State-owned ONGC issues 18-aircraft requirement with foreign firms free to bid

India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is seeking bids from civilian helicopter operators for 18 aircraft that are required to support its fast-growing offshore oil operation.

ONGC relies mainly on government-owned Pawan Hans and private carrier Global Vectra to supply helicopters, but is re-competing all its existing contracts plus looking to expand its Mumbai-based fleet.

Industry sources say government-owned ONGC is expected to stick with Pawan Hans' Eurocopter AS365N1s for its eight-seat requirement, although private companies are also free to bid for this 10-aircraft contract. A separate tender for eight 12-seaters is more open with several private companies vying for the contract.

Government-owned ONGC now relies mainly on Mil Mi-172s for its higher-capacity missions, including three from Pawan Hans and one from the Indian air force, which has been used since last year when a Mi-172 supplied by Mesco Airlines crashed.

Sources say ONGC wants to stop using the 20-seat Mi-172s and switch to a larger number of 12-seat Western-built helicopters.

Pawan Hans plans to acquire two medium-size helicopters this year that could fill this role. The company is evaluating the Hindustan Aeronautics Dhruv, Bell 412 and Eurocopter AS365N3. It already operates three N3s.

Overseas operators are free to submit bids to ONGC, but must partner with a local company. Global Vectra, Pawan Hans and United Heli Charters, which now operates eight helicopters exclusively for private oil companies, are believed to be the only Indian companies which meet ONGC's requirement of significant offshore experience.


Source: Flight International