Choppered: Downdraft for the offshore helicopter business

  • The offshore oil industry fuels demand for offshore helicopters, so the market booms and busts with the price
  • Even with many new offshore projects being approved for investment, a new report highlights too much capacity in the helicopter business
  • It forecasts growth and $18bn of revenue to 2023, but that is unlikely to keep the offshore workhorses busy
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The revival of the oil industry has been come down the pipeline in sticky lumps, with the offshore sector taking longer than the onshore frackers to pick up the pace.

That shouldn't surprise. With the price per barrel up from the $30 basement to the mid-$70 range, the drilling and fracking of short-run wells in the back of America's beyond can be fired up with a small amount of robust drilling kit, on the back of a couple of trucks.

Similarly, if the price drops, the fracking klondykers can cap their wells and depart.

But with much higher costs to get in, and much less flexibility about bailing out, the offshore sector doesn't do wild swings from boom to bust and back - not like the ease of the guys in the Permian basin of Texas or the barren Bakken terrain of North Dakota. When investment decisions are in the billions, they have to be approached cautiously.

However, investment decisions for offshore have been getting green-lighted this year. The total value of offshore projects being approved has gone up 71 projects with a total value of $61bn to 124 projects this year, with a value of $96bn, according to ....

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