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Today in History (TIH) – Thu. 6th July. 1988: Piper Alpha, an oil production platform destroyed by exploded and fire offshore.


Piper Alpha was an oil production platform in the North Sea approximately 120 miles (190 km) north-east of Aberdeen, Scotland, that was operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Limited. It began production in 1976, initially as an oil-only platform but later converted to add gas production.

An explosion and resulting oil and gas fires destroyed Piper Alpha on 6 July 1988, killing 167 people, including two crewmen of a rescue vessel; 61 workers aboard survived. Thirty bodies were never recovered. The total insured loss was about £1.7 billion ($3.4 billion), making it one of the costliest manmade catastrophes ever. At the time of the disaster, the platform accounted for approximately ten per cent of North Sea oil and gas production, and the accident is the worst offshore oil disaster in terms of lives lost and industry impact.

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