Competition among North Sea oil- and gas-field support providers will increase next year with the take-off of Bond Offshore Helicopters (BOH).

The new company will fly Eurocopter AS332L-2s under a $400 million, 10-year contract from BP Exploration. Bond will provide crew change services for BP from Aberdeen beginning in August 2004 (Flight International, 17-30 December 2002).

Brothers Peter and Stephen Bond set up the original Bond Helicopters, which still flies as part of Norway's Helikopter Service within the larger Canadian CHC Helicopter operation.

BP's move ends the CHC Scotia/Bristow duopoly that emerged from the 1990s consolidation of the North Sea's UK sector. CHC, which also owns British International (formerly British Airways Helicopters), competes with US-owned Bristow Helicopters, part of Offshore Logistics.

BP Exploration chose BOH over incumbent CHC Scotia, which received 40% of its business from BP Exploration. During 2002 the contract was worth around $50 million to CHC Scotia, and would have represented about 6% of earnings in 2004-5, says Toronto-based financial analyst Raymond James.

The deal may not herald a move to long duration contracts, however. BOH head of commercial services David Wilson says the use of new helicopters contributed to BP's decision to place a 10-year contract, compared with the typical five-year agreements that latterly have replaced previous 24- or 36-month arrangements.

The Bond brothers also run the on-shore Bond Air Services operation, which has taken delivery of about half of the 15 Eurocopter EC135s it is acquiring for emergency medical services, law enforcement, and other utility operations.

Source: Flight International