and the collaboration of our customers, which is fundamental.

Vincent Coquelet:The tools devoted to safety are there to help the personnel and not to replace them. They should not be seen as a constraint but as a support to better understand the risks and to be able to confront them.

Patrick Lièvre: Thanks to the efforts on board, most operations go well and we never forget that. Beyond our own action, we have to keep in mind that safety is not a unilateral job: customers and contractors must work together with total transparency to build a global safety culture.


1Safety Post - This original media (comic strip format), based on real events, was developed to engage individual and team thinking by initiating discussions about accidents and the means to avoid them. The Safety Post has become a major safety tool that has been adopted by all BOURBON employees.


3 QUESTIONS FOR... Nicolas Brunet, Senior VP HSE / EP for Total.

PartnerShip: How does TOTAL still manage to progress in terms of safety?
Nicolas Brunet: First and foremost, it takes flawless commitment on the part of management, and senior management in particular. That is the key element. HSE performance begins at the top of our organization with our CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, whose vision determines this value as a fundamental for the rest of the company. This value is then deployed throughout the group, through the EP branch with Arnaud Breuillac and then through its management and departments via our HSE policy. Safety is clearly the primary operational responsibility of our business units and affiliates. It is based both on management and leadership. We have made it the fundamental value of our organization because we can accept no compromise on a value! It is a daily commitment (with the ritual of safety moments or our Perfect Days, for example) because every day without an accident is a victory.

PartnerShip: You seem to consider management as being in opposition with leadership. How do you distinguish between them?
N. B.: I don't put them in opposition with each other, they are complementary. However, I confirm that in terms of safety, a manager and a leader are not exactly playing on the same field. In my opinion, the role of management consists in facing complexity, setting frameworks and ensuring they are respected, measuring, focusing on systems, monitoring the vision, organizing employees, etc., while remaining focused on the objectives. Leadership consists in facing or even initiating change, communicating and delivering a vision, inspiring... More than on material or measurable objectives, they are focused on persons and their behavior, their development within a process of continuous improvement. Their action must be supported by strong human values. A director, manager or team leader must be able to act like a leader, manager or coach according to the needs and the working environment.

PartnerShip: BOURBON has made on-site visits a priority, with immediate results in terms of safety. What do you think of the visibility of management in the field?
N. B.: It is essential and I never cease to convey this message to all the teams. Safety management requires perfect knowledge of the men and the field as well as sharing knowledge of best practices and the errors that must not be repeated. That is why we have to go on site and speak not only with team leaders but also with all employees, to transfer this safety culture as much as possible, as well as the commitment necessary to acquire it, and to convince them of the necessity of respecting procedures. Establishing this proximity also means showing respect toward the men, demonstrating that we are interested in them, that we appreciate their daily work and their role within the company and the project. We cannot talk about safety if we are not attached to the persons, regardless of the company we work for. We must all progress together.


Shared views

Crew boats cabins: an enhanced passenger experience

Bourbon Mobility continues its revolution. Continuing the optimization of its service offer, the leader in personnel transport - with nearly 3 million passengers per year - is redesigning the cabins of its Surfers to meet the needs of its clients, who are ever more concerned about traveling under conditions of optimum comfort and safety. To do so, the company called on the Peugeot Design Lab studio, who took up the challenge.

Inspired by the aviation world, this new design clearly projects Bourbon Mobility Crew boats into a new dimension. Via Business, Premium & Eco classes, this new equipment, which has been thought out in the slightest detail, responds to a strong desire to enhance the passenger experience: "Bourbon Mobility clearly displays its ambition to establish new standards of comfort for personnel transport," states CEO François Leslé. "Today, this is materialized by a leap forward in the interior design of our Crew boats, which we are sure will satisfy the expectations of our passengers and ultimately contribute to making Bourbon Mobility its clients' preferred company."

This new design must serve BOURBON's absolute priority, safety. That is why the seats are equipped with handles to facilitate movement during rolling and pitching, the screens broadcasting safety instructions have been enlarged and the lifejackets are more visible and easily accessible.

3D view of the new design of surfers' cabins

An immediately visible upgrade

The designers of the Peugeot Design Lab perfectly realized the specifications of Bourbon Mobility, both in terms of ergonomics and comfort. "This crewboat cabin design project is at the crossroads of the work we have carried out in the aviation, rail and nautical sectors, which makes it particularly interesting," emphasizes Arnaud Gournac, Head of Peugeot Design Lab, Peugeot Cycles & Peugeot Life style. "It is obvious that this new installation will transform personnel transport for the oil & gas industry by enabling passengers to remain longer at a level of comfort that they appreciated in the airplane that brought them to the site. Accompanying them as best as possible to their place of work in a reassuring environment is an exciting challenge." 

The Business class thus offers seats equipped with lateral supports, wrap-around headrests and a leg rest. They recline generously and offer a great deal of legroom. The panoramic windows and light colors of the cabins reinforce the impression of space and ventilation. In addition, this new cabin offers closed overhead storage spaces, a tablet dock and a USB outlet to enjoy the onboard entertainment offer.

The first Crew boat equipped with this latest-generation cabin will be a Crewliner, a 36 m Surfer with a capacity of 46 passengers. Scheduled delivery date: late 2019, before the gradual roll-out by 2020 of the other vessels of the fleet based on the cabin module plug & play principle.