As the global demand for energy is increasing, oil and gas exploration is moving further north to more remote areas. Offshore activity in these areas is challenging. Arctic-specific environmental conditions, long distances from onshore facilities and general lack of infrastructure are some of the challenges faced. Therefore, new and more robust solutions — both on technological and operational side — are required before commencing operations safely in these areas.

In this paper, a helicopter emergency response capacity — with respect to prevailing wind conditions — for operations in the Barents Sea is studied and a method for mapping the rescue capacity in the given area is presented. The goal is to develop a method capable of assessing the probability of a successful rescue at different locations within given time requirements and under prevailing wind conditions. This is accomplished using a simulation model capable to determine how the wind speed and direction affect the search and rescue helicopter operations in the Barents Sea.

The simulation model uses historical wind data along a potential route as input for evaluating the flying time to different locations in an area under the given wind conditions. In addition to the wind conditions, the variation in recovery time, and mobilisation time is implemented into the simulation model. By running the simulation model multiple times, probability distributions of the number of personnel which can be recovered within the given time requirements are established. This information is then used to plot isocurves of equal rescue probability on top of a map of the Barents Sea.

Based on the results, it is concluded that wind conditions have significant effect on rescue capacity of a helicopter, and thus thorough weather observations should be made before establishing a search and rescue system for a given area.

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