Petroleum Helicopters is negotiating a joint venture with Brazil’s TAM to support the growing Brazilian offshore market. The joint-venture company reportedly plans to begin operations by year-end with Sikorsky S-76s, while the longer-term plans include the addition of the larger S-92.
The impetus behind the partnership has been Brazil’s 10-percent annual growth in the sector over the past five years. Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras reported shuttling 65,000 passengers to and from oil rigs last year. The country’s leading offshore operator, Lider Aviacao, reported $339 million in revenue in 2009, with increasing activity expected once exploration of the Pre-Sal oil field begins.
Offshore operations are forecast to double by the end of the next decade. The joint venture project is being driven by profit margins of nearly 20 percent–roughly four times that seen by TAM Airlines’ holding company, TEP, in its air carrier operations. The current obstacle is a lack of qualified flight crews, leading to speculation of TEP establishing a flight-training center at São Carlos.