Visit To NOV BLM Facilities In Nantes, France
Oct 26, 2016 News Archive
While on business in Europe last month, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the facilities of NOV BLM, since they are the designers and fabricators of the jacking system used in our first liftboat design. Thanks to my gracious host, Caroline Perdriset, this visit was not only valuable, but quite enjoyable as it gave me a chance to enhance the relationship we have been cultivating for more than four years now. I didn’t take any pictures of the NOV BLM facility, but I am sure it is no surprise to anyone that they have a very nice set up. I also got to spend a few minutes with two key members of the NOV BLM team, François Desprez (Technical Director) and Gerald Mercier (Sales Manager for FPSO applications). I had the opportunity to discuss with them issues pertaining to jackups going on location and coming off location and I learned about their “production” line (mooring winches, chain stoppers, tensioners, etc.). I am looking forward to collaborating with them for our work on the XLP, a dry-tree alternative to Spars and TLPs.
I decided that rather than fly to Nantes, I would take the train from Paris to enjoy the scenery, which was as picturesque as I had imagined. To my delight, Caroline took a few hours from her busy schedule to give me a quick tour of the center of Nantes before heading to the outskirts of town, where the NOV BLM facilities are located. During this quick tour, I learned that the famous writer, Jules Verne (author of Voyage to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, among many others) was born and lived in Nantes (1828-1905).
As I was writing this article, I looked up Verne’s Wikipedia page. Having grown up in Mexico, I was aware that his literary contribution was higher than what is perceived here in the States, but I was surprised to find out that Verne’s work qualifies him as “the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare.”
Another unexpected surprise during my short visit to Nantes was that “the great elephant” was actually operational (see picture below). Caroline had mentioned this mechanical elephant to us as a major attraction in Nantes, but I had been under the impression it was only operational during a particular festival. Lucky for me, the “Machines of the Isle” company has expanded with activities year-round and now including two carousels, blending themes from Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci’s work. They have also produced a dragon and they are presently working on the “Heron Tree.”
One last point about my visit to Nantes: I had one of the best lunches I’ve ever had in France. We had lunch outdoors, on the plaza next to the Opera house. Caroline ordered two variations of a local dish with cabbage; one with salmon and shrimp and one with pork. They were both terrific! This was followed by the biggest serving of chocolate pudding I have ever seen (which thankfully I didn’t have to eat all by myself, as it was eventually taken from table to table).
I am looking forward to playing host the next time Caroline is in Houston. I am planning to take her to my favorite taco truck (on Durham just north of I-10) and having my daughter prepare dinner for her next time she is in town. The entire experience reminded me that we are in business with people, not entities.
Thank you, Caroline!