The Oil and Gas industry and associated pipelines is sadly afflicted with a history of catastrophic safety incidents - a small subset for problem-definition purpose as follows:

  • 1984 Mexico City LPG explosion resulted in 300 fatalities

  • 1988 Norco refinery, explosion led to 7 fatalities and 42 injuries

  • 1988 Piper Alpha North Sea platform explosion resulted in the death of 167 operators, loss of 10% of UK production and $2.3 Billion asset

  • 1989 Pasadena Texas Chemical Plant explosion led to 23 fatalities, 130 injuries and $800 MM damages

  • 2005 Texas City fire and explosion resulted in the deaths of 15 people, 170 injuries and substantial damage to property and reputation

The purpose of this paper is to review such catastrophic process incidents with a view to identifying potential mitigating effects that could have been obtained if suitable real time information systems had been available. Among the aspects to be covered are remote monitoring centers, near misses and pre/post-facto incident analysis. The underlying intent is to investigate the potential benefits of using real time information to maximize technical integrity and to minimize incident probability.

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