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On 6 July 1988, at about 22.00, an explosion occurred on the Piper Alpha platform, an oil and gas production facility in the North Sea. In the disaster, 167 persons lost their lives in what was the world’s worst offshore accident.

On 6 July 1988, at about 22.00, an explosion occurred on the Piper Alpha platform,
an oil and gas production facility in the North Sea. Within seconds a major
unstabilized crude-oil re developed and all but the wellhead area and the lower
parts of
the platform were engulfed in smoke. The subsequent fire escalation was swift
and dramatic with the first of three gas risers failing catastrophically after
20 min. In the disaster 167 persons lost their lives in what was the world’s
worst ofshore accident.

The background to the investigation and the sources of evidence are reviewed.
The available evidence is examined to explain the rapid fire escalation following
the initial explosion. There follows a commentary on the way fire and fire dynamics
are
now being considered in the design and operation of UK oF shore installations.


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