Failures during the drilling and exploitation of hydrocarbons that result in catastrophic offshore oil and gas accidents are relatively rare but if they occur the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of loss of life and environmental damage. Therefore, to gain insight into their prevention, the largest major offshore oil and gas accidents, those with more than 10 fatalities or with a large environmental impact, are analyzed in this article. Special attention is placed on fire as a cause and a consequence. Relevant technological and legislative changes and updates regarding safety that have followed such accidents and that can prevent potential future similar misfortunes are evaluated. Two main approaches to safety are compared: (1) the American prescriptive vs. (2) the European goal-oriented approach. The main causes of accidents are tested statistically in respect of failure probability, where the exact confidence limits for the estimated probabilities are computed. The results of the statistical test based on exact confidence intervals show that there is no significant difference between the analysed factors, which describe the main causes of offshore oil and gas accidents. Based on the small but carefully chosen group of 24 of the largest accidents, it can be concluded that there is no evidence of a difference between the categories of the main causes of accidents.

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Published on 01/01/2021

DOI: 10.3390/fire4040071
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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