Scotland’s energy minister has said the industry owes it to the families of Piper Alpha victims to make the North Sea the safest place in the world for oil and gas operations.
Paul Wheelhouse has delivered the keynote speech on the second day of the Safety 30 conference at the AECC.
The event, organised by Oil and Gas UK, aims to highlight the lessons learned from the tragedy 30 years ago, when 167 people lost their lives.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “I remember vividly the awful images of the Piper Alpha tragedy, it did shock me. I very much felt and empathised with the communities across Scotland, particularly in the north-east, and across the rest of the UK who were suffering the loss of life.
“I know it particularly affected the city of Aberdeen.
“The 30th anniversary of this terrible tragedy provides a very important reminder to everyone working in this industry and all industries that safety should always be paramount.
“Through continued vigilance, allied to innovation and leadership, we must strive to achieve and sustain new standards of offshore health and safety, aiming to make the UK Continental Shelf the safest place to work in the global oil and gas industry.
“I believe we owe that to the families of those who lost loved ones in Piper Alpha. I’m sure that’s a sentiment that we all share.”
Mr Wheelhouse highlighted recent reports from RGU and the quality assurance firm DNV GL, respectively addressing health effects of three week on, three week off rotas for offshore workers and concerns about lack of investment in industry safety, showing the challenges remaining for the sector.
He said the sentiment requires “careful monitoring” as sector activity increases, while the industry should be vigilant on recognising if shift patterns are affecting health.
Mr Wheelhouse also said oil and gas will remain the “bedrock” of Scotland’s energy system as the country makes the transition to a “low carbon energy future.”
He added: “Our oil and gas history and heritage will remain the bedrock of our future energy system, supplying energy but also the skills, innovation and talent to support our transition to a different, low-carbon energy future.
“This energy transition, alongside accelerating technology adoption and the maturity of the UK Continental Shelf, will require new workers, new roles and tasks and a more collaborative approach with a consequent shift in oilfield culture.
“We all have a role in ensuring there is never a repeat of the Piper Alpha tragedy. We owe it to those who lost their lives, and their families and friends, by continuing to work collaboratively together and I believe that the sector and its highly skilled workers have a very bright future.”