May 13th, 2010
11:49 AM ET

Gas rig sinks off coast of Venezuela, government says

Venezuelan government officials said Thursday they are investigating why a natural gas rig sank off the nation's coast in the early morning hours, the state-run energy company said.

All 95 workers on board were rescued and no gas leaks were detected because safety valves cut off the flow, said the company, Petroleos de Venezuela, also known as PDVSA.

The Aban Pearl platform, in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Sucre state, started to list at 11:23 p.m. Wednesday, PDVSA said on its website. An inspection of the four support columns detected massive flooding and an evacuation was started, the company said.

The captain and two engineers stayed aboard until the rig listed to 45 degrees and then also evacuated, PDVSA said.

No environmental damage occurred, the company said.

The rig was extracting natural gas from a well called Dragon 6, which was immediately sealed, PDVSA said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke the news of the rig's sinking on his Twitter account, @Chavezcandanga.

"With sorrow I inform you that the gas platform Aban Pearl sank a few moments ago," Chavez wrote around 3 a.m. "The good news is that the 95 workers are safe."

He posted another tweet a few minutes later that said, "They were evacuated and at this moment two patrol boats from our Navy are moving to the area. We will go forward and will TRIUMPH. Viva VENEZUELA."

The rig workers were picked up by the tanker Petro Saudi Discover and were transported to land, some by helicopter. Four of the workers appeared later Thursday at a briefing on the incident broadcast by the government-owned VTV station.

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Filed under: Venezuela
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Rational and Logical

    Jessica, I believe anyone who spends 2 months (sixty days) in a country would know what country they were in. If a person is capable of travel, then chances are they know where they are travelling to.

    As for posting, people read the posts already made before you post. A good deal of misinformation has been posted repeatedly, even after later posts have corrected it. Read before you post!

    As far as the rig sinking, it was probably lack of maintainance, especially since Venezuela has nationalized their energy production and can/won't pay for professionals now. And who knows, maybe it was a Natural Gas (Methane) leak from the wellhead itself that destabilized the rig and caused it to sink. Research into methane bubbles at sea have been researched and shown to cause occasional ship sinkings.

    As Venezuela is a socialist nation run by a dictator who controls the media, any report originating from this country not independently verified by outside sources should not be trusted.

    May 14, 2010 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. Archer

    So... did anyone else catch that Chavez has a twitter account?

    May 14, 2010 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jimbo,Minneapolis,Mn

    rational and logical:

    i agree to some extent about the news coverage...sorta like faux news.


    don't know about you, but man, am i sick of hearing about tweeting!

    speaking of methan on the ocean floor...i think it's going to be a huge problem all over the world in the future, since deeper wells (oil and natural gas) are penetrating that level of floor and releasing HUGE amounts of methane bubbles (we're talking massive amounts of methane gas)

    let's think about solar, wind, batteries, whatever, and get away from this slimy stuff!

    May 14, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. The Bill

    It’s no surprise the Venezuelan system worked and is being compared to Norway’s standard, the most stringent in the world. Chavez and his party are working towards running every aspect of their oil industry using Norway’s model. I wish we in North America would do the same. Aside from safety standards, Norway’s government makes the rules instead of the oil companies. Oil companies also pay tax in Norway as well as large royalties, and cannot drill at all unless they enter a “partnership” with the Government…. Norway has very quietly become one of the richest countries in the world. If we did that, citizens having pay federal tax would just be unnecessary paperwork.

    May 14, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Marion

    The US did not require safety valves so the big Oil companies wouldn't have the cost cutting into their profits. Good plan guys.......

    May 14, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Don

    Too bad Palin and Chavez werent strapped to that rig when it sank.

    May 14, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Randy Royal

    Ok, how does this event result in attacks on Sarah Palin? How petty must you be to seek any reason to throw cheap shots at a person. I am no fan of the woman but get real, this does not involve her. Let's be happy that 95 people are safe and returning to their families or that there is no obvious environmental impact. Maybe if we could move beyond partisan politics we could start solving problems!

    May 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dian Price

    My comment referrs to the OIL leak. There is a lot of research about stopping the oil leak.

    My comment is about cleaning it up......

    Can we try SOAP ?? Tide can get it ou t, and all that. Should be easy enough to drop a bunch out of a plane and as the soap sinks, will it continue top clean up the oil? Don't see how it can hurt...

    Thank you

    May 14, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeremy

    haha. i think that its worth a try, i mean we are not doin any thing else. right. ps try gojo it cut through better.

    May 15, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    What is it about people and their need to poke holes and negate arguments because of bad syntax or faulty grammar?

    I have an elderly uncle who crows with triumph if he can find the smallest error saying "How can this person possibly have a legitimate argument. Look-their mispelled 'plethora.' And they didn't conjugate this verb properly! Ha!"

    How sad.

    May 16, 2010 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    Blast...and of course I typed 'their' instead of 'they' as the comment box is so small. So, I'm sure said group will squeal with glee and start taking shots at me.

    May 16, 2010 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    What is it about people and their need to poke holes and negate arguments because of bad syntax or faulty grammar?

    I have an elderly uncle who crows with triumph if he can find the smallest error saying "How can this person possibly have a legitimate argument. Look-they mispelled 'plethora.' And they didn't conjugate this verb properly! Ha!"

    How sad.

    May 16, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    Thought I would correct it quickly before the retired teachers and angry old men went crazy..

    May 16, 2010 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. texdan

    Since you have not been to both countries Jessica you have no room to compare, your just assuming one is worse than the other. I used to live in Bogota for 4 years and I recently stayed in Venezuela for a month and I'd have to say Helen's description is spot on. And if you don't think Venezuela has anything to do with the Drug cartels you really are misinformed google rocket launchers sold to Venezuela went to FARC and inform yourself.

    May 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mike

    Hay have any of you people worked on an oil rig or even been to VZ?
    I work on an oil rig like the one that blew up . I am on it now. What happened on that Trans rig was very bad.
    People were killed. I don't think anyone ment for that to happen. I have wrked out here for 27 years and never seen a company do anything on purpose. And i have worked in VZ for three years on a jack up rig. Until PDVSA took or rig last year not for from where that rig That sank. And let me tell you they no sqatt about drilling. And we do have a lot of restictions out here. Probbably more than anywhere else.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
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