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The Piper Engine oil Field Executive Essay


On the night time of June the 6th, 1988, an explosion occurred on the Piper Alpha oil and gas production program. It resulted in a series of fires that eventually melted the platform in to the waters of the North Sea, killing a hundred and sixty seven men, and leading to insurance loss of U. S. $3. 4 billion. Thus far, it remains the most detrimental offshore catastrophe in the history of the Petroleum industry, identified in terms of both human being and financial reduction. The images of horror broadcasted from the devastation site, the final tally of individual lives lost, and the gigantic financial loss surprise Occidental Petroleum, the operator of the program, violently. It has since become worth thorough examination, to fully assimilate the numerous lessons it provides. Ronin Advanced Systems looked into the events leading up to that evening, pinpointing the zero the fragile Safe practices Matrix then applied by Occidental Petroleum, in order to provide practical recommendations that will help prevent such damages from happening in the foreseeable future and improve the overall Operational Safe practices of offshore installations.

Purpose and Scope

The impact of the Piper Alpha catastrophe on the Petroleum industry was huge. It had been on such an unprecedented level that every oil company managed to get an absolute necessity to report it as a Case Study. The purpose of this research is to isolate the faults and problems completed by both the management of Occidental Petroleum as well as the staff of Piper Alpha, which straight led to the disaster. This report will cover several topics about the Piper Alpha offshore production program, including its location, building, modification, Safe practices Matrix and Record, as well as the timeline of the disaster and its aftermath. Throughout the record, we do not include any on-site research from the Piper petrol field.


Our recommendations derive from the assumption that the Piper Alpha catastrophe could have been completely avoided. This is in turn based on the actual fact that its management made some incorrect decisions, which critically compromised the safety level on board the platform and rendered its team helpless in face of mishaps. The failure of the staff to act correctly with respect to the sequence of occurrences of the devastation can only just be attributed to the failing of Occidental's management.

The assumption is also based on the factual and noted deterioration of the safety level up to speed the platform after its modification to create gas. Several gas leaks were noted and a study commissioned by Occidental to investigate the newly installed Gas Lines - which found them of extreme risk - was ignored. At the end of this report, we will show without a shred of uncertainty that the assumption retains; thus, deeming our suggestion worth being put into action at the earliest opportunity.


The information in this report was put together from various resources including Lord Cullen's General public Inquiry, numerous printed and digital publications, video footage from the Uk Royal Air Pressure helicopters, as well as the numerous support vessels, that were present on site during rescue procedures and the accounts of the survivors.


As mentioned previous, this research is limited to materials and information available in the Public Domain via the web, various magazines, and recorded video. In addition, Ronin Advanced Systems had not been in a position to send any employees to the disaster site to perform on-location examination due to the following significant reasons:

The incident took place on July the 6th, 1988.

The Piper Alpha just offshore production system melted right down to its core. Furthermore, its remains were later detonated and removed by Occidental Petroleum.

Piper engine oil field

A hundred and twenty miles from Aberdeen, beneath a few of the fiercest waters of the North Sea, is the Piper oilfield. A joint venture of four companies, known as the OPCAL (brief for Occidental Petroleum - Caledonia) and led by Occidental Petroleum, obtained a certificate to explore those waters in 1972, after the British federal allowed just offshore exploration licenses in 1964 (Miller, 1991). The Piper engine oil field was learned in the first a few months of 1973, prompting OPCAL to fee the structure of the Piper Alpha system, as well as the pipelines and Onshore Support Installations. Petrol production started in overdue 1976. At its maximum, the Piper oilfield produced 30, 000 a great deal of oil daily. Nearby, two more areas were learned; those were the Tartan and the Claymore oilfields. Two more platforms were commissioned and known as after the two domains respectively. The three huge oilfields Piper, Tartan and Claymore are usually referred to collectively as the Piper oilfield.

Figure 1: Location of Piper Oilfield regarding Aberdeen and Flotta Petrol Facility

As shown in Number 1, OPCAL built the Flotta engine oil terminal on the Orkney Islands to accumulate and process petrol from the three large fields. As the development of the three platforms progressed, more coal and oil lines were laid, resulting in Piper being at the heart of a active network of pipelines. Its platform acted as both a communication systems hub as well as an oil and gas collection point, before relaying it all onto shore using one main line, namely the Main Engine oil Lines or MOL, which is the brand seen linking the Piper field and Flotta in Amount 1. This statement will dedicate an entire subsection to help expand look at the pipeline network adjoining the Piper oilfield and its neighbouring counterparts. It will also discuss the effects that network possessed on the amount of Operational Safety up to speed the Piper Alpha program and exactly how it actively added to its tragic and total eradication from the waters of the North Sea.

Piper Alpha

Piper Alpha, the platform that exploited the Piper oilfield, stood extra tall at two hundred metres above seabed. Its sheer size made it seem to be almost indestructible. It had been originally created for oil production, but was later adapted to produce gas as well; a choice that proved to acquire tragic repercussions. Producing almost 10 % of Britain's North Sea oil and gas in 1988, Piper Alpha was highly beneficial. It was regarded a lucrative investment for Occidental Petroleum, shoring huge amount of money annually. The assumption is that during the incident, the system was the heaviest offshore development rig operating in the North Sea.

Figure 2: Piper Alpha Offshore Oil & Gas Creation Platform

Piper Alpha was a fixed platform designed by McDermott Executive at Ardesier and UIE at Cherbourg, with areas united at Ardersier during 1975 (Wikipedia, 2010). The platform contains four modules (A, B, C and D) separated by Fire-Proofed surfaces, and arranged in a way that the most dangerous works - such as drilling - were as far as possible from the Accommodation Block. During the automobile accident, the platform managed thirty-six well heads using various solutions which were then available. Shape 3, an East-side Elevation of the platform, illustrates its modular design and the locations of the areas of interest to the range of this survey, mainly Modules C, D and the Oil Separation Area in Component B.

Figure 3: East Elevation of Piper Alpha

the impacts of the 1980 Gas module fitting

Impact on the system Layout

I - Development Level 84

In 1980, a Gas Recovery Module was installed on the Piper Alpha platform. This decision left an regrettable legacy in its design, as some of the gas compression works had to be sited in Component C, which was later called the Gas Compression Module. Amount 4 illustrates the design of Development Level 84. It evidently shows the way the compression works in Module C were near to many delicate areas in Module D, such as: the Control Room, the ELECTRICAL ENERGY Gas Turbine Generators, the Disaster Diesel Generator, the Open fire Pushes Manual Control -panel plus some of the Electrical Switch Rooms. The Accommodation Block, where the crewmen lived, was located above Module D, with the Helicopter Pad (or Helideck) on top of it as shown in Physique 3.

Figure 4: Creation Level 84 & Firewalls

Hazard: Blast-Proof Walls

Since Piper Alpha was primarily made to produce petrol, only Fire-Proofed walls were installed to split up its four modules rather than Blast-Proof walls, that are installed on gas development platforms. Number 4 shows the locations of the Fire-Proofed walls as well as their ratings. The B/C and the C/D wall surfaces did not tolerate the first explosion. Their inability was the beginning of the finish for the program.

Hazard: Fire-Fighting System

Piper Alpha was equipped with a state-of-the-art Automatic Fire-Fighting System. It relied on two different models of pushes for procedure; electrically power and diesel powered. They might suck in large sums of seawater - via underwater inlets - to douse any fires. However, the safety types of procedures on the program dictated that the machine would be switched to manual control in the event divers were in the - regardless of their locations with regards to the inlets - so that they wouldn't normally get sucked in. That method never considered the opportunity of a flames or an explosion preventing usage of the Manual Control Panel, preventing the crew from functioning the pumps and finally causing the fireplace to rage unchallenged.

ii - deck support body: level 64

Two large gas pumps, chosen A and B, were located in Component C. Those were in charge of pressurizing the produced gas and sending it to the just offshore Manifold Compression system MCP-01, some thirty a long way to the North West of Piper Alpha. They were also accountable for providing the gas necessary for generating ELECTRICAL ENERGY that fed the entire platform. They run in redundancy; i. e. one was managed and the other was placed on standby in case the former discontinued working. Those two pumps were present on level 68, sixteen levels below production level quantity 84.

Figure 5: Deck Support Structure of Level 68 & Location of Pushes A & B

A pipeline eighteen inches in diameter acted as the primary Gas Lines (MGL), hauling the gas creation of Piper Alpha to the Manifold Compression Program, MCP-01. A 12 months later, another eighteen-inch pipeline was lengthened from the Tartan program to Piper Alpha, to be able to gather gas production from both rigs before mailing it on the primary Gas Brand to MCP-01. Down the road, another sixteen-inch pipeline was prolonged from Piper Alpha to the Claymore development platform, to nourish its onboard Gas Lift System.

Hazard: Gas Lines

In Body 5, all gas lines - also called risers - were guaranteed with automatic Emergency Protection Valves (ESVs) and Pig Traps to cut off gas flow in an from the platform in case of emergencies and failures. However, there were no Remotely Operated Shutoff Valves (ROSOVs) on the lines that the neighbouring programs could use in the event the ESVs acquired failed or in case things on Piper Alpha had opted out of control. Moreover, 2 yrs prior to June the 6th 1988, Occidental Petroleum commissioned a report to investigate the basic safety of the platform following the added functionality and pipelines. The record portrayed a fearful image, obviously caution of the hazards of the gas lines. The findings stated that those gas lines would take time to depressurize, due mainly to their capacities that was identified based on their measures and diameters. The record went on to speculate that should anything eventually those lines, they could result in a High-Pressure Gas Flames that would be virtually impossible to struggle. Thus, putting the whole platform at risk, and intimidating the lives of its workers.

Impact on the Pipeline network

Since the Piper oilfield was the first ever to be uncovered, and Piper Alpha was the first system to come online, its historic development and that of adjacent fields intended that the platform would become a centre for communication systems, as well as olive oil transfer, attaining land-based functions (Drysdale & Evans, 1998). The belated installing the Gas Module, and the next expansion of Gas Lines, further complicated an already complicated network of pipelines interconnecting the three systems Claymore, Piper Alpha, and Tartan with one another as well much like MCP-01 and the Flotta olive oil processing center.

Figure 6 shows this sophisticated network of oil and Gas Lines joining the four systems and onshore installations. THE PRIMARY Oil Lines (MOL) carried essential oil from Piper to Flotta. Olive oil was routed from Tartan to Claymore, via a separate series, and after that it was delivered onto the MOL, some thirty-five miles western of Piper. The MOL also carried the main communication cable tv (originating at Piper Alpha) between the three rigs and Occidental's Control Centre (OCC) on the Orkney Islands.

Hazard: Oil Again Pressure

The legacy of this design hadn't only reduced the level of Operational Safety up to speed of Piper Alpha significantly, but and yes it had put the entire communication system in danger. The design simply jeopardized burning off all cable-based marketing communications with OCC, in case an explosion or a massive rig fire took place. Furthermore, due to the lack of any Remotely Operated Shutoff Valves (ROSOVs) - which would avoid the back flow of petrol because of pressure distinctions and/or major failures in the Emergency Basic safety Valves (ESVs) - the look exhibited a Back-Pressure mother nature that could allow oil from the Tartan and Claymore platforms to move directly back to Piper Alpha - rather than going down the Main Oil Series to shore - should Piper Alpha stop pumping petrol. That hazard was a significant factor in fuelling the olive oil fire that were only available in the Oil Separation compartment in Module B up to speed of the program in peril.

Figure 6: Claymore, Piper, & Tartan Pipeline Network

spiral to disaster

The common image of the devastation can be attributed to a single devastating explosion on board the Piper Alpha. In fact, once it took place, the catastrophe unfolded slowly but surely. During one critical hour, there were critical moments that it could have been averted. However, an unfortunate series of happenings led to the full total damage of the platform.

On the morning of July the 6th, Pump A was going through routine maintenance and its own pressure valve was removed for inspection. Another maintenance overhaul, which would have taken fourteen days, was planned for the same pump but hadn't begun then. The valve removed was put between your pump and the gas pipe feeding it. The service team sealed the pipe with a Blind Flange; a set metallic disk used to temporarily cover pipes and risers during various usual maintenance careers. When your day Shift concluded at 6:00 PM, the work was not done. The supervising engineer well prepared a Permit-to-Work (PTW) stating that the pressure valve was removed and that the pump should not be started out under any scenario (Wikipedia, 2010).

The engineer then headed to the Control Room, where he found the platform's supervisor busy. He selected not to advise him that Pump A was out of order, and instead agreed upon the new PTW, positioned it on the manager's desk and left to the Accommodation Stop. This is the first critical moment in time in the timeline of the crash. The failing of the engineer to see the supervisor with the serious condition of the pump is nothing but a clear example of terrible insufficient communication between colleagues. It showcases a superficial attitude and way by Occidental's employees towards Safe practices. This failure is one of the primary reasons of the devastation, if not its main trigger.

An hour later, another maintenance job was occurring underwater; divers were carrying out a boring inspection and welding job using one of the pipes. Therefore, so when we explained previously, the Auto Fire-Fighting System was switched to manual control. This is a protection practice to ensure that divers would not get sucked in through the underwater inlets of the powerful flames extinguishing pumps. It is worth noting that on other systems Fire-Fighting systems were controlled manually only if divers were very near the inlets. This practice, that was enforced to guarantee the safe practices of the divers, reduced that of the system substantially and deprived it from an computerized response by the Fire-Fighting System that may have kept it from its fatal doom; just one more critical instant down the span of the horrible disaster.

At 9:45 PM, Pump B abruptly stopped and could not be restarted. The pushes were accountable for providing gas to the Gas Turbine Generators, which provided the complete platform with Electrical Power. The rapid stop of Pump B, and the failure to restart it, threatened the total loss of Electrical Power during ongoing drilling procedures. This designed that the drilling brain could get jammed at enormous costs. The system provided quarter-hour of backup power, via the Disaster Diesel Generator, during which the one two alternatives were either restarting Pump B or taking Pump A online; a crossroads that dispatched the platform and its crewmen down the spiral to disaster.

Pressured as time went by without success at restarting Pump B, the engineer who was sent right down to check the pump was obligated to consider having Pump A online. He went back to the Control Room on level 84 and researched through the PTWs, endeavoring to determine whether Pump A could be started or not. He located the PTW for the General Overhaul that hadn't started out then, yet failed to find the newer the one which stated that the pump's pressure valve was removed. He authorized off the overall Overhaul PTW and went back to level 68 to start Pump A.

The reason why the engineer could not find the newer PTW is easy; the pressure valve was in a different location from the pump and therefore its permits were stored in a different box, as PTWs up to speed the platform were sorted by location. The engineer never checked out the PTW box for the location where the pressure valve was. Nothing of the workers within the Control Room then was aware a vital piece of the pump had been removed. The platform's manager assumed from the existing documents that it might be safe to start out Pump A (Wikipedia, 2010).

In fact, no one pointed out that the pressure valve have been removed as it was located several metres above the ground of level 64. Furthermore, it was clogged from line-of-sight by gas risers. 10 minutes later, Pump A was started out, allowing gas to flow involved with it in the absence of the pressure valve, which quickly resulted in an overpressure the Blind Flange could not withstand. Gas began to leak at very high pressure and in great amounts, with audible does sound that needed the crewmen on level 64 by shock. The leak activated several gas alarms. However, at exactly 9:50 PM, and before anyone could realize the situation and plan a reply, the gas ignited and exploded, blowing through the Fire-Proofed wall surfaces.

In the initial blast, the Fire-Proofed wall surfaces B/C and C/D failed. Sections from the C/D wall structure were propelled into Component D, destroying the Control Room, the Emergency Diesel Generator, and the Gas Turbine Generators, starting a hydrocarbon fire - fed by an assortment of gas and diesel - and preventing access to both the Manual Control Panel of the Fire-Fighting System as well as the Lifeboat Access Factors. The platform's manager quickly pressed the Disaster Shutdown button, shutting the Emergency Safety Valves (ESVs) on the sea lines and ceasing all coal and oil production, before buying an evacuation of the Control Room. This should have isolated the platform totally from the stream of coal and oil. However, Sections from the faltering B/C Fire-Proofed wall flew into Component B, rupturing another gas tube as well as the key oil parting manifolds, starting an engine oil fire in the Olive oil Separation area, which spread out to all of Module B within a few minutes.

Figure 7: THE ORIGINAL Fire on Piper Alpha. Black colored smoking - indicating an Engine oil Fire - sometimes appears rising from Component B

The manager headed to the air Room, where he ordered a Mayday call to be transmitted. THE AIR Room was then evacuated and everything personnel going to the Fire-Proofed Accommodation Stop awaiting further instructions or evacuation by helicopters.

Although Occidental's management was aware that a gas explosion on board Piper Alpha would be damaging, the professionals on Claymore and Tartan never Shutdown essential oil production after they received the Mayday sent from the burning platform. Even though black smoke could be seen on the horizon, which meant that there is an oil hearth, the managers never suspected the inability of the Disaster Safety Valves (ESVs). The engine oil fire, fed by petrol from Tartan and Claymore, warmed up the Tartan Gas Range to the idea it failed. The pipeline ruptured, launching 15~30 tonnes of gas (pressurised to 120 ATM) per second. The gas burst into an enormous open fire ball that engulfed the whole Piper Alpha system and a Fast Rescue Build launched from the Multi-purpose Vessel Sandhaven. This example was precisely what the record commissioned two years earlier got warned against; a High-Pressure Gas Fire that might be impossible to place out. At this critical moment, the fate of the platform had recently been decided, with no viable method of reversing it. The large fire ball can be seen in Number 8, as it instantaneously contained the platform and darkened the clear blue sky above it.

Figure 8: Sequence of Images taken from a Video Footage captured by the Support Vessel showing the Explosion of the Tartan Gas Brand. MV - Lowland Cavalier can be seen on the Right

As Number 8 vividly illustrates, the wind was blowing in direction of the Helideck, which in turn pushed flames and smoking towards it, making any helicopter getting absolutely impossible and an act of suicide. No further instructions were given to the stuck crewmen, who had taken shelter in the Accommodation Block, while smoke began to permeate it. Some were seen jumping from the platform and into the drinking water, against what their training instructed. Ironically, those were the ones who survived the tragic ordeal. The actions of two crewmen are worth noting. As the situation worsened, they donned Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and attempted to make their way to the Manual Control -panel of the Fire-Fighting System to start the diesel pumps. Those two men were never seen again and their physiques were never recovered.

Nearby, as the situation quickly escalated, the professionals on Claymore and Tartan thought that they did not have the authority to order an Emergency Shutdown of production without first talking to their superiors. The original explosion knocked off the main communication brand with OCC; however, Tartan's manager somehow contacted his superior, and was instructed to stay online and continue pumping gas and olive oil. Meanwhile, Claymore's supervisor tried out for more than twenty minutes to raise OCC by dish telephone, but to no avail. When he finally been successful at contacting his manger, the MCP - 01 Gas Line failed and exploded, as they were speaking, at exactly 10:50 PM. It had been not until that point that Claymore's director finally ordered a crisis Shutdown of production, after getting instructions from his superior, who also instructed him to contact Tartan and inform them to shutdown as well.

Figure 9: Series of Images extracted from a VIDEO captured by the Rescue Helicopter demonstrating the Explosion of the MCP - 01 Gas Line. The MSV - Tharos is seen on the Right

By enough time both platforms possessed ordered a crisis Shutdown, there was no turning back for Piper Alpha; the program was destined to shed all night more to come, until the pipelines were depressurised, and all the hydrocarbons they transported were depleted. The fearsome high temperature ate its way at the machinery and steelwork comprising the once gigantic platform in a tremendous picture that horrified everyone who saw it.

The final chapter in the devastation was inevitable and quite expectable. The gas range feeding Claymore finally failed and ruptured at 11:20 PM. The 3rd explosion was the ultimate toenail in the platform's coffin. After withstanding the extreme heating for more than an hour, the Era and Utilities Component D, home to the Accommodation Block, finally slid into the sea. A lot of the platform soon dropped after it. Forty-five minutes past midnight, the complete platform was ended up, and only Module A was everything remained.

Figure 10: Image from Video Footage taken by a Save Helicopter getting on the MSV-Tharos as the ultimate Explosion of Claymore's Gas Lines take place

The Role of close by Support vessels

The Multi-purpose vessel LowLand Cavalier (mv - lowland cavalier)

Although the Lowland Cavalier was the closest to Piper Alpha during the original explosion, she was only prepared as a Diving Support vessel then. She drawn away to protection immediately, after signalling the underwater divers to surface. Her role in the devastation was limited to reporting the first explosion.

Figure 11: Recent Photos of the MV - Lowland Cavalier

The Multi-purpose vessel Silver precious metal Pit (mv - gold pit)

The Fast Recovery Build MV - Silver Pit was a converted fishing dispatch, with a little Landing Area (yellow circular area observed in Figure 9). It had been the first support vessel to reply. The largest range of survivors - thirty-seven out of fifty-nine - was recovered by her crew. Her coxswain, Wayne Clark, received the George Medal - another level civil decor of the uk & Commonwealth - in identification of his great attempts in the Search & Recovery operation (Scottish Tv set, 2010).

Figure 12: Image extracted from a Video taken by a Rescue Helicopter throughout a Winch-Recovery of your Survivor found by the MV - Magic Pit

the Multi-purpose vessel sandhaven (mv - sandhaven)

Though her actions show clear disregard for common reasoning and safe methods, the work exerted by the team of the Sandhaven were exceptional; they raced against time and energy to rescue Piper's oilmen from the raging inferno. In an insane function of bravery, and in defiance to every safeness rule and process known in the world of Offshore Rescue Functions, she approached the burning system to an extremely close distance, starting a fast recovery boat - with three men on board - that rescued six of Piper's crewmen. However, when the gas brand from Tartan exploded, a massive open fire ball engulfed the using platform in adition to that boat, eliminating two of its crewmen along with most of survivors. The lone survivor up to speed that vessel, Ian Letham, was also given the George Medal in acceptance of his participation in the alleviation efforts during the tragic ordeal.

Figure 13: The Tharos (Kept History) & Sandhaven (Small Red Fishing boat) next to Piper Alpha as Tartan's Gas line exploded

the Multi-purpose Support Vessel Tharos (msv - tharos)

The Tharos was a semi-submersible, multi-purpose support vessel. She comprised several tasks such as Fire-Fighting, Building, Accommodation and Diving Support. She also transported a fully functional clinic and was equipped with an enormous Helideck. She was commissioned by Occidental Petroleum exactly to deal with emergencies on offshore platforms. On June the 6th, 1988, and by genuine chance, she was anchored close to Piper Alpha. She should have been a Godsend; however, upon approaching the getting rid of platform, her staff started her water cannons too fast, tripping the Fire-Fighting system and throwing away ten long minutes before successfully restarting it. Furthermore, those cannons were deemed very powerful, thus restricting the Tharos to as where to use them; because the stream could seriously injure or even eliminate anyone it visits.

Figure 14: Images taken from Video Footage used during the getting of a Recovery Helicopter on the Helideck on board the MSV-Tharos showing the Vessel's powerful cannons involved in Fire-Fighting Operations

Figure 12 shows how close the Tharos was anchored to Piper as well as the locations of the MV -Lowland Cavalier and the MV - Magic Pit mentioned previously in this section.

Figure 15: Locations of Support Vessels from Piper Alpha

Worse still, the Tharos was outfitted with an extensible bridge which could have worked as an escape way for the employees trapped onboard, but anticipated to flaws in its design it demonstrated useless. The extension system was too gradual, taking 5 minutes to go two toes; so to increase to its full thirty metres, it could have taken over one hour. At 10:50 PM, the Tharos ran out of time; the MCP-01 Gas Line ruptured and burst. A huge fireball burnt brightly in the dark sky on the North Sea, and date is known as an icon of the Piper Alpha catastrophe. The gas using was more than the whole consumption of the uk. The intense warmth threw the Tharos back again, forcing her to come back the bridge into its storage space position, and from then on, her crew could only witness as Piper gradually melted and collapsed (McGinty, 2009).

Figure 16: Screenshot from a Video Footage taken by a Surveillance Camera up to speed the MSV-Tharos exhibiting the Extensible Bridge being long towards Piper Alpha

Figure 17: The Tharos docked to Piper Alpha via its Extensible Bridge Weeks before the Disaster

Figure 10 shows the extensible bridge docked to Piper Alpha weeks before the disaster. Possessed the Tharos attemptedto approach Piper to such an in depth distance, the situation would have turned into a problem, and the Tharos could have been engulfed in flames just like the Sandhaven. The Tharos persisted fighting the open fire from a safe distance until the morning of the following day.

Divers from the Tharos recovered many body from the sea bed and from the galley section of the Accommodation Block, where most of the crewmen onboard compiled awaiting extraction by helicopter. The vessel recognized the Fire-Fighting and Well Eliminate businesses that eventually led to the extinguishing of the using up well three weeks later (Wikipedia, 2010).

The Aftermath

The Day After

With the break of light of the following day, the scale of the devastation was unravelled. The complete platform melted right down to its core during the night and sank in to the sea. Ironically, Module A, once considered the most dangerous section of the platform, remained fairly intact. That was attributed to the actual fact that the Fire-Proofed wall membrane separating modules A and B did not fail. In the massive platform, only what shows in Figures 15 and 16 was what was left.

Figure 18: Module A carrying a sign with the platform's number and name "Piper A"

Figure 19 : The Remains of Piper Alpha with the MSV-Tharos in the Background

Human Loss

A total of a hundred and sixty seven men lost their lives in the disaster; of which, 100 and sixty five were Piper Alpha crewmen. 100 and sixty four of them perished on site and one passed on later in medical center. Two crewmen from the MV - Sandhaven died, along with six survivors from the program, when their fast recovery art was engulfed in flames following the explosion of Tartan's gas website link.

Only sixty one men survived, virtually all because that they had decided to ignore what little training that they had been given and jumped off the burning program.

Financial Loss

The total financial loss amounted to U. S. $3. 4 billion. It had been paid completely by insurance companies that insured the program and the employees against operational hazards. The insurance companies also covered the price tag on the Clean-Up procedure.

Damage to Consumer Image

Occidental Petroleum stated that their Safeness Record was impeccable, declaring that it was the first time in twelve years that they had acquired a causality in the North Sea. However, their assertion was challenged when various resources revealed an oilman passed on four years previously table Piper Alpha. That, in conjunction with the surfacing of the Risk Assessment Record commissioned 2 yrs before the disaster, turned out that Occidental's management approached Safety alternatively superficially. The groups of the victims visited court, suing Occidental for neglectfulness. All lawsuits were settled out of courtroom, with Occidental paying large amounts to the afflicted individuals.

Clean Up

The losing remains of the Piper Alpha system were eventually extinguished three weeks later by way of a team of experts led by the famous Fire-Fighter Red Adair in inclement weather conditions of seventy-foot high waves and 100 and thirty km/hour wind. A yr later, Occidental commissioned a detonation of the remains, sold most of its passions in the North Sea and still left Scotland.


The findings of the analysis are very dramatic. The fragile Safeness Matrix, then applied by Occidental, collapsed in under twenty minutes. When the Tartan gas line exploded, the fate of Piper Alpha was very much chosen already, and little or nothing might well have salvaged it. The following are the main people of the Protection Matrix that failed catastrophically.

Platform Layout

It was your choice to set up a gas restoration module without taking the correct safety precautions under consideration that first jeopardized the operational safety on board Piper Alpha. Neither the condensate gas pressure pushes were positioned in a safe location - significantly enough from sensitive areas - nor the platform's Fire-Proofed wall space were substituted with Blast-Proof ones. The legacy of the design of the program solely for oil production was a heavy burden that sank it into the North Sea.

Safety Valves

The whole network of pipelines was not prepared with any Remotely Operated Shutoff Valves (ROSOVs). Thus, it exhibited a Back-Pressure nature that led to oil and gas flowing back into Piper Alpha even though its manager had activated the Emergency Shutdown swap, ceasing all coal and oil creation. That action should have triggered all the Crisis Safe practices Valves (ESVs) on the lines and isolated the platform from hydrocarbons. However, because of the inability of several ESVs, coal and oil were fed right back to the system, fuelling the open fire to the unprecedented and catastrophic magnitude.

Fire Safety System

Though Piper Alpha was equipped with an computerized Fire-Fighting System, the presence of divers underwater at the time of the crash deprived the system of yet another chance to flee its doom. Even though the electrical pushes were destroyed in the initial blast, the diesel pushes could have been sufficient to put out the original fires in modules B and C.

Permit to Work (PTW) System

The Permit-to-Work (PTW) system failed miserably at providing the platform's administrator with a clear condition of Pump A. It was the actual fact that PTWs were stored in separate boxes - in line with the locations of their respective machines and parts - that prevented both the supervisor as well as the next maintenance engineer - who was simply called to inspect Pump B after its failure - from learning the health of Pump A effectively.

Onboard Communication System

The design of the system did not take into the consideration the opportunity of the devastation of the Control Room. Immediately after the initial explosion, the manager were required to evacuate the Control Room, and then down the road the air Room was also deserted after transmitting a Mayday (produced from the French phrase: "Venez m'aider" or come help me) call. There was no trial whatsoever to make use of the Loud Speakers system up to speed the platform to talk to the team and instruct them on how to proceed.

Passive Fire-Fighting

The team of the Tharos wasted ten treasured minutes in restarting the Fire-Fighting System, which they began too fast that this tripped. Furthermore, since the crew of Piper Alpha were not able to forego the system (no mass-evacuation whatsoever was attempted; except for the men who acted separately and jumped off the platform in to the North Sea) the Tharos was restricted to as where it can aim its High-Pressure drinking water cannons; as water stream was powerful enough to injure or even get rid of anyone it might struck. Thus, the Tharos did not operate at its full capacity and Passive Fire-Fighting didn't have the ability to salvage the platform from the burning up inferno it became.

Delayed Decision Making

The network of pipelines feeding coal and oil in and out of Piper Alpha acquired the most catastrophic repercussions of all, anticipated to delayed decision making by the neighbouring platforms' managers. The managers cannot reach OCC when the initial explosion knocked off the key communication series. They sustained pumping oil and gas to the platform and on the primary Oil Brand (MOL), fuelling the olive oil fire in Module B and maintaining pressure on the gas lines (risers). The essential oil fire heated up the gas lines, which later failed and exploded, leading to the High-Pressure gas hearth the article commissioned 2 yrs previously by Occidental anticipated.

The managers feared the financial results of shutting production down, albeit experiencing black smoke coming clearly; an sign of oil fire and the inability of the Crisis Safe practices Valves (ESVs). It would take days and nights for a program to come back online, and much more to attain normal development level. Experienced the professionals been empowered to make such decisions without fearing the consequences, the fate of Piper Alpha might have been averted or at least postponed.


In order to avoid such mishaps from happening in the future, and ensure the safety of the personnel operating on just offshore installations, several precautions should be taken, which we recommend making use of the following at the earliest opportunity:

Changing the Permit-to-Work (PTW) system. The Permit-to-Work system based on locations of machinery proved to be a failure. Hence, a PTW system predicated on the machinery itself, and everything parts that are possibly related to it, is found to be much safer and is strongly suggested.

Installing Blast-Proofed walls. The Fire-Proofed surfaces did not endure the original blast, which could have been contained if Blast-Proofed walls have been installed. That could have avoided the fire from spreading all around the platform and provided the personnel a much better chance of controlling the problem. Hence, installing Blast-Proofed walls is advised on all just offshore installations.

Securing Accommodation Blocks against Smoke cigarettes. Nearly all bodies recovered from the Accommodation Block of Piper Alpha perished of smoking and gas suffocation. Therefore, all Accommodation Blocks should be secured against smoke, and provided with excellent ventilation to ensure the safeness of its occupants until they can be evacuated safely and securely.

Moving Lifeboat Entrance Points to Accommodation Blocks. The fire on Piper Alpha averted the team from achieving the Lifeboat Entry Tips, however, not from achieving the Accommodation Block. Experienced the Lifeboat Accessibility Factors been there, the trapped men may have escaped to security. It really is thus clear that those details have to be moved to Accommodations Blocks, the farthest module from all dangerous areas.

Installing Remotely Operated Shutoff Valves (ROSOVs). Having less Remotely Operated Shutoff Valves, combined with failure in a number of Emergency Safeness Valves (ESVs) provided the initial fires on Piper Alpha with the gas they required. ROSOVs would have helped the professionals of neighbouring programs - Claymore & Tartan - secure the primary Oil Series (MOL) and prevent back-pressure from feeding oil back in the burning system. It really is thus recommended to install Remotely Operated Shutoff Valves on every level and intersection of coal and oil pipeline.

Empowering platform Professionals to create Critical Decisions. The managers of the Claymore and Tartan production platforms believed they were not entitled to shutdown production on both rigs, albeit witnessing the burning platform on the horizon. In fear of managerial and financial effects, the professionals instead tried to get hold of their superiors, wasting valuable time along the way, to seek advice. Got they been certified to make such a choice without being in fear of further consequences, the managers of both programs may have helped avert a tragedy. Thus, it is very important to empower platform managers to make critical decision during disaster situations.

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