Helicopter Operators Set For Take-Off As Oil Drilling Picks Up

Article title
A pickup in offshore drilling is swelling the orderbooks of the handful of helicopter operators that shuttle oil workers to and from remote rigs.

Reuters

June 3 (Reuters) - A pickup in offshore drilling is swelling the orderbooks of the handful of helicopter operators that shuttle oil workers to and from remote rigs. Their stock prices, depressed after Big Oil's recent spending cuts, could also be readying for take-off.

Bristow Group Inc plans to invest $1 billion this year to procure just some of the 300 new helicopters that Barclays estimates will be needed by the oil and gas industry over the next five years.

"We will invest more in this one year than in the last two-and-a-half years combined," said Jonathan Baliff, the chief financial officer of Bristow who will take over as CEO on July 31.

"To invest a third of our market capitalization in one year is one way of saying we are optimistic of the future."

With a market value of $2.7 billion, Houston-based Bristow is the largest of the niche group of companies that supply helicopters to the oil and gas industry and, increasingly, for search-and-rescue missions.

As oil majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell have announced spending cuts after years of double-digit percentage growth, investor appetite for auxiliary services has waned.

Bristow's stock has fallen 6 percent in the last six months. Shares of Era Group Inc, a competitor, have fallen 11 percent, while CHC Group Ltd has lost over a quarter of its value since its shares were floated in New York in January.


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