Helideck Certification Agency Signs UAE Deal
Aberdeen-based Helideck Certification Agency – a firm which has been with us since the first incarnation of HFI – has signed contracts to establish a new venture in the United Arab Emirates.
The new operation will be conducted in collaboration with the Al Yaseah Group in Abu Dhabi, and is expected to launch early in 2018.
HFI has supported chief executive officer Alex Knight and his team throughout the process, from identifying potential joint venture partners to drawing up, in conjunction with its local legal partners, the legal contracts that will allow HCA to operate in the UAE.
In addition to its headquarters in Aberdeen the firm has satellite offices in England and Norway. The Middle East operations will be led by Andy Tulloch, a long-standing and experienced member of the team who is now based in Abu Dhabi.
Widely regarded as a world-leader in its field, HCA is responsible for the inspection and certification of helidecks on all forms of offshore vessels and installations in UK waters. It also provides consultancy services to oil companies, helicopter operators, platform constructors and aviation authorities worldwide.
HCA always had plans to internationalise its operations: its staff travel extensively, so it was logical to have a few strategic bases around the world to reduce the level of travel.
The current downturn in the oil industry, with everyone focused on cost savings, forced HCA to move plans forward a little quicker. Alex said: “We decided that if the rigs and ships were no longer present in the North Sea, then we needed to find out where in the world they were present.
“Everything pointed towards the UAE, where the market is even bigger than the North Sea. There are currently 300 helidecks in that region, compared to 218 in UK waters so we believe there is a huge amount of potential there for HCA.
“We have known HFI for many years and the firm’s knowledge of this region is second to none. We are currently working on a roadmap of registration and certification that will allow us to operate in Abu Dhabi, and we expect that to reach fruition in January.
“In addition to providing all the legal services, HFI identified the best match of local joint venture partners that would be able to support the industry we are involved in. I believe we have an excellent fit with Al Yaseah Group, especially since CEO Khalid Alqubaisi has an aviation background.”
Alex said HCA will approach its expansion into the Middle East on a slow and steady basis, scaling up with staff as and when required. Initially it will focus its work on writing manuals for new aluminum helidecks which have been introduced in the region and conducting site visits.
HFI managing partner Hugh Fraser added: “HCA is an excellent example of an ambitious North Sea company identifying and acting on an opportunity to grow in the Middle East. Although a relatively small operation in terms of its physical size, HCA offers a unique proposition which will fill a gap in the market in the UAE.
“We are delighted to have worked with Alex and his team throughout this journey and look forward to a long and successful relationship in future.”