The world’s largest offshore oil rig, owned by Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, seemed likely on March 16th to sink into the ocean one day after a series of explosions that killed as many as 10 people.
The 40-story rig in the Roncador oil field was rocked by three blasts on March 15th, causing a fire and inflicting severe damage to one of the rig’s hulls that threatened to send it plunging into the ocean.
Petrobras President Henri Philippe Reichstul said on March 15th that: “If the degree of listing increases, we are going to lose the platform.”
If the structure falls, at least half of the 1,200 cubic meters of diesel and 300 cubic meters of oil stored on the rig could spill, and although the wells under the platform have been shut, there is a risk that the sinking platform could damage the shutters, leading to a much greater environmental disaster.
Over the past three years, more than 80 Petrobras oil workers have died in accidents, and oil workers unions are accusing the company of outsourcing work to inexperienced workers and putting its employees at risk.
The P-36 rig, which is located in the Campos Basin, where 80% of Brazil’s oil is produced, has production capacity of 180,000 b/d, making it the world’s largest rig.
All production was halted after the explosion, and Petrobras estimates that it will lose $50 million a month while the rig is out of operation.
It appears likely that the platform could be out of operation for many months or may even have to be abandoned, leading to a sustained shortfall in oil production of 80,000 b/d, or 5.1 percent of the company’s projected crude output for 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)