NEW standards in offshore health and safety need to be reached 30 years on from the Piper Alpha disaster, Scotland’s energy minister has said.

The North Sea platform exploded in July 1988, leaving 167 men dead.

A major conference, Safety 30, is being held in Aberdeen next week to mark progress since the tragedy.

Paul Wheelhouse (pictured, right) will speak at the event, and said the families of those who died deserved to see a safe industry.

The energy minister said: “I recall vividly the awful images of the Piper Alpha tragedy, and I know how profoundly the loss of life affected the city of Aberdeen and Scotland.

“The 30th anniversary of this terrible tragedy provides a very important reminder to everyone working in this industry, and in these hostile and dangerous waters, that safety should always be paramount. Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of those who work offshore.

“Through continued vigilance, allied to innovation and dedication, we must strive to achieve and sustain new standards of offshore health and safety, aiming to make the UK Continental Shelf the safest place to work in the global oil and gas industry.

“We owe that to the families of those who lost loved ones on the Piper Alpha, and to all those who continue to deliver the vital supplies of energy our society often takes for granted.”

The conference on June 5 and 6 at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre has been organised by Oil and Gas UK and the International Regulators’ Forum.

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: “Safety 30 is an important conference for our industry coming 30 years after the Piper Alpha disaster that led to the rigorous health and safety legislation governing us today. We look forward to hearing from the Scottish energy minister who is very engaged with our sector which puts safety at the heart of all its operations.”