Logo Partnership
October 2021

A race for innovation and boldness...


"The times they are a-changing…"

Gaël Bodénès
Group Chief Executive Officer
2 min

It may seem odd to quote Bob Dylan but the proof is in the facts: net zero 2050, digitization, offshore wind turbines, autonomous vessels, integrated services, diversification, etc. We are facing an exciting but urgent challenge, that of participating in the transformation of our industry, to build the tomorrow's world and guarantee us a sustainable future.

We are all part of a transforming dynamic, with an obligation of solidarity and results, in a race for innovation and boldness, full of meaning. A wave is coming and no one can stop it. Moreover, no one wants to...

Time is running out and borders are moving. Taking actions that respect our environment and preserve our resources is no longer an option but an obligation. Our field of activity has grown and our professions are now interconnected: adaptability is a keyword and our future depends on our capacity to develop our services.

In its way, BOURBON is committed to this movement and the contents of this PartnerShip reflect this: our strategy of diversification is materialized through our recognized experience in offshore wind turbines, a solid offer of integrated logistics, or door to rig services that we provide our clients. Within our core profession, shipmanagement of external vessels and marine support for the entire life cycle of an oil and gas field, our goal is to accompany you with the reduction of the carbon footprint of your activities. As we approach the COP 26 conference in November, we must pool our forces, work hand-in-hand to develop the decarbonization of our industry.

The current health crisis has not put an end to this dynamic, even though it has obviously and significantly hindered it. In this regard, as progress is made above all by and for men and women, how can we not applaud our seafarers who, under extremely difficult conditions, have faced an unprecedented situation for the past 18 months with a courage and commitment that commands our admiration. That is why we so ardently call for the adoption of the key-worker status that will enable them to work with total safety thanks to facilitated access to vaccination, around the globe, and emphasize the major role played by the IMO (read the interview with Mr. De Boer in this issue of PartnerShip). BOURBON will also actively work with national and international maritime bodies as well as its partners and clients to ensure that such decisions are made as soon as possible.

For the past 5 years, this newsletter has painted the portrait of our sector, its mutations, evolutions, and even revolutions. Entrepreneurs, experts, seafarers, pioneers... it is a place for expression that is offered to all those who make up our industry and, more generally, to all those persons whose commitment is a source of inspiration. Thank you for reading it...

Expert insight

COVID-19, the challenge of vaccination for seafarers

Jan de Boer
Senior Legal Officer - IMO
4 min

Since the start of the pandemic, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been working to establish key worker status for seafarers, to ensure that they can travel freely to and from their ships and can be vaccinated. PartnerSHIP spoke with Jan de Boer, the IMO’s Senior Legal Officer.

PartnerSHIP: We are talking in early September 2021. How would you assess the current state of the public health crisis?

Jan de Boer: Just before the summer leave period, the tendency relating to crew changes was starting to rise again. The crew change crisis has perhaps been the most serious issue the maritime industry has faced in the pandemic. From the earliest days, seafarers were prevented from leaving their ships in many countries because of a fear that they would carry the Covid-19 virus on shore with them. With crews unable to leave their ships, replacement crews were unable to take their place. And that is without considering the travel restrictions that made it extremely difficult for many seafarers to fly from their homes to join a ship, in other words to reach whichever port their ship was in.

A year ago, we estimated that 400,000 seafarers worldwide were being confined to their ships, meaning that another 400,000 seafarers were blocked from joining their vessels, so the crisis was affecting some 800,000 people in all. The numbers are currently lower than last year – about 500,000 people are affected – but they are rising again.


PartnerSHIP: What are the consequences?

J.d.B.: Legally, the maximum period seafarers should be on board a ship is 11 months, but we know of many cases where seafarers have been stranded on ships for up to 22 months. This of course can give rise to severe depression, and certain seafarers have needed acute medical care but have not been allowed on shore for treatment. There are serious safety concerns on ships where extreme fatigue has set in. And with the world’s shipping unable to operate normally, there has been serious economic impact because of disruptions to the global supply chain for food and many other products.

To raise awareness and help resolve this situation the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution urging Member States to recognize seafarers as key workers, and as such to allow them unrestricted travel between their ships and their homes. This was adopted on December 1, 2020. All Member States were in favour, but unfortunately full implementation of this measure is taking time.


PartnerSHIP: What does the IMO expect from shipping companies in this context?

J.d.B.: Most shipping companies have been doing their best to apply the industry protocols for safe crew change. They have been very well organised in the very exceptional circumstances they have had to deal with. A small minority of shipowners have failed to comply, claiming that crew changes are impossible or that the costs of repatriating seafarers are too high. IMO has been able to support many actions to persuade national authorities to allow seafarers to disembark.

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution urging Member States to recognize seafarers as key workers, and as such to allow them unrestricted travel between their ships and their homes.

Jan de Boer
Senior Legal Officer - IMO

PartnerSHIP: What is being done to get more seafarers vaccinated against Covid-19?

J.d.B.: This leads on logically from the designation of seafarers as key workers. The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee adopted a resolution in May this year, which requests Member States to include seafarers as priority participants in national vaccination programmes. It also urges them to vaccinate seafarers of other nationalities whose ships are docked in their country. A number of countries are indeed now doing this, including the U.S., the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark and Cyprus, but this needs to be much more widespread. I would also stress that this resolution asks Member States to exempt seafarers from a requirement to provide proof of vaccination when travelling, to ensure that they are not hindered in joining or leaving ships.


PartnerSHIP: What have you learned from Covid-19 regarding processes for handling public health crises?

J.d.B.: One of the rules in contingency planning is to expect the unexpected. I have no doubt that there will be similar situations in the future – but we will learn from this situation, about what to do in such a pandemic situation. Because the maritime industry is well structured, many measures that were taken at an early stage proved to be successful. Most notably, the concept of seafarers as key workers has helped us see a way to resolve a large part of the crew change crisis. One thing that stands out for the future is a greater awareness of the dangers to safety on board and to the physical and mental health of seafarers which is caused by imposing very long periods spent on board ship.


Vaccination, crews, operations… the COVID crisis in 3 keywords

By Rodolphe Bouchet, CEO Bourbon Marine & Logistics

> Vaccination

By Rodolphe Bouchet, CEO Bourbon Marine & Logistics

> Vaccination

"Our priority is the safety of our personnel, especially their health safety. Since the beginning of the crisis, our concern has always been to reduce the risk of Covid for our crews in partnership with our clients and respecting local regulations. In this context, access to vaccination is a great opportunity that we must grasp to aim for offshore operations carried out by crews that are 100% vaccinated. It's a rule that the industry is deploying, in particular with the majors, following a logic of health protection."

> Crews

"Within the group, the analysis of our vaccination rates for both onshore and offshore staff reveals a certain disparity. Over 80% of our French seafarers have been vaccinated because access to vaccinations has been facilitated in our country, notably thanks to the efforts of Armateurs de France (ie the professional organisation of French maritime transport and services companies), which obtained priority status for seafarers from the month of May. The goal of 100% vaccination of our French seafarers is thus attainable in the short term. On the other hand, the problem of access to vaccination now concerns our international officers and local seafarers. Some countries offer this access, but not all. However, as a private company, we are not able to purchase vaccines. We are therefore seeking solutions on a case by case, country by country basis.

> Continuity of operations

"At the beginning of the crisis, there was a significant impact on logistics as it was difficult to ensure crew changes. Nonetheless, we never interrupted our service to our clients thanks to the huge efforts provided by our seafarers. Some of them accepted to spend several months aboard to maintain the operations, going beyond their contract obligations. We have more or less returned to normality, but in certain regions, such as the Mid-East, the situation remains difficult. Today, we can ensure the continuity of our service at a significant extra cost due to sanitary restrictions. Nevertheless, thanks to vaccination, the countries are relaxing their quarantine regulations, which is a step in the right direction."

Expert insight
Their stories

The Caribbean, an area in full expansion

General Manager - Bourbon Guyana
3 min

Four years ago, Guyana had no offshore oil production, but now it stands on the brink of becoming one of the world’s principal producers. Neighbouring Trinidad’s long-established offshore gas industry, however, is beginning to slow down. With a soon to be fleet of 8 vessels in the region, BOURBON is a leading player. An analysis from Edward Rose Cooper, Bourbon Guyana General Manager.

Oil and gas exports have played a key role in the national economy of Trinidad and Tobago for many years. Onshore drilling in the two-island Caribbean state dates back more than 150 years, and deepwater exploration followed in the 1970s. The past few years have seen a marked downturn in production levels, and annual revenues from the industry have fallen from approximately TT$ 90 billion in 2018 to around TT$ 27 billion in 2020, with the drop in demand also impacted from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trinidad economy has been hard hit by both Covid-19 and the decline in exploration and production activities in the energy sector.

By contrast, in spite of the chastening effects of the global public health crisis, prospects for oil exploration and production are bright off the coast of Guyana. Although offshore exploration had been carried out for over 50 years with only minimal success, a major find in 2015 triggered a vast amount of activity.

A series of significant discoveries followed throughout the following decade, including the Stabroek block, roughly 200 km off the coast, which includes the Liza oilfields. This flagship ExxonMobil block was one of this century’s largest oil discoveries worldwide. The meteoric development of the Guyana oil industry has generated rapid infrastructure development, both related directly to the oil sector and to other parts of the economy.

A ramp-up over coming years

There are now a number of blocks off the coast of Guyana. Liza 1, the first active field, went fully operational in December 2019. Production of crude oil over the whole region will ramp up dramatically in the course of the next few years. The largest operator is ExxonMobil, in a consortium with Hess and CNOOC, with the Stabroek, Canje and Kaieteur blocks expected to total approximately 15 billion barrels of reserves. Stabroek is a 37-well project, 15 of which are now ongoing. The first FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) platform, Liza Destiny, has been in place since 2019; it will be joined at the end of this year by Liza Unity, with a further FPSO, Prosperity, set to arrive in 2024.

The other blocks in the region owned by the ExxonMobil consortium are Canje, which consists of 15 wells of which 3 are ongoing, and Kaiteur, which is slated to start up in March 2022. Other operators active off the Guyanese coast include CGX/Frontera, with the Corentyne block, which has been in progress since earlier this year after many delays, as well as Repsol (the Carapa 1 well) and TotalEnergies (the Orinduik, Canuku and Canje blocks). Off the coast of the neighbouring nation of Suriname, several operators are exploring, including TotalEnergies, Apache and Staatsolie.

Potential for growth in market share

“BOURBON was well established in the Caribbean through its operation in Trinidad,” explains Edward ROSE COOPER, who is in charge of all the company’s operations in Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname. “Unfortunately, we came to the party in Guyana a little late – our American competitors were present in 2016 but we didn’t come along until 2019, so our market share there is still quite low for the moment. But in view of the huge expansion in activities that is expected, the company is well placed to significantly grow its market share. In addition, ExxonMobil has announced that all its logistics for the region will be supplied from Guyana as of 2022, so BOURBON’s operations in Guyana are expected to expand."

BOURBON’s strengths

BOURBON enjoys a good reputation in the Caribbean. According to Edward ROSE COOPER, among the strengths that are most appreciated are our transparency maintained with customers, the availability of the company’s global fleet, in addition to it’s global footprint, our quality management system, our safety record and compliance program and the excellent service reliability of its vessels. “The perception of BOURBON was impacted by the restructuring a few years ago,” he adds, “but we have overcome any lack of confidence in the financial sustainability of the company. We have been very good in delivering on expectations.”

In the medium term, the company aims to grow its market share in Guyana to make its activities more economically viable with regard to volumes and revenues. Exploration projects are already planned up until 2028, and BOURBON is already negotiating with customers for contracts covering this timeframe. It will also seek to maintain its market in Trinidad, although work there is limited, and also expand its business in Suriname in line with new developments.

Their stories
Successful together

Integrated logistics: a global... and digital offer

Nicolas Chateau
Managing Director - Bourbon Logistics
3 min

4 years after the launch of its integrated logistics activity, BOURBON has scored new success with the signature of a contract with Shell for the management of its logistics bases in Namibia and Sao Tomé. Nicolas Château, Managing Director of Bourbon Logistics, talks to us about this contract and the related services.

PartnerShip: What is the exact scope of this new contract?

Nicolas Château: Indeed, SHELL has renewed their trust in us after winning a first contract in Bulgaria in 2019, which is a real source of satisfaction for our team. This new contract concerns support for two of the company's deepwater exploration campaigns in Namibia and Sao Tomé. Its scope: the entire supply chain, from Houston to the rig, including international freight forwarding, the logistics base and all related services – including the recruitment and training of local staff – not to mention the supply of three platform supply vessels (PSV) dedicated to the project and particularly adapted to the sea conditions of the region. All this is under Bourbon Logistics' supervision and Safety Management System, which is totally new. The other news concerns our Bourbon Logistics Suite software, which we are inaugurating with this contract.

PartnerShip: What exactly is that?

N. C.: Digital tech is fully integrated into all industries today and at all levels of production. Obviously, logistics is no exception. That is why we propose our own digital solution, created by our own teams with the support of an external company, making it possible not only to plan, execute and manage the entire logistics chain from end to end – the management of inventory, transit, the related documents, etc. – but also to reduce costs and the carbon footprint. Each client uses their own ERP but our system has the advantage of being capable of interfacing with the client's, while offering a truly user-friendly interface to our clients' end-users (drilling services, production, logistics, etc.)..

PartnerShip: What is BOURBON's response to the operational needs of Shell, on one hand, and of your clients in general?

N. C.: Meeting the expectations expressed by our clients is no longer enough, we have to go further and imagine solutions that will enable them to reach their objectives. In other words, we have to take responsibilities. It is one of the particularities of logistics: each contract can be totally different from the last. Our strength is our ability to adapt. In the framework of the contract, we have set up a global offer and share all operational risks with our clients. Our offer also includes a local aspect thanks to our partners, well established in the various countries. It is one of the key aspects of our commercial strategy.

Meeting the expectations expressed by our clients is no longer enough, we have to go further and imagine solutions that will enable them to reach their objectives.

Managing Director - Bourbon Logistics

PartnerShip: What are the mid-term objectives for Bourbon Logistics? What are the challenges?

N. C.: The medium and long term objective is to provide support to our clients on longer term operations such as production sites for example, and the diversification of the offer towards renewable energies. I would go even further to say that I believe that we should move toward multi-client bases by pooling logistics resources. Discussions are already underway, as in Senegal, for example.

Successful together
In pictures

TetraSpar floating windturbine: mission accomplished!

2 min

Last August, Bourbon Subsea Services completed the installation of the TetraSpar Demonstrator floating wind turbine at the Metcentre test site in Norway: the power supply cable for the 3.6 megawatts turbine was laid and connected for entry into service these next weeks.

In June, the Bourbon Subsea Services teams had already installed the mooring lines before ensuring towing and connection operations one month later.

The video below will enable you to discover the operation from behind the scenes and explains the challenges of this project, which is of great interest for the entire floating wind turbine industry.

In pictures
Shared views

DRASSM – BOURBON: " A great shared adventure"

4 min

Since last summer, BOURBON has accompanied the DRASSM (French Underwater Archeology Research Department) by ensuring the ship management of its two vessels, the André Malraux and the brand new research vessel, the Alfred Merlin. This partnership has been set up at a time when this department of the French Ministry of Culture is at a turning point in its history by taking delivery of a second vessel that will enable it to considerably extend its field of action. Some explanations from Arnaud Schaumasse, Director of the DRASSM, and Frédéric Leroy, Deputy Director and Heritage Curator (Ministry of Culture & DRASSM).


PartnerShip: Why has your department entrusted the management of its vessels to BOURBON, a leader in offshore marine services?

Arnaud Schaumasse: I believe we have made the most rational choice and I am very happy with that. Our aim is to be able to focus entirely on our core profession, with all its particularities, with total confidence and safety. In the past, we handled the questions of ship management empirically, but the doubling of our fleet led us to question the sustainability of our organization. A new vessel means more crew, supervision, resources, recruitment, etc. So we asked ourselves about the most pertinent option to meet this need, to procure reliable crews in which the entire department, and above all the archeologists and scientists on board, could have total trust, both for navigation but also to meet their needs.

Frédéric Leroy: Ministry of Culture considered using government services before deciding to bring in professionals with a more global vision for the seafarers, crews, and technical management of our vessels. In this specific context, it seemed that BOURBON was particularly qualified to complete this mission.

PartnerShip: How did the two worlds of oil & gas and archeological research come together?

A. S.: In a very natural and fluid way. On one hand, I have seen the professionals at the DRASSM do everything necessary to facilitate the transition. Our crewing manager, for example, was able to formulate the expectations of one group so that they could be understood the other. On the other hand, I have seen an extremely attentive crew at BOURBON that listens to the needs and expectations of the science teams, focusing on the essence of the task: enabling the science teams to accomplish their missions.

F. L.: Personally, I met BOURBON's teams for the first time just a few days before the crews came into service. I was struck by their teamwork in their way of handling a task. As Arnaud said, everything was very natural. Another very important point was the fact that all the crew are volunteers. That was decisive! I remember a young officer on the Alfred Merlin who was very motivated and enthusiastic about the idea of sailing on this specific research vessel. Seeing him talk with such enthusiasm and curiosity made me understand that we were going exactly where we wanted to go, toward a real synergy of skills. In fact, it was a rational choice that leads us to a fine project and a great adventure to build together. A shared adventure.

A. S.: I would also like to underline the human aspect of this partnership. BOURBON welcomed some of our former seamen into its crews, and I believe that this also played a role in our relations, because these men have experience and knowledge. Seeing them integrated into this transition is highly appreciable and beneficial for everybody.

PartnerShip: The major challenge with oil & gas operations is safety. How important was this criterion for the selection of BOURBON?

A. S.: Concerning these questions, we share a common objective and speak the same language. On board the André Malraux, the crews were already very vigilant over questions of safety, but the idea of entering into a partnership with a major company, whose expertise in the field is recognized worldwide, gave us a true guarantee of excellence. While our new vessel, the Alfred Merlin, is finishing its preparatory phase, it is very important that all the remarks that can be made concerning the safety of our operations are taken into account. The dialogue has been rich and, due to the risks of their profession, our scientific teams and divers are sensitive to this.

The idea of entering into a partnership with a major company, whose expertise in the field is recognized worldwide, gave us a true guarantee of excellence.

Arnaud Schaumasse
Director of the DRASSM

PartnerShip: The DRASSM is at a turning point in its history. How do you view this?

A. S.: In the current budgetary context, the fact that a few years ago the Ministry of Culture chose to commission a second sea-going archeological research vessel was a very assertive decision. It is now up to us put this choice, commitment and trust into action. First, we must deploy the new spatial coverage that this equipment enables us to carry out and structure ourselves to manage our future operations, which will probably double, or even triple, compared with today. This means succeeding in a scientific program that proves that operating two sea-going vessels is a meaningful decision. We must also be able to respond to the needs of our overseas territories. The Alfred Merlin will be able to serve our territories in the Americas and Indian Ocean. In this budgetary context, we have a very strong and symbolic short-term mission to establish scientific partnerships in France and around the world. The most emblematic of these is with Stanford University, the realization of an important commitment by my predecessor that will be materialized by the design of a humanoid robot capable of descending to a depth of 1000 meters.

PartnerShip: What are the stakes for the scientific community?

A. S.: This humanoid robot equipped with very sensitive gripping tools, offers archeologists a new continent, depths that have previously been inaccessible, and we will have access to a cultural heritage that is sometimes mentioned in the literature or which is sometimes simply unknown. It will multiply the field of scientific investigation!

F. L.: Today, it is in our DNA to contribute to the design of robot tools that don't exist on the market but which meet our needs. It is one thing for a robot to dive, but it is quite another thing for it to have a hand that is capable of grasping a fragile object without breaking it. We enter the world of tomorrow. It's a mission we have steadfastly followed for several years with a great deal of commitment. It's a giant step for the entire discipline.

A. S.: We will also continue to develop the field of preventive underwater archeology in the context of installation programs, for which we will have a voice to guarantee the preservation or the knowledge of our shared heritage that could be impacted by these works. Our vessels, and their BOURBON crews, will have a major role to play — they will enable us to extend our scope and take possession of new territories. It's a very exciting challenge!

Shared views

New S200X Surfer: innovation and pragmatism

François LESLE
CEO - Bourbon Mobility
3 min

In marine services in general, and personnel transport in particular, the constant striving for operational excellence is a core concern. It is by following this line of action that Bourbon Mobility has built its leadership on this ambition for over 30 years, notably via its modern fleet of vessels. The renewal of a large part of this fleet today is symbolized by the delivery of the first Surfer of an order of 5, which has just started operating in Gabon. Some explanations from François Leslé, CEO, and Vincent Trouillet, New Building Project Manager.

Code name S200X. A stealth aircraft? The SUV of the future? No, under this enigmatic name lies the new jewel in the crown of Bourbon Mobility's interfield fleet, which prefigures the company's Surfers for the mid-term. "It seems totally coherent to us, as we continue to develop our standards of operational excellence, to also develop our fleet of vessels," explains François Leslé. "Beyond the symbol, it is a strong signal that we are sending our clients. Our vessels are far from having reached their age limit but we prefer to anticipate and to be able to offer our passengers a reliable and comfortable means of transport, by maintaining a fleet with an average age of 8 years. For the satisfaction of passengers, but also for that of our clients, who can only be impressed by the entry into service of this S200X series."

So, 5 new Surfers, but nearly 40 vessels in total should join the Bourbon Mobility fleet within the next 3 years. "This program concerns both the 18-meter Interfields vessels and the 38-meter Crewliners that will be equipped with new-generation engines and cabins with an innovative design. Not a revolution but a true evolution that we are initiating by capitalizing on our unique experience on the market. Our motto: practical innovation. Importantly, these vessels will be connected, which will foster the implementation of new ways of operating, focused on the rationalization of rotations..."

The Interfield S200Xs that have just joined their operating region in West Africa are the result of the study of our clients' needs over the last 25 years. "This type of Surfer is very codified in terms of length, power and passenger numbers. To ignore these codes would be senseless, both for us and our clients. So, we have striven to optimize the entire vessel within a precise framework – an exciting challenge!" highlights Vincent Trouillet. "The main beneficiary is the passenger, who is the focus of all our attention: we offer 30 real seats, optimum conditions of comfort, increased legroom, very high-quality seats and the possibility to charge electronic devices. The new design also reduces the direct exposure of glass surfaces to sunlight and improves interior temperature control." So, more comfortable but also improved reliability and safety thanks to an unprecedented level of equipment, notably in the wheelhouse. "Perfection does not exist, but this series goes a long way to erase the gaps identified on the other vessels in this category. It is totally in line with the level of operational excellence that we have set ourselves and which we owe our clients," concludes François Leslé.