Vectra helicopter scandal opportunity for others

Vol 15, PW 22 (17 May 12) Exploration & Production

Small helicopter providers stand to profit handsomely from the decision this month (May) to ground BSE-listed Global Vectra amid controversy over a high stakes deal to supply trucks to the Indian army.

Swajas Air Charters, United Helicharters, Deccan Aviation, Heligo Charters and Arc1Charters are among the companies expected benefit from the civil aviation regulator’s decision to ground eight Vectra helicopters hired to ONGC. Expect the state-owned explorer to look to these providers for replacement helicopters for at least six months and when it issues a separate ‘emergency’ tender for long-term replacements.

ONGC uses helicopters from Vectra to ferry crew to its Mumbai High platforms and for its eastern offshore operations. Vectra executives met ONGC officials on May 8 a day after its suspension to help it find a solution.

Later the same evening the Vectra team met officials from the PMT consortium, which has two Vectra helicopters on hire, one for crew changes, the other to carry ‘materials’ to platforms. Also on May 9 the Vectra delegation met Reliance executives to discuss replacing four helicopters at D6.

Taking matters into its own hands Reliance has informally struck a deal with GSPC to share a helicopter being used at the Deen Dayal gasfield on hire from state-owned Pawan Hans. PMT executives too approached Pawan Hans but received no response as the company has no helicopters to spare.

From May 14, PMT began using a helicopter from United Helicharters and began sharing the Deccan Aviation helicopter used by Cairn India at CB-OS/2. Operators might be forced to use offshore supply vessels to handle crew changes and for production operations.

“It takes a supply vessel two hours to reach a platform but 10 minutes by helicopter,” says a source. “That’s too long in an emergency.