This paper describes the engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) issues encountered during the construction and assembly of the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) system chosen for the Girassol development, offshore Angola. This presentation is from the contractor's point of view and includes general remarks on the management of big projects.

Finally the paper adresses contractual aspects of the clientcontractor relationship, which have been carried out in a unique manner at Girassol.


The Girassol project has been quite exceptional and it is true to say that it is greater than the sum of its parts. No matter how difficult the construction program was, however, the tale would seem banal if all of the details were recounted.

In order to avoid a tedious cascade of figures designed to demonstrate the merits of Mar Profundo Girassol, the Bouygues Offshore/Stolt Offshore joint venture, in their management of this complex project affair, it has been decided to provide the "inside story", presenting the major problems encountered and the way in which they were resolved.

Many of these problems are of a general, rather than a technical, nature and are common to the management of all major projects. In order to make this presentation more interesting, a number of famous authors have been quoted - entirely out of context, of course - in order to throw a humorous light on the matter.

In the beginning

The problems with the Girassol project began with the preparation of the tender at the end of 1997. Those in the industry are familiar with the haste with which TotalFinaElf E&P Angola decided to proceed with this development. The questions at that moment were: which type of contract for which scope of work and what type of facility was to be built and on what basis?

It was to be an FPSO, a floating unit for the production, storage and offloading of oil. It is best described as a hull with a vast production complex on its deck for the processing of oil, water and gas; storage of crude oil; re-injection of water and gas and export and metering of the crude oil.

Slide 1: Slide BFD3

The simplest and most striking way to define an FPSO is as a refinery on a super-tanker. This over-simplification masks the major difficulties on the project. It is a combination of an oil processing platform and a ship - two different cultures, different objectives, specifications, safety regulations, functions, methodologies, different contractors and construction sites. What brings them together is a bundle of interfaces and the absolute necessity for strict planning and coordination.

The objectives on such a project are so divergent that certain oil companies separate them at the contract stage. TotalFinaElf E&P Angola decided against this and one hopes that at the end of the day they are satisfied with this choice. If the economics of this decision are not apparent at first sight, the long term benefits are considerable.

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