By Bartolomej Tomić
What is a classification society? What are its roles? What are the biggest challenges when it comes to the offshore sector? Read all that in the interview Offshore Energy Today conducted with Bureau Veritas representatives Yvo J. Jansen, Director Industry, Benelux, Nordic & Baltic Region and Martijn Nieuwenhuijs, Technical Director North Europe.
The interview was held at the Bureau Veritas booth during the Offshore Energy 2013 Exhibition, held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, last month.
Can you briefly introduce your classification society and the work you do when it comes to the offshore oil and gas?
Nieuwenhuijs: So, classification is our traditional Bureau Veritas business which started in 1828.
When ships are registered by flag states, they require a certificate of class. In all cases the registration will be recognized by a member of the IACS Class Society, of which Bureau Veritas is an active member.
Classification consists of the quality verification of the ship based on our own Bureau Veritas rules, as well as flag state delegations.
Can you tell us more about the classification process of e.g. jack-up rigs, and how do you even get the right to classify a rig?
Nieuwenhuijs: With classification of rigs, you must distinguish their type e.g. between self-elevating units and fixed platforms. Self-elevating units are normally verified against the MODU code. Mobile offshore drilling units, and fixed platforms are normally regulated by local authorities like “Staatstoezicht op de mijnen”.
For class purpose we have additionally developed our own Bureau Veritas rules. In most cases you have to present a safety case to the authorities, to explain why you can operate the asset safely in the chosen environment. As part of the safety case, you will ask a company like Bureau Veritas to verify the design.
So, we make verification calculations, to check the Wave loads on the jack-up structures, the stability of the legs and the payload of the jack-up as an example.
What does it mean for the company to have a vessel or a rig classified by Bureau Veritas?
Nieuwenhuijs:. It is extremely important to choose a long established competent company with years of real experience. During new construction it often means that you have a quick turnaround time for plan approval. Clients benefit from our large survey team of qualified individuals who can perform industry leading inspections. When the asset is finished and begins its journey around the world or end destination, it becomes a critical aspect that you have good representation around the world, being able to deploy in short turnaround whenever or wherever required. This is the Added Value of choosing Bureau Veritas.
Bureau Veritas competes more on service level than on technical standards. If you compare the technical rules of the different class societies, they basically boil down to the same general ruling.
Bureau Veritas tries to outperform others by being quick, reliable and visible, customer service is key to success.
Jansen: In addition it is worth noting that, on one side we are an impartial accredited body, and on the other we can be a strategic partner for the client to safeguard their flawless project execution.
What are the common challenges BV faces with classing an offshore facility?
Nieuwenhuijs: Technically speaking we find interesting challenges in the impact of Arctic conditions.
Bureau Veritas is very much research driven towards finding solutions for enhanced operations in arctic environments, collisions with ice … etc.
For ships, it’s always easy to navigate away from the danger of ice collision, however it is s a different story for moored units such as an FPSO which cannot easily disconnect.
Bureau Veritas works together in cooperation with a specific University to develop a calculation program called ICESTAR. Using this technology Bureau Veritas can calculate the collision energy of ice against a given asset and how to consider this within the design.
This is one of the major challenges in the offshore Arctic development at the moment.
Jansen: Working on applications with very little past reference will always pose a greater challenge, however whether the situation is Arctic ice or Deep water Bureau Veritas utilize their extensive network of technical competence centers to rise to the challenge.
For example, Bureau Veritas has recently opened a new technical competence centre in Singapore specializing in deep water subsea technology.
Bureau Veritas is focusing very much on serving our client needs worldwide. Despite being located for instance in Singapore, our client and potential clients benefit from our Global Network and Local presence.
About the Singapore facility, can it be that you chose to open it because major rig builders are nearby?
Jansen : Of course, that is one of the main reasons, Bureau Veritas must be close to their clients and potential clients, and show them that by choice they are partnering with a long established and financially independent group with continuous investments made in strategic areas such as the Singapore technical competence center.
Some might assume that this isn’t the epicenter for Deepwater Technology Research Center (DTRC), however, the strategic thinking behind this is to have strategically located specific competences and expertise that can be deployed to support additional locations and requirements within the Bureau Veritas Network.
Therefore, we have established such DTRC with support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF). This platform for the technologically innovative resolution of issues by highly skilled personnel. Using BV’s state-of-the-art software tools, the DTRC will be conducting applied research in the key R&D areas of hydrodynamics, hydro-structures, mooring and riser systems, computational fluid dynamics, and renewable energy. Bureau Veritas create environments that house experts within single locations, why? to aid the development of the individuals through knowledge transfer, sharing of best practices, project execution … etc, in order that this experience translates into Added Value for our clients.
What about the other classification societies, the competitors, what is your relationship with them?
Jansen: Occasionally clients will require that we work together. For example, we are currently working on a floating LNG asset for a large Energy Operating Company, due to the magnitude of the project there are several parties selected to provide services. In this scenario Bureau Veritas is not the nominated classification group, however, Bureau Veritas is the supplier of choice for all topside equipment inspections and applicable certification.
Nieuwenhuijs: If you are familiar with the IACS organization you will know that this is a forum for all classification societies to work together as a group. The objective of this group is to steer industry research and develop common structural rules for example; oil tanker and bulk carriers. I expect this process to continue into the future.
Is the year so far going according to plans and can you provide a brief market outlook for the offshore oil and gas segment of your business.
Jansen: Currently, when it comes to the Marine and Industry segments of Bureau Veritas, we are over achieving. In 2010 we announced our 2015 growth plan consisting of financial targets set out in the “BV2015: Moving forward with confidence” strategic plan:
- · Revenue growth: +9-12% on average per year, on a constant-currency basis:
– Two-third from organic growth: +6-8% on average per year
– One-third from acquisitions: +3-4% on average per year
- ·Improvement in adjusted operating margin:+100-150bps (relative to 2011)
- ·Growth in adjusted EPS: +10-15% on average per year between 2011 and 2015
To date Bureau Veritas is exceeding its 2015 plan expectations, not only thanks to the environment, the market conditions and acquisitions, but very much attributed to the employees and their commitment to being the Market leader.
That’s one of the reasons why Bureau Veritas is here today at the Offshore Energy 2013 in the RAI, Amsterdam. It’s not only to show the scope of expertise that Bureau Veritas has to offer the offshore Industry, but also to discuss developments within the market with our clients and the supply chain.
Bureau Veritas sees the outlook as positive within the emerging markets as well as continued investment in the North Sea.
The close cooperation and synergy between our Industry and Marine businesses has significantly increased our combined portfolio of services, further enhancing our project management approach to the market.
Nieuwenhuijs: If you look at the outlook for the offshore development, then the interesting thing is that offshore today, is more than only Marine and Oil & Gas. Its evolved into offshore wind, land reclamation, offshore terminals, etc. Many of these projects nowadays requiring ships to transport equipment, to perform the operational requirements, to accommodate the maintenance groups and to transport these crews back and forth.
A year ago, we were asked why the Dutch market was so buoyant, whereas, International shipping was in a downturn. The answer was simple, many Dutch companies were occupied in the supply of product solutions to the offshore market. So with more and more work being done offshore we saw steady growth whilst the transportation of goods was under pressure due to the extensive introduction of new ships.
What are the current significant projects you are dealing with offshore?
Jansen: Bureau Veritas is working on a significant number of global offshore projects ranging from FLNG /FPSO projects in Australia, Brazil and USA to Capex & Opex projects in the North Sea as well as being a fully involved strategic partner with some of the world’s largest Oil and Gas operators on a day to day basis. In all of these projects Bureau Veritas acts in various functions; a classification society, a Notified Body, Second Party provider working on behalf of our clients, inspecting/auditing/surveying the entire supply chain.
We do not refer to it is not just the mega CAPEX projects, there are also many lifetime extension projects in which the OPCO’s face changing gas composition of the wells (e.g. more sour gas). This means that different requirements are applicable and result application of high alloys, acid gasses…etc, Taking all aforementioned challenges into account, BV will translate such challenges into solutions with best practices top overcome the renewed requirements. This will ultimately result in a better service to our clients.
Is there a favorite project you can highlight?
Jansen: There is not just one project that stands out.
Our favorite projects to be involved in are the ones that bring BV challenges with respect to testing our expertise, competences, staff, geographical coverage and the ones where we can bring our added value to the table.
You were here last year, and this year again you have a booth at Offshore Energy 2013. Can you compare this year’s event to the one from 2012?
Nieuwenhuijs: This year’s event is bigger than last year. I think you can see that there is a growing interest of companies to attend this event.
I think you see now a broader spectrum of companies, more companies who are active both in shipping and offshore, whereas, if i remember correctly, last year the main exhibitor were purely offshore related companies.
For myself, I have not noticed too much offshore wind this year. I know there is a separate conference on offshore wind, but throughout the exhibition I have seen maybe a bit less, it’s more oil and gas this year.
Jansen: I see more people and companies come to the event to learn about experiences in the North Sea. When it comes to offshore wind farms / renewables there is a lot to learn, Investors, EPC’s and Equipment & Technology suppliers seek support to understand the requirements, the show allows us to explore and leverage off experiences gained by all.
So do you think the next year’s event should provide more space for renewables?
Jansen: The spectrum of offshore is broader than just some shallow waters in the North Sea.
Nieuwenhuijs: “I think we should try to link offshore more with the working environment of people at sea, which can be in different sectors than the traditional oil and gas sector. But if we are trying to focus on what is actually done by research, by cable laying vessels, pipe laying vessels, accommodation barges, crew transport vessels, we can position ourselves strategically to support all these people which are not seamen by definition, but, maintenance people, and help educate the industry on how we can all serve to make each environment a safe and sustainable environment, whether it is gas, oil, wind energy or land reclamation. That should be the focus of offshore.”
Mr. Jansen closed the interview by saying that BV believes in bringing more added value to the value chain to safeguard a safer, more sustainable and trusted place to live and work, not only in the project phases but as well as during operations all the way to delivering energy to the consumers at home.
Over 500 offshore companies showcased their latest developments and products at this year’s Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference, in three exhibition halls on October 15th and 16th. This year’s exhibition will also include pavilions from Maritime by Holland, Den Helder and China.
With various notable speakers from the industry covering hot topics such as the market outlook, North Sea exploration and production, opportunities in East Africa as well as human capital, Offshore Energy 2013 attracted 9,123 visitors and delegates representing 56 nationalities.