Shell companies in Nigeria have supported an indigenous company, Caverton Helicopters, to upgrade its fleet with more advanced aircraft, the AW 139. By providing a loan of $85 million, Shell Nigeria empowered Caverton to place orders for six AW 139s, making it the largest operator of the aircraft in Sub-Saharan Africa. Two aircraft would be used for Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), while the rest would be used in the operations of The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
“This is a giant step for a Nigerian company,” said SNEPCO Managing Director, Chike Onyejekwe as the two helicopters were commissioned at the Caverton terminal at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on 1st of March. “We began the journey in 2010 when we awarded the biggest aviation contract to a Nigerian company. Both Shell and Caverton have worked hard to take the contract to a higher level, and the story will get even better in the coming years not just for our companies but also for service providers in the aviation sector and the wider economy.”
The Chairman Caverton Helicopters, Aderemi Makanjuola, said: “In the two years since we signed the contract with Shell, we have grown from a company with a staff strength of 90 persons to over 500, creating a pool of highly skilled Nigerians that can work anywhere in the world. The support we have enjoyed from Shell is a lasting testament to Nigerian content development.”
The General Manager Capacity Building in the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Taiwo Elegba and Director, Air Worthiness Standards of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Patrick Ekunwe, commended Shell and Caverton for the milestone in implementation of the Nigerian Content Development Act, and introduction of modern aviation services in the country.
The AW 139 is a new generation twin-engine helicopter that incorporates the latest technology for safer and more economical operations. It seats 12 passengers with a state-of- the-art cockpit to reduce pilot workload and cabin air-conditioning as well as more luggage capacity. The four AW139s will commence operations for SPDC in April. Caverton will repay the loan from the proceeds of the contract it executes for Shell.