CHC Helicopter has secured what is believed to be the largest helicopter service contract ever awarded in Australia with a A$300 million ($294 million) five-year deal from Woodside Energy's Australian operations.

The contract has up to four years of extension options, pushing the potential value to A$500 million.

The work, which was previously performed by Bristow, will start from June 2011. It will see CHC operate four 19-seat Eurocopter EC225s and two 12- to 15-seat AgustaWestland AW139s based at Karratha in Western Australia, serving the north-west shelf oil and gas region. During the contract term it is expected that two of the aircraft will be moved to bases along the north-west shelf as required.

CHC says it will invest around A$150 million to provide the helicopters, spare parts and base infrastructure. Around 150 jobs are expected to be created, primarily at Karratha. Several growth opportunities exist for additional aircraft and bases over the term of the contract, says CHC.

The win comes as CHC moves its Australian base from Adelaide in South Australia to Perth in Western Australia to be closer to the state's booming resources industry.

"We play a significant role in the offshore oil and gas industry globally and our goal is to increase our presence in one of the industry's fastest-growing regions," says Rick Burt, managing director of CHC Helicopter's Australian operations, who took over the Australian operation of the Canadian group in June with the task of growing the business.

CHC operates more than 30 helicopters in Australia in the resources, search and rescue and emergency services sectors, employing more than 400 personnel at 20 bases around the country and in East Timor.

In late 2009, the company reviewed its Australian operations and sought buyers for its emergency services and search and rescue business, but identifies opportunities in the sector with plans to grow the operations, according to Burt.

CHC provides search and rescue operations for the Royal Australian Air Force and search and rescue and emergency medical services in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. As well as growing the Australian operation, Burt is tasked with aligning it more closely with CHC's global operations.

Source: Flight International