UK firm Griffon Hoverwork has signed an agreement with Kazakh state oil company KazMunayGas subsidiary KMGSS to clear oil spills and support offshore rigs in the Caspian Sea using hovercraft. 

Signing of the agreement took place as International Trade Minister Greg Hands visited the UK Pavilion at the Astana Expo. 

Supported by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT), the agreement will introduce Griffon Hoverwork to new markets. 

The deal has the potential for future contracts worth more than £100m for new hovercraft that will support approximately 70 jobs in the Southampton area. 

Griffon Hoverwork managing director Adrian Went said: “This agreement on enabling work for using hovercraft in the Caspian Sea is a huge step for Griffon Hoverwork and the UK.

"This will help ensure that our UK-based engineering will help tackle the major challenges in the region."

“It's been great to have this meeting and signing, with the support of the Department for International Trade, ensuring that our UK-based engineering will help tackle the major challenges in the region.”

In the recent years, Caspian Sea witnessed a drop in its water levels causing a large part of its area inaccessible to ships.

With its ability to move over shallow water without disturbing oil spills, the hovercraft serves as a suitable vehicle for resupplying oil rigs in the area and also to carry out cleaning operations. 

Griffon Hoverwork noted that in the first step it will carry out an environmental impact assessment, with a technology developed in collaboration with Southampton University to confirm that hovercraft will not impact local ecosystems.

Image: International Trade Minister Greg Hands at the Astana Expo. Photo: courtesy of Griffon Hoverwork.