Lord Cullen to speak at Aberdeen oil and gas forum

Lord Cullen's inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster heralded a new era in offshore safety. Picture: TSPL

Lord Cullen's inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster heralded a new era in offshore safety. Picture: TSPL

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LORD Cullen, the judge whose landmark inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster heralded a new era in offshore safety, is to give the keynote address at a major conference on risks in the international oil and gas industry to be held in Aberdeen in March.

Leading risk management experts from around the world will gather in the city on 5 March for a conference that will set the agenda for dealing with the impact of human risk in the oil and gas industry, hailed as “the first international conference of its kind in the world.”

The conference - “Another Perspective on Risk – The Next Tipping Point” - is being organised Society of Petroleum Engineer’s Aberdeen section and is expected to be attended by 400 delegates from across the globe.

A spokeswoman for SPE Aberdeen said: “The conference will be the first of its kind in the world and the only event dedicated entirely to risk within oil and gas.It will set the agenda for dealing with the issue and impact of human risk in the oil and gas industry.

“The keynote address will be delivered by Lord Cullen of Whitekirk, who chaired the public enquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster. The outcomes of the enquiry have transformed HSE operational procedures in the North Sea and the offshore oil and gas industry worldwide.

“Also included in the impressive line up of speakers is David Pritchard, co-chair of the Presidential Technical Commission for the Deepwater Horizon study group in America. It will be the first time a key investigator in the Macondo disaster has publicly addressed the industry in a conference setting.”

The speakers also include Les Linklater, team leader of Oil and Gas UK’s Step Change in Safety initiative, Susan Mackenzie, head of the Health and Safety Executive’s Hazardous Installations Directorate, and Jake Molloy, regional organiser of the RMT union.

Ella Minty, the chair of the conference’s organising committee, said: “Amongst the conference’s main aims will be to address human risk and its impact upon industry operations. It is the first step towards building a genuine platform for dialogue and discussion amongst industry leaders and risk experts.

“The lessons learned and all the issues arising during the day will be followed up and, hopefully, built upon. There are matters where the industry is divergent but, when it comes to people or human risk factors, the solutions need to be jointly found.”

She added: “We are delighted that so many leading authorities from the UK, the United States and elsewhere have agreed to attend the conference proceedings.”

A total of 165 oilmen working on the Piper platform and two rescuers were killed on 6 July, 1988, when a series of fires and explosions blew apart the North Sea installation. Lord Cullen’s groundbreaking report into the catastrophe swept aside the old prescriptive regime which had governed the industry and transformed offshore safety.

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