Piper Alpha Judge Cullen welcomes new 10-volume N. Sea encyclopaedia-cum-safety manual

The publication of a new 10-volume encyclopaedia-cum-safety manual for the oil and gas industry which will help prevent industrial accidents – including the fatal Piper Alpha explosion – in the North Sea has been welcomed by Lord Cullen.

Published by the Edinburgh-based International Centre for Oil and the Environment, the new encylopaedia-cum-manual is aimed at helping future leaders deal with the challenges of oil price volatility, technological innovation and the loss of experienced personnel.

The eponymous author of the Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha tragedy, was speaking at the launch of the new North Sea encylopaedia – ‘Encompassing the Future: Offshore Oil and Gas Operations’.

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

One observer described it as a cross between Encyclopaedia Britannica and a Haynes Manual.

Lord Cullen said: “Painful lessons were learnt from the tragic <Piper Alpha> events on 6 July 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.

“The 10 volumes of the Encompassing the Future: Offshore Oil and Gas Operations’  resource will be an essential knowledge bank to pass on lessons learnt to the next generation, making sure that the industry retains the full benefit of years of expertise and experience.

“More than ever, such comprehensive reference material is required. A mature province <the N. Sea> with ageing infrastructure, challenging economics, demographics and technology that pushes new boundaries, we must welcome and make full use of such a resource.”

The launch at Aberdeen university was attended by 80 industry leaders with over 100 future leaders attending the following forum which outlined the content of the resource and explained how it can be used.

The launch, hosted by Sir Ian Diamond and held at the university’s Kings College, featured a panel of eminent speakers who included Colette Cohen (OGTC), Gunther Newcomb (OGA) and Professor Alex Kemp.

Lord Cullen
Lord Cullen

William Cairns, Executive Chairman of the International Centre for Oil and the Environment, also served as Editor-in-Chief of theEncompassing the Future: Offshore Oil and Gas Operations’ repository.

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

“However, with the support of industry and academic experts, this much-anticipated project distils, records and shares intellectual and operational expertise in a format for the digital age.

“Its value is inestimable not only in terms of accident prevention and avoidance of environmental damage, improving decision-making to ensure greater efficiency but also in exporting North Sea experience and expertise around the world.”

Paul Wheelhouse, MSP
Paul Wheelhouse, MSP

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, commented: “This repository from the International Centre for Oil and the Environment should represent the ‘gold standard’ for health and safety, and environmental management – not just for Scotland, but for the rest of the world.

“Ensuring that the highest safety standards are applied across the industry is, of course, a key priority for all of us, and it is also essential to North Sea sustainability in the long run.”




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