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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

Old 23rd Oct 2006, 12:27
  #1281 (permalink)  
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I can vouch for the fact that the families of the two guards are being looked after by Bristow, as is the injured man.

What I find disturbing is that after the attack we were told by our client that we are basically on our own. This has since been restated. They look after their own, not contractors. It was highlighted at the time when the injured man was refused treatment at the Mobil clinic and the gates of MHE/MGH were locked immediately.

What goes around comes around.
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Old 23rd Oct 2006, 16:54
  #1282 (permalink)  
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I think it is absolutely unconscionable that the helicopter operators & oil companies do not take the security situation seriously. There are companies out there like Blackwater in the USA & Combat Solutions in South Africa that could provide excellent & professional security. Most of the criminals engaging in these kidnappings for ransoms have I.Q.’s consistent with the magazine capacity of their weapons. Human life is meaningless to them. If they were foolish enough to try to raid a compound protected by one of the above companies, if they survived, the word would quickly spread to avoid messing with them.

The employees there also need to view the situation realistically. If the companies refuse to provide adequate protection, seek employment elsewhere. Being alive & unemployed is better than being employed & held hostage or murdered.

Maybe when all their aircraft are sitting idle, the security situation will be taken seriously. Yes, they would cost money but the cost is well within the oil companies’ ability to pay. A human life cannot be replaced.
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Old 23rd Oct 2006, 17:48
  #1283 (permalink)  
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Stan Switec,

Not a chance in the world that the Nigerian government and military would let a foreign company come in and do physical security (not security advisors, they have been there for a long time).

Good Man In Africa,

Is that the same client that would count on you guys to fly them out of trouble if the proverbial hits the fan?
I remember that the “Shellies” were buying a lot of rounds at the bush hut when the situation in Warri was reaching boiling point but just to illustrate their way of thinking one Shell wife told one of my colleagues wife that in case of a evacuation she would be last to be airlifted out, because she was a contractors wife!
One guess who would have been on the first helicopters out if it came to an evacuation: no Shell people on board my helicopter before all the Bristow families where safe.
Glad to see Bristow is looking after the guards families.


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Old 23rd Oct 2006, 18:01
  #1284 (permalink)  
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Yes I always found it quite amazing that the 'Shellies' on the PH RA firmly believed the 212's would rush in to rescue them before the Bristow families. WRONG!

Not that it ever came to it (or even close) when I was there.

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Old 24th Oct 2006, 03:17
  #1285 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by finalchecksplease View Post
Stan Switec,
Not a chance in the world that the Nigerian government and military would let a foreign company come in and do physical security (not security advisors, they have been there for a long time).
Let the government of Nigeria drink oil then. I think with enough economic pressure they might see things differently. I spoke with a friend who works for Chevron today. He just returned from Uzbekistan. They have a private company providing security there (Blackwater). No one raiding the facility or kidnappings of Chevron personnel there.
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Old 24th Oct 2006, 05:33
  #1286 (permalink)  
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Oil worker tells of kidnap ordeal

I'm glad to hear that Bristow are doing the right thing and looking after the families of the men who were murdered.

Here's an account from one of the other hostages of what they suffered:

A kidnapped British oil worker has told how he was ordered at gunpoint to tell his bosses that one of his colleagues had died in captivity.

Graeme Buchan was one of seven oil workers freed by Nigerian militants at the weekend after being held hostage for nearly three weeks.

After his return to Britain on Monday, Mr Buchan said he was beaten and forced to call the chief executive of his employers to falsely say that his colleague Paul Smith was dead.

He told a press conference in Aberdeen: "I'm afraid the gun at my head may have uncovered a talent for acting I didn't know I had."

The claims of Mr Smith's death were passed on to his devastated wife who told their four-year-old son that his father was dead.

She said on Sunday she was "hysterical" when her husband phoned home to say he was alive and had been released.

Scots Mr Buchan, Mr Smith, Sandy Cruden and George McLean were among seven men seized from the Exxon Mobil compound in Port Harcourt on October 3.

Mr Smith, 32, and Mr Cruden, 45, appeared along with Mr Buchan, 30, at the press conference at Aberdeen Airport.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Mr Buchan described how they were beaten with sticks, slapped with machetes and feared they might never see their families again. He said the lowest point was when the men's captors told them they were to be taken to a festival to be sacrificed.

The men, who are all from the north east of Scotland and were released on Saturday, work for Aberdeen-based Sparrows Offshore Ltd. They were taken hostage with another Scot and three others when armed kidnappers stormed a bar in their Exxon Mobil compound in Eket.
If Exxon/Mobil have the attitude they do, I hope they can't find anyone willing to work for them as a contractor and have to leave Nigeria
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Old 24th Oct 2006, 06:57
  #1287 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down

This all goes to highlight the fact that if you have to work in Nigeria, the CHC benefits package really is better, because at least you have a decent medical and repatriation support package if, heaven forbid, you should fall sick or be injured in the violent nation that Nigeria is now. CHC also have a decent loss of licence and pension plan. I've been treated at the SOS clinic and carried patients they've prepared for emergency repatriation (including one CHC engineer) and can testify to the excellence of the service they give. If Bristow think that just talking about a change to 6/6 will tempt any pilots to change to them from CHC rather than the other way around, they will have to offer more than just an equal time roster. The 'old' Bristow used to have good pension and loss of licence schemes, but about all they've kept since the Americanisation of the company is their health insurance (which is no benefit at all if you're suffering from cerebral malaria and wondering if the local hospital you're on the way to will be able to do anything to save your life ). What extra measures have they taken in Eket now to improve personal security or get decent medical facilities in place if their pilots or engineers are injured in another attack?
For the oil companies to deny any responsibility in all this is morally indefensible when they know they have much greater resources than any of their subcontractors. It's also time the Nigerian government faced up to its responsibility for the personal safety of its citizens and expatriate workers who keep the oil flowing so their overseas bank accounts are kept well topped up . It's obvious that its own security forces are completely incapable of ensuring the safety of workers in the oil industry, so maybe it's time the oil companies started putting pressure on the government to be allowed to use the services of companies such as Blackwater or Combat Solutions. We all know that the chances of that happening are completely unlikely, so we have to keep up the pressure on our various employers to do much better in the provision of proper security, including having decent and roadworthy vehicles capable of running from an ambush if necessary (4 wheel drive should be the norm), properly trained security in adequate numbers (Pointer just don't cut the mustard ), decent onsite healthcare providers with the highest possible standards of trauma care (backstreet clinics with native doctors just won't do any more ), emergency repatriation insurance (no more just being stuck on a scheduled flight to Europe and being told to go and visit a hospital there). With all of that, plus a 6/6 roster and a decent salary, maybe, just maybe, there will be enough crew to keep the aircraft flying in Nigeria during the turbulent run-up to the elections of 2007.
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Old 24th Oct 2006, 16:33
  #1288 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down

Do others see the stupidity of asking - as posted above - "What extra measures have they taken in Eket now to improve personal security?"?

Do I really need to ask if discussing the measures to protect crews or even their vulnurabilities should be discussed on an open forum?

Thank god the guys are out.
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Old 25th Oct 2006, 01:23
  #1289 (permalink)  
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No, that is not a stupid question. I don't see the threat level is so sophisticated that you have to worry about them discovering the hole in your force protection. This is a simple force on force exercise. If your security makes them pay a high price, they will look elsewhere. Not only would I beef up my security, I would make sure that everyone knows how strong it is and how futile it would be to challenge that security. The opponents are not "Mission Impossible" kind of people sneaking through the air vents with their computer over ride codes.
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Old 25th Oct 2006, 06:47
  #1290 (permalink)  
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No I think it's a good question to ask if security has been beefed up. he's not asking anyone to post specifics on this site, but for people thinking of joining Bristow it would be nice to know if there had been a worthwhile increase in security. After all, the kidnappings were there in the public domain for all to see and now people want to know that something is being done before deciding if they'll go to/return to Eket.
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Old 26th Oct 2006, 14:02
  #1291 (permalink)  
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In light of the below news, I wonder what Mobile's excuse is for failing to protect their employees?

DALLAS - Oil industry behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday its third-quarter earnings rose to $10.49 billion, the second-largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.
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Old 26th Oct 2006, 15:07
  #1292 (permalink)  
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I wouls suggest the same excuses that Shell would use to justify their equally obscene profits just announced. A paltry $6.9bn for the last quarter whilst creating an ecological desert in the Delta. They should be ashamed of themselves but are too greedy and morally corrupt to care about anyone or anything else.
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Old 26th Oct 2006, 18:17
  #1293 (permalink)  
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Let's keep things in perspective. Shell managers don't eat babies, you know. Well, only on special occasions.

The Delta is a mess, alright, but how much of that is down to Shell directly is arguable. You don't suppose it has anything to do with the Nigerian Government officials responsible not paying, perhaps, the very closest attention to environmental matters, do you?

I remember seeing a pipeline erupt in flames at three regular intervals one sleepy Sunday morning, when I doubt that was Shell causing the damage.

It's too easy to reflexively blame Shell for all the problems of the Delta but it's just not that simple.
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Old 26th Oct 2006, 18:42
  #1294 (permalink)  
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Agree with Chucks that the mess in Nigeria (and some other oil producing countries) is not just down to the oil companies. It’s a lot more complex but I’m sure the oil companies are not completely without blame.
What I do know that the bottom line for them very important is and they employ different standards around the world what safety is concerned, whatever they can get away with.
I believe that the oil companies should invest more into security, not just for their employees but also for the contractors who are essential in the exploration and production of the black gold. But again they show their true colours in the current Nigerian situation.
Then again most of us have shares or pensions that have shares in those companies and indirectly the bottom line is important to us as well …


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Old 26th Oct 2006, 21:31
  #1295 (permalink)  
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You reap what you sow

Succesive Nigerian Governments share a substantial amount of the blame for the current anarchy in the Niger Delta. However, if the Oil Companies over the years, had done what they ought to have done in these areas, the situation would not have degenerated to what it is now. 'As you make your bed, so you shall lie on it'.
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Old 26th Oct 2006, 21:51
  #1296 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down

I remember, not too many years ago meeting a Shell contractor, who was doing a corrosion survey on Shell pipelines in the Niger Delta. He was telling me that he was the first person they'd ever employed to do this and some of the pipelines then were more than 25 years old.
It must be rembembered that the Nigerian government holds a 60% operating stake, through its various NNPC subsidiaries, in every oil company in Nigeria. Between them and the host communities whose land they have raped and plundered for more than 40 years, they have made the Niger Delta the mess it is today, both ecologically and politically. In any half-way civilised place the oil companies wouldn't be able to abdicate their responsibilities the way they do in Nigeria. They don't want to place their own employees in harm's way, so they expect the contractors to get out and do the dirty work for them, then say that nothing that happens to those contractors is their responsibility - BULLSH*T .

The helicopter operators seem to have adopted the same attitude to their employees. Eket staff are now staying in a hotel. That's really got the situation there under control then . Bristow pilots are working harder than ever before and still no news from dinosaur control of any changes to pay and conditions - and they wonder why they're short of crews! Guess Noddy Helder wants to keep profits really high as part of his final pay-off. How many of the Lagos dinosaurabilia have ever visited the front line (yes, literally these days) troops for a few days and got a true feeling for morale in places like Eket or Elelenwo? Still, it's certainly helping out CHC with their crewing problems .
CHC, since their take-over of Aero (actually, of course, depite what they tell their new hires, they haven't taken it over, just the old Schreiner 40% stake) have shown a naively arrogant incompetence and complete lack of sensitivity to the people they have taken over. The recent purchase of a new Stalag and a rewriting of the roster with total lack of any dialogue with all those affected, has led to even more people looking elsewhere - never mind, there will be plenty of naive, gung-ho, young shaven-heads to take their places - if they can actually hack it. Never mind, their management can at least claim they live in the same city as the troops (even if it is in a boring, very expensive, but supposedly-secure camp, miles from where the rest live).
Standards are falling in both companies (how long before Caverton is the new standard!! ) along with experience levels. The managements of both seem either terminally paralysed or uncaring about their operations in Nigeria as morale in both camps slumps to an all-time low. Yes, some of the old hard-core stay on in vain hopes of a return to the 'old days' but more people are voting with their feet as the International Crisis Group's latest report says that rising violence threatens to destabilise the country.

In summary, both Bristow and CHC managements seem to be totally paralysed and/or unaware of the increasing crisis they face as manning levels fall along with standards and security. They just don't have the b*alls any more to take urgent and drastic measures to fix the problem. The likes of Alan Bristow, Bob Schreiner et al, would have grabbed hold of the reins and done whatever was needed, but the bean-counters, yes-men, tree-huggers and bland commitee-men (and women) who run these companies these days are totally lacking the essential ingredients necessary to successfully opearate in Africa - firm and decisive leadership and moral fibre.
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Old 27th Oct 2006, 15:17
  #1297 (permalink)  
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[quote=Stan Switek;2924433]Most of the criminals engaging in these kidnappings for ransoms have I.Q.’s consistent with the magazine capacity of their weapons.

History is littered with the corpses of great men that understimated the strenght, inteligence or determination of their opponents. It is at our own peril that we underestimate the intellectual or physical capacities of these kidnappers. That is probably why they continue to get us on the cheap.
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Old 27th Oct 2006, 17:24
  #1298 (permalink)  
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And Nigeria is just littered with corpses . Several hundred this year alone

I hear that both Bristow and Aero are now so short of pilots that machines are close to being grounded because pilots are topping out (or sometimes actually exceeding) their maximum 28 day totals. That leads to additional dnager from fatigue. The cracks can no longer be papered over, but that's what both companies are trying to do.
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Old 27th Oct 2006, 17:46
  #1299 (permalink)  
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Very Very Well Said
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Old 28th Oct 2006, 13:57
  #1300 (permalink)  
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We all know that everybody is unhappy with the current situation and also with the managment of CHC and Bristow.
Maybe it is time to try and work out a better deal directly with the oil companys similar to what they do in other countries or try and organize a Union with expats and Nigerians and came up with a deal to boost moral, security, travel, living conditions, payment .
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