Piper Alpha victims remembered




Unite marks 28th anniversary

Hajera Blagg, Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Nearly three decades ago today, the deadliest offshore disaster in history unfolded as the Piper Alpha platform burst into flames, killing 167 of the 228 people either working on the rig or patrolling in a safety vessel nearby.


An investigation later found that the operator Occidental Petroleum’s safety procedures had been grossly inadequate – the resulting report into the disaster by Lord Cullen made over 100 recommendations on improving health and safety offshore.


Much like today, in 1988, the year of the disaster, the industry was hit by a drop in the price of oil – and the industry responded by massively cutting costs and in the process safety was compromised.


Piper Alpha was originally an oil-only platform but was fitted for gas production in 1980. Before the rig’s modification to include gas, staff quarters were kept well away from the most dangerous production components of the rig. But afterwards, gas compression units were placed next to the control room.


The safety problems were compounded when the operator decided it would not stop oil and gas production as it carried out construction, maintenance and upgrade works. On the night of the disaster, following a shift change, staff did not realise they were not supposed to be using a piece of pipework that was sealed with a temporary cover and which had no safety valve.


An ensuing gas leak caused a mass explosion and the platform went up in flames. The raging fire was not fully brought under control until three weeks later. The disaster that killed 167 has to this day cast a shadow over the affected families, the offshore workforce, and their communities.


“Our thoughts today are with the families, friends and work colleagues of those who so tragically died in the Piper Alpha disaster 28 years ago,” said Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell.


“As a mark of respect we ask that everyone take a few minutes out of their day to remember all of those who have been touched by a tragedy of such devastating proportions.


“Beyond today’s anniversary, the best way we can honour those who lost their lives on Piper Alpha is to vigorously continue in our campaign to ensure offshore oil and gas  companies commit to the highest standards of health and safety through meaningful engagement with the workforce and their trade union representatives.


“Since the drop in the price of oil last year, the oil and gas industry is going down the same road it did three decades ago when it slashed costs to maintain profits and in doing so this could create an alarmingly dangerous work environment,” Campbell added.


“Oil and gas companies have gone on a cost-cutting rampage over the last year, slashing tens of thousands of jobs and cutting back on pay and other terms and conditions. Those who are still left in the workforce are being asked to do more for less.


Changes to shift patterns following the downturn in the price of oil mean offshore workers are working dangerously long hours leading to major stress levels at work,” he noted.


“Slashing pay, terms and conditions has also had a devastating effect on worker morale, which is another contributing factor to stress and fatigue that could also create a health and safety ticking time bomb.”


“We demand that the oil and gas industry honour the victims of Piper Alpha and all of those who have lost their lives offshore by ensuring there is a serious commitment to the highest health and safety standards and working with their employees and the offshore unions through the offshore coordinating group (OCG) to achieve this.”


All those listed below died on the night of July 6, 1988 in the disaster. Unite pays tribute to them:


Ian Geddes Anderson, Dual Service Operator

John Anderson, Catering Manager

Mark David Ashton, Trainee Technician/Cleaner

Wilson Crawford A Bain, Valve Technician

Barry Charles Barber, Diving Consultant

Craig Alexander Barclay, Welder

Alan Barr, Electrical Technician

Brian Philip Batchelor, Seaman

Amabile Alexander Borg, Non-Destructive Tester

Hugh Wallace Brackenridge, Roustabout

Alexander Ross Colvin Bremner, Production Operator

Eric Roland Paul Brianchon, Technician

Hugh Briston, Scaffolder

Henry Brown, Welder

Stephen Brown, Assistant Chef/Baker

Gordon Craib Bruce, Helicopter Landing Officer

James Bruce, Logger

Carl William Busse, Directional Drilling Supervisor

David Campbell, Cleaner

David Allen Campbell, Scaffolder

Alexander Watt Cargill, Electrician

Robert Carroll, Safety Operator

Alan Carter, Lead Production Operator

Robert Cleland, Derrickman

Stephen Colin Cole, Radio Officer

Hugh Connor, Instrument Technician/Lecturer

John Edward Sherry Cooke, Plater

John Thomas Cooper, Instrument Technician

William Nunn Coutts, Chef

William John Cowie, Steward

Michael John Cox, Scaffolder

Alan Irvin Craddock, Drilling Supervisor

Edward John Crowden, Electrical Technician

Bernard Curtis, Deputy Production Superintendent

Jose Hipolito Da Silva, Steward

John Stephen Dawson, Telecom Engineer

Eric Deverell, Production Clerk

Alexander Duncan, Steward

Charles Edward Duncan, Floorman

Eric Duncan, Drilling Materials Man

John Duncan, Engineer

Thomas Irvine Duncan, Roustabout

William David Duncan, Crane Operator

David Alan Ellis, Steward

Douglas Newlands Findlay, Supervisor Mechanic

Harold Edward George Flook, Production Operator

George Fowler, Electrical Technician

Alexander Park Frew, Plater

Samuel Queen Gallacher, Pipe Fitter

Miguel Galvez-Estevez, Assistant Chef

Ernest Gibson, Mud Engineer

Albert Stuart Gill, Roustabout

Ian Gillanders, Instrument Pipe Fitter

Kevin Barry Gilligan, Steward

Shaun Glendinning, Painter

John Edward Thomas Goldthorp, Motorman

Stephen Robert Goodwin, Geologist

James Edward Gray Gordon, Floorman

David Lee Gorman, Safety Operator

Kenneth Graham, Mechanical Technician

Peter John Grant, Production Operator

Cyril James Gray, Safety Operator

Harold Eugene Joseph Green, Rigger

Michael John Groves, Production Operator

John Hackett, Electrical Technician

Ian Hay, Steward

Thomas Albert Hayes, Rigging Supervisor

James Heggie, Production Services Superintendent

David William Henderson, Lead Floorman

Philip Robert Houston, Geologist

Duncan Jennings, Geologist

Jeffrey Grant Jones, Assistant Driller

Christopher Kavanagh, Plater

William Howat Kelly, Electrical Technician

Ian Killington, Steward

John Brian Kirby, Production Operator

Stuart Gordon Charles Knox, Roustabout

Alexander Rodger Laing, Steward

Terence Michael Largue, Scaffolder

Graham Lawrie, Roustabout

Findlay Wallace Leggat, Scaffolder

Brian Lithgow, Photographic Technician

Robert Rodger Littlejohn, Pipe Fitter

Martin George Longstaffe, Logger

William Raymond Mahoney, Steward

John Morrison Martin, Rigger

Sidney Ian Mcboyle, Motorman

Robert Borland Mccall, Chief Electrician

James Mcculloch, Hvac Technician

Alistair James Mcdonald, Mechanical Technician

Alexander Mcelwee, Plater

Thomas O’neil Mcewan, Electrical Chargehand

William George Mcgregor, Leading Steward

Frederick Thomas Summers Mcgurk, Rigger

William Hugh Mcintosh, Floorman

Gordon Mckay, Valve Technician

Charles Edward Mclaughlin, Electrician

Neil Stuart Ross Mcleod, Quality Assurance Inspector

Francis Mcpake, Steel Erector/Rigger

David Allison Mcwhinnie, Production Operator

Dugald Mclean Mcwilliams, Welder

Carl Mearns, Rigger

Derek Klement Michael Millar, Supervisor

Alan David Miller, Industrial Chemist

Frank Miller, Scaffolder

John Hector Molloy, Engineer

Leslie James Morris, Platform Superintendent

Bruce Alexander Ferguson Munro, Floorman

George Fagan Murray, Steward

James Cowie Niven, Roustabout

Graham Sim Noble, Materials Man

Michael O’shea, Electrician

Robert Rennie Pearston, Mechanic

Ian Piper, Motorman

Wasyl Pochrybniak, Lead Roustabout

Raymond Leslie Price, Production Operator

Neil Pyman, Engineer

Terence Stephen Quinn, Service Engineer

William Wallace Raeburn, Maintenance Controller

Donald Reid, Chargehand Engineer

Robert Welsh Reid, Roustabout

Gordon Macalonan Rennie, Process Operator

Robert Miller Richard, Production Operator

Alan Riddoch, Steward

Adrian Peter Roberts, Roughneck

Alexander James Robertson, Lead Production Technician

Donald Nicholson Robertson, Mechanical Technician

Gary Ross, Roustabout

Michael Hector Ryan, Roustabout

Stanley Sangster, Foreman Scaffolder

James John Dearn Savage, Electrical Technician

Michael Hugh Brodie Scorgie, Lead Foreman

William Alexander Scorgie, Pipe Fitter

John Francis Scott, Scaffolder

Colin Denis Seaton, Offshore Installation Manager

Robert Hendry Selbie, Turbo Drill Engineer

Michael Jeffrey Serink, Logger

Michael Bernard Short, Foreman Rigger

Richard Valentine Skinner, Assistant Driller

William Hamilton Smith, Maintenance Lead Hand

James Speirs, Mechanical Technician

Kenneth Stuart Stephenson, Rigger

Thomas Cunningham Boswell Stirling, Cleaner

Malcolm John Storey, Seaman

James Campbell Stott, Plumber

Jurgen Tilo Stwerka, Research Chemist

Stuart Douglas Sutherland, Student/Cleaner

Terrence John Sutton, Mechanical Fitter

Alexander Ronald Taylor, Roustabout

Alistair Adam Thompson, Telecom Engineer

Robert Argo Vernon, Production Operator

John Edward Wakefield, Instrument Technician

Michael Andrew Walker, Technician

Bryan Thomas Ward, Rigger

Gareth Hopson Watkin, Offshore Medical Attendant

Francis John Watson Head Chef

Alexander Whibley, Roustabout

Kevan Dennis White, Maintenance Supervisor

Robert Whiteley, Roustabout

Graham Gill Whyte, Aerial Rigger

James Gilbert Whyte, Aerial Rigger

Alan Wicks, Safety Supervisor

Paul Charles Ferguson Williamson, Floorman

David Wiser, Survey Technician

John Richard Woodcock, Technical Clerk





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