Babcock secures five-year Santos offshore contract


Babcock Australasia has been awarded a five-year contract by Australian energy company Santos to transport personnel to and from oil rigs in Karratha, Western Australia.

The helicopter operator will fly workers in two AW139 helicopters to Santos’s offshore oil rigs starting from 1 July 2019. Babcock will also provide crew change, emergency support and 24/7 medevac services from its hangar facility in Karratha.

Andrew Cridland, managing director of aviation offshore at Babcock Australasia said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our exceptional customer service, flexibility and focus on safety to another major Australian oil and gas company.”

Australia has the largest helicopter fleet of any country in Eurasia, with Japan and China having the second and third largest fleets. Despite the oil and gas downturn, China, Japan and Australia have been growing their fleets year on year since 2015. China especially has seen substantial growth, resulting from multiple large orders over the past few years, including an order for 100 Bell 407GXPs by Shaanxi.

Cridland added: “We are preparing to begin operating on 1 July, and I look forward to seeing Babcock’s AW139s and the talented team who operate them, servicing the transportation and safety needs of Santos.”

Babcock first entered the Australian offshore transport market in 2013 – setting up Babcock Australasia. The subsidiary currently operates medium, super-medium and heavy helicopters from its facilities in Truscott, Barrow island, Darwin and Timor-Leste. It is now one of the biggest operators in the region.

David Ruff, CEO of Babcock Australasia said: “Safely transferring over 10,000 passengers and 30,000 kilograms of freight each year for the Australian oil and gas sector is a significant feat for our offshore business, and their record in safety and peerless customer service is why Babcock Offshore is the long-term strategic partner with several major oil and gas companies. I see this contract as the beginning of a new long-term strategic partnership that will support Santos in its future growth and operational excellence,”

At a time when fellow offshore oil and gas market leaders are being scrutinized – notably Bristow and PHI for lax financial reporting and unsustainable debt respectively — Babcock has been had a relatively uncontroversial year.

However, the group’s helicopter business was targeted by an anonymous short seller in October. The anonymous writer claimed that Babcock overpaid drastically for the acquisition of helicopter operator Avincis in 2014, leading the group to write down the value of Avincis’s assets. But the impairment predict by the short seller was lower than expected.