with Jens Anders Jensen, Managing Director, DanCopter
You arrived three months ago, taking the helm of a company that has grown dramatically in the years before your arrival. What was the mission with which you were appointed?
DanCopter has been through a fantastic growth period. In 2011 we won the biggest contract in the Danish North Sea for servicing Maersk Oil and the DUC’s 15 DCS fields. A year earlier, in 2010, we had established ourselves in Nigeria through a five-year contract with Shell. Since then we also started to work with Shell from Den Helder in the Netherlands and Norwich in the UK.
These milestones significantly changed the size of the company and the way in which it operates. My mission is, rather than continuing explosive growth, to focus on operational excellence.
I bring in experience from larger organizations on the operational level and can strengthen the operational dimensions of the company and its further professionalization. The impressive growth that DanCopter experienced in the past years means that we welcomed many new colleagues and a crucial part of my mission is to ensure that we can maintain the unique DanCopter culture in the process.
On top of that we aim to, of course, continue growing the company. To achieve growth we are focusing on the North Sea area – not just Denmark, but also the Netherlands, the UK, and Norway. We are part of the Blueway Group, which has strong operations in Norway, and Norway holds perhaps the biggest potential among our focus markets.
How much of a challenge does it prove for the company to keep up with this growth and adapt to this new reality whilst maintaining the same standards?
Our values are safety, precision, and flexibility and these are governed not only by our procedures but also by our company culture.
Getting that culture delivered to our new colleagues at the pace with which the company is growing is challenging but we are confident that we will succeed.
In October 2011 two EC225 helicopters had to make an emergency landing in the British sector. How challenging is it to keep safety standards at the highest level, especially as the company grows at such speeds?
This situation was unusual. To date, no injuries or accidents have occurred on any of our projects, to either humans or materials, and I believe this is a result of our safety management system and experienced, competent, and professional staff. They are always careful and focused when performing services and place high importance on the implications of actions and the requested result. Furthermore, we closely analyze data after each flight.
I believe in the procedures we have in place. DanCopter shall continue to strive towards a record of no accidents or environmental spills.
There is no doubt that our main focus is and will be on the North Sea. In Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK we have recently won major contracts and are firmly established. In Norway we have a strong foundation together with our parent company Blueway.
We are starting up our Norwegian operations next year and have already won our first contract. Last month we started a smaller contract with Statoil out of Esbjerg.
In 2010 DanCopter was awarded a five year contract for Shell in Nigeria, with an extension option of 2 x 1 years. The contract has a annual value of USD80 million and will be served by Caverton DanCopter Nigeria, a joint-venture between DanCopter and our local Nigerian partner, Caverton Helicopters. This contract was a very important milestone for DanCopter as it proves that we can apply our services beyond our home market in the North Sea basin.
In the case of Nigeria we had a distinct customer advantage and we will continue to look for similar opportunities. These could be other places in Africa but we are not per definition looking to ‘conquer Africa.’
Could you outline the significance of DanCopter’s relation with Blueway in successfully building up your Norwegian operations?
Blueway is the 100 percent owner of DanCopter and Blueway is servicing both the onshore and the offshore industry in Norway. About half of their activities are offshore and the main part of that is done through DanCopter.
We are developing the organization and Blueway just moved its headquarter from Oslo to Stavanger in order to get closer to the oil & gas industry. Blueway won a contract last year with Shell.
We are cooperating closely and believe that our shared expertise and experience will enable DanCopter to become the preferred partner of the Norwegian oil & gas industry.
Could you share with us the state of DanCopter’s current fleet and its fleet renewal program?
Our operations are executed with material representing the latest technology. One of the key trends we see in the oil & gas industry is that exploration and production is moving into more challenging conditions globally. This increases demands for our helicopters and we have been investing accordingly in a fleet that is well suited to fly in challenging conditions.
Today the fleet represents six Eurocopter EC155 B1 helicopters and four AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters as well as several EC225s of which we will purchase several more in the near future.
The operations in the UK and the Netherlands work with EC155s at the moment. We also expect to add two AW139s to our fleet next year.
The operation in Nigeria consists of six AW139s and we will soon add a seventh. Furthermore, we are considering other types such as the AW189 and EC175 but that is for beyond the coming two years.
To which extent do you see the offshore wind sector as a future growth opportunity for DanCopter?
Our focus today and in the future is firmly on oil & gas but we see potential in wind energy. With the growth in that sector we are also looking at what we can do there.
The wind industry is not yet as mature in working with helicopters. The levels of offshore expertise are in different development stages which is only natural taking into account that offshore wind has been here for the last ten years and offshore oil & gas for the last fifty. The oil & gas industry also has more experience when it comes to setting standards to suppliers etc.
Companies in the oil & gas industry employ highly qualified specialists in the helicopter business and are very professional in their approach to the helicopter industry.
Coming from outside of the helicopter industry, I notice that the authorities prescribe standards and procedures but individual customers also have requirements on standards and procedures.
The aim of the game is the same for all stakeholders though: To have the safest flights for everybody.
Where will you have taken the company five years from now?
Over the past months I have learnt a great deal about the helicopter industry and luckily we have a lot of great and highly experienced colleagues at DanCopter to realize our ambitions!
Just ten years ago DanCopter performed its first flight in Esbjerg. Since then the offshore operation has expanded to 16 helicopters on 2 continents with the world’s most respected oil & gas companies.
We want to consolidate our new position and be a true, professional, long-term partner to the industry – not just flying ad-hoc flights. We took steps in the right direction; The fact that we now work with highly demanding customers such as Shell, Statoil, and Maersk Oil clearly underlines this.
We strive to live up to their expectations and demands in all respects.