Synopses & Reviews
The first full account of the most tragic oil rig disaster in history, the human story behind it, and the true nature of its legacy.
July 6, 1988, began as a normal day on Piper Alpha, the biggest offshore oil rig on the North Sea. But just after 10:00 p.m., a series of explosions rocked the platform, and the inferno continued to burn for weeks. Of the 226 men working on the platform, 162 died, along with two of their would-be rescuers. Brad Matsen talked to the survivors and their families; to the rescue teams, firefighters, and hospital workers; and to other witnesses. Now he brings together the full story of the human error and corporate malfeasance behind this tragedy.
Here is a comprehensive account of the catastrophe, from the origins of the fires on the rig to the investigation into the causes of its demise to the pain it continues to cause the survivors and the families of the dead. Written with a novelist’s sense of pace and eye for detail, it is a riveting, gut-wrenching saga, made even more timely and important in light of recent disasters.
"With the same meticulous research employed in books on sea explorer Jacques Cousteau and the mysteries of the oceans, Matsen (Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King) takes on the devastating 1988 Piper Alpha oil rig tragedy. His two-year investigation casts a wide net, pulling in accounts from company bosses, rig foremen and workers, first responders, medical staff, and government officials in putting together a comprehensive view of the fatal fire and explosion abroad the rig, which killed 162 men in the North Sea. Matsen notes the Piper Alpha complex was not only a drilling and production platform but a junction station for moving gas to other platforms. When he details the unfortunate history of fires, explosions, even collapses, of rigs, the Piper Alpha disaster is put into context, making rig work one of the most hazardous jobs on the planet. In the end, Matsen's remarkable book is a stunning tribute to the survivors and their families, who banded valiantly together against the corporate giant, Occidental Petroleum, which absolved itself of all blame in the costly event." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
BRAD MATSEN is the author of Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King, Titanic’s Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss, and many other books about the sea and its inhabitants. He was a creative producer for the television series The Shape of Life, and his articles on marine science and the environment have appeared in Mother Jones, Audubon, and Natural History, among other publications. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.