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Piper Alpha: 25 Years On

6 Jul 2013

Last Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster. To pay respect and remember the 167 men that lost their lives, a touching and emotional commemorative ceremony was held in the North Sea Memorial Garden in Aberdeen.

On 6 July 1988 North Sea oil platform Alpha Piper became engulfed in flames, following a major gas leak causing several catastrophic explosions. Only 62 men survived the disaster which sent the entire North East community into a state of mourning.

The UK oil and gas industry will never forget the lessons learned from the world’s worst offshore disaster. Health and safety regulations have been majorly improved over the past 25 years to ensure a similar disaster never happens again. 

Following the disaster, recommendations from the Cullen report led to extensive health and safety changes. Prescriptive regulations were substituted for goal-setting regimes, leading to the European Commission recognising the UK as having one of the safest offshore oil and gas health and safety systems in the world.

One of the many major changes is that rigs can now only burn fuel that is on board, which should prevent a similar disaster to what happened with Piper Alpha.

The oil and gas industry is extremely important to the UK, making significant economic contributions that benefit the whole country. Whilst we may be on a quest for affordable energy, it is important that safety standards are never sacrificed.

The latest Health and Safety report by Oil and Gas UK shows continued improvements to keep offshore workers safe, the number of oil and gas leaks has fallen by almost 50% in the last three years.

By remembering and paying respect to the past, we can learn and adapt to ensure future safety.

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