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The Scotsman: Inquiry told Shell rig men's deaths avoidable

THE deaths of two oil workers on board a North Sea rig were “entirely avoidable”, an inquiry has heard.
It was claimed that a series of failures by the oil giant Shell led to Keith Moncrieff 45, of Invergowrie, near Dundee, and Sean McCue, 22 of Kennoway in Fife, dying on a utility leg of the company's Brent Bravo platform on 11 September, 2003.
The pair had gone to inspect a temporary repair on a leaking pipe, when they were overcome by a release of hydrocarbon gas.
The fatal accident inquiry, which began at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last October, was ordered by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd.
During closing submissions yesterday, the procurator fiscal, Ernest Barbour, said: “The deaths on the Brent Bravo of Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff could, and should, have been avoided. The tragic events that occurred were entirely avoidable.”
He added that this was due to Shell's failures to follow certain procedures and “fundamentally flawed thinking” in the system being used.
The inquiry had earlier heard that a temporary patch had been placed on the leaking pipe nearly a year before the incident on the platform.
When Mr Moncrieff and Mr McCue went to inspect it, a broken valve led to the release of up to 2.5 tonnes of gas.
“This whole tragedy may have been avoided if the patch had been replaced earlier,” said Mr Barbour.
Sheriff Colin Harris heard that, since the Brent Bravo deaths, there had been changes and improvements in Shell's operating procedures.
The inquiry continues.

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