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Best Practice Project Award Winner: Britannia project, Central North Sea

Sponsored by the Construction Best Practice Programme of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

A massive change of culture in procurement methods rendered a marginal project fully viable.

Offshore construction costs had to be cut substantially from petrochemical industry norms to make the Britannia gas field viable. This was achieved and all members of the budget-beating team were rewarded with a share of the savings.

Partnering, benchmarking and a host of acronyms are bandied about to demonstrate that this or that scheme is setting new standards in project delivery.

According to the client, it set out five years ago, along with the designer and contractor to 'be different and change everything we do'. Development of the marginal Britannia gas field 180km north east of Aberdeen has reached the point where it delivers 8% of the UK's total supply.

This cultural change hinged on eliminating the traditional methods of work where parallel teams from the client or designer constantly checked the work of contractors. With Britannia, clients Conoco and Chevron created a totally integrated alliance with design contractor Amec, drilling contractor KCA and fabricators Kvaerner and Odebrecht.

The alliance had collective responsibility for cost and performance and members were rewarded with a large share of savings against budget from the entire supply chain. The client received 55% of the savings and 45% went to the contractors.

The overall result was that what had been considered a tightly estimated £1.5bn project was delivered £300M under budget and was in production in August last year some two months ahead of schedule.

A key aim was to cut the cost of a tonne of topside steel construction from the industry norm of between £26, 000 and £32, 000 to £20, 000. The final result was £19, 500/t. Along the way, the team marked up one of the biggest single offshore deck lifts, at 11,000t, an enviable safety record, and more than 98% reliability in the finished product .

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