Death and Oil: A True Story of the Piper Alpha Disaster on the North Sea
Pantheon, Oct 18 2011, $25.95
On July 6, 1988, explosions devastated the Piper Alpha offshore oil rig in the North Sea off Scotland with the blaze burning for weeks afterward. One hundred and sixty two workers and two first responders died in the tragedy. Starting on the twentieth anniversary and two years before the Deepwater Horizon calamity, Brad Matsen interviewed a wide range of people impacted by the North Sea disaster. The research into the rig’s history and that of other rig incidents will stun readers. However it is the first hand accounts by the survivors and others that bring to life Mr. Matsen’s well written often angry look at the impact of mechanical failure, human error, government lack of oversight due to highest level decisions to choose drill baby over safety, and a lack of corporate responsibility and accountability that also chose drill over safety. While I wonder what the results of a survey would produce done in the Gulf region as to how many people were aware of Piper Alpha as this seems so eerily familiar to what happened at Deepwater Horizon.