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Management of warebarge
10 July 2012
Hi folks

Most of us will have experience of managing some kind of drilling rig or another.

However, here's one for you .. warebarge(s). These provide additional storage nearby to the rig and are used in a variety of circumstances, ranging from compensating for limited deckspace to mitigating the effects of long supply chain.

In this case, the semi-sub will be some 1100 km from the main base, in relatively benign conditions. The warebarge will be moored 5km from the rig. It is a new warebarge.

It would be good to get your experiences and opinions on how you have managed these in the past. Questions include :

1. Who did you have as onsite supervisor? Options being discussed are : Drilling Supv, experienced Logistics Co-ordinator, leaving it up to the Barge Engr of the vessel ?
2. How did you manage safety on such a "lifting intense" vessel ?
3. What sort of daily report were you getting sent in
4. Etc., etc.,

Quivering with anticipation at the flood of responses ..

Dave Taylor
Updated 20th May 2016 with this supplementary question from Paul Anderson of Oilsearch :

"To resurrect this discussion. We would be interested in talking to Operators who have experience with using a warehouse support vessel (or warebarge) to support a MODU for a remote, one off exploration well.

What worked well, what might you do differently?

We are considering this as a concept and possible alternative to a traditional shore base, for cost and assurance. 

I have SPE paper 12460 (by Amoco authors in 1984!) however have been unable to find a more recent publication or case history on the subject."


Note from moderator (Dave): Our preference is that the knowledge is shared across the forum after which we'd be delighted to connect directly.
15 answer(s)
Operations Manager
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 1
Join Date: 23/11/18
Hi Dave

A bit late but have just found "my spread". Worked as Company Man for Cairn India on warebarge Ismaya for many months in Bay of Bengal. Technically in charge of all operations working closely with bargemaster. The whole system worked brilliantly - positioned 6 km from rig. Its all about planning and good communication with drilling engineer/company man on the rig. Barge provides all services from drilling mud production, casing supply, chemicals, fuel, water etc.
Would recommend the operation to anyone where rig is more than 24 hours sailing from offshore supply base. Have managed offshore supply bases in difficult places so think I know what I am talking about.
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 03/07/10


Just as Sarah Molyneux (see post above), we (Elvary Neftegas, a Rosneft/BP JV) used the Ismaya offshore Sakhalin in the summer of 2004, we described it briefly in SPE 99044. 

For those interested in early history of Sakhalin exploration, SPE 35090 is a fascinating read about the original Marathon operation. 

I was the project manager for the gig, and great fun it was, too.  The man with all the knowledge on how we did the logistics and used the vessel has just retired from BP, Kel Bulteel (  He was our logistics manager and marine superintendent / marine technical authority and should be able to tell you everything you need to know. 

Cheers - John

Technical Director
Total Posts: 1
Join Date: 30/06/16

Hi Dave and Paul,

First to answer your below questions.

1. Who did you have as onsite supervisor? Options being discussed are : Drilling Supv, experienced Logistics Co-ordinator, leaving it up to the Barge Engr of the vessel ?

In our experiences, it well very well for Drilling Supt to be in-charge of all the operation.We have a material man or Logistic co-ordinator attached to the Trinity Supporter. He  was supported by a medic and two engineers ( one bulk and one mud) who ensure the proper mixing of the dry bulks and liquid mud respectively. All the activities on the TS were initiated by the logistic co-ordinator who receives instructions or plans from the DS. He passes the order to the Master of TS on the daily activities at start of the day and follow up at the  end of the day shift on the status with more activities for night shift. The master in term pass the daily work to the logistic crew and marine crew to carry out the activities. 
2. How did you manage safety on such a "lifting intense" vessel ? 
Safety and liftings are managed by one safety officer from marine crew side who ensure are the lifting gears are properly certifiied, that the riggers have rigging trainings and experiences . There is regular checks by Logistic co-ordinator during lifting operation that no unsafe act is carryout and proper gears are used. We had a reprimand and reward system for unsafe and safety conscious actions.
3. What sort of daily report were you getting sent in.
Daily report is made by the logistic co-ordinator and the Master of the TS. The Master daily report consist of movements of materials on the TS and their ROBs and shifting of the TS if there is any movement. During shifting between location, Master will report the daily consumptions ( mgo,lubes and water) ,ROBs, speed, weather conditions and eta.

As for Paul question on what work well and what can be better, in our experience, we managed to run the TS thru the 15 month campaign without major issue.  Most of the issue are minor faults or stoppage of some equipments which did not stop anything as we have duplicate sets and plenty of spares to back up.  One very important point we realise from the operation is  planning and communications. The atmosphere on board the TS were great throughout the operation. We have regular crew changes supported and assisted by the drilling side which provide the crew boat or copter.
One major constant irritant is the provision supply. The organisation and management of the provision supply was not done very well from the drilling side and TS end up with shortage of food. She was always anchored and totally rely on the rig side to assist with the replenishment of the food even though we are the one that ordered from shore supplier. There was last minutes changes to the supply boat run and we had to cancel the food and pay for fresh product which cannot be returned. Otherwise, we had a great run on the job. So the provision supply is one area that need to be thought thru if we going to do it again.
Hope the aboves answer your questions.

Marketing Director
Total Posts: 1
Join Date: 29/06/16
Hi Dave,

We are owners and operators of Mud Processing / Bulk Mixing / Accommodation / Wareship  MV Trinity Supporter (self propelled) mentioned in your response posted 2016-05-22. We would like to share our knowledge and experience of managing this one of a kind vessel.

The offshore drilling and exploration activities are moving further away from shores and supply bases and into deeper water globally. To facilitate these offshore activities, the Trinity Supporter is envisaged and developed to meet the demands and requirements of the drilling contractors and oil companies. Compared to warebarge, the self propelled wareship does not require a tug to tow, support and anchor near to the drilling rig. The primary objective of the Trinity Supporter is to provide huge cost savings eventually for oil companies as follows:

  • With the warehouse ship anchored near the rig, waiting time for the supply of drilling materials and equipment will be greatly reduced and therefore operation of the rig will be much more efficient. Downtime for the rig including the marine spread and equipment which is very costly, can be avoided.
  • Cost saving to charter supply vessels including bunkers which are required to do the supply runs to and fro shore supply base. 
  • Cost saving to charter an offshore tug including bunkers to support the warebarge throughout the drilling campaign.
  • Drilling mud and cement can be pre-mixed on board the warehouse ship and supplied promptly to the rig.
  • The large storage area of vessel will cut down on cost of warehousing at supply base, hence reducing the rental and manpower requirement ashore. 
  • The warehouse ship can provide additional accommodation for rig crew and related personnel if required.
  • Problems and delays at congested port, supply base, custom and onshore warehousing will also be done away and as a result, huge cost savings. 
I requested our Technical Director, Sng Yeow Poo who is involved in the design and operation of this vessel to join the discussion and share his knowledge and experience.

Best regards,
Training/Project Manager
Myspread Users
Total Posts: 15
Join Date: 07/03/16

I have drilled in some very remote locations, however none supported  by a ware barge.  What I would like to bring to this discussion though, is the present day and future operations, particularly in deep and ultra deep water.

Just for the fact that an Ultra Deep Water (UDW) mobile drilling unit (MODU) is working at the edge of an offshore ocean margin implies that it will be located at least 100 km offshore or further: possibly a 48 hour transit for a supply boat.

The current trending by operators is the utilization of a monohull drillship for UDW.  World class semi-submersibles come into their own if we consider very dramatic surface sea states, in areas that monohull drillships struggle to stay within their defined operational Iimits to drill - without the requirement to disconnect and Wait on Weather (WOW).

However, whilst the semi-submersible, based on it's face merits, appears to be the preferred option for operators with drilling permits to explore in UDW, there are downsides, specifically: (i) a high end day rate and (ii) the variable deckload restrictions. (VDL)

The drillship offers enviable VDL capacity whilst undercutting most equal rated semis on day rate.

But herein lies the growing logistical problem for ambitious UDW drilling campaigns of the future, using monohull drillships.  Where to put everything ? !

With the advent of dual activity at the turn of the new millennium, suddenly there 'appeared' less deck space available than we were accustomed to prior to dual activity (single activity) and the modified supertanker hull which provided the template for the dual activity monohull is easily overpopulated on it's topsides to over-capacity.

To put the dual activity drillship deck carrying capacity into perspective (and this is generic in consideration of 6th, 7th or 8th generation new builds), consider the following:-

1)  Capacity to drill >30 000 feet below the mud line in 10-12K water depths. Translate this into tubulars to be carried onboard: drill pipe inventory, marine drilling riser, subsea wellhead system.

2) A Extended Drill Stem Test process plant, normally installed on the after deck of the vessel.

3) An extended (longitudinally) moonpool designed to accept the storage, handling, deployment and retrieval of both the subsea drilling BOP stack but also not one but a number of production trees. 

4)  All the associated capital equipment associated with lower/upper completions, maybe well intervention and most definitely well logging equipment.

5)  Latest trend as a result of 15 year old concerns regarding BOP between well maintenance in dual activity, (myself on the Saipem 10000) is the advent of the inclusion of a second fully equipped subsea drilling BOP stack, together with a mandatory HPU.

6)  Rig intrusive additions to the original capital equipment outfit for drilling in the form of some variant of a managed pressure drilling system.   This most normally supplemented additional hardware appearing now in the form of UDW riser gas handling system and early/deep water kick detection systems.

Add all of the above together and it is not unreasonable to consider that even the enviable and considerable VDL capacity of a dual activity monohull drillship is possibly going to be compromised by the sheer additional tonnage being imposed on the topsides.

......  Hence the requirement for a nearby warebarge in such operational conditions.  Clearly, such a support vessel is going to elevate the drilling campaign costs for an operator but consider the easily identifiable advantages to be enjoyed with this logistical operational set-up.

This then, gentlemen, is my take on the future out there on the edge of ocean margins and in relatively remote and hostile environments.  Hope this provides some food for thought.
Well Engineering Team Lead
Total Posts: 1
Join Date: 26/05/16
Hi Dave,
When I was working for INPEX in Eastern Indonesia we utilised a warebarge (the Ismaya from CMOS) to support our deepwater drilling activities. 
The drilling location was minimum 4 1/2 days sailing time from East Java, the warebarge was positioned in sheltered waters of Saumlaki Bay - with an 8 hour sailing time to the field, allowing a quick turnaround time.
Having the warebarge allowed us to support the rig for a year while drilling a series of exploration and appriasal wells - we never waited on equipment.
We had one INPEX logistics hand onboard who co-ordinated the loading / offloading at the barge. The load out plans from the barge to the rig were dictated by the DSV on the rig.

Major positives for the barge:
- Anchored in sheltered bay so able to work in all weather
- Able to bunker fuel
- Pits able to take brine
- Able to store bulks (barite, cement etc..)
- Able to make water to suppliment the rigs water making supply.
- Could be used for POB when we reached limit on the rig (helpful during well testing)
- Able to store large quantity of tubulars

For remote campaigns - where there is no infrastructure in place having a warebarge allowed:
- No local infrastrure required to be put in place
- The number of supply vessels to be limited (although we still used 3)
- Reliable supply chain

SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 13/11/07

Hi Dave

My thoughts from our experience are as follows, not in any particular order.

Base line for us was:
  • Rig 12-14 days sail time from land base. ( at best 10 days was once achieved )
  • + 2 hrs time difference from Rig and Operational Office
  • 4 hours fixed wing flights, then 1 - 1 1/2 hr boat transfer or 20 min Helicopter flight. 

1 Location and the expected local weather and sea states., take a look at previous years meteo reporting, and local knowledge. No point having a critical service chain support, when say 50% of the time equipment and mores so personnel transfer might be restricted by WOW, because of the barge station keeping limitation or attending vessel access.

2 Size and deck loading. Decision to be made as to what the main support requirement will be. Mud and cement bulk and or pallet ?. under cover storage for weather protection? Tubulars, required plus contingency, we were a 3 well program , but carried a 2 well contingency on board Third party equipment, eg , casing running equipment. Contingency equipment eg. Fishing packages, all of these even to cover a 1 well program take up a large foot print. Stacking will/might not be an option 

3 Management of waste, both rig and barge. This is a massive logistical issue which takes up a lot of space and process.

4 Turn around time for vessels feeding the barge and the vessels along side loading to go to the rig. Ie. Despatch time from home base, sailing time, time along side to discharge and back load, dual access to work both sides of the barge, at the same time would be a massive benefit. 

5 24 hour coverage for all personnel requirements. Let the barge marine requirements be managed by the owner. ensure 24hr radio operator coverage. 
Material management, storage, inventory etc. Managed by the Operators personnel. Logistics Coordinator, Lifting supervisor (2 for 24 hour ops), Materials man/dispatcher, 1 HSE supervisor, possibly and Environmental Observation Officer, either staff or Government.  

6 Fuel, where is this going to be bunkered, require fuel supply for rig, barge and attending vessels. This volume and the transfer system, needs a lot of focus.

7 Do not underestimate the need for accommodation. If it is very remote, essential personnel access, will require an over load above rig POB capabilities. e.g. Casing crews arriving and no bed space on rig until Directional and Geologist team can be down manned. We booked for +/- 40 beds and often had 100 beds used especially on crew change days. Rig Location and flight, fixed wing and chopper or boat transfer will dictate this.
Bulk plant for both mud and cement, crew for this will be significant.

8 The barges ability to make enough water to supplement the rig system. We duplicated and upsized the rigs system, and also the barges system and still found we were on the limit. Mind you the water in the bay was very silty and took a lot of process and filtering.

9 Oil spill contingency. This will be a big package with a large foot print. either on the barge or the work boats, do not underestimate this size and its access for speedy deployment.

10 Landing for personnel transfer. Allow for several different sizes of boats or what ever is being supplied. Modify the personnel landing heights above sea level to cover the various height differences of the boats.
Jumping and or Swing ropes do not help the HSE issues!
Ensure access is available from both sides of the barge. 

11 There are many more issues but to round off, we had massive issues with the use and management of explosives and storage. Again this is added bed space as government and military supervision was required. The companies primacy for the explosives, was not so much fishing problems but for well control contingency e.g. punching plugged strings if necessary, and perforating programs for testing and completion.

Hopes this helps

Managing Director (
Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection Ltd.
Total Posts: 441
Join Date: 10/01/05
Hi Paul

We've worked with three operators here in Indonesia that have used warebarges (or FSU, Floating Storage Unit). They all had slightly different drivers:
  1. Floating warehouse (Falcon Force): 2900 km from Javanese Shorebase, but less than 50km from a Shorebase that was used 4 years earlier; but the shoreside storage space had largely been usurped by another Department.
  2. Wareship (Trinity Supporter): followed the rig round as she hopped from remote location to remote location around the Indonesian archipelago.
  3. FSU (Ismaya): 1800 km from Javanese Shorebase; moored in calm inlet much closer to the location.  Same FSU was used during the first two campaigns.
The majority of people involved are SPREAD members and I have used the 'Forward' feature to send this to them.

I hope it helps

Best wishes


Drilling Consultant
PT Drilling Services
Total Posts: 64
Join Date: 15/09/14
Managing a ware-barge is not complicated. 

Company representative on the warebarge could be just the Material Coordinator. If the Operator has extra personnel or Trainee or Engineer, this personnel could be stationed at the warebarge to assist in identify special equipment which some Material Coordinator are not familiar with. 
The evening before or every morning, Material Coordinator will send a status report for equipment onboard to DSV.
DSV will figure out what he needed for the next 24 hr and try to get everything onboard during daytime. This is to avoid working during the night and thus requiring 2 full crew to work on the ware-barge.
Chances of sending wrong equipment is there, thus it is advisable to get the equipment to the rig, couple of hrs before it is required, the timing should be sufficient for the boat to make a round trip to get the right equipment, if the wrong one has been sent. 

Ware-barge supplier do not just rent out an empty barge without capable personnel to manage it because it is still a floating vessel. Barge Captain and Barge Control personnel are definitely included in the contract. All the Operator need is to specify the number of crane operators and deck crew required to support the 24hr operation. In a well managed operation, they only need to operate during daytime, with the exception of occasional emergency situation such as requiring certain fishing tool. 

Depending on the distance between ware-barge and rig, personnel such as HSE and Medic could be either one or two, depending on the company rules (of both Operator and the Contractor).
Boat management for crew, food and equipment can be planned ahead of time by the DSV. 
During late1980s, we were operating small workover rig on a Satelite Platform . Accomodation and equipment was on Mother Platform about two hours away. As a Trainee, I was assisting the Material Coordinator in identify the equipment to be sent to the rig. 


Drilling Manager
Xodus Group
Total Posts: 2
Join Date: 30/11/13
We had a warehouse freighter as storage for all our casing strings and sack consumables when we were development drilling offshore Myanmar in the late 90's. Our supply base was Singapore, a 14 day roundtrip with our supply vessels. Very costly if you forgot something. We had the freighter moored at a coastal town on the Myanmar / Thai border and used it as a staging post. It was in full communication with our logistics people in Yangon and Singapore, had its own crew and a Company rep. The freighter was on dayrate but had low cost as it never used main engines. It was easy to transit and moor for obvious reasons, had its own cranes and infrastructure. Very successful and cut down on the number of supply boat runs as the freighter loaded up with the total complement of casing for the campaign in Singapore and then sailed to its location. Just need to make sure you load the materials correctly in the holds, in order of usage!
Deep South Resources
Total Posts: 4
Join Date: 24/11/15
Only 1 prior gig with a "wharebarge". Presuming the operations will be for bulk / Tubluars?
Salient points as follows;
  • LAH is KEY, as is constant communication between rig & barge
  • Snr logistics rep as "Company Rep" worked well
  • Deedicated company HSE rep, facilitate training, participation in Safety program - 2nd seet of eeyees for the logistics rep - may be expensive but it works
  • Rigging - rent ALL your rigging from a reputable rigging loft
  • Simplicity & commonality of process & proceedures - must mirror
  • Inventory management - everything logged on & off

Well Control Specialist - Senior Drilling Supervisor
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 36
Join Date: 04/11/07
Scott McNeil has given great advice.
I had a warebarge on a previous project I was involved in due to remote location. It was moored close to the small shorebase logistics area we had and was managed by the shorebased logistics coordinator. He monitored everything on it as part of his overall responsibility and had a local assistant to be on the barge whenever there was any movement.
If the barge is permanently offshore with no local shorebase presence, then I would most certainly have an experienced logistics coordinator onboard as the company rep to liaise directly with the rigs OMC who would have overall responsibility of equipment in conjuction with the rig DSV.

Drilling Consultant
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 9
Join Date: 08/12/05
To resurrect this discussion. We would be interested in talking to Operators who have experience with using a warehouse support vessel (or warebarge) to support a MODU for a remote, one off exploration well. What worked well, what might you do differently? We are considering this as a concept and possible alternative to a traditional shore base, for cost and assurance. I have SPE paper 12460 (by Amoco authors in 1984!) however have been unable to find a more recent publication or case history on the subject.  
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 140
Join Date: 05/03/08
Hi Dave,

I used a ware-barge in Bohai Bay - due to a lack of deck space and variable deck load on the JU we were using.

Slightly different circumstances but lessons learned:-

- Have a Logistics Co-ordinator on board as your 'company man' and ensure that the skipper of the ware barge knows he speaks for the Operator and what he says goes.

- Depending upon how reliable and trained the crew of the ware barge are (and your Logistics chap), consider having a dedicated HSE person on board to help oversee slinging arrangements and any bulk transfers.

- Better to supply your own certified slings than rely on those that come with the barge - unless you can check them before hand.

- Try and minimise the number of boat movements between the Rig and Warebarge, the temptation is to load out what is needed for the next day or so, rather than the next week, leading to lots of 1 - 2 lift boat journeys etc.

- You will need a daily report from the warebarge - keep it simple - mainly your deck cargo and bulks, but also their consumables - to make sure they aren't running short of anything and you find out the hard way.

- If the warebarge has accomodation, try and avoid using it to prevent issues with crew transfers and things like food billing.

Best Regards

Consultant [retired Shell staff]
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 259
Join Date: 02/09/05
I would "GOOGLE" for Management of ware-barges and assess the outcome.

For meVessel stability (ballast control) and offshore Lifting & Hoisting Recommended Practices are paramount.

So the line of command should start at the Barge Captain and end up with Barge Engineers.

Mooring and handling of supply boats would be my third point to consider.
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