On this day the Piper Alpha, a North Sea oil production platform operated by Occidental Petroleum, exploded. The explosion and resulting fire destroyed it and killed 167 men – with only 59 survivors. At the time of the disaster the platform accounted for approximately ten percent of North Sea oil and gas production, and was the worst offshore oil disaster in terms of lives lost and industry impact. The catastrophe was exacerbated by a nearby platform called Tartan, which continued to pump gas into the upstream pipelines of Piper Alpha after the explosion because they did not have the authority to shut down production – even when the Piper Alpha caught fire. The released gas caused a second explosion and the fire increased, covering the entire platform. (Piper Alpha / Reuters / BBC / gCaptain / LennTech)
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