Airport boost from wind farm contract

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 18 Oct 2017

CHC Group’s contract win with Dong Energy to serve Hornsea Project One wind farm has provided a platform to look at investment opportunities at Humberside Airport.

The company’s regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mark Abbey, said the 30-strong team at Kirmington could well be expanded, should the plan instigated in the oil and gas downturn bring further wins.

As reported this past month, the aviation services deal was landed for the first phase of what will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

READ MORE: New renewable energy record set in the UK as Grimsby has a new leading wind farm

Speaking to the Telegraph after announcing the agreement, Mr Abbey said: “It is still early days, but it is the realisation of a strategy that for us started a number of years ago. We are clearly embedded in the oil and gas market and one of the strategic aims was to start and divest the order book a little bit into adjacent markets.

“The southern North Sea coast is an absolute prime area for us to do that. We began to build a relationship with Dong Energy and a number of other renewable companies, and this announcement is the execution of that. It is clear demonstration that the guys down in Humberside have clear transferable skills that can use with both oil and gas and renewables. 

“It is the start of a journey for us, we have come into a partnership with Dong, who have been successful with Hornsea Project One, and now Hornsea Project Two. It is a real opportunity for us to start thinking, to develop and invest in the southern North Sea. We hope it is a partnership that can become stronger and stronger, and this model, this package, becomes a very, very lucrative business venture for us.”

The contract includes a transfer service to take people from shore to the wind farm, and also smaller helicopters to transfer people and tools between the turbines and substations. 

READ MORE: Government commits more than half a billion pounds to next CfD round

A combination of Leonardo AW139 and AW169 helicopters, to suit the different phases of the project, will begin flying out of Humberside's heliport from April next year. It will work alongside the new generation SOV vessels that are being built to serve the huge farms from Grimsby’s Royal Dock.

“We have done some small pieces of work for other renewables companies, but we have not secured any other major contracts out of Humberside, Norwich or Holland,” Mr Abbey said. “This business has relied very heavily on oil and gas, and this is the first real move in.

“We will serve part of this contract by introducing a new aircraft to the Humberside region. The AW169. It is smaller.

Currently, the AW139 is used for oil and gas, for crew transfer operations. We move guys offshore or to manned or unmanned installations. We will continue to do that for some of the wind farm developments, moving people in on to floating or fixed platforms, then in the smaller helicopters the AW169, we will winch them on to the turbine for production and maintenance activities. 

“The business in Humberside has gone through the downturn that has played out on the oil and gas business, though we are seeing small shoots of recovery there. By really developing this opportunity it gives us even more of a platform to look at investment opportunities we have to make if we are going to be successful.”

CHC, with a European head office in Aberdeen, is a leading provider in the oil and gas industry. Working with Uni-Fly as a sub-contractor, CHC will deliver the six-year deal covering the construction phase as well as the first five years of operations and maintenance, which are being controlled out of Grimsby.

Welcoming the award, Deborah Zost, Humberside Airport's managing director, put the contract into key numbers for the Kirmington base. She said: “Dong Energy’s Hornsea Project One offshore wind development is great news for the region and Humberside Airport.CHC and Uni-fly both currently operate out of Humberside Airport and this new contract is expected to bring around 1,800 additional helicopter movements during the 18 months of construction, with approximately 12,000 associated passengers transported that will use the airport’s facilities.”


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