May 19, 2016

When she was 14, Alice Aurignac was riding in her parents' car when she heard a radio interview with a technician who worked offshore. The worker talked about his job, his working conditions, his lifestyle. As an adolescent, she was drawn by this interview and ten years later, after receiving her scientific baccalaureate and completing engineering school, she began her career with a little shipping company, which gave her a chance to take part in various oil & gas projects before joining Saipem as a project engineer. At 27, she is now working as a shift supervisor with BOURBON, on board the IMR vessel, the Bourbon Trieste, on the Akpo field in Nigeria. Interview.


OFFshore: What a journey, between hearing that interview that left its mark on you, and the role you have today!

Alice Aurignac: Indeed, time has passed but it is clear that this radio interview probably changed the course of my professional life... 


OFFshore: Today you are a shift supervisor--what is your role on board?

A. A.: It's a very central position, which makes it possible to be at the heart of operations and requires great versatility. The shift supervisor is responsible for operations. In this capacity, they manage both the ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle), the vessel's movements in conjunction with the captain, deck operations, positioning, etc., but they are also in charge of the inventory of tools and equipments of the project. Not to mention client management! Of course, the land-based Subsea Services team is very present in order to provide the support needed for missions to be successful.


OFFshore: What qualities do you think are essential to this position?

A. A.: Handling so many parameters of an operation, of course, requires a good dose of concentration, experience, a bit of common sense as well, but above all you have to be passionate and love your job.


OFFshore: What is your scope of intervention when installing a wellhead, for example?

A. A.: The first step is receiving the operational procedure, sent by headquarters. The client also sends us the technical specifications for the wellhead and its future location. All of this information enables me to prepare a task plan, the document detailing the conduct of the operation and the role of each person on board. When all these stakeholders agree on the task plan, I create a lift plan, which gathers data relating to lifting wellheads. Lastly, the risk assessment enables us to ensure the best possible safety conditions. At this stage in preparations, the vessel may go back to port to get the wellhead, which cannot be loaded at sea. When the actual operation begins, the shift supervisor manages deck operations and the whole Subsea part with the crane and ROVs: lowering the wellhead, the movement of the vessel, getting all the authorizations with the FPSO control room, the final approach of the wellhead and locking it on its receiver.


OFFshore: You work aboard an IMR vessel, the Bourbon Trieste. What makes it unique?

A. A.: Working aboard the Bourbon Trieste is a stroke of luck. Indeed, its reasonable size gives you room to move up in a family atmosphere, and at the same time, it's a big enough vessel to carry 2 Work class ROVs, a 90 t crane, and being able to install jumpers and wellheads, in continental offshore as well as deepwater offshore. The atmosphere there is very good, I received a great welcome there.


OFFshore: Do you remember your very first operation?

A. A.: I remember it very well, because I was not only the only woman on board, but I was also the youngest! It didn't bother me because I have always worked in masculine environments, but I knew I was going to have to prove myself and that I would probably not be entitled to make errors. My professional career, with my diverse experience, enabled me to better understand this type of situation and to deal with them.


OFFshore: What is your favorite type of operation to manage?

A. A.: I especially like operations involving a lot of elements, cranes, ROVs, moving the vessel, etc. or operations involving great precision. I love challenges!

Bourbon behind the scenes