§ Mr. Marples
asked the Minister of Technology what steps his Department have been taking to assist the development of the use of hovercraft in connection with the transportation requirements resulting from the Alaskan Arctic Oil development.
§ Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu
As a result of Government trials of hovercraft in the Canadian Arctic in 1966 and 1968 the hovercraft industry has been able, with the assistance of the Department, to develop equipment necessary to meet the requirements of British Petroleum for work in Alaska. British Petroleum was guided by the Department in the feasibility study of a further application for hovercraft which is now reaching a conclusion. This involves the carriage of large loads e.g., parts of oil drilling rigs, over the Alaskan terrain, especially during summer when the ground is unable to take large point loadings.
The Department is supporting financially and assisting technically, further developments for this area. Oil companies are being invited to witness trials of a communication hovercraft which will take place in Canada during July over terrain very similar to that of the Alaskan oil area.
In addition, commercial operating companies are being encouraged to offer their specialist services to the oil companies.