Nearly thirty years since Piper Alpha Disaster – HSE warn about hydrocarbon releases

Many of the big oil company disasters (such as Piper Alpha, or Texas City Refinery, or CAPECO) arise because of loss of containment of a highly flammable material (oil, gas, hydrocarbon, etc). If the release finds a source of ignition, then a fire/explosion will result and people killed or harmed, and property and companies are damaged. Hydrocarbon Releases (or HCRs) from oil rigs, oil processes plants, oil refineries, etc. are obvious examples of Loss of Containment of Highly Flammable Materials.

 hydrocarbon releases - CAPECOCapeco – from

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Process Safety (updated April 2018)

On the morning of the last day of two weeks of intensive training in the Middle East (last year) on the subject of Process Safety I happen to read the following article from IOSH:

Process safety neglected in board discussions

The two weeks have included a lot of interesting process safety discussions on technical topics such as:

  • Risk Assessment
  • Bow Tie Diagrams
  • Root Cause Analysis

Importantly, we have also talked at length about the importance of other factors, such as:

  • Communication and Consultation
  • Commitment from Senior Management
  • Active Monitoring
  • Process Safety Audits
  • Health and Safety Culture

In the UK, in April 2018, the HSE challenged Oil and Gas Companies to “do more” to tackle the problem of hydrocarbon releases (see below). This challenge came as we get close to the thirtieth anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.

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