The Piper Alpha Oil Rig Disaster

August 8, 2017 April 11th, 2019 Health

Piper Alpha Oil Rig DisasterPiper Alpha Oil Rig Disaster


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5.Why Tree




1. Background

Piper Alphawas anoil production platform located in the North Sea off the seashore of Scotland, which was operated byOccidental Petroleum ( Caledonia ) Ltd. The Piper Alpha was brought into service in 1976, and by the late 1980’s, was retro fitted for extra gas processing ( Singh et al. 2010 ) . This alteration allowed for the control of big volumes of high-pressure gas production.

The Piper Alpha incident was an industry altering event, which in relation to the grade of impact as an technology catastrophe, is viewed in the same class as Chernobyl, Challenger, Three Mile Island and the Flixborough catastrophes ( Singh et al. 2010 ) . The difference, in comparing to the above catastrophes, was due to the fact that the Piper Alpha was located over 100 stat mis out into the sea ( Singh et al. 2010 ) .

The pre-dated works layout and alterations increased the troubles in keeping review, care and fixs which finally led to the event ( Singh et al. 2010 ) . A combination of leading and technology mistakes contributed to a sequence of events that led to the entire devastation of the platform. The event transpired over a three hr period, from about 22.00 on July 6 until 01.00 am the undermentioned forenoon ( Hendershot 2013 ) .

The Piper Alpha platform suffered an detonation and subsequent fire that resulted in the tragic loss of 167 lives. The incident is considered non to hold been from one individual root cause, but instead the concurrency of several critical influences that created the ‘perfect storm’ . As a consequence, these critical events allowed the effect of failures to fall into topographic point, ensuing in the tragic events on the Piper Alpha. ( Singh et al. 2010 ) There were legion lessons learnt from this incident that altered offshore safety direction and statute law in the North Sea ( Hendershot 2013 ) .

The probe squad collected and reviewed relevant informations, and used the AcciMap and Why Tree Analysis techniques to place the root causes. Results and findings have been provided as a outline to this probe.

2. Incident

On the 6 of July 1988, a series of detonations and fires engulfed the Piper Alpha oil platform ( Singh et al. 2010 ) . The immediate sequence of events began with a dislocation in the license to work system ( PTW ) ( Elliott 2013 ) A rim on the chief gas line had been taken out of service for scheduled care under the license to work.During this scheduled works it was identified that extra care was required on the alleviation valve and as such a subsequent PTW was initiated. Because the extra plant was identified, the crew was unable to finish the plants within their allocated displacement clip. As such, it was decided to maintain the gas line isolated nightlong and the 2nd PTW would stay unfastened until the undermentioned twenty-four hours.

Shift alteration between twenty-four hours and dark crews occurred around 18.00 that eventide, yet no communications between the two crews were made about the outstanding plants on the chief gas line ( Elliott 2013 ) Importantly no such communications were made between the PTW proprietors, this being the supervisors.

At about 22.00, the operational backup condensate pump stopped and failed to restart. Before re-opening the gas line the dark displacement supervisor sent the operations engineer down to look into on the position, nevertheless, the applied scientist merely looked at the force per unit area gauges. The force per unit area gages were out of sight from the scheduled care plants, and as such, did non see the losing valve and reported normal findings.

This prompted the dark displacement supervisor to re-open the gas line, which allowed tremendous sums of force per unit area into the line. The force per unit area was excessively great for the unsighted rim and it outright blew off the piping, dispatching tremendous sums of flammable gas into the ambiance which entered the hot engine suites and ignited. The initial detonation ruptured the chief gas line supplying for a big oil fire. The initial detonation besides blew down the fire walls within the control room, disenabling the communications systems on Piper Alpha. The exigency fire suppression systems were unequal to cover with big extent of the fire and those crews stationed within the adjustment block were left stranded and intoxicated by exhausts. The oil fire was a thick black and smothering fume doing visibleness for the crews to get away more or less impossible ( Elliott 2013 ) Piper Alpha’s sister rigs failed to close down the provender to Piper Alpha, unwittingly fuelling the fire. The on-going oil fire finally melted the chief pipe lines ensuing in a ruinous detonation taking the lives of 167 crew and turned the Piper Alpha oil and gas platform into liquefied metal ( Elliott 2013 )

3. Results

Following the catastrophe, a public enquiry was commissioned to look into the fortunes environing the Piper Alpha accident. The Honorable Lord Cullen was appointed to look into this accident which proceeded over a two twelvemonth period ( Singh et al. 2010 ; Hendershot, 2013 ) . At the decision of the probe, what was to be named the Lord Cullen Report 1990, Lord Cullen prepared over one hundred and six recommendations ( Singh et al. 2010 ) . The study has finally led to the disbanding of the narrow ordinances endorsed at the clip, and replaced with the evolutionary goal-setting unity ordinances in the United Kingdom and the oil and gas industry ( Singh et al. 2010 ) . As a direct consequence from this catastrophe, the recommendations provided paved the manner for an improved, safer, and more effectual technology patterns for the oil and gas industry, through basically safer designs and processs ( Singh et al. 2010 ) .

Recommendations included in the study are summarized below:

  • The transportation of authorities duty for offshore wellness and safety to the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE ) with the authorities seen as taking joint duty.
  • The formation of a Safety Case system to imply independent enfranchisement.
  • Overall reappraisal of statute law, definition of best patterns, and better usage of loss bar lessons.
  • Specified preparation for better work force engagement.
  • Independent wellness and safety regulators/inspectors for the oil and gas industry.
  • Health and Safety duties was reformed to the leading group and non left to the onsite wellness and safety representatives.
  • Improved permit-to-work systems to integrate fail safe and tamper cogent evidence methods.
  • Systematic attack to safety, duty of everyone ( senior direction and down the line ) .
  • Emergency response methods to run parallel with incident designation and coverage ( efficaciously by developing and alterations in attitude and civilization ) .

The most noteworthy alterations:

  • Increased alterations to offshore plus design, demands for design reappraisal, more latitude for construct creativeness, better principle for technology conservativism and realistic safety.
  • New goal-setting statute law, i.e. the Safety Case.
  • The goal-setting thought replaces the normative method. This has proved to be a measure alteration in offshore safety and technology public presentation.

4. Timeline

5. Why Tree

  1. Findingss


8. Decision

9. Mentions


Figure 1The Piper Alpha Fire2013, digital image, BBC News Scotland, viewed 30 September 2014, hypertext transfer protocol: //


Centre of Chemical Process Safety 2005,Constructing procedure safety civilization: tools to heighten procedure safety public presentation, viewed on 26 September 2014, hypertext transfer protocol: //

Elliott, M 2013,Piper Alpha Appleton BBC,picture, 1 August, viewed 18 September 2014, hypertext transfer protocol: // v=S9h8MKG88_U

Hendershot, DC 2013, ‘Process safety: retrieving Piper Alpha’ , Journal of Chemical Health & A ; Safety, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 58-59.

Oil & A ; Gas UK 2014, Post-Piper Timeline, viewed 18 September 2014, hypertext transfer protocol: //

Singh, B, Jukes, P, Poblete, B & A ; Wittkower, B 2010, ‘20 Old ages on lessons learned from Piper Alpha. The development of concurrent and inherently safe design’ , Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 936-953.


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