Management and union representatives of Brazil's state-owned Petrobras oil company on Tuesday ruled out that the explosion and sinking of the firm's P-36 oil rig, said to be the largest disaster of its kind in history, was the result of sabotage.
Testifying before the legislature, Petrobras executives and labor leaders acknowledged that although the investigation of the accident which took the life of 11 rig workers is scheduled to conclude in a month, there is no evidence of foul play.
Union leaders noted, however, that the sinking revealed the existence of "wrong crude oil policies."
"There is no evidence of sabotage, although that option must still be examined," Fernando Siquiera, president of the Association of Petrobras Engineers, said.
The labor leader noted that Petrobras management must be improved. The state company is divided into several business units "which aggravated this disaster, and even after 24 hours had elapsed (since the blast), they still did not know what to do."
Siquiera confirmed that prior to the March 15 explosion, rig workers reported problems "that revealed a sequence of mistakes."
The rig was located some 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) off the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, and it pumped 84,000 barrels a day of crude, some 6 percent of Brazil's total production.
Petrobras president Henri Reichstul also told the Senate that the causes of the accident "are still a mystery, and for this reason it's too early to lay the blame on any official policy."
"It's hard to reach conclusions before the investigation is over," Reichstul also said, and he assured the senators that discovering the reason for the sinking of the rig has become a "question of honor" for Petrobras.
Reichstul added that the state oil company is "giving all the necessary aid to the families of the dead workers, and will pay for the education of their children, because that's our obligation."
The labor union charged that the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) is anxious" to privatize all the oil reserve areas discovered by Petrobras, and that it limits its task to making a profit "at any cost," even to the extent of encouraging exploratory rigs to compete, as well as to conceal, technical data from each other, Siquiera alleged.(petroleumworld)
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