Browse chopper flights to ramp up

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Oil and gas giant Inpex held an information session at the Broome Heliport last week to discuss increased helicopter movements to the Browse Basin as it moves into the next phase of its Ichthys LNG Project.

Inpex’s offshore central processing facility, the Ichthys Explorer, arrived earlier this week and the oil and gas company is moving into the installation and hook-up phase, meaning a rise in helicopter travel for employees out of Broome.

While invited guests had the opportunity to voice their concerns, representatives from Inpex, Bristow, Broome International Airport and Air Traffic Control assured them of the benefits of the LNG project and the increased heliport movements.

Inpex senior external affairs officer Nicolas Wirtz told guests Broome was an essential transit point for offshore workers and had the appropriate facilities for helicopter transportation.

He said while there would be a “slight increase” in helicopter movements, the schedule would vary each day and would continue to fluctuate over the project’s lifetime.

Broome International Airport chief executive Paul McSweeney said oil and gas industries were essential for the Broome economy and the Ichthys LNG project would be no exception.

“By the end of this financial year, we’re forecasting there would have been approximately 370,000 passengers in and out of Broome,” he said.

“This number would be a lot lower if it weren’t for oil and gas.

“The biggest proportion of passengers into Broome is tourism, but the business and heliport proportion is steadily increasing, which is good diversification for the Broome and Kimberley economy. The number of jobs at the heliport have tripled during the Ichthys project’s hook-up phase alone.”

Mr McSweeney also discussed the airport’s proactive noise management procedures.

Air Traffic Control line manager Susie McGough elaborated on this, saying the helicopters would avoid all built-up areas, conditional on weather conditions, air traffic and safety.

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