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THOUGHT The logistics of travel in the oil and gas industry present a unique challenge, says Gillian Upton, who explores the sector’s idiosyncrasies


t has been said that the oil and gas sector is like no other in the corporate business travel world and if you consider its market characteristics you’d be hard pressed to disagree. Organising crews to reach oil rigs in Brazil, ensuring the safety of employees in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta, avoiding car jackings in Lagos, pirates on the high seas, organising travel to a remote mining site and arranging last-minute visas for Angola are some of the challenges for a TMC managing travel to and from the sector’s key exploration and operating regions. Meet and greet takes on a whole new meaning. Don’t expect a chauffeur in a shiny limo but a bus with armed guards, whose driver has been vetted and photo sent to the traveller. Or it could be a convoy of three vehicles, with the engineer in the middle vehicle, to circumvent any vehicle breakdown or carjacking. Accommodation is also a different picture. “There isn’t a Radisson Blu,” says Paul East 32

of Wings Travel. “We’re transferring crew to heavily fortified compounds.” Travel for the workers is augmented by more ‘normal’ business trips of corporate travellers and senior level executives between key headquarters locations globally such as Houston, Singapore, Stavanger, Aberdeen, London and Malaysia. Disruptions due to adverse weather conditions or technical hitches pile on the pressure for a TMC as 28-day rotations of crews – the bread and butter FIFO (rotational fly-in, fly-out) travel – means having to have contingency plans and specialist knowledge in add-on services such as charters, heliport transfers, air freight, airport to port transfers and additional baggage. If the North Sea is too rough or foggy for helicopters to fly, for example, then alternative arrangements have to be made to re-route the out-going

crew – and the TMC may be looking for a Radisson Blu after all. Rigs can’t operate without full crews and those workers who have done their stint do not want to stay a minute longer than their allotted shift. Moreover, it is typical for workers to use early morning flights inbound and late flights outbound to avoid the cost of overnight stays. In Africa, weather isn’t an issue, but violence and corruption are the challenges. Oil exploration and drilling very often takes place in countries of abject poverty and residents want a piece of the action. “It’s a fast and changeable market; it's very complex with a high cost of failure. The focus is on cost and duty of care is a high priority,” explains Wayne Durkin of Good Travel Management, which launched a dedicated marine and energy division targeting SMEs in early November (see p46).

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The Business Travel Magazine - December- January 2017/18  
The Business Travel Magazine - December- January 2017/18  

The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...