The National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has terminated all Bristow helicopter services contracts with its joint partners.
This followed the accident involving Sikorsky helicopter with registration 5B-BJQ owned and operated by Bristow Helicopters Limited on February 3, 2016, which led to the suspension of the aircraft type in the fleet of the company by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
In a letter written to the Managing Director, Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, dated February 14, 2016, obtained by THISDAY, NAPIMS wrote: "Barely six (6) months after a helicopter belonging to Bristow Helicopter crashed in August 12, 2015 killing a number of persons, another Bristow helicopter, a Sikorsky S76C++ with registration 5N-BOJ that departed Erha Platform enroute Lagos ditched into the Atlantic Ocean on February 3, 2016 with eleven (11) persons including two (2) crew members narrowly escaped death." The letter, which was signed by Group General Manager, Dafe S. Sejebor said NAPIMS noted that these accidents bring to question Bristow's safety standards, "inspection programmes and frequency of maintenance, which has culminated in Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority suspending indefinitely Bristow's Sikorsky S76++ from further operations in Nigeria.'
NAPIMS therefore declared: "Accordingly, all JV/PSC companies are hereby directed to terminate all aviation contracts awarded to Bristow Helicopters in accordance with the provisions of the aviation contracts. Bristow Helicopters may be allowed to participate in bids and operate in Nigeria upstream oil and gas only after a thorough and satisfactory safety audit has been carried out and all observed lapses adequately addressed," the letter with reference number, NAP/GGM/02.04 said.
"You are hereby requested to invite the next lowest bidders in all tenders that Bristow won for price negotiations and facilities inspection with full NAPIMS participation in order to take the remaining scopes of the contracts presently being run by Bristow, the company told Total.
On February 21, 2016, NCAA issued a statement giving further directives and ordered all airlines operating the Sikorsky S76C ++ series to carry out a safety inspection on this helicopter type with immediate effect.
"The authority must immediately be provided with evidence of accomplishment of this directive. This action is in addition to the suspension of Bristow Helicopters operations of S-76 C ++ series and the ongoing audit. It is pertinent to point out that this directive is without prejudice to the ongoing investigation by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) which the Authority is fully supporting," NCAA said.