September 03, 2015

At Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo, everyday 35 BOURBON Surfers are on daily shuttle duty between the oil fields and onshore bases. Take a trip on board.


At Pointe-Noire, the workday starts early for Surfer pilots and their seamen, at around 6 in the morning. One of their key tasks is to prepare the vessel, moored at the clients’ logistics base, in order to ensure passenger comfort and safety. Passengers, including the employees and service providers of the oil companies working on the rigs, are welcomed on board the vessel an hour later, between 7 and 7:30 am. It’s time to get underway!

"Our Surfers carry out 2 types of missions," explains Antoine Changarnier, Managing Director of the Pointe-Noire base. "When they are ferrying personnel between the shore-base and the offshore oil site, vessels spend the day at sea and return in the evening. When they are on shuttle duty between the various rigs in a single field, our day and night teams take turns over a 24-hour period." In this case, the crew, consisting of 2 pilot engineers and 2 seamen, doesn’t sleep on the vessel, but in the living quarters on the oil rig.


  • BOURBON Surfers in the Republic of the Congo transported 705 262 passengers in 2014
  • Fleet: 35 Surfers & 15 Supply vessels
  • 61 % of employees are Congolese (145 onshore and over 500 at sea)




Surfers travel between 20 and 100 nautical miles every day (between 37 and 180 km approx). Depending on the sites, it can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours of travel. "Speed is essential for these types of missions" explains Antoine Changarnier. "This is why all of our Surfers undergo scheduled technical maintenance once a year at our specialized Pointe Noire center. The goal: to correct anything that might alter the speed of a vessel, such as a dirty hull, a mechanical problem…" he explains. And of course, this doesn't include unexpected maintenance interventions in the event of a breakdown.


In the Republic of the Congo, BOURBON provides services to many clients, including Total, the operator of the largest offshore oil project in the country, Moho Nord. “With production estimated at over 91.5 million barrels in 2014 (or 250,000 per day), the Congo is a strategic country for the oil industry. In this context, it goes without saying that we insist on a quality of service that is in our view and our clients view beyond reproach” Antoine Changarnier explains. All Surfer pilots receive theoretical training in addition to practical training at a BOURBON Training Center, on a simulator and then on a Surfer, in real-life conditions, under the supervision of an experienced pilot.

"The Congo is a strategic country for the oil industry. It goes without saying that we insist that our quality of service is beyond reproach, for both ourselves and our clients."


"Safety is our #1 priority. Our goal is to transport passengers in a safe manner, especially during the delicate disembarking phase." BOURBON is a pioneer in this respect, with the development of the  boat landing in the mid-1980s, a metal device with a ladder that facilitates the transfer of Surfer passengers to an oil rig..

The daily routine of a base in the Congo
  • Surfer crew preparing the vessel for duty
  • Surfers docked at the base
  • Surfer pilot in training simulator
  • Maintenance of Surfer at base
Bourbon behind the scenes