Piper Alpha was an oil manufacturing platform within the North Sea operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Limited. It started manufacturing in 1976, however on July 6, 1988 it was the positioning of the world's most deadly offshore catastrophe.

An explosion and ensuing oil and gasoline fires destroyed the platform, killing 167 folks, together with two crewmen of a rescue vessel. Only 61 employees escaped. 30 our bodies have been by no means recovered.

The complete insured loss was about $three.four billion, and on the time of the catastrophe, the platform accounted for roughly ten p.c of North Sea oil and gasoline manufacturing.

A big fastened platform, Piper Alpha was located on the Piper oilfield, roughly 120 miles (193 kilometers) northeast of Aberdeen in 474 ft (144 meters) of water. It was made up of 4 modules separated by firewalls, and for security causes, the modules have been organized in order that essentially the most harmful operations have been distant from the personnel areas. A later conversion from oil to gasoline processing broke this security idea, with the end result that delicate areas have been introduced collectively; for instance, gasoline compression occurred subsequent to the management room – this performed a task within the accident.

Although the Cullen Inquiry discovered Occidental responsible of insufficient upkeep and security procedures, no legal prices have been introduced in opposition to the corporate.

The inquiry resulted in 106 suggestions for modifications to North Sea security procedures – all 106 have been accepted by the business. The most important advice was for the Health and Safety Executive (the U.Ok.’s physique accountable for encouragement, regulation, and enforcement of office well being, security and welfare, and occupational security analysis) to bear accountability for North Sea security, changing the U.Ok.’s Department of Energy’s obligation. The reasoning for this was primarily based on a possible battle of curiosity when one group oversees each manufacturing and security.

Timeline of Events

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12:00 midday: Two condensate pumps, designated A and B, displaced the platform's condensate for transport to the coast. On the morning of July 6, Pump A's stress security valve was eliminated for routine upkeep. The pump's two-yearly overhaul was deliberate however had not began. The open condensate pipe was briefly sealed with a disk cowl (flat steel disc additionally referred to as a blind flange or clean flange). Because the work couldn’t be accomplished by 6:00 pm, the disc cowl remained in place. It was hand-tightened solely. The on-duty engineer crammed in a allow which said that Pump A was not prepared and should not be switched on below any circumstances.

6:00 pm: The day shift ended, and the evening shift began. As he discovered the on-duty custodian busy, the engineer uncared for to tell him of the situation of Pump A. Instead he positioned the allow within the management heart and left. This allow disappeared and was not discovered. Coincidentally there was one other allow issued for the final overhaul of Pump A that had not but begun.

7:00 pm: Like many different offshore platforms, Piper Alpha had an computerized fire-fighting system, pushed by each diesel and electrical pumps (the latter have been disabled by the preliminary explosions). The diesel pumps have been designed to suck in massive quantities of sea water for fireplace preventing; the pumps had an computerized management to start out them in case of fireside (though they might not be remotely began from the management room in an emergency). However, the fire-fighting system was below guide management on the night of July 6: the Piper Alpha process adopted by the Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) required guide management of the pumps each time divers have been within the water (as they have been for roughly 12 hours a day throughout summer season) though in actuality, the chance was not seen as important for divers until a diver was nearer than 10–15 ft (three–5 meters) from any of the 4 120 ft (40 meter) degree caged intakes.

9:45 pm: Because of issues with the methanol system earlier within the day, methane clathrate (a flammable ice) had began to build up within the gasoline compression system…

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