Fugro Survey Frontier

Pushing frontiers

Fugro Survey Frontier is a prime example of the regionalisation initiative within Fugro.

The Fugro group of companies is based on the principle of decentralisation, bringing experience and knowledge to the doorstep of its clients. This knowledge is held by its staff, and mostly local in the region of operation. In an effort to enhance the service to clients and increase the accessibility of its wide portfolio of services, Fugro has launched the initiative of regionalisation. The implications for the clients and the hurdles to overcome are described below, taking Fugro Survey Frontier in Africa as an example.

Fugro offers services in the field of survey, positioning, subsea services (including ROV, tooling), geotechnical investigations, and provides expert deliverables to its client base. The majority of the activities are related to the oil and gas industry. In order to service the needs, clients expect to access the expertise in Fugro through a single point of contact. This explicit need drove Fugro to consider a more regional approach. Of course, Fugro entities are still part of the matrix structure within the company, offering specific and specialised services in a defined region. Working together between operating companies has become a necessity in order to fully exploit the full range of services, all contained within one (sub)contractor – making one deliverable, one focal point, one Fugro.

Fugro in Africa
Fugro has a long track record of working in Africa. The company established bases in all centres of activities around the continent. In some cases, the bases where inherited from acquisitions made by the Fugro group in the last 15-20 years. The result is an excellent footprint in the region, accessible for (local) clients and providing logistic and other support to projects. For West Africa, bases are established in Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo. Depending on the level of activity, resources are allocated to such operations, with a strong desire to operate locally as much as is technically feasible. Within the Offshore Survey Division, there was a need to co-ordinate and work together within the West African region – notwithstanding the complex and different nature of each individual country within the region. Fugro Survey Frontier was created with the regional approach in mind. The clients and the bases in the region are supported by three main hubs: Fugro Survey BV in the Netherlands for all construction support and subsea positioning projects, Fugro Topnav in France for surface positioning applications and Fugro Survey Africa in Cape Town for all (shallow water) geophysical surveys.

Investments in local staff
The theme of Fugro Survey Frontier has been indigenisation of services. This means that Fugro recruits and employs local staff to service local projects. This does not come automatically – considering the sometimes-large gap in education and experience with the staff recruited. Fugro invests substantially in training staff, through its extensive programme – Fugro Academy. The in-company academy trains new staff to adopt the best practices in the industry and within the Fugro company, and continuously develops the skills of the staff. Training is offered both on site through classroom, remote training and offering practical exercises replicating real-life project situations and challenges. In some cases, locally hired staff in West Africa are sent overseas to Cape Town or Europe (or elsewhere in the Fugro world) for intensive and specialist training.

Peter Boon, commercial manager and business development co-ordinator for Fugro Survey Frontier comments: “As a company, we have taken the mental step from looking at the requirements for local content as a challenge, to seeing it as an opportunity. Working with local staff has been part of the business model for the Fugro Group since its creation more than 50 years ago, and now it is time to use that experience to further grow local staff numbers in frontier areas as well. We foresee that in the coming three to five years, projects in the West African region will require between 75 and 100 per cent local resources. The Fugro group is ready for it, without taking it lightly and adding specific technical expertise from Europe or the US to our teams working offshore. Safety and quality of deliverables cannot be compromised as our products and services carry the Fugro logo.”

Allocation of resources
In the process of indigenising, Fugro allocates equipment to the bases or to the region. For shallow water geophysical surveys and light geotechnical projects, Fugro has a vessel dedicated to the region, the Geo Endeavour. The vessel is fitted with all required geophysical equipment and sampling tools for route surveys, site surveys and support to construction projects in shallow waters (as built surveys). The vessel has an operating range up to 600-meter water depth and carries a small survey launch on the back deck for beach landing surveys and operations in very shallow waters. By the end of 2013, a new vessel, the Fugro Frontier will be allocated to this region. This vessel has improved functionality, meeting the standards of new-built vessels of 2012, both technically and environmentally. The vessel is a better place to work for the staff, allowing privacy and comfort standards that are universal in the Fugro fleet.

Peter comments: “The arrival of the new vessel proves Fugro’s commitment to the region and confirms that the fleet rejuvenation program is not limited to certain regions. The 2012 standards are just as applicable in West Africa as they are elsewhere in the world. “

But the market requires a lot more. Mobilisation at short notice from every country requires allocation of equipment, including subsea positioning equipment and specialist equipment to the bases in West Africa. In Nigeria and in Angola, Fugro has built bases with locally owned equipment, which is serviced and prepared locally creating value in country, building capacity and experience on the client’s doorstep.

Confidence in the future
The future of the region looks bright and with Fugro’s commitment to Africa over the past decades, investments are made to remain a benchmark in the (survey) industry. Fugro will invest in those locations where the clients need the services. The co-ordinated and regional approach will help developments of new bases in centres of increased activity. The co-ordinated approach is now taken further on the African continent, with bases in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania being considered or having been established. Learning from the experiences on the West side of the continent, the success can only be greater when operating on the East side of the continent.

Fugro Survey Frontier
Services: Survey, positioning, subsea services and geotechnical investigations