Piper Alpha Disaster

The Disaster, Causes, Results, and Recommendations for Prevention

Piper Alpha

The Piper Alpha disaster in 1988, in which 167 people died, was caused by a small gas leak which led to the ultimate failure of pipelines under the offshore structure, causing its complete collapse into the North Sea. “The Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha Disaster” reviews the causes and results of the platform disaster and makes recommendations to prevent the reoccurrence of such an event. The author, The Honorable Lord Cullen, recommends that the safety regulations with regard to offshore operations be completely rewritten to allow for more site-specific and flexible application of safety system designs. Although the paper makes some other specific recommendations on safety systems, the secondary thrust of the paper is on developing more workable evacuation, escape, and rescue plans.

Additional Resources:

SPE.org - Oil Gas Facilities article, June 6, 2018 - “Process Safety: Thirty Years After the Piper Alpha Disaster,” https://www.spe.org/en/ogf/ogf-article-detail/?art=4259

Oral-History:Lyn Arscott - Discusses the Piper Alpha Incident and the Development of the Safety Case

First-Hand:History of Operational Safety Awareness in the US Gulf of Mexico 1964 to 2014: [A personal recollection by Kenneth E. (KEN) Arnold]

NASA Safety Center System Failure Case Study, May 2013, The Case for Safety - The North Sea Piper Alpha Disaster

Smithsonian Magazine, November 6, 2017, What Caused the Giant Piper Alpha Rig Explosion?

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), October 9, 2018, The Night the System Failed - The Piper Alpha Inferno

Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, July 6, 2018, The Legacy of Piper Alpha

Lecture by Brian Appleton (Technical Adviser to the Enquiry) on Piper Alpha Accident, posted by Martin Elliott, August 1, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9h8MKG88_U

ABC News, July 9, 1988, Piper Alpha oil rig explosion leaves 167 dead

Step Change in Safety's, "Remembering Piper - The night that changed our world" - A dramatization of the accident

Research Report 89 - A critical review of post-Piper-Alpha developments in explosion science for the Offshore Industry," by Firebrand International, Ltd. 2004

The Chemical Engineer article, July 3, 2018 - “Steve Rae:  Piper Alpha Survivor”

Engineers Journal article, July 24, 2018 - "Piper Alpha – What have we learned?"

LEG Exploration Education article, September 7, 2018 - "Piper Alpha: How many regulators does the North Sea really need?" Written by Jeremy Cresswell

Aberdeen University’s Oil Lives project - The Project: Brief History of the UK North Sea Oil and Gas Industry

Piper Alpha - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_Alpha