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Lives Lost in Azerbaijan Platform Fire

SOCAR, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, experienced a tragic accident at one of its oil and gas platforms in the Caspian Sea at the end of last week.  The deadly platform fire started when a natural gas pipeline was damaged in a storm.

There were a total of 62 workers on the platform at the time of the accident. Thankfully, 33 of those workers were evacuated following the accident. 23 of the remaining workers are still missing and 7 have been confirmed dead.

Officials fear that the missing workers did not survive. As SOCAR’s vice-president informed the media:

“We continue the search-and-rescue operation … We regard those whom we have not found so far as missing … We believe that God will help them, although it’s probably impossible.”

Other Effects of Azerbaijan Platform Fire

SOCAR has said that this incident has prompted it to review its safety measures for its platforms. This is probably a prudent decision, given that many of these platforms date back to the time of the Soviet Union. This incident follows a year when 14 workers lost their lives on SOCAR’s oil and gas platforms.

Much of SOCAR’s production (60%) flows through the damaged platform so there will certainly be a significant impact to output until the facility can be restored.

BP, the operator of the main oilfields in Azerbaijan, has stated that the accident will not have an effect on its production. BP is well aware of the impact of tragic offshore accidents and expressed its condolences to all of the injured workers.

Platform accidents like this one highlight the fact that oil and gas exploration and production, particularly when it is conducted offshore, is an incredibly dangerous business. Workers are dealing with volatile substances and ever-changing weather conditions, all of which creates the potential for devastating injuries. The only hope is that when offshore accidents do happen, and they do far too often, companies make efforts to improve safety to reduce the potential for future losses.

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