27 February 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – Caverton Helicopters, a leading provider of aviation services to the oil and gas sector in Nigeria, will from next month, expand its operational reach beyond the country when it commences a five-year contract with the Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO).
The contract was won through a competitive bidding process and is the first international contract to be applied for and won by the company.
Caverton Helicopters is a Nigerian company that started an intra-city helicopter service in Lagos in 2004 but has grown steadily into a dominant player in the oil-and-gas aviation niche market.
Mr. Remi Makanjuola, chairman of Caverton Group said: “This is a major leap for our company and for Nigeria.
“As a company, it furthers our goal of becoming the premier offshore logistics service provider in sub-Saharan Africa. But it also shows increasing confidence in the competence of Nigerian companies and it aligns with the economic diplomacy advocacy of the Federal Government.”
Under the contract with Cameroonian firm, Caverton Helicopters would provide onshore pipeline surveillance and passenger transfer services to COTCO, a special venture for extracting and transporting crude oil from the Doba oil fields in Chad, a landlocked country, to neighbouring Cameroon via a 1,070 kilometres underground pipeline that runs through three pump stations, a pressure reduction station, and an offshore export terminal.
COTCO, owned by ExxonMobil, Chevron, Petronas of Malaysia and the governments of Chad and Cameroon, is operated by ExxonMobil.
Caverton Helicopters is also expected to provide aviation logistic services that would be dedicated mainly to secure the Cameroonian end of the multi-billion dollar project but would also be available for passenger services for the project, according to the Managing Director of Caverton Helicopters, Mr. Sola Falola.
The five-year contract will kick off on March 1, 2012, with a possibility of extension for another four years.
Caverton Helicopters was initially set up to bridge the gap in on-shore helicopter services in Nigeria, but with the temporary closure of the Port Harcourt International Airport in 2006, the company moved offshore to provide passenger transfer and logistics services to oil and gas companies and oil service companies, including NLNG, Amni, TSKJ, DBN, PGS, Transocean, and Traffigura.
For five years, the company invited major oil companies to audit its facilities and services, eventually passing the Shell audit (which is seen as the industry benchmark) in 2009.
However, the biggest break for the company came in 2010, when Shell awarded Caverton Helicopters (alongside its partner, Dancopter of Denmark) a five-year contract for the provision of six AW139 helicopters, after a rigorous and competitive bidding process.
This contract was the largest ever awarded by Shell to any indigenous company in Nigeria.
The following year, Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited also awarded the company a three-year contract for the deployment and operations of three helicopters in the Niger Delta region.
Since then, other major clients of the company have included the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Safety & Administration Agency (NIMASA), Intel Logistics, West African Ventures Nigeria Limited, Pacific Drilling Limited and the state governments of Lagos, Osun, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom.
Services provided by Caverton Helicopters range from aerial surveillance, passenger transfer to fleet management and third party maintenance, VIP charter and other ancillary services.
Caverton Helicopters, a member of the Caverton Group, has steadily built its capability and reputation in the last decade through continuous investment in quality staff and state-of-the-art infrastructure, processes and systems.
It currently operates out of a 10,000 square metre flight facility at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, a 9,000 square metre facility in Port Harcourt, and also from the Shell bases in Warri and Port Harcourt.
The company operates the only heliport in Lagos metropolis (Victoria Island); it has 18 aircraft in its fleet, comprising 15 helicopters and three fixed wing planes. It has about 500 staff members, 90 per cent of whom are Nigerians.