Saturday, July 6, 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of the largest disaster in the history of offshore oil and gas industry.
On Wednesday, July 6, 1988 the Piper Alpha platform in the UK part of the North Sea was struck by an explosion which set the facility on fire, killing 167 men on board.
The platform, located in the North Sea approximately 110 miles from Aberdeen, Scotland, had 226 people on board at the time of the event. Only 61 survived. The platform was totally destroyed.
Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the disaster, David Cameron, the PM sent a letter to Malcolm Webb, the Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK in which he wrote that the 25th Anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster „is a fitting moment to mark the skill, bravery and dedicated professionalism of all those who work offshore.“
“Conditions in the North Sea are some of the harshest anywhere in the world. The work to provide the fuels we all rely on is a triumph of technical ingenuity and committed human endeavour.
In this testing environment the highest safety standards are paramount. I know how tirelessly the industry works to prevent incidents like Piper Alpha from ever happening again,“ Cameron said.
Cameronthen complimented the efforts the industry has made so far to improve health and safety “Over the last 25 years the North Sea has embraced continuous improvement in health and safety – an appropriate lasting memorial to those who suffered so terribly a quarter of a century ago.“
“We will never forget the 167 who lost their lives on 6th July 1988. And my thoughts as Aberdeen remembers its loss are with their families and loved ones, the survivors and all those involved on that tragic night.“
No room for complacency
In a separate note, the UK Energy Minister, Michael Fallon MP, said that in the quest for affordable energy it is paramount the highest safety standards are followed by everyone.
„As Energy Minister I have a responsibility in offshore safety and I know industry work tirelessly on this issue, consequently there has been a real improvement in procedures offshore since Piper Alpha, however we are facing many new challenges in what is a mature province with ageing infrastructure. With 20 billion barrels or more still to be drawn from the UK’s North Sea fields we must never, never become complacent where safety is concerned. The continued need to ensure that we have a robust health and safety regime in the North Sea is extremely important and it is a responsibility that is shared by both Industry and Government. By working together we can prevent future catastrophes like Piper Alpha,“ Fallon said.
Fallon also paid respect to those who lost their lives on 6th July 1988.
„Only by remembering the past, can safety in the future be assure,“he said.
Memorial ceremony t in Aberdeen
Relatives, friends and colleagues of the 167 men who lost their lives in the Piper Alpha tragedy on 6 July 1988, along with many of the survivors yesterday attended an act of remembrance and a ceremony marking the completion of the refurbishment of the North Sea Memorial Garden in Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen.
Chaplain to the UK oil and gas industry, The Reverend Gordon Craig, prior to the ceremony, said: “Losing a loved one suddenly in tragic circumstance has a massive effect on the family. Those who have lost loved ones experience feelings of loss and grief to this day and it is natural and right that the family would want to mark this anniversary”.
A lament played by a lone piper at the yesterday’s memorial act in Aberdeen marked the start of a minute’s silence paying respect to the men who lost their lives in Piper Alpha 25 years ago and all those who have been affected by it.
See below a video of the ceremony held yesterday in Aberdeen.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, July 7, 2013