Piper Alpha Case Study

Topics: Piper Alpha, Oil platform, Petroleum Pages: 10 (3216 words) Published: December 11, 2011
The accident that happened aboard the offshore platform Piper Alpha in This summer 1988 wiped out 167 people and price vast amounts of dollars in damage to property. It had been triggered with a massive fire that was not caused by an unpredictable “act of God” but of an amount of errors and questionable choices. Many of them were rooted within the organization, its structure, methods, and culture. These business factors are generalizable with other industries and engineering systems. They include defects within the design recommendations and design practices (e.g., tight physical couplings or inadequate redundancies), misguided focal points within the control over the tradeoff between productivity and safety, mistakes within the control over the personnel aboard, and errors of judgment along the way through which financial demands are put on the development sector (i.e., the oil companies’ meaning of profit centers) leading to inadequacies in inspection and maintenance procedures. This analytical approach enables identification of risk management measures which go past the purely technical (e.g., add redundancies to some safety system) as well as include enhancements of management practices. This study is done to retrieve all the information on management, operation function, cause of accident, consequences, improvements and prevention.


Piper Alpha would be a North Ocean oil production rig platform operated through the Occidental Oil (Caledonia) Ltd. The platform started its production in year 1976 where it paid for around 10 % from the gas and oil production in the North Ocean at that time. It had been begun being an oil platform later it transformed into gas production.[10] The Piper Alpha drilling platform can be found 120 miles (193km) from the north-new England of Scotland.[13] Around the evening of sixth on summer 1988, the platform was destroyed as there is full of explosion happened. The reason for the explosion was because there is a gas leakage which captivated lowering the entire platform.[8]

The inquiry made around the blast came to the conclusion the initial explosion happened at module C where it resulted from flammable cloud produced from the hydrocarbon release in a blind flange fitted in which a pressure safety valve removed for maintenance purpose. Around 10 second after, fireball emanated from module B in the west face from the platform as experts stated. The B/C firewall between C module and B module was partly destroyed through the explosion and fragments in the firewall have been forecasted into module B coupled with ruptured a 4 in. pipeline transporting condensate. Because the accident had unusual features, none of remains might be examined, because the majority of the platform flattened in to the ocean throughout the explosion.[3]

At the time of event, save helicopters and boat were immediately sent to save the oil rig employees within an operation co-ordinated through the Aberdeen coastguard. Aircraft pilots from the save team reported seeing an “inferno” as much as 350ft (107m) high as the platform wrecked apart.[13] Helicopters and motorboats were immediately sent to save the oil employees within an operation co-ordinated through the Aberdeen coastguard. Aircraft pilots reported seeing an "inferno" as much as 350ft (107m) high along with a platform wrenched apart.[13]

At the time, 167 from 229 people aboard were wiped out within the explosion.[5] This dying count includes 2 crewmen for save team. Total insured loss around the incident involved £1.7 billion (US$3.4 billion). Roughly 10 % of North Ocean gas and oil production was affected during the time of the disaster from the platform and maybe it was the worst offshore oil disaster when it comes to lives lost and industry impact.[9]

Management and Operation:

In 1976, OPCAL discovered two major Oilfields, built the platforms required to support them (Piper Alpha and Claymore), and built the...
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