Offshore ‘knowledge bank’ to safeguard lives

Lord Cullen of Whitekirk has said a new database of oil and gas industry knowledge and experience will help to prevent another Piper Alpha.

Speaking at a special launch event for the potentially life-saving resource at Aberdeen University yesterday, he said its three volumes would be “an essential knowledge bank”.

The “seminal” work – Encompassing the Future: Offshore Oil and Gas Operations – has involved more than 60 authors and taken about 10 years to complete.

Although it also exists in book form, it is the updatable online version which is expected to become an essential reference guide for companies across the industry.

Lord Cullen, who criticised health and safety procedures in the North Sea industry following his probe into the Piper Alpha disaster, when 167 rig workers lost their lives, said: “Painful lessons were learnt from the tragic events on July 6, 1988.

“These lessons, like so many others in the industry, must never be forgotten. They should be used to ensure the safety of the people who work in it, the protection of the environment and the overall economic health and sustainability of offshore operations.

“This resource will be an essential knowledge bank to pass on lessons learnt to the next generation, making sure the industry retains the full benefit of years of expertise and experience.”

He added: “A mature province with ageing infrastructure, challenging economics, demographics and technology that pushes new boundaries must welcome and make full use of such a resource.”

Encompassing the Future is driven by the International Centre for Oil and the Environment (ICOE), backed by industry, the Crown Estate and the Scottish Government.

It pulls together 40 years of inter-disciplinary knowledge and experience in environmental, health and safety and performance management in a format designed to be easy-to-use and share with current and future generations of oil and gas professionals.

The launch, sponsored by Scottish law firm Brodies, was attended by 80 industry leaders and about 100 people took part in the roundtable discussions that followed.

Speakers included Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse, who said Encompassing the Future should be the “gold standard” for health and safety, and environmental management throughout the world.

ICOE chairman William Cairns said: “Compiling such a comprehensive knowledge repository during one of the most challenging periods faced by the industry has been a mammoth task.”

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