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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

Old 24th Sep 2006, 08:52
  #1161 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: here and there
Posts: 69
HSwhat?

chc&p,
However serious you folks in Norway are looking at HSE matters is one thing, West Africa is a little bit further "down" (not only geographicly) the line. And don't be fooled by what your customer reps are telling you. Fact is, in this part of the world they (the clients) are as much interested in Health and Safety as the helicopter operators...as long as it is on paper it's considered done. As for comparisons: How come the level of corruption is so high in Nigeria? We don't have that in our country...says the Finn. If only all the Nigerians would get together and...yeah, sure.
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 09:23
  #1162 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 61
Oh well, guess I'm just a silly guy who believe in the "system". Of course, if you want to make the system work for you, then you first have to join and participate in pushing for improvements of the basic stuff relating to the work place.

If you work for CHC, I suggest you join GHPA, to ensure that you eventually get a voice within CHC Global.

One thing is certain, all the time spent moaning and groaning on the web is only time well spent if followed up by action.
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 10:44
  #1163 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Germany
Age: 72
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I won't tell if you don't!

Who is this 'Doc Cameron' then? Another mystery! Some hawg-riding fiend with a loud shirt and an even louder mini- music system, perhaps? My personal rotary-wing Flight Instructor!

Actually, I was the Lagos HSE Co-ordinator for a while there, so that you would have thought my notions about safety would have had some weight, along with my down-range ballistics expertise. But noooo! Such is life; it seems to be about making money first and letting the rest go hang until circumstances dictate otherwise.

We all, plebs and Management alike, get locked into a conspiracy of silence in places such as Nigeria; plebs worry about losing their jobs and Management worry about losing their contracts if they ask for too much from the contractees.

Sometimes though it can seem to be a bit too much, such as when you have a bus-load of pilots, engineers, a greeny and, of course, their Nigerian driver narrowly escape death and have that dismissed as a 'one-off' rather than taken as a wake-up call. All we got was a nice chat with a Shell doctor and some little white pills to help us sleep.

This is not a Bristow or CHC problem but a human one. We want to focus on the up-side of situations, not the down-side. Profits and the 'relative' safety of Nigeria is the way to go, not 'We need to invest more in security because Nigeria is dangerous and becoming more dangerous.' Who wants to hear that, even if arguably it is so? Hence the lack, so far as I know, of any serious safety review by such as Control Risks or Kroll, the purchase of vehicles from Eisenhardt and Hess or lots more doable but possibly unnecessary things besides.

This is the sticking point with spending money on safety; you cannot prove the negative of having prevented an accident. Remember the cartoon with the wife telling her husband that she would never nag him about carrying that elephant gun again, as they were stood there on Main Street with a dead elephant?

The bad guys are not going away; they live there! And they are not stupid; just think about how they hi-jacked that helo in Port Harcourt after Warri security was increased. Good thinking! The story one abductee told about how the thugs passed their time 'wrestling, smoking ganja and cleaning their weapons' gave me a chill. How often have you seen the Nigerian forces of law and order toting clean weapons?

Come to that, I think it's pretty certain that the bad guys are interested to read our thoughts here but simply observing the comings and goings from easily-identified compounds at fixed times over set routes (all big no-nos from a safety point of view but perhaps unavoidable) and pumping the various amateur whores who are allowed easy access thereto, is there very much these villains don't know about how to attack next?
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 11:03
  #1164 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: uk
Posts: 213
Chc & proud,

HSE is that what we used to call common sense when I was young?

It seems to me that you never worked in the “real world” and are a bit naïve in your thinking (no offence intended). Companies, both oil and helicopter, will follows the rules (HSE and others) on the North Sea because they have to and can’t get away with not following them (well sometimes they choose not to follow them because they know the financial gain is much bigger than the possible fines they stand to get, IF they get caught).
Now in some parts of this planet the local authorities and other organizations that keep tabs on things like this are not as stringent and money talks (lets leave it at that).
I agree this all should not happen in an ideal world but I’m afraid it does. We pilots could / should be organized and stand up against these double standards but I think it’s easier to herd cats than get pilots united.

Greetings

Finalchecksplease
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 11:26
  #1165 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: here and there
Posts: 69
chc&p,
By all means, be a member of GHPA...have a voice within CHC Global...believe in the system...and be proud of it. Nothing wrong there, that doesn't make you a silly guy. On the other hand, not everybody here is groaning and moaning, but merely stating facts of life and getting on with it. You'll find some with loud shirts and even louder mini music systems over here...according to Chuksy. Well, we can't all be Airline Captain Look-Alikes.
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 14:03
  #1166 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Nigeria
Age: 53
Posts: 4,602
CHC&P, I think Finalschecks has summed it quite nicely. With the greatest of respect to you and your good intentions, the reality of operating in certain parts of the world is quite different to Norway. Even operating in the UK is different to Norway!

What the solutions are is not a simple exercise, though the obvious areas of pay, rotation and living conditions would score highly, accompanied by equipment upgrades including TCAS and ADS etc.

Chuks, you remember DOC; he's that chap that used to work for BHL (I agree about the loud shirts; mid life crises I suspect!) Yes, the banter was friendship btw.

DOC, if you can't analyse Chuks' nom de plume, and see where the origin might be, then I worry how you are going to cope with your course tomorrow!
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 14:11
  #1167 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 61
No guts, no glory

Life is simple. If you work hard to get somewhere, the chances of moving in the right direction increases.

Some of the pilots posting on this thread seem to me to suffer from something resembling a defeatist syndrome. You have given up without trying, or you just do not see any point in trying. Of course, I do not blame any of you for feeling the way you do, as this is your prerogative. It's just sad that you do not see how easy it would be to start working on a constructive agenda.

This reminds me of my time in the GOM with PHI back in 87-88, when US ALPA unsuccessfully tried to organise the pilots of AirLog and PHI. Lots of pilots refused to show official interest in having a pilot union established. It took years and lots of hard work before the pilots of AirLog PHI finally got organised through OPEIU.

Since then both the pilots of AirLog and PHI have made significant improvents to their labor contracts.

As you surely are aware of, our colleagues are right now in the middle of the most important battle of their lives. They are fighting for fair terms and conditions. In addition they are fighting for the survival of their young union, Local 108.

Success does not come easy. Establishing a pilots union inherently is risky business, if the corporation is hostile towards employee representation.

Questions:
  1. Are the pilots in Nigeria stuck in their positions, with nowhere to go?
  2. Are you scared of losing your jobs and become unemployed if you push for improvement?
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 14:26
  #1168 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Nigeria
Age: 53
Posts: 4,602
CHC&P,
There are two other factors involved:

1.Not all the pilots (particularly now) can see the gulf in standards, as they are not wildly different from what they are used to.

2. The boil a frog syndrome: if you drop a frog into hot water he jumps out, if you drop into cool water and slowly heat it, by the time the frog realises it's too hot it's too late!

How you perceive the water temperature is also a function of your previous experience. Several Dornier 328 pilots that came out in the late 90s, from the comfort of European regional airlines, obviously found the water too warm and bailed out almost immediately, others with more 'varied' backgrounds did not. The same for some of the rotary guys. Some people there have been 'boiled' several times over, and can no longer feel the heat!

BTW, I voted with my feet!
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 14:29
  #1169 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 61
UK vs Norway

It's true that being employed as a pilot in the UK offshore sector has some disadvantages compared to Norway.

Still, through close cooperation since 1999 we have been closing the gap. As we chat the pilots in Aberdeen are working 1-1 rosters, with annual number of working days being 182. This is based on the rosters in Norway, however without vacation days deducted.

In general I have access to detailed knowledge about the CLA's of all but one (Bond) helicopter companies operating in the North Sea, the GOM and Australia. To an increasing degree we are working closer together than ever before, in particular in Europe and the US.

Those pilots who do not fully enjoy the privilege of flying in Nigeria seem to be selling themselves short. This is not my problem, but it's still strange to observe from the outside.

If the bad stuff was sorted out, all of us would have been in an excellent position to introduce a program of a voluntary pilot exchange program between Europe, Nigeria and elsewhere.

Of course, at this point in history it is easy to see how corporate management would elect to refrain from establishing such a program due to the political implications.
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 14:56
  #1170 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
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Pilot exchange

CHC&Proud,

One of your proposals has sound foundation: Until just a few years there was free flow of pilots between European and Nigerian operations, it wasn't necessarily fair or equitable, but it happened. This was good for all, as it maintained standardisation throughout the workforce. With the advent on Business Units in one company, the gulf in salaries prevents this exchange from happening.

Cheers,
Doc
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 15:10
  #1171 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: uk
Posts: 213
Chc & proud,

I agree fully 212man answers to your questions, like him I spend some years in Nigeria and voted with my feet as well.
The reality is that now a day the majority of the expat pilots there are not ex North Sea but from other parts of this globe and in most cases they will have doubled (some even tripled) their earning compared with home. As you know money isn’t everything but it makes people less likely to rock the boat so to speak. Also another part of the divide and conquer advantage the helicopter companies have is the National versus expat pilots conditions and pay (even some of the expats themselves are on different deals). All this makes it very difficult to get people united to fight for better conditions, just look how long it took on the North Sea (UK side) to get better conditions (and that is with Balpa in place).
Hope this all explains a bit as to why “they seem to be selling themselves short in Nigeria”

Greetings

Finalchecksplease
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 15:36
  #1172 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 61
Gentlemen
Thanks for constructive and informative comments.
Regards
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 15:45
  #1173 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Nigeria
Age: 53
Posts: 4,602
Following on from DOC's comments, it is the European business unit that also suffers, as the previously abundant inflow of returning overseas pilots has all but dried up. Historically the rounding of experience for North Sea pilots came either from a military background, or from serving on overseas ops. Now, increasingly, there is a breed of pilot in the North Sea who has only flown one type from one base. That's not a healthy situation, though not one any HR manager would acknowledge as a problem (or, perhaps, those pilots on one type from one base!).
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Old 24th Sep 2006, 17:09
  #1174 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Germany
Age: 72
Posts: 1,561
Something I have always noticed in General Aviation (my revier) is how quick many people are to sell themselves and others short. The only way forward they see is to go creeping to Management, letting any thoughts of solidarity fly out the window. Well, it can seem like the 'low risk' strategy. Much later it might become clear that it was the wrong choice, but it's usually too late then. Ever turn down a proposed trip as too risky or perhaps illegal as planned, only to have some bright young thing leap into the gap without thinking? I have!

A point that CHC & P has raised is very pertinent: Where else can one go?

I was pretty well stuck in Nigeria with no papers for Greater Europe (just those for the part the Romans rejected) and no 'full' ICAO license but just a Nigerian ATPL issued on the basis of a manky old FAA ATP (not given any cred, right or wrong as that fact may be).

Too, even after nearly being shot three different ways, at least two of which would have really spoilt my entire day, I still stuck around! Go figure.

I reckon the entire process of getting a full CAA JAR-ATPL (Airplane) will have run just about 11 months, minimum, by the time it's over. That is from starting school in London in early November to now heading back to the UK to do some flight training for a Commercial Pilot Licence and an Instrument Rating. (The show-stopper is that one must do an observed IR check; it is no good just b*ggering off to the States to do a simulator check and calling that good enough. You need an observer who is usually unavailable and if he were then it would run you a cool $8 000 or so to have him come over from Gatwick to the USA.) Once I have the CPL and the IR then I can use the sim check to get a full ATPL.

Obviously, no sane person, and probably not even a loon such as I, would volunteer for this short of losing their job rather comprehensively. (Warning: Do NOT make jokes with Germans, especially stupid ones! What? Everyone but me knew that already? Oh.) No, they would rather accept the Management point of view, that the Isolo Gun Club have probably called it a day so that Kevlar curtains and a two-way radio are enough to be one's life on. Any lingering doubts, well, Star is cheap and after just two or three life, even in Isolo, looks much rosier.

Along with that 'how to boil a frog' thing, there is something else: your frog looks around to see 20 other frogs all sat there percolating, when he thinks, 'Hey, things here must be okay! Look at all the company.'

Maybe that is changing now, with more guys running away, but all the companies will have to do is drop the minimum hours required for command and then stand back from the stampede inbound. Wanna bet that wouldn't work? Faster and cheaper than trying to sort out the basic mess, eh?
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 00:49
  #1175 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 2
Hello Gentlemen,

I have been reading this thread for about 1 week and have not read much that was positive.

I will be going to Canada to interview soon, and was told that Port Harcourt, Nigeria would be the base for me. Can you guy's give me a realistic idea of what to expect as far as living conditions are concerned?
And is the security situation improving?
Also, can you post any pictures of CHC's Base?

Thank you in advance
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 03:04
  #1176 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: THE MANGROVE SWAMPS (RETIRED)
Posts: 201
Thumbs down

finalschecksplease,

I reckon you have it summed up about right. I also voted with my feet (actually I had no choice, it was because of age). I always loved Africa, but think Nigeria is quite different from any other African country to work in. After I started this thread I tried to encourage pilots from other West African countries to post, but with little success. I guess many of the pilots in countries such as Cameroun, Gabon and Congo are French with Heli Union and not readers of this forum, and many CHC pilots are reluctant to contribute, maybe for fear of being 'outed' and having problems with management in Nigeria.

Helidude,

My advice would be to try and negotiate with CHC for a different base. About the only one on a par with Nigeria for awfulness is Sudan and the incentive pay for those 2 countries is not nearly as much as it should be when compared with places like Equatorial Guinea or Cameroon. If you're looking at CHC, the housing is pretty lousy with little-or-no sporting facilities. As you may have read on this thread, the company has recently purchased a run-down housing estate from a bankrupt company in an undesirable part of town, It has stated that it will be moving all staff there next year (much against the will of many) and from what I hear this is now being used as an excuse to carry out no improvements to their present leased housing stock. Apparently the Vice President, Safety, from Vancouver visited a few weeks ago and met with the staff, but nothing has been heard back since his visit (I stand to be corrected on that by those still out there, but that's what I hear). The company awarded a pay rise of 4%, but nothing on the Incentive Pay for Nigeria. Looking over what's been written, this has led to such a shortage of pilots that aircraft are now frequently being left in the hangar on a regular basis. The old catering arrangements were changed earlier this year and an outside catering company was brought in for the first time. I'm told that the food is now of a lower standard than before, though with over 20 different nationalities, it's difficult to please everybody. Any CHC pilots out there, please update us on what's happening now.
The security situation has eased a bit as it seems the government have managed to arrest a number of the leaders responsible for the recent spate of expatriate kidnappings (more than 50 in Nigeria this year). However, with Presidential elections coming up in April 2007 and a mega-row going on at present between the President and Vice-President, the security situation is likely to deteriorate considerably in the next 2 to 3 months. The difference with this election is that there are a lot more weapons out there in the hands of the criminal gangs than there were last time. If you decide to go, maintain a very low profile.

Bristow are no better in Port Harcourt. Their pay rise was also pathetic and their housing estate is in another unsavoury part of town - because it's cheap (though it's not as bad as the part CHC is going to move to). They have lost so many pilots this year that they're already in a crisis. Friends there say that their management have finally noticed this and may be prepared to finally do something about it. NEO may well enlighten us on this.

Oh well, back to my sad existence. I hope one day to read some positive news that things are improving for the pilots of both companies in Nigeria, preferably before my eyesight is too bad to be able to read this thread any more
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 03:39
  #1177 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 2
Thank you so much for your response. I would really appreciate any information regarding CHC and Port Harcourt that people in the know might have.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 09:08
  #1178 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 61
Good information for outsiders

I've been commuting between Norway and Cape Town for 1,5 years now, due to family commitments down south. Compared to Nigeria, despite the social and political challenges in South Africa, Cape Town seems like the Garden of Eden in comparison to Port Harcourt, Lagos etc.

To all of you who share your experiences and knowledge from Nigeria, thanks a lot. Your postings are enlightening and informative. At times they give reason for great consern for the safety and well being of colleagues working in the region.

It is easy to conclude that I will not appy for a position in Nigeria any time soon.

I just wish there were ways to assist our colleagues with regards to the issues of operational standard, security and creature comfort. Alas, it might come in the category of spitting in one hand, wishing in the other.....

As several of you have indicated, you voted with your feet. This would probably be the most effective way to motivate management to initiate a process leading to constructive changes.

The risk scenario is obvious: You may be replaced by Nigerian pilots or other expats.

Nothing wrong with Nigerians flying in Nigeria, quite the contrary. However, you might end up without the job you actually did enjoy just a bit, or worse, you might end up on the street without a job.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 15:16
  #1179 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 71
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Listen up Bristow boi's!

World
Security costs threaten oil contractors in Nigeria
By Ed Jones + Agencies
Sep 16, 2006, 11:43

Oil servicing companies in Nigeria’s violent delta region are having to shoulder rising security costs or consider walking away from essential engineering and drilling work with oil and gas multinationals.

Executives say the extra costs for companies that undertake exploration, drilling and engineering operations in the oil and gas industry could slow the completion of projects and affect oil and gas production targets.

Security analysts say militant attacks on facilities in the world’s eighth largest oil exporter this year – which have shut down a quarter of Nigeria’s output – followed by a wave of kidnappings of expatriate oil workers, have intensified efforts by multinationals to shift the burden of risk on to their service contractors.

“There is a trend among the multinationals to try and divest themselves of the risk,” said Roger Brown, a director at Erinys International, a private security company which recently opened for business in Nigeria. “And the bottom line for the contractors is that there are other places to do business with less risk.”

Violence in the delta has pushed up costs for all the companies operating there, from the multinationals – which already spend millions of dollars on security – to the many servicing companies which range from global giants such as Schlumberger and Halliburton to small specialist companies.

But now even the smaller servicing companies face increased annual costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for security.

Willbros, a large US engineering contractor which has worked for multinationals in Nigeria including Shell, the country’s largest oil producer, announced last month it would divest its Nigerian interests. The company had abandoned some projects after nine of its expatriate workers were kidnapped for weeks by militants this year.

Mike Curran, the company chairman, said hostilities meant “commercial and operating risks” in Nigeria exceeded “acceptable risk levels”. Berger and Bilfinger, a relatively small German construction contractor, has also halted operations after one of its expatriate workers was kidnapped.

Fears of disruption to the industry were compounded this week when oil industry labour unions held a two-day strike in protest at the government’s failure to improve security in the delta.

Nigeria’s oil is mainly produced from onshore sites in the Niger Delta region, but multinationals are turning to more expensive deep water projects to meet production targets partly due to the security threat in the delta’s swamps and creeks, which often serve as militant hideouts.

“The higher costs mean slower access to oil and gas reserves. They mean the industry as a whole is turning towards deep water operations, and ultimately more expensive oil,” says one managing director of a major international servicing company in Nigeria.

Security analysts say the multinationals have been shrinking their overall security umbrella, which normally includes responsibility for evacuation procedures, calling for military support and threat assessments and placing more responsibility on their contractors.

Service company executives say they are spending more on surveillance and remote sensing equipment, and police protection in order to guarantee their working relationship with the multinationals and keep their insurance costs down.

But security analysts say there is often confusion between multinationals and contractors over who is responsible for what, leaving some service companies exposed.

“Although there is unity of purpose in terms of the wider security picture between client and contractor in Nigeria, it does appear the contracting companies are under increasing pressure to provide their own tactical security measures,” says Ian Pilcher, Nigeria’s country manager for ArmorGroup, a leading international security company.

In a statement Shell said it expected its contractors to “meet Shell security policies and guidelines in delivering security at operating locations”.

Total, a French multinational, said it was asking contractors “to co-ordinate more rigorously on the logistical aspects regarding security”. Chevron and ExxonMobil, another US oil giant, did not comment, save to say they took security issues seriously.

Source: FT
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Old 26th Sep 2006, 10:34
  #1180 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Lagos
Posts: 245
Bristow Changes Track?

There are rumours in Port Harcourt that Bristow are now losing so many pilots that they will shortly be announcing a new deal, including 6/6 and an increase in the local allowance. It may be a case of too little, too late as a number of their crews have already signed contracts with CHC, which in addition to already offering 6/6 offers the possibility in the future of transfers to other overseas contracts - something which Bristow's refusal to do has been a contributing factor in a few pilots leaving already. There are also rumours of a few changes in the upper reaches of management, though I doubt that their best national pilot will be given the responsibility or recognition that he so richly deserves - yet again. It will be interesting over the next few months to see if theyb really do have the will to make the changes they need this time.
CHC is still getting new pilots almost every week and with new helicopters like the AW139 arriving soon, all their 76s nearly-new C+s, and more new N3s coming, even more pilots will be looking to leave Bristow and fly more modern equipment than tired, 30 year-old Bell 212s and early generation 412s.. The 212 may be a nice old museum piece, but in the crowded environment of Port Harcourt, there should be no place for any helicopter without a a decent GPS (preferably with moving map display) and TCAS/TCAD.
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