Dozens gathered in Aberdeen on Thursday afternoon to pay their respects to those that died in the Piper Alpha disaster.
The tragedy on July 6, 1988, claimed the lives of 167 men on board and remains the worst in the history of the global oil and gas sector.
North Sea platforms, including those operated by Harbour Energy, also fell silent to mark 35 years since Piper Alpha exploded.
Onshore, a service was held at the memorial gardens in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, led by oil and gas chaplain Reverend Gordon Craig.
It included the reading of the names of the 167 men lost, followed by a minute’s silence in remembrance, and a Piper’s lament being played amid wreaths being laid.
“The one thing that stands out for me every year is the length of time it takes to read all of the names out – that really brings home the enormity, to me, of the loss of life, the numbers involved,” said Reverend Craig.
He added that the service provides a space for families to remember and feel their loss, and to show that Aberdeen – and the wider industry – has not forgotten that loss.
From the industry side, with a new, younger generation coming through, it also provides a chance to reinforce the lessons from the tragedy 35 years ago.
“For the families, giving them space to remember, showing them that the communities remember their loss.
“And for the industry, with so many folk now having no personal memory of Piper, to remind people what can happen when things go desperately wrong and why it’s so important to follow the safety procedures learned following the disaster.
“In doing so, we honour those who lost their lives.”
The service was held at 1pm yesterday.
Harbour Energy, whose sites observed a silence at 10am, said: “The legacy of Piper Alpha is the safety culture that the offshore industry works to now and we remain absolutely committed to playing our part in that”.
Industry leaders have been delivering their own tributes, including Steve Rae, head of Step Change in Safety and one of the 61 men who survived the night.
Mr Rae has been urging industry to revisit a 22-minute film produced by his organisation ‘Remembering Piper: The night that changed our world’.
It can be accessed here.
“I need no reminding how fortunate I am to be one of the 61 that survived,” he said.
“The film, originally released in 2013 on the 25th anniversary of the disaster provides an impactful account of the events of that night, serving to remind us all why remaining vigilant and playing your part is so important.”
Skills body OPITO highlighted its estimates that 100,000 people need to be recruited into the offshore energy sector in the next decade to achieve net zero – and the need to ensure lessons from Piper Alpha continue to resonate throughout that effort.
‘We need to ensure that they recognise that those threats are still there’
CEO John McDonald said: “The recommendations from Lord Cullen’s inquiry highlighted the critical importance of training and competency in safety critical industries and for more than 50 years, this has been OPITO’s mission.”
He added: “It is our responsibility to work with industry and partners to uphold the lessons learned from Piper Alpha which serve as a constant reminder to future generations about the paramount importance of safety.”
Mark Wilson, HSE director at trade body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) also highlighted the need to reinforce the message to the new generation.
“There’s many in the industry that weren’t alive 35 years ago, in 1988, and are working in our industry safely. And many of those, thankfully, will not have seen a major accident, it hasn’t materialized into events of this nature – and nor do we want them to.
“But we need to ensure that they recognize that those threats are still there. And it’s the way that we manage those from a plant, a process, and of course, most importantly, from a people perspective.”