First oil-dispersing jet aircraft to launch in December

Wendell Roelf

By Wendell Roelf

SALDANHA BAY, South Africa (Reuters) - Oil Spill Response, a venture funded by the world's top oil firms, plans to launch two jet aircraft later this year that can be deployed rapidly to tackle spills in most parts of the world, the firm's chief executive said on Thursday.

The company has equipped two Boeing 727 aircraft with equipment and chemicals to break up spills. It said they are the first jets to be used in such a way.

"We'll officially launch them in Houston at the beginning of December and are in the final stages of testing," Robert Limb, chief executive of Oil Spill Response, told Reuters during a visit to South Africa.

The planes will be based at Britain's Doncaster airport and can be dispatched to oil spills shortly after they are reported.

Oil Spill Response has shareholders including Shell, ExxonMobil, BP and Total, and has responded to more than 400 spills over the past 30 years, including the Exxon Valdez off the Alaskan coast in 1989.