A potentially important helicopter flight has taken place that could eventually help the UK North Sea oil and gas industry make much-needed inroads into cutting its operational carbon emissions.

Helicopter operator Bristow Group late last week completed a demonstration flight partly powered by sustainable aviation fuel — or SAF — which is produced from used cooking oil and household waste.

In one of the first SAF-powered flights on the UK continental shelf, the Bristow S-92 aircraft flew from Aberdeen to installations operated by BP.

In the tanks was a blend of sustainable fuel supplied by Air BP, the aviation arm of the UK supermajor, and traditional fuel.

The SAF component provides a carbon reduction of about 80% compared to the jet fuel it replaces.

Further flights are scheduled over the next two weeks with a view to SAF being provided as an option to all Bristow clients in the future.

“These first flights have given us the opportunity to demonstrate sustainable aviation fuel’s capability and benefits in offshore transportation and are a great first step in our path to reducing carbon emissions,” said Bristow director Matt Rhodes.

“We’ve seen great enthusiasm for this initiative from colleagues across our business in our engineering, pilot and ground support teams and are proud to be able to take these first steps.”

The UK upstream sector has committed to cutting its operational emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2018 levels and to become a fully net zero basin by 2050 and reducing carbon output from logistics is seen as key to helping to achieve this.

Bristow said it is also looking into other ways to reduce its carbon emissions, including an increased use of electric-powered ground support vehicles at some of its operating bases.