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FABIG  

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The Piper Alpha (1988) disaster triggered many changes to the offshore oil and gas industry's approach to dealing with explosion and fire hazards. Several large joint industry projects were undertaken to increase our understanding of hydrocarbon fires and explosions, and significant gaps in knowledge were identified.

FABIG was created in 1992 within this context of ongoing research and changes in the industry, with a view to continue the collation, appraisal and dissemination of knowledge on hydrocarbon fires and explosions, and to be the main forum for discussion of fire and blast related issues in relation to the design of both offshore and onshore facilities.

On the 6th of July 1988, the Piper Alpha disaster claimed the lives of 167 people and totally destroyed the Piper Alpha platform. This accident, which remains the worst offshore accident to date, drew the attention of the offshore industry and the regulators to the damage that could arise in the event of an explosion and fire on an offshore platform, and triggered many changes that shaped the current offshore regulatory and operating environment worldwide.

A new regulatory regime was introduced in the UK following the public inquiry by Lord Cullen and the oil & gas industry responded to the challenges presented by the disaster through wide ranging initiatives, including several Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) involving full scale fires and/or explosions. These initiatives substantially advanced our knowledge and understanding of hydrocarbon fires and explosions, and the way we design offshore facilities to prevent them and mitigate their effects. The combination of the new regulatory environment and the pro-active response of the industry resulted in a real "step-change" in safety for offshore installations in the North Sea sector, which has influenced the offshore industry worldwide.

One of the first major research projects that followed the disaster was Phase 1 of the JIP on Blast and Fire Engineering for Topside Structures (BFETS). It resulted in the production of 26 reports summarising the industry's understanding of fire and explosion engineering at the time, and in publication of the Interim Guidance Notes (IGN) for the Design and Protection of Topsides Structures against Explosion and Fire. These guidelines were branded as “interim” due to the fast changing design concepts and the numerous and significant gaps in knowledge and understanding of loading and resistance to explosion and fire identified in the BFETS Phase 1.

The Fire and Blast Information Group (FABIG) was created in March 1992 within this context of ongoing research and change in the industry, with a view to continue the collation, appraisal and dissemination of knowledge on hydrocarbon fires and explosions for the design of offshore and onshore facilities. The key activities of FABIG as set out at its inception were to produce specialist design guidance on fire and explosion engineering so as to update the IGN and provide a forum for sharing technical knowledge through Technical Meetings and Newsletters.