HeliHub.com understands from reliable sources in the offshore helicopter industry that oil company Nexen Petroleum is the principal behind the acquisition of two Airbus H175 helicopters to be operated by Babcock MCS Offshore. We approached Nexen to validate their involvement, but their Corporate Communications lead in Aberdeen declined to comment. Babcock also declined to comment, but was able to confirm that a press release on the H175 addition to their fleet would be forthcoming at the appropriate time.
The pair are due for delivery within the next two weeks and will be registered G-MCSE and G-MCSF. Both are expected to fly in the colours of Babcock – dark blue over white with gold stripes between. A poor photo has already been circulated on an online forum apparently showing this scheme. Babcock carried out some tests with a yellow Airbus demonstrator H175 at their Norwich base between 29th October and 5th November 2016.
The involvement of an oil company – whether in purchasing helicopters outright, or being the lead lessor with a leasing company – would be a first in the North Sea market. It would also bring new discussions on the separation of responsibilities between Nexen as owner and Babcock as operator, with the latter providing pilots and maintenance only – particularly if the oil company picks a different operator at the end of a given contract period. This model is a little more typical in the onshore market, with sister company Babcock MCS Onshore already flying EMS helicopters in the UK in this way, including a night-capable EC135T2e owned by Midlands Air Ambulance.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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