Brazil: Another Oil Spill Off Coast : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

By PETER MUELLO, Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (April 12, 2001 4:17 p.m. EDT) - A blowout at an offshore oil rig forced workers to evacuate and dumped more than 3,400 gallons of crude oil into the sea, near the site where another platform caught fire and sank last month, oil giant Petrobras and union leaders said Thursday.

No one was injured in the accident at the P-7 rig, located in the Bicudo oil field 75 miles off Brazil's southeastern coast, Petrobras said. A blowout is an uncontrolled gush of gas and oil. Production was immediately stopped.

Petrobras said oil came from a pipe Thursday morning during tests of a well in about 700 feet of water. Most of the 143 workers aboard were evacuated to nearby platforms, but 37 members of emergency and firefighting teams remained on the rig.

"There was no explosion, and the structure of the rig was not compromised," said Irani Varela, head of the department of safety and the environment at Petrobras.

Varela described the spill as relatively small - "about half a tanker truck." He said two ships were at the site with 2,000 feet of floating oil-contention barriers to keep the spill in check.

However, the oil workers' union Sindipetro said the spill was six miles long. Technicians from the government's Environmental Protection Agency, Ibama, were heading to the site but did not immediately have an estimate of the size of the spill.

Petrobras said the P-7 rig was producing 15,000 barrels a day and had been in operation since the 1980s in the offshore Campos Basin, which accounts for most of the 1.5 million barrels of oil Brazil produces daily.

The latest accident comes barely three weeks after fire and explosions killed 11 workers aboard the world's biggest floating oil rig, which sank in nearly one mile of water in Campos Basin.

At least some of the 312,000 gallons of diesel fuel aboard leaked into the ocean, but winds and tides carried it away from the coast out to open sea. The rig also had 78,000 gallons of crude oil, most of it in hoses between the wells and the rig, but it was unclear whether that also had leaked.

-- Rachel Gibson (, April 13, 2001

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