Shell flies in $30m for air support

The first pieces of support infrastructure to back up the burgeoning Browse Basin oil and gas industry have arrived, with Royal Dutch Shell committing $30 million to underpin a dedicated search and rescue helicopter service out of Broome.

Shell, which is developing the pioneering Prelude floating LNG project, is committing the funds over an 18-month period.

It will enable CHC Group to keep a helicopter and medical and engineering team on round-the-clock stand-by at Broome International Airport. Medical Rescue Air Ambulance will provide the paramedic crew.

The helicopter will have a travel range of 300 nautical miles from Broome.

Shell would not disclose the value of its commitment, which industry sources have put as high as $30 million. It is thought other Browse players, including Woodside Petroleum and Inpex, may also sign deals with CHC for access to the search and rescue helicopter.

"As a result of the Prelude FLNG project, our activity offshore in the region is increasing," Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith said.

"This combined medivac and search and rescue service ensures we are ready to respond to an incident quickly.

"Both Shell and CHC see this service as a key part of the growing oil and gas industry in this region and we hope to welcome new partners to the service soon."

Although the helicopter is a reflection of the heightened oil and gas activity off the coast of Broome, Shell and CHC say the service will be available to the broader Kimberley community when not used by the industry.