Emergency preparedness in Arctic oil and gas exploration
Due to an increasing interest in oil and gas exploration in the Barents Sea, it is important to identify all the challenges related to petroleum activity in that area. The objective of this thesis is to examine conditions relevant to the evacuation and rescue of personnel from facilities operating in the Barents Sea. The report considers the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea north of the Norwegian mainland, south of Bjørnøya, and extends towards the Norwegian/Russian border that came into effect in 2011.
A specific case was made to analyze the following three Defined situations of hazard and accident (DSHA):
➢ Personnel in the sea as a result of a helicopter accident (DSHA 2)
➢ Personnel in the sea during emergency evacuation (DSHA 3)
➢ Personnel injury/sickness requiring external assistance (DSHA 7)
Two scenarios were given: Scenario 1 and Scenario 2. The first scenario should have a SAR helicopter stationed on a production facility, while the other scenario should have the SAR helicopter stationed on a floating base (for instance a standby vessel).
The case study showed that land-based SAR helicopters would not fulfill the performance requirements regarding the three DSHAs mentioned above because the distances out to the actual facilities were too long. Having stationed a SAR helicopter offshore in a hangar is therefore a necessity, and placing the helicopter on a production facility is a better alternative than to station it on a floating base such as a standby vessel.
A SAR helicopter, with an operational speed of 140 knot and a 15 min. mobilization time, could in the event of a helicopter accident (DSHA 2) manage to cover 82 Nm. while rescuing 21 persons from the sea. In the event of a DSHA 7, time of response in emergency medicine, the range could be 100 Nm.
Long distances and a lack of infrastructure combined with the climatic conditions in the Barents Sea, lead to challenges that require special attention and management. Insufficient communication coverage around 70-75°N and further north cause an extra challenge in achieving a safe emergency preparedness. The poor communication coverage also has an influence on the quality of weather forecasts. A good reliable weather forecast is essential to maintain a safe and secure operation. This is however difficult to achieve today due to few measuring points in the area. An increased activity in the Barents Sea will therefore improve the situation.
Ice accretion is an issue that requires attention particularly for standby vessels, lifeboats, MOB boats and facilities. Drifting sea ice and icebergs is also something that has to be taken into consideration when operating north in the Barents Sea.
Special attention has to be given to the use of free-fall lifeboats. If there is sea ice in the area around a facility, the drop of free-fall lifeboats cannot be carried through. Compensating measures then have to be taken into account.
The challenges related to oil and gas exploration in the Barents Sea are manageable, but they require attention and the provision of suitable resources in the area. No single secondary evacuation method is currently available for year-round operation when sea ice is present. Before all-year round petroleum activity can be possible everywhere in the Barents Sea, emergency preparedness must be given sufficient attention so that some critical challenges can be solved.
It seems to be a reasonable requirement that all producing fields in the Barents Sea, including exploration drilling, have an emergency preparedness standard that corresponds to the area-based emergency preparedness.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutt for marin teknikk , 2013. , 148 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:no:ntnu:diva-21983Local ID: ntnudaim:9059OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ntnu-21983DiVA: diva2:646721
Vinnem, Jan Erik, Professor IIAlbertsen, Stine