Service to mark 30 years since Piper Alpha disaster

The 167 men who died in the offshore disaster will be remembered in Aberdeen.

The Piper Alpha platform ablaze
The Piper Alpha platform ablaze

A service to remember the 167 men who lost their lives in the Piper Alpha disaster 30 years ago is to take place.

Family and friends of the victims of the world’s worst offshore tragedy will be joined by some of the 61 survivors who managed to flee the burning platform on July 6 1988.

An Act of Remembrance will take place at 7pm on Friday in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, home to the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden.

The Piper Alpha memorial
The service is taking place in the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park (Michal Wachucik/PA)

The service has been organised by the Reverend Gordon Craig, chaplain to the UK offshore oil and gas industry.

He said: “So many lives were affected on that terrible night and it is right and proper that we take a little time to recognise this. In doing so, my prayer is we provide a little crumb of comfort to those affected most.

“I think it is vital that the industry takes time to remember too. The deaths of those men led to massive improvements in the way safety was managed in North Sea industry. It became an infinitely safer place than it was in 1988 but it will only remain so if we all play our part.

“Remembering the cost when things go horribly wrong can only encourage us all to work safely.”

Industry representatives will read aloud the names of those who died and a lone piper will play a lament, which will be followed by a minute’s silence.

Former offshore professional Geoff Bollands, who was working in the Piper Alpha control room on the night of the tragedy and was rescued by boat, will attend the memorial.

The 70-year-old, from Middlesbrough, will travel to Aberdeen with his son to pay his respects to lost colleagues and friends.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The service will be streamed live via the UK Oil and Gas Chaplaincy Facebook page for those who cannot attend.

The Oil Chapel at the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting in Aberdeen will open on Friday between 12 and 4pm where people can view the original Book of Remembrance and light a candle.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted on the anniversary: “Thinking of the 167 people who died in the Piper Alpha disaster 30 years ago today – as well the loved ones they left behind and all those who still live with the awful memories. You are all in our thoughts.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “My thoughts today are with the families and loved ones of the 167 people who lost their lives on the Piper Alpha 30 years ago – they were fathers, sons and husbands as well as skilled North Sea workers. It showed the dangers of working offshore, and the risks faced by the skilled workers in this field.

“Thirty years on, we must remember the loss of life and also reflect on the lessons learned to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again. We must never forget the terrible disaster of Piper Alpha.”

Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, who will attend the service, said: “I vividly recall the awful images of the Piper Alpha tragedy, and I know how profoundly the loss of life affected the city of Aberdeen and Scotland.

“The 30th anniversary of this tragedy provides a very important reminder to everyone working in this industry, and all industries, that safety should always be paramount.

“Through continued vigilance, allied to innovation and leadership, we must strive to achieve and sustain new standards of offshore health and safety, aiming to make the UK continental shelf the safest place to work in the global oil and gas industry.

“We owe it to all the families of those who lost loved ones on the Piper Alpha to ensure there is never a repeat of this tragedy.”

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