Over the past few oil extraction has become markedly safer. Studies now show that oil extraction is now safer than many occupations like agriculture and nursing.

However, oil extraction is still quite dangerous. After all, workers are usually on shift for 12 hours a day, working with highly combustible material. A mishap can cause severe loss of life, as well as economic and environmental ramifications. Throughout history, there have been several oil spills that made the headlines. Here are a few examples:

Piper Alpha, North Sea

The Piper Alpha Oil Rig was located 120 miles northeast of Scotland. The rig was one of the largest and most successful oil rigs producing more than 300,000 barrels of crude oil every day.

On July 6, 1988, the Piper Alpha became victim to a horrible disaster. The pump’s pressure safety valve was removed a few hours earlier was temporarily sealed with two blind flanges. The pump was not supposed to be turned on in any situation.

However, due to communication errors, a member of the night staff turned it on. The corresponding gas leak led to an explosion on the platform killing 167 people.

Ocean Ranger, Canada

This was a disaster that occurred in the North Atlantic Sea near the coast of Newfoundland. It occurred on February 15, 1982, and killed 84 crew members on board. 

The mobile offshore drilling rig was working on an exploration well at the Hibernia field when the incident occurred. The rig was overturned in the water due to a severe storm. A day earlier, a porthole window had shattered, and water had flooded the ballast control room. Crew members noticed it to be malfunctioning hours later.

Crew members abandoned the rig and attempted to evacuate the rig through lifeboats. However, only one lifeboat of 36 people was able to launch, although the members were unable to survive successfully. All others perished when the rig flooded.

Usumacinta Jack-up Disaster, Gulf of Mexico

On October 23, 2007, the Usumacinta Jack-up collided with the PEMEX-operated Kab-101 platform in the Bay of Campeche. The collision cause and an oil and gas leakage, meaning two of the safety valves had to close.

However, the crew members were unable to close the two vales, which only exacerbated the leakage. Eventually, the rig platform caught fire, and the crew had to be evacuated. However, 21 people were killed during the evacuation.

Many accidents, including those mentioned in the piece, could have been avoided with safe and secure drilling instruments. At Contact Instruments, our products include torque gauges & systems, weight indicator systems, and trash pump parts, all of which meet high safety standards. We’ve got over nine decades of experience in the Alberta Oil and Gas Industry and can assist with almost any issue. Contact us for more information.