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An aerial spray to protect coastlines from oil spills

Agile Spray Response

Technology and safety standards have made oil spills rare, but when they do happen, the effects can be economically and environmentally devastating.

Footage from disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 show the havoc that can be caused to animals, habitats and coastlines by these events, which also inflict a heavy reputational cost on the countries and companies involved.

Based in London, Agile Spray Response offers technology to manage and resolve oil spills at sea using an aerial spray delivered by large jet aircraft. Already in use by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the technology is being marketed globally to potential clients in Australia, South Africa, Brazil and the Middle East.

Already in use by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the technology offered by Agile Spray Response is an effective method to clean up oil spills.

BGF’s investment

Agile Spray Response was spun out of RVL Group, a specialist aviation business in which BGF invested in 2014. With BGF’s support, Agile Spray Response is marketing its aerial spray technology internationally.

Break up the spill

There are four prime methods to respond to an oil spill at sea, explains Phil Cole, CEO of Agile Spray Response.

One is to monitor it, do nothing, and hope the oil doesn’t reach the shoreline. Another is to burn the oil, though this is potentially dangerous unless the burn is carefully controlled. A third option is to remove the oil using booms and mechanical equipment carried on vessels.

Agile Spray Response offers a fourth option: treat the oil with a spray and disperse it.

“What we do is effectively break up the oil spill using dispersant,” says Cole. “This helps stop the oil reaching the coastline, where it causes the most damage.”

The company’s technology is an innovative aerial spray system – CONVERT400 – that can be fitted into a commercial cargo plane such as a Boeing 737. In the event of a disaster, the system is rapidly loaded – roll on and roll off – onto the aircraft and delivered to the spill site.

“What’s vital is that the aircraft is ready to treat the oil within the first 24 hours,” he says. “After that, the ability to disperse the oil diminishes rapidly.”

BGF's investment is helping the business...

Market its aerial spray technology globally to potential clients in Australia, South Africa, Brazil and the Middle East.

Global environmental commitments

The company’s technology was developed by RVL Group, a specialist aviation business that received investment from BGF in 2014. Agile Spray Response was spun out of RVL to market the technology internationally – and has received additional investment from BGF to do so. It has completed advanced testing in Cornwall and elsewhere in UK waters to demonstrate the technology’s capabilities.

“Although spills are less common than before, there is a greater focus than ever on the environmental impact they can have,” says Cole. “There is growth in societal awareness, government commitment and corporate responsibility to be environmentally responsible.”

One advantage of the system is that it does not require an aircraft to be set aside exclusively for its use. It can be loaded onto a cargo plane as needed. In the UK, the Boeing 737-400 aircraft that is equipped to carry the system has a day job as a cargo plane, carrying post between Edinburgh and Belfast for the Royal Mail. Cole says that the aircraft carrying the system can be converted from a cargo aircraft to an aerial dispersant asset in three hours.

This is a world-leading environmental technology, invented in the UK, that we are taking global.

Phil Cole, (far left) CEO of Agile Spray Response

£13.5m

BGF has invested £13.5 million in Agile Spray Response

In the nation, for the nation, by the nation

There are many countries where Agile Spray Response’s technology would be a valuable, cost-effective means to achieve oil-spill readiness. Such preparation is being mandated in most nations with coastlines by the International Maritime Organisation, a specialist agency of the UN.

The principle established by Agile Spray Response is that an effective national capability must be in the nation, for the nation, by the nation. This principle requires partnerships with in-nation aviation operators, and working alongside governmental agencies and departments to develop a bespoke service.

Being in nation ensures that there is full integration with national contingency plans and that the organisation and operation is built on the foundations of local expertise and knowledge.

“This is a world-leading environmental technology, invented in the UK, that we are taking global,” says Cole. “Any nation with a coastline that could be threatened by oil spills would benefit from CONVERT400.”

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