NPD Introduces New Emergency Measures

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has introduced new emergency measures in the event of a helicopter accident in the safety zone or emergency evacuation of an installation which results in personnel ending up in the sea. The NPD says rescue equipment must be on site in 30 minutes or less. This decision has been made as a temporary measure which will be in force until improved survival suits have been developed for use on the Norwegian shelf. A new and improved suit is currently under development and will be tested in the sea in late autumn.

So-called area emergency preparedness has been introduced on parts of the Norwegian shelf in recent years. Area emergency preparedness entails an improvement of the emergency response service for large portions of the Norwegian shelf.

A new generation of standby vessels has been developed as a consequence of this area emergency preparedness, and helicopter services have been strengthened.

Monitoring of the sea around the installations has also been enhanced as a result of this requirement. The NPD is very pleased with this positive trend.

In connection with the establishment of area emergency preparedness, great emphasis has been placed on ensuring that personnel who end up in the sea are protected against hypothermia and drowning. This has led to a discussion of the quality of the survival suits, as well as response times for rescue equipment such as standby vessels, MOB boats and helicopters. The Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) set up a task force including members from OLF, the Norwegian Shipowners' Association and the trade unions with members in the petroleum industry. This group has now considered issues related to survival suits and rescue response time. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has participated as an observer.

OLF is of the opinion that if certain criteria are met, including the quality of the survival suit, personnel in the sea must be rescued within a period of 120 minutes. On the task force's initiative, a number of tests were run this summer on the survival suits currently in use on the Norwegian shelf.

These tests have provided important new knowledge on survival in rough seas. The conclusion is that the current survival suits probably do not provide enough protection in the event of exposure to rough seas. (The survival suits used in the petroleum activities are approved in accordance with the current criteria).

The NPD has now ordered all operating companies on the Norwegian shelf to immediately implement the necessary measures to ensure that rescue of personnel in the sea can commence in no more than 30 minutes. The NPD has forwarded this order to all operators on the Norwegian shelf.
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