Oil exploration and production operations have expanded in the shallow and environmentally sensitive waters in the northeast area of the Caspian Sea, calling for new and innovative methods for oil spill response countermeasures. Water depths as low as 0.6 metres and ice conditions for up to 5 months of the year, present severe planning and response challenges.

Agip KCO is in the process of testing air-cushioned vehicles (ACVs)—also commonly referred to as hovercraft, for both Emergency Escape and Rescue (EER) and oil spill response operations.

Two such ACVs were sited in the Caspian Sea during 2003 for trials. Tests included boom deployments, skimming operations and general operational criteria. Further trials are planned in 2004, to assess suitability for use within reed bed areas and their benefits over other, more conventional craft in this special operating environment.

This paper describes the trials carried out 2003 and their results, together with a review of the issues that are to be addressed

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