Just after 6.00am on Sunday 11 December 2005, an explosion of monumental proportions occurred at the Buncefield Oil Depot, close to Junction 8 of the M1 motorway in Hemel Hempstead. The depot was one of the largest fuel supplying facilities in the country and stored aviation fuel as well as petrol and other oil-based substances. The explosion was later considered to be the largest ever in peacetime Europe and, for Northgate Information Solutions, it resulted in what may be the biggest and most complex business recovery project ever undertaken.

The headquarters building of software and IT services company Northgate Information Solutions was one of the closest to the source of the explosion. It suffered extensive blast damage and several parts of the building were set on fire. Northgate had invested significantly in business continuity (BC) and high availability provision. Two backup generators were installed on site and full UPS protection and multiple communications networks were in place. But the entire on-site BC infrastructure was destroyed as a result of the explosion.

However, it’s precisely because we handled a crisis so successfully once that we are expected to be even better prepared for the next one. It’s effectively raised the bar.

Group Business Assurance Manager, Northgate Information Solutions