July, 1988

This is a repeating event

198806JulAll DayFeaturedPiper Alpha Explosion 1988Occidental UK North Sea (GB) Origin: HSE Lessons:Commitment & Culture,Control of Work,Emergency Preparedness,Management of Change,Operational IntegrityIndustry:OffshoreCountry:United KingdomLanguage:ENLoC:Maintenance error

Summary

A release and ignition of gas condensate from a section of piping in the gas compression module of this platform set off a chain of fires and explosions, resulting in the almost total destruction of the facility. The condensate was released from the site of a pressure relief valve that had been removed for maintenance when this section of piping was inadvertently pressurized.

The severity of the accident was largely due to the contribution of oil and gas from ruptured pipelines connected to the platform and the disabling of nearly all emergency systems as a result of the initial explosion. The compression module had been retrofitted to the platform adjacent to the control room, which was rendered useless by the initial explosion.

In addition, the firewater pumps had been placed in to manual operation mode due to divers being in the water prior to the accident.

There were 226 people on the platform at the time of the accident; only 61 survived. Contributing to the loss of life was the location of the quarters, which was directly over the site of the initial release and resulting explosion and fire.

[ Property Damage $850 Million. Estimated Current Value $1963 Million ]

KEY ISSUES:
• MANAGEMENT OF CHANGE
• PERSONAL SAFETY OVER PROCESS SAFETY
• ISOLATION AND PERMITS FOR MAINTENANCE
• HANDOVER
• SAFETY CULTURE
• EMERGENCY RESPONSE


Image Credit: Press Association

Origin

HSEUK Health & Safety Executive

References

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