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Piper Alpha Lessons Learned


Joe Louvar (CCPS Staff Consultant)


Piper Alpha was an oil production platform in the North Sea that caught fire in 1988 resulting in 167 fatalities and the loss of the platform. The root causes of the accident included many process deficiencies which were evident before the accident but were not corrected. Many of the problems on Piper Alpha were not unique to an oil production platform because the facility’s process equipment was typical of many chemical plants including tanks, pipes, compressors, pumps, reliefs, etc. All of the problems identified on Piper Alpha could have been eliminated by the appropriate application of OSHA’s Process Safety Management regulations.

This SAChE product includes a DVD on Piper Alpha entitled "Piper Alpha - Spiral to Disaster" which was distributed to 2007 SAChE members by mail by AIChE/CCPS. The Piper Alpha DVD includes a re-creation of the events in 1988 as well as dramatic and motivational material for understanding and practicing the important concepts of chemical process safety. This DVD is an excellent tool for motivating university students and practicing engineers to be keenly aware of safe practices particularly in process settings including process hazard analysis and permitting systems.

This SAChE product also includes a brief description of the Piper Alpha accident, and a list of the actual deficiencies that contributed to this accident (downloadable document).

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