Over the years, the aviation logistics support service of the oil and gas industry was dominated by foreign companies until the local content policy introduced by the federal government, which opened the door for Nigerian firms to become major players. Chinedu Eze writes that indigenous firms are consolidating to strengthen dominance in the sub-sector.
The local content policy of the federal government introduced in 2010 and designed to build the capacity of indigenous firms so that they would secure more opportunities to participate in the business, helped indigenous helicopter companies to become major players in the oil and gas aviation logistics support services.
Aero Contractors (wholly owned by Schreiner Airways of Netherlands then) and Bristow Helicopters were the dominant aviation logistics providers for the oil and gas industry for several years, until other players joined the market. It took a long time for fully Nigerian owned companies to play dominant role in the sub-sector.
But following the local content policy of the federal government so many things happened. Some foreign helicopter companies that were not giving indigenous pilots and engineers critical responsibilities like commanding flight operations and appointment into management positions started doing so.
That was also the time a Nigerian was appointed the Managing Director of one of the major helicopter companies in Nigeria, Bristow. So since the introduction of local content policy, Nigerian organisations have been holding major contract in logistics services in the oil and gas sector.
Elin Group and Aero Contractors
A fortnight ago Elin Group and Aero Contractors were at the Dubai Air Show where the former made a firm order for three Bombardier Q400-8 aircraft, which delivery would start from next year. The order was aimed at consolidating the market by the two companies, which plan to collaborate in providing services to the sector.
THISDAY spoke to the Managing Director of Elin Group, Dr Caroline Pritheesh, who said that the company is investing in different sectors of the nation’s economy, including aviation.
“We are into oil and gas, maritime operation and aviation and many more to come. We are a very rapid growing and expanding company at the moment. We are not very old but I wouldn’t say we are new. We are trying to get into the industry as a very prominent and predominant company. That is us as Elin Group, we have several projects going on at the moment, we have ventured into different phases of the projects and it is looking very good and we are looking to being very successful very soon.
She said that Elin Group is investing hugely in aviation, creating jobs and supporting the economy.
“At the moment we are already into aviation. We are into private charter businesses. We have our own 604 Challenger and we are into the operation, full fledge and it has been going very well. We intend to bring more private jets for local and international service. We don’t intend to go into scheduled operations; we are totally into non-schedule private jet charter basis.
“This is the first part of aviation we are into and we are going very well. We are trying to expand in that horizon, but the second part of aviation is the IOC logistics, which we are going to use our aircraft. These are the two things we are looking at; we don’t intend to do anything else. But now we are trying to go into the same thing that we are doing, the two concepts that we are holding on to, one is the private charter, and the other is the logistics (oil and gas service). So we are trying to move in to the same category with our resources and Aero’s expertise and our competence, we are going to grow and I believe this will be very successful,” Pritheesh said.
She said Elin Group parent company, Belemo Oil is already consolidating in the oil and gas sector and that explains why the company wants to play major role in providing aviation logistics service in the sector.
The company has also concluded plans to work with Chevron and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) from next year.
“At the moment we are just working with our parent company, which is Belema Oil. However we intend to work with Chevron and LNG from next year. We are having three aircraft now, so we intend to grow from there and in future secure the contracts of other oil and gas companies because I believe that Elin Group has the capability, the resources and the competencies that any international oil company requires over here. So we are trying to have a targeted niche market, we have basically segmented this part and we are targeting that niche market and we are trying to explore in that angle,” the Managing Director of Elin Group said.
Pritheesh said that Elin Group has strong partnership with Aero Contractors, which has invaluable experience in aviation logistics services and has also maintenance facilities with golden experience in conducting checks on Bombardier Q400-8 aircraft up to D-check.
“Aero Contractors is our technical partners. They are going to be the ones actually maintaining and managing the entire execution process of the logistics. They will maintain our aircraft and they will also manage the logistic process between IOC (international oil companies) and us in Africa.
She said that the company is looking to expand its logistics services in the oil and gas sector in Africa, so Nigeria is not the only scope of the market but the region.
She said that there is no doubt that Elin Group would be successful in the oil and gas sector because of the company’s efficient operations and competences that are highly renowned, adding that another unique quality of the company is that it provides elite service to its clients.
“I want to introduce my CEO at this moment, the CEO of Elin Group is Dr Elizabeth Jack Rich. She is a person with a very dynamic and a very broad vision. She really has a unique picture of how Elin Group future will be. Now, the first thing here is that she is the only female CEO in this aviation industry. So that is the first thing that we are contributing to the company. And the second thing is that Elin itself means elite, so we are there, we have a class, and whatever we deliver, we deliver with a class. That is the vision of the founder of the company. Competence and elite services are our first unique value proposition; that we have a class, we have an elite way of dealing with our B2B processes. And the other thing is that we are the ones who are going to purchase new Q400 for the IOCs, which is one of the requirements,” she said.
Confidence in the Economy
Pritheesh said Elin Group has confidence in Nigeria’s economy and that is why the company is committing huge resources to invest in aviation and other sectors of the economy.
“When we put our leg into a particular circle or field we are sure of success. Before we put our feet inside, we know why we are putting our feet, whether we will be able to stay in or we will be pushed out. So, before we put our thoughts into a particular project, we will surely have a business plan, a projection towards our future. So without knowing if we can achieve our vision, we wouldn’t even create a roadmap. We wouldn’t have our goals and objectives straight. As I said, my CEO always has a very clear picture of the future and she is so intelligent that she wouldn’t put her mind into something she cannot do. And we believe that we have all the resources and competence put together with the expertise around us in the industry. That is what will surely help us to sustain the investment and bring back profit. I believe this is going to be a very straightforward part to achieving sustainable competitive advantage,” she said.
The Elin Group Managing Director said that the company may in future go into the downstream of the oil and gas industry, but that would be after it has consolidated in logistics services.
“We do have some plans of going downstream but that will be our next plan and next design or execution. When it gets there we will surely let you know. Most probably with the provision that we have, especially my CEO, we surely will get there,” she added.
The CEO of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, had earlier told THISDAY that the oldest aviation company is working with Elin Group to deepen stakes in the aviation logistics services.
“Elin Group Limited is a growing, privately owned energy conglomerate with headquarters in Nigeria and footprints across the West African sub-region. They have been in business for some time and they have showed a lot of interest in logistic support for oil and gas. And they have also been into private charter business for a while. So they have showed interest in the logistics support for the ever-growing oil and gas industry, especially for the local oil and gas companies.
“Aero Contractors came in as support to their foray in the oil and gas sector. This is because we have the experience, the expertise; we also have the manpower to support their vision. So we came up and have an agreement where we will support their fixed wing and most likely their rotary wing also. We are already in collaboration in their rotary wing and their fixed wing operation. So we are there to support them, we are there to provide at least line maintenance and all other logistic support,” Sanusi said.
He said Aero is very proud of the partnership.
“So it is a partnership that we are very proud of and I believe with the local content policy, because it is a Nigerian company, and with us with the experience, we will bring it up to a level where they can stand on their own and provide the logistic support for the oil and gas industry,” he said.
According to him, the whole thing is a form of support and collaboration between the two companies.
“Where we cannot provide a service or because we do not have the capacity to provide the equipment, Elin Group has the capacity to provide the equipment and then we have the expertise to support the equipment. So everything is collaboration and everything is supportive,” Sanusi added.