OSLO, Norway – Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) Norway says operators of offshore facilities in the Barents Sea must take into account the region’s unusual climactic conditions.
Although strong winds and waves become less frequent farther north and east, all parts of the sea are subject to rapid weather changes, PSA points out, including sudden development of Polar lows and fog.
Fog occurs frequently in the summer months, particularly around Bear Island where cold ocean currents flowing south from Svalbard mingle with the warm Gulf Stream moving north.
The reduced visibility can hamper helicopter traffic in the region, while the Polar lows often form along the edge of the pack ice.
“Polar lows arise quickly and bring a lot of snow,” said PSA far north specialist Arne Kvitrud. “Drilling operations can be interrupted at short notice. Unfortunately, predicting such phenomena is not easy.”
The absence of reliable weather forecasting services for the region is due largely to the limited number of observation sites in the Barents Sea.
“Although weather satellites provide a good overview, you need measurements on the ground to secure a reliable forecast,” Kvitrud stressed.
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