Explosion in the North Sea Piper Alpha Disaster
Piper Alpha was an oil platform located in the North Sea approximately 120 miles (190 km) north-east of Aberdeen, Scotland. It was operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Limited and began production in 1976, initially as an oil-only platform but later converted to add gas production.
Piper Alpha exploded and sank on 6 July 1988, killing 165 of the men on board, thirty of whose bodies were never recovered. A further two rescue workers after their rescue vessel, which had been trapped in debris and immobilised, was destroyed by the disintegrating rig. Sixty-one workers escaped and survived. The total insured loss was about £1.7 billion, making it one of the costliest man-made catastrophes ever. At the time of the disaster, the platform accounted for approximately 10% of North Sea oil and gas production. The accident is the world’s worst offshore oil disaster in terms of lives lost and industry impact.
In Aberdeen, the Kirk of St Nicholas on Union Street has dedicated a chapel in memory of those who died, containing a Book of Remembrance listing them. There is a memorial sculpture in the Rose Garden of Hazlehead Park.