The purpose of this paper is to examine conditions relevant to evacuation and rescue of personnel from facilities operating in the Barents Sea. The paper considers the area from the Norwegian coast to Bjørnøya (Bear Island) in the north and the new border with Russia in the east. This corresponds roughly to the area that is open for exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea.
Pertinent meteorological observation data is collected from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The data is used to evaluate evacuation and rescue under the observed conditions. The probability and effect of ice accretion on vessels, in particular lifeboats, is considered. Ice accretion on lifeboats is possible and could threaten stability if the lifeboat has to ride off a storm while waiting for a weather window that allows rescue of the passengers.
Meteorological conditions in the Barents Sea are such that existing equipment like life rafts, escape chutes, davit launch lifeboats and 1st and 2nd generation standby vessels may not be appropriate for the prevailing conditions during winter. Access to reliable weather forecasts is paramount for operating in the Barents Sea. Responsible personnel onboard facilities operating in the Barents Sea should be competent in the interpretation and understanding of weather forecasts and the implications the conditions may have in an evacuation and rescue situation.