EDITO

A keyword: keep up the pressure

In the last edition of PartnerShip magazine published at the beginning of March, we had no idea that we would be going through such a crisis, linked to what the WHO had not yet qualified as a Covid-19 pandemic. Four months later, far from calling our strategic orientations into question, we must however be pragmatic and clearly state our short-term priorities, namely:

  • keep up the pressure on protective measures, compliance with Covid-19 procedures and barrier gestures to ensure the protection of our teams and our customers,
  • manage to organise the rotations of our crews, some of whom have been on board for too many months, leading to physical and psychological fatigue,
  • adapt to this new economic context, which no one could have foreseen, by reducing our costs.

In the longer term, it is all the more essential that BOURBON continue its transformation. As the pressure on carbon neutrality increases, we are taking up the challenge of the energy transition: the initiatives taken in this direction - diesel-electric fleet, fuel consumption optimization programs, battery propulsion projects, offshore wind projects, etc. - will continue over the coming months.

Our strategic action plan #BOURBONINMOTION responds more than ever to the needs of the market and the expectations of our clients, and we continue to record successes on our new integrated logistics services, “Airport-to-rig” passenger services and external shipmanagement services. Because we are convinced that this is the way forward, we will continue to take such initiatives, especially digital ones, for more services. Our objectives: on the one hand deliver operational excellence, and on the other hand expand our service portfolio.

The foundation on which this strategy is based is unchanging: it consists of the two priorities that the group has defined for all of its employees and organizations around the world, at the service of its clients: safety and compliance.

Rodolphe Bouchet
Bourbon Marine & Logistics CEO

 

EXPERT INSIGHT

After the pandemic, what's next?

Rystad Energy is one of the world’s leading experts in the Oil & Gas sector. As all parts of the industry take stock of the damage done by the Covid-19 pandemic, founder and CEO Jarand Rystad recently discussed his vision for the future of Oil&Gas in the short and medium term.

PartnerShip: What is the impact of Covid-19 on the Oil & Gas market?

Jarand Rystad : The whole world has put a stop to airline and car travel in a coordinated way, and as a result the market is experiencing its biggest contraction ever. April saw a contraction of 28 million barrels of oil, which is ten times more extreme than the most extreme situation we’ve seen before. Depending on the degree of lockdown from region to region, road traffic fell between 20% and 70% in April. Aviation was down even more sharply – in May there were 28,000 flights per day, against around 115,000 per day that had originally been projected. At the same time, a fall in global GDP brought down demand for oil used as energy and as a raw material in manufactured goods. With lockdown ending in most countries, road traffic should return to around 90% of pre-pandemic levels within as little as four months, but it will not rise higher for some time. Aviation will take much longer to return to something like normal. By the end of 2020, it will only be at about 35% of pre-crisis levels at best. There will be very little international air travel, but domestic air routes in China, India and the US will gradually drive the comeback.

 

PartnerShip: Can we expect to see further consolidations in the industry?

J.R. : The majors haven’t been so badly affected as they can mostly recover margins through downstream integration. It’s the independent players who are suffering from low volumes and low prices. Some of them are struggling to keep the creditors away. They could be forced into consolidations, but typically many smaller companies have portfolios that are not of interest to the majors – the fields are too small and not productive or profitable enough. They are more likely to be taken over by financial players, with debt holders becoming shareholders.

PartnerShip: Will this crisis accelerate the energy transition of oil companies?

J.R. : It will have a positive impact overall, but the first impact will be negative, on account of delays to ongoing projects and to public auctions for the land needed for acquiring land for renewable power plants. While oil is priced in dollars, power is usually priced in local currencies, so questions of profitability arise. For these reasons, renewable energy projects are being held up and delayed. But two years from now, cost improvements for renewables compared to fossil fuels will be much better, and the current situation will end up benefiting the green shift.

"Two years from now, cost improvements for renewables compared to fossil fuels will be much better, and the current situation will end up benefiting the green shift."
Jarand rystadRYSTAD ENERGY CEO

PartnerShip: Have Oil & Gas companies taken the digital revolution far enough?

J.R. : There has been continuous improvement in software, remote sensing, etc. In heavy industries, you expect the impact of digital to be evolutionary rather more than revolutionary. I’d say there has been a 2% improvement in productivity every year, which I’m sure will continue. The competition between offshore and shale is interesting: the learning curve for shale has a shorter cycle time, so there has been faster improvement.

PartnerShip: What do you think will be the main trends and strategies in the development of the Oil & Gas sector by 2025?

J.R. : I think when the price per dollar reaches about $50 to $55, the industry will start investing again. I think this will happen in about a year from now, well into 2021, and then I think that in 2022 the oil price will go significantly higher. By 2022 and 2023, I think there will be very hectic times for oil and gas companies, with good prices and lots of activity. However, but it’s possible that high prices will kill demand: if gasoline prices rise too sharply, people are more likely to choose electric vehicles. All the same, I think oil and gas companies will experience a good period, but then the boom will be followed by a bust – it’s usually four years from boom to boom, or from bust to bust. The majors will manage fine. They’re embracing the energy transition more and more – even the Americans are talking about it. The majors increasingly have the ambition to position themselves as energy companies, with the benefits of familiar brands and proximity to end-users. Smaller companies will benefit from just having a harvest strategy – limit costs, harvest what you have, do less exploration.

THEIR STORIES

Adapting to overcome the cyclical dowturn

The Covid-19 pandemic has struck an oil & gas industry that was finally seeing a return to growth after the serious 2014-2019 crisis. While all players have measured the day-to-day impact of this unprecedented health and economic crisis, the experts consider that a progressive recovery from early 2021 is probable. An update on BOURBON's priorities and transitional measures while waiting for activity to resume.

The collapse of oil prices, stacked vessels, rigs deactivated or even dismantled... since the beginning of the year the oil sector has suffered a brutal setback that nobody could foresee. Yet, this Covid-19 crisis is also an accelerator for both oil and marine services companies. The major challenge: energy transition and transformation to face climate change, notably via new business models and digitization. In the short term, this crisis has obliged BOURBON to focus on 3 essential priorities.

First, the respect of health protection measures and Covid-19 procedures. Health is above any other consideration. The group effort and solidarity that exists between BOURBON, its clients and providers has enabled it to manage the crisis for the best until now. "The diversity of our clients is an advantage," highlights Ann Till, the group's Covid-19 coordinator. "We have in fact been able to share information and procedures with them to improve our response to the crisis." Dropping our guard would be a serious error today, which is why the measures taken within the group will be maintained as long as necessary.

" We have been able to share information and procedures with our clients to improve our response to the crisis."
ann tillcovid-19 coordinator

The second level of priority is to carry out crew changeovers and find all possible solutions for the seamen who have been waiting for changeover for too long. Changeover is long overdue for some of them, leaving them physically and psychologically exhausted and far from their families. Since mid-April, it has been possible to organize several changeovers in collaboration with our clients in Angola, Gabon, Egypt, Brazil and the Congo and all our energy is mobilized to continue in this direction. On board the vessels, our seafarers are facing this situation courageously. "Daily and weekly meetings during which we share world statistics and internal documents with the crew are highly necessary and important in these difficult times in order to reduce negative emotional impact," explains Dmitrii Shcherbina, Master of Bourbon Liberty 320. "We must be strong and avoid panic. For some crew members, borders closed as they were getting ready to go home, hence the necessity for an individual approach to reduce the workload and the resulting stress and fatigue."

The third priority is the adaptation to the economic context by reducing costs. The first measures concerned the postponement of certain technical shutdowns and the lay up of around thirty vessels. We know today that this measure will eventually concern around fifty vessels out of the 310 units in activity worldwide in 2020. Most class maintenance scheduled for the 2nd quarter of 2020 will be postponed: out of the 60 technical shutdowns planned for this year, around ten will have to be canceled. In this context, good communications and a close relationship with our clients is primordial. BOURBON is ready to provide flexibility and support to accompany them during the short term for this decrease in activity. In return, this support requires timely payment and their commitment over the medium term.

SUCCESSFUL TOGETHER

OVMSA2, in line with the new energy challenges

The OVMSA is a self-assessment tool developed by the oil companies grouped within the OCIMF (Oil Companies International Marine Forum). Intended for offshore vessels operators, it enables them to improve their management system and also to comply with their clients' requirements. The revision of this OVMSA is therefore an event for all marine service companies like BOURBON, which will complete the integration of these new rules this summer with a new version of BOURBON OSM Standard – Operation Safety Management. Faisal Rashid, Technical Advisor to OCIMF, talks to PartnerShip about the changes to this major tool for maritime companies.

PartnerShip: At the end of 2019, the OCIMF published a substantially revised version of the OVMSA questionnaire. How and why did this happen?

Faisal Rashid: The OVMSA1 questionnaire is a valuable document for companies operating offshore vessels. The first edition was produced 2012. It’s a tool that operators can use to improve their management systems, and it covers almost all areas of their activity, including technical, operational, personnel, health and safety, the environment both onshore and offshore. Over the years, OCIMF2 has received very helpful feedback from a number of operators in relation to OVMSA. This feedback advised that some of them felt the requirements were too demanding, others noted that changes in international legislation meant that some of the original criteria were no longer relevant. The revision process began in 2018, using the five years’ worth of feedback. A working group was set up, with both members (i.e. representatives of the oil companies) and non-members, including a delegate from Bourbon. OVMSA2 was published in December 2019.

PartnerShip: How well do you know the maritime companies? What impact do you think the changes will have on them?

F.R.: Although the membership of the Forum does not include vessel operators, OCIMF regularly engages with them, particularly on questions of safety. OCIMF organises Regional Marine Forums all around the world, and the speakers often come from maritime companies, including representatives from BOURBON. OCIMF manages the OVID3 programme on which OVID inspection reports undertaken by accredited inspectors are recorded. The OVSMA covers a numbers of areas including the management of the vessel, plant maintenance, navigation, DP operations, mooring operations, cargo, bunkering, ballasting, lifting and hoisting, anchor handling, geophysics and energy management. It is important for OCIMF Members Companies to know that all these issues are being managed effectively to ensure that the vessels are being properly managed. As a result of the changes incorporated into OVMSA2, it’s now easier to conduct the self-assessment. OCIMF has streamlined the questionnaire, merged some elements and removed ambiguity and duplication. The questionnaire consists of 257 questions, including 17 new questions compared to the earlier version. 32 questions have been removed.

PartnerShip: How has OCIMF introduced environmental challenges in the guidance? Where do you stand on the energy transition?

F.R.: This is really important for OCIMF. Our Mission Statement is: “To lead the global marine industry in the promotion of safe and environmentally responsible transportation of crude oil, oil products, petrochemicals and gas, and to drive the same values in the management of related offshore marine operations.” OCIMF expanded these issues in OVMSA2. Element 10 previously referred to environmental management, now it covers environmental and energy management, and includes questions on energy efficiency and fuel management.

1OVMSA: Offshore Vessels Management and Self-Assessment

2OCIMF: Oil Companies International Marine Forum

3OVID: Offshore Vessel Inspection Database

Faisal Rashid has been Technical Advisor, Offshore at OCIMF since September 2017. He interacts with marine offshore operators, coordinates all the feedback from members and non-members and delivers it within the industry, giving his advice on how safety and environmental management can be improved in the marine offshore industry. He previously sailed as a Master with Shell, had a spell as a Marine Assessor, and then worked in offshore marine support at BP Shipping.

IN PICTURES

Bourbon Orca: the power of the X-Bow!

Very first inverted-bow AHTS designed by the Norwegian ship designer ULSTEIN, The Bourbon Orca is characterized by a better volume distribution at the bow of the vessel, particularly suited to the navigational conditions in the North Sea and to rough seas
The payoff: better handling and reduced pitching in rough seas and reduced fuel consumption.
DP2 AHTS, with a deck area of 548 m2, the Bourbon Orca has two deck cranes to assist deck manoeuvres for anchor handling operations, improving crew safety.
The vessel is also equipped with diesel-electric propulsion coupled with azimuth thrusters allowing her to combine manoeuvrability with reduced fuel consumption.
The Bourbon Orca in short: fluidity, strength and stability.
The Bourbon Orca towing and connecting Windfloat Atlantic's 8.4 MW floating wind turbines, the most powerful ever installed.
The Bourbon Orca off Brest, on a temporary mission to protect the French coastline during the maintenance period of the Abeille Bourbon salvage tug.
SHARED VIEWS

Personnel transport: towards a renewed fleet!

For the past 35 years, Bourbon Mobility has served the major players of the oil & gas industry. The 2 million passengers it transports every year in total safety make it the undisputed market leader, especially in West Africa. Its strike force: an operational fleet of 150 Crew boats, part of which the company intends to renew in the coming years. An explanation by François Leslé, CEO, and Nicolas Elizon, COO.

PartnerShip: How did Bourbon Mobility face the Covid-19 crisis?

François Leslé : I would be tempted to answer this question in the present, because even if the health situation is improving in Europe, the sites of our operations are still highly impacted by the lockdown imposed by many countries, including West Africa. Our priorities are the health of our employees and the clients we transport and the continuity of our operations. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our seafarers, who, despite extended periods on board, have demonstrated exceptional attitude and professionalism... We have to adapt to this context. In the short term, this means cutting costs by laying up a part of our fleet. Of course, this does not prevent us from maintaining our vision for the long term and for the investment in the renewal of our fleet that we are currently planning.

" Our priorities are the health of our employees and the clients we transport and the continuity of our operations."
françois lesleBourbon mobility CEO

PS: What is the strategy for the renewal of the crew boat fleet based on?

F. L. : The average age of our fleet is between 8 and 9 years, which is quite satisfactory because the life cycle of a Surfer can reach 12 to 15 years, depending on its use and the rigor of its maintenance. So, we intend to renew about one third of the Bourbon Mobility fleet within the next 4 years in order to maintain an average age between 7 and 8 years, in compliance with the BOURBON standard. Today, we operate nearly 150 Crew boats and our objective is to renew about fifty of them.

PS: What vessels will be concerned by this strategy?

Nicolas Elizon : We are aiming at evolution rather than revolution because we want to capitalize on our 35 years of experience. Future vessels will incorporate the feedback from the previous generation. We would like to carry out two major programs simultaneously with a dedicated project team: the renewal of the Crewliner fleet, which are 36-meter vessels, and the renewal of our 18-meter vessels, the Interfields. Crewliners are the most compact single-hull vessels on the market. They are equipped with high-power propulsion systems (over 8000 kw), enabling a cruising speed of 40 knots. Future vessels will be 38 m in length. They will be fitted out with last generation engines but also with brand new cabins with an innovative design. Of course, they will have all the WiFi-type communication and entertainment systems offered by Bourbon Mobility in the context of its transformation toward new services. Regarding the Interfields, the challenge is more focused on increasing the number of seats, around 30, while keeping the same size and top speed required by our clients. The point in common between the two programs is the installation of fuel monitoring systems that enable us to measure and, above all, optimize fuel consumption in order to reduce CO2 emissions. There is a strong demand for this on the part of our clients.

" We are aiming at evolution rather than revolution because we want to capitalize on our 35 years of experience."
nicolas elizonbourbon mobility COO

PS: Is the modernity of the fleet a key factor of success on the personnel transport market?

F.L.: After several years of crisis, we have seen fewer newbuildings on the Crew boat market, even if certain shipyards have tried to sell off inventories of vessels built before the crisis to new operators. We have also observed a strong tendency toward innovation to reduce costs, especially to eliminate all crew changes performed by helicopter. Our clients now pay more attention to passenger comfort and this is reflected in better passenger service, as in the air transport industry. However, not all the projects are economically viable. Bourbon Mobility has adopted this innovative approach while remaining pragmatic. For passenger comfort, we have worked with Peugeot Design Lab. In the end, the Surfer is based on these 3+1 pillars: safety/speed/technical reliability + comfort. But it is not enough to have the best vessel. You also need an operator with a robust management system and a local maintenance network. The crisis linked to the price of the barrel between 2014 and 2019 sometimes affected our capacity to respect our standards, but the "Back to Basics"* plan, which began two years ago, enables us to readjust our aim and return to our historic standards. The rejuvenation of the fleet completes these in-depth actions to continue satisfying our clients 365 days a year!

PS : Will these new vessels be accompanied by a specific crew adaptation program?

N.E : Our strength is that we are supported by competent crews that are already experienced in vessel operations, without creating a rupture in the operational environment: our inventories, maintenance programs and training will be adapted, but we are keeping the foundations. Like the aviation sector, we capitalize on a series, from one generation to another. Nevertheless, we will continue to develop predictive maintenance and onshore support in order to minimize lay-up time.

*Plan based on BOURBON's historic standards of operational excellence.

PANORAMA

WindFloat Atlantic: a human adventure...

At the end of May 2020, Bourbon Subsea Services carried out the towing and connection of the 3rd 8.4 MW floating wind turbine of the Windfloat Atlantic park 20 km from Viana do Castelo, on the Portuguese coast, after having supplied and installed the anchor lines. With a total capacity of 25 MW, these are the most powerful floating wind turbines ever installed.

BOURBON, responsible for the project management and engineering of the installation at sea, provided all the naval assets and necessary personnel for the offshore operations for the 3 turbines. BOURBON's project team worked in close coordination with its client WINDPLUS encompassing EDPR, Engie, Repsol and Principle Power, together with the partners Navantia / Windar joint venture, the A-Silva Matos group, wind turbine manufacturer MHI Vestas and dynamic cables manufacturer JDR Cables as well as Vryhof, the anchoring system supplier. Bourbon Subsea Services, henceforth, positions itself today as the European leader in the installation of offshore floating wind turbines.

WINDFLOAT ATLANTIC INSTALLATION: VIDEOVOST