On the 25th anniversary of one of the world’s worst offshore oil disasters, this documentary chronicles the tragic events that occurred on the Piper Alpha rig on the 6th of July 1988.Â It was a cataclysm that killed 167 men and left only 61 survivors, each of whom had to fight for their lives to escape the huge, labyrinthine structure and the flames that were consuming it.
For those that have not seen this documentary, on July 9th at 9pm UK time (2200 NL time) BBC2 is broadcasting this documentary again.
Piper Alpha: Fire In The Night
On the 25th anniversary of one of the world’s worst offshore oil disasters, this documentary chronicles the tragic events that occurred on the Piper Alpha rig on the 6th of July 1988.
It was a cataclysm that killed 167 men and left only 61 survivors, each of whom had to fight for their lives to escape the huge, labyrinthine structure and the flames that were consuming it.
The film will also look at life on-board Piper Alpha before the explosion and also hears from survivors on how their life changed after the explosion.
This 90-minute documentary will detail the experiences of the men who found themselves in the midst of an inferno that destroyed a rig which was, at one time, the world’s single largest oil producer.
There will be testimonies from those who survived, many of whom have never spoken publicly about the events before. The programme will also feature newly released recordings of the coastguards and emergency services as they reacted to the disaster.
Some drama reconstructions will show how the disaster unfolded and the horror the men of Piper Alpha had to endure.
Piper Alpha: Fire In The Night is an STV Productions film for BBC Scotland.
5 July 2013 Last updated at 07:25 BST
Two survivors of the Piper Alpha oil rig explosion have been re-united for the first time, 25 years after the disaster.
Roy Thompson pushed Mike Jennings off the burning platform, saving his life, but did not know he had survived until he saw the tale recounted in a documentary.
Nearly 170 people died in the North Sea tragedy.
Laura Bicker reports.
RELATED BOOK: “PAYING FOR THE PIPER”
A related book first published in 1996, “PAYING FOR THE PIPER”, reported on the industrial relations crisis that erupted after the explosion and fire on the Piper Alpha North Sea oil production platform, operated by Occidental Petroleum.
From page 438
The stick was the weapon that the employers had always used, fear, in particular of blacklisting and the threat of unemployment. On Mobil’s Beryl Alpha, overtime working was again compulsory, while the company had threatened a downmanning if the workforce failed to cooperate in meeting overtime requirements.2 This kind of pressure was crucial in repressing the remaining militancy as 1990 drew to a close. Those workers who now worked offshore knew full well that hundreds of their colleagues remained stranded “on the beach” with no immediate prospect of reinstatement. It was a salutary reminder of where the ultimate balance of power in the industry lay. Shell’s OPRIS bar remained in place for those who had taken action in the East Shetland Basin, although some had managed to trickle back offshore, working for other contractors elsewhere in the North Sea. But not only construction workers had to pay the price for activism. One hundred and seven catering workers were blacklisted by Shell and effectively prevented from re-employment in any other part of the North Sea. Shell had commented that it did not see why other operators should be obliged to import problems onto their platforms.
From pages 442 & 443
The only glimmer of optimism for the offshore workforce was the announcement by Shell of a “goodwill gesture”. The “temporary OPRIS bar”, the offshore blacklist, would be lifted by the company from 1 January 1991. For those languishing onshore, it meant that a four-month punishment period of unemployment now had an end in sight. Shell’s action was part of the employers’ attempt to build on the post-Cullen optimism that a “new era” was about to begin in the North Sea. More immediately, a number of Opposition MPs had taken every opportunity to remind the government that the plight of the dismissed workforce remained an obstacle to any new beginning off-shore. At a private meeting with Colin Moynihan MP, who had now replaced Morrison as the Minister responsible for oil, Ronnie McDonald had reiterated the need for Shell’s blacklist to be rescinded before any progress could be made towards restoring industrial peace offshore.
Meanwhile, despite Shell’s “no victimization” announcement, two vocal safety representatives on the Brent Bravo, one of them, Jake Boyle, a prominent OILC activist, were soon to be inexplicably “down-manned”.