Evacuation and rescue in the Barents Sea, Critical issues for safe petroleum activity
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3.1 A briefing on the objective of the work All year petroleum activity is not possible in the Barents Sea with regard to emergency preparedness unless sufficient attention is given to critical factors influencing evacuation and rescue. The objective of this thesis is to examine conditions relevant to evacuation and rescue of personnel from facilities operating in the Barents Sea. We are concerned with the boundary between situations that we can manage within emergency preparedness, procedures, technology and the situations where we may not be able to expect success. Certain situations may not be covered by emergency preparedness procedures due to conscious decisions that are made in the process of risk and emergency preparedness analysis, the selection of acceptance criteria and situations of hazard and accident. Limiting factors can be identified within the areas of human, technology, operational or organisational perspectives. Experts are normally aware of the limitations that are “designed into the system”. Limitations should be dealt with openly and honestly within a risk management regime. 3.2 Information about the limitations of the report The report considers the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea north of the Norwegian mainland, south of Bjørnøya and extending eastwards towards the Norwegian/Russian border that came into effect in 2011. This corresponds roughly to the area that is open for exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea. 3.3 A briefing of the methods that are used Emergency preparedness for the petroleum activity in the Barents Sea is examined based on: • Risk management theory: Risk Analysis, ALARP, Emergency Preparedness Analysis and Defined Situations of Hazard and Accident (DSHA). • Examination of literature pertaining to emergency preparedness and survival in cold climates and remote areas. • Performing analysis of barriers using event trees, bow ties and networks to identify critical issues related to successful emergency preparedness. • Examination of information gathered from relevant accident investigation reports related to maritime and aviation accidents. • Performing interviews to gather experience from operations in the Barents Sea and to triangulate the results of analysis and calculations. • Performing example calculations relevant to evacuation and rescue. 3.4 The most important results Every effort should be made to prevent the need for emergency preparedness resources and if required, evacuation, survival and rescue equipment should perform satisfactorily in order to eliminate or reduce injury and loss of life. Weather conditions in the Barents Sea are such that certain critical technical solutions may not be appropriate in some circumstances. Immersions suits are critical to survival of persons in the sea and should be used with caution outside of the design envelope. Helicopters are equipped with floatation systems that may be insufficient in sea states that are currently accepted for transport flights. It can be difficult to rescue persons from lifeboats in harsh weather and this may pose an extra threat to survival if ice accretion threatens the stability of the vessels. The useful operational window of equipment and a person’s ability to use the equipment should be known and activities should be planned within this envelope. 3.5 Major findings and conclusions The lack of infrastructure and long distances combined with the climatic conditions of the Barents Sea lead to challenges that require special consideration and management. Performance requirements related to medical evacuation of ill or injured persons will be challenged as activity moves further north and away from mainland Norway. Compensating measures will need to be implemented to ensure that the need for emergency preparedness resources is reduced at the same time as improving access to these resources as the need cannot be eliminated. As work has progressed on this thesis, it has become increasingly clear that it is insufficient to only consider the traditional regimes of emergency preparedness within the area of evacuation and rescue. In the case of an accident involving many injured persons, there is a challenge with regard to the capacity of the public health services in Northern Norway. This is further aggravated by large distances and limited resources for transportation. In order to prevent the loss of life, the availability of emergency health services onshore must be considered when evaluating the total acceptability of petroleum operations in the Barents Sea. Increased awareness of the physical and psychological limitations of a person and the limitations of evacuation, survival and rescue equipment is required combined with improved planning of activities based on this knowledge. Departure criteria for helicopter transport should be developed to ensure a reasonable prospect of rescue under the prevailing conditions during the flight. Ice accretion remains an issue that requires attention particularly for emergency response vessels, lifeboats, fast recovery daughter craft and man overboard boats. Emergency response vessels should be designed to retrieve lifeboats from the sea in a broad range of sea conditions and as far as reasonably practicable be able to perform this operation close to the limit of the conditions that can be anticipated. Improved access to medical assistance onboard the facility is required due to distance and unpredictable weather conditions. Improved health requirements and screening of personnel who will work on facilities in the Barents Sea is recommended. All year activity everywhere in the Barents Sea is only possible if comprehensive risk analysis is performed, the ALARP process applied and necessary measures are put in place to compensate for the specific challenges of the area. 3.6 Recommendations for further work Research helicopter ditching and accidents in the sea to identify critical issues related to escape and survival in order to improve helicopter underwater escape training. Research voluntary safety training involving developing tolerance to cold water and dealing with a stressful environment during escape from a helicopter and subsequent survival in the sea. Evaluate the benefits compared to current helicopter underwater escape training. Develop a decision support tool based on a comprehensive set of departure criteria for helicopter flights. Develop a civilian helicopter in flight refuelling system (HIFR) suited for use in the Arctic. Develop suitable methods for evacuation in cold climates where sea conditions can vary from calm to violent storm or even hurricane in open water conditions to many varieties of ice types and cover.
Master's thesis in Risk and Safety management