By Clara Nwachukwu
The Shell Group has explained that the driving mission behind its recent partnership with Caverton Helicopters is not only to grow Nigerian content in line with the Federal Government’s aspirations, but also build a local capacity strong enough to compete globally.
The Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, told journalists on the sidelines of the review of the partnership progression in Lagos last week that through this medium, Shell is able to enhance completion for better services in the aviation industry.
He said, “Our own vision for operating in Nigeria is helping Nigerian companies to develop and grow a robust business that can compete globally. This is our way of supporting the federal government’s programme of developing local capacity by taking a very small company and helping them to grow.”
The Shell boss also argued that the partnership is not about making money, but about building businesses, in this instance, Caverton and developing competition. “In the past, we only had two or three companies that can provide this kind of service to us, but with Caverton joining, we have increased the competitors by one,” he added.
Affirming, the Managing Director of Caverton Helicopters, Mr. Sola Falola, said, “The partnership with Shell is about developing capacity and national content. In terms of aviation capacity, it is the ability of the indigenous company to achieve global standards and to also perform up to global standards.”
To underscore the impact of the partnership, Sunmonu noted that Caverton has grown from 120 workers pre-contract agreements to over 500 currently, in addition to increasing their fleet from two to eight aircraft.
He maintained that with effective competition, the quality of service will significantly improve for the better, while also forcing down costs in the long run.
“Where we can help the nation in terms of improving the standard of the aviation industry, we will first of all start with those operations that we know will impact on our business and if people find that useful am sure it will then be extended to other operators in the industry,” he said.
The Caverton chief executive, who argued that the Shell contract was not the breakthrough that his company was waiting for, recalled that the company which signed agreements with Shell in 2010, had previously executed other aviation contracts for the oil and gas industry.
He revealed, “In 2006, we won the NLNG contracts, and in 2009, we started working for Total, and we actually got contracts in March 2010, before we got the Shell contract.”
He, however, admitted that “The Shell contract of course is a major boost, because of the amount and the size of the contract, it is a major boost to Caverton,” adding that since Shell is regarded as a parameter for standards in safety and quality in the oil and gas industry, there is a sense of pride in working with them.
Highlighting some of the benefits of the partnership, Falola disclosed that Caverton is now strong enough to extend its operations to the sub-region, and has now moved into Cameroon not only to offer aviation services, but also to build the country’s local capacity.
He noted that this is one of the strengths of the Nigerian Content Act, as with it, indigenous companies can grow and expand even beyond the shores to other African countries and globally to compete.
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Shell, Caverton explain aviation partnership