Gas Patch Merger

Avatar for Vertical MagBy Vertical Mag | August 6, 2013

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 12 seconds.

 
Helicopters flown by Gemini Helicopters and Airborne Energy Solutions (AES) are a familiar sight over the oil and gas wells and pipelines of northern Alberta and British Columbia.
Recently, the two competitors became partners when Gemini Helicopters bought Airborne Energy Solutions from Nabors Canada in April, and saw its fleet expand to 67 aircraft, comprising 58 helicopters and nine fixed-wing aircraft. 
“Nabors Canada had a change of policy and decided to divest themselves of non-core assets, including their aviation business,” explained Gemini president and founder, Roch Dallaire. “They invited bidders and we were successful in our bid to purchase all assets and contracts of Nabors Blue Sky, including Airborne Energy Solutions. We plan to merge the companies in six to eight months.”
The Canadian helicopter industry has a long history of mergers and acquisitions, with this purchase an example of a small private operator buying a much larger entity. 
Gemini Helicopters was founded by Dallaire in 1998 (as Big Rock Helicopters), with a Bell 206 JetRanger and a Eurocopter AS350 D AStar serving the forestry sector. In 2000, it was renamed and expanded into oil and gas work. 
Airborne Energy Solutions began in 1985 as Aerial Recon Surveys, with a single Robinson flying pipeline patrols and serving remote oil and gas well sites. It became Airborne Energy Solutions in 2006, when it was bought by Nabors Canada to become the foundation of its Nabors Blue Sky service business (the purchase did not include Aerial Recon Inc., one of Canada’s largest Robinson dealers). 
Gemini’s contribution to the recent merger is 25 helicopters (16 Robinson R44s and one Bell 204, one Bell 205A-1, one Eurocopter AS350 SD1, one AS350 B2, three AS350 BAs and two Eurocopter EC120s), as of mid-July.
Airborne Energy Solutions’ contribution is 33 helicopters (21 R44s, six Bell JetRangers, one Bell LongRanger, two AS350 BAs and three AS350 B2s), and nine fixed-wing aircraft (one Beech B35, one Cessna 208B, four Cessna 172s, one Cessna U206F, and two Piper Navajos).
Combined, Gemini/AES operates the third-largest helicopter fleet in Canada (after Canadian Helicopters Limited and the Allard Group — comprising Helicraft, Heli-Excel, Heli-Inter and Mustang Helicopters), and flies one of the largest R44 fleets, with 36 in service. 
But this is more than a merger of aviation companies, as Gemini and AES are not just helicopter operators, but also oil field service companies; Nabors Blue Sky alone maintains 3,000 oil and gas wells in Western Canada. More than 30 percent of the combined company’s business is providing pilot operator and maintenance support to a long list of oil and gas customers. 
“A pilot operator really has two jobs,” explained Dallaire. “One is to fly a helicopter, and the other is to operate remote oil and gas wells that are not accessible year round by road. “During a typical day, our pilot operators might make 20 landings and four or five engine starts an hour, which is why the work is well suited to the R44.”
The balance of the Gemini/AES fleet is used for forestry, aerial firefighting and charter work, and the fixed-wing aircraft are used primarily for aerial surveillance.
“The merger will provide us with a higher level of organization and greater management depth to help us emerge as a much stronger company,” said Dallaire.

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