The oil and gas boom off WA's northern coast is again paying off for one of the world's biggest providers of helicopter services, Bristow.
The company's Perth-based Australian arm returned to pro- fit in 2012-13 after achieving an 8.9 per cent increase in revenue to $153.3 million but keeping the rise in operating costs, at $132.1 million, to just 3.4 per cent.
Financial accounts filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission state that Bristow Helicopters Australia reported a $2.2 million net profit for the year to March 31, its first since 2010-11 when it recorded a $3.7 million surplus. In 2011-12, Bristow reported a $1.6 million loss before paying a $6.5 million dividend to its parent.
Bristow did not declare a dividend after its 2012-13 profit.
Bristow employs more than 420 people in Australia, most of them in WA to service bases on Barrow Island and at Broome, Exmouth and Karratha. Its fleet of 23 helicopters last year clocked up 12,328 hours of flight time.
The financial accounts do not provide a commentary on Bristow's full-year performance.
But as the biggest provider of helicopter services to the local oil and gas industry, Bristow will be benefitting from a surge in drilling activity off the Pilbara and Kimberley coast as companies spend big on exploration and the drilling of development wells for LNG projects such as Chevron's Gorgon and Royal Dutch Shell's Prelude.
Woodside Petroleum this year plans to drill five exploration wells off WA. Bristow has also positioned itself to service the Great Australian Bight, where BP, Chevron and Santos hope to unearth a new oil and gas frontier when drilling starts in 2015.