July 18, 2018 / 1:01 PM / a year ago

Equatorial Guinea targets CHC Helicopter in compliance crackdown

MALABO, July 18 (Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea has told petroleum operators including Exxon Mobil to cancel contracts they have with Canadian-based CHC Helicopter for failing to implement local content laws meant to create jobs, the oil ministry said on Wednesday.

OPEC member and Africa's third-largest oil producer, Equatorial Guinea's national content regulations of 2014 state that agreements must make provisions for capacity building and give preference to local companies when awarding service contracts.

"These laws are in place to protect and promote local industry, create jobs for citizens... and we are aggressively monitoring and enforcing compliance of these requirements," said Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the minister of mines and hydrocarbons in a statement.

The ministry has given oil companies operating in the Central African nation 60 days to unwind existing contracts and find new suppliers, with only those companies found in compliance allowed to bid for contracts.

CHC Helicopter specializes in providing transportation to offshore oil and gas platforms, among others.

"We expect all companies operating in Equatorial Guinea to follow the laws of the Republic... (and) as minister I will not hesitate to enforce the law to ensure compliance," Obiang Lima said.

In response, CHC Helicopter said it has operated in the country for almost two decades and built one of the most comprehensive training programmes, which includes pilots and engineers, of any oil and gas contractor working.

"CHC is confident we are in compliance with Equatorial Guinea's National Content Regulations," Brian Banco, global communications senior manager said in an email.

He said the company welcomed further discussions with authorities planned for this week. (Writing by Wendell Roelf, editing by Louise Heavens)

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