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. Henry

    I think President Obama should end all correspondence similar to Chavez with a US spin to it "...and we Rock. Go USA!"

    May 13, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Truman G

    The oil rig explosion was not caused by an activist/terrorist. The eyewitness accounts descibe problems that indicate excessive gas pressure, which blew the mud out of the pipe, probably allowing gas to escape and ignite. So, aside from the fact that there were numerous preventable problems with the cutoff valve, they experienced gas pressure beyond anticipated levels, and failed to control it. There was extreme negligence involved. The Republicans often push for pure markets, meaning they'll be self regulating. For that to truly work, individuals must have the right and ability to sue the curlies off of the people and organizations at fault. From what I understand, there is a cap on the amount that BP may have to pay. So, we either need to remove all caps, and teach these companies a lesson, or put in place strict and THOROUGH regulations. None of this waiver crap. Violation = shut down and fix it!

    May 13, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. renji1

    Venezuela continues to shine... well done Mr. Chavez, well done

    May 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Real Deal

    Anyone got a match?

    May 13, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |

    Shara Failin?

    May 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Unreal

    Ha! No spill. America is STILL #1 in screwing up the environment. Try harder, Chavez!

    May 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Me

    Hmm..I wonder if Sean Penn will hot foot it over to Venezeula to help his buddy Chavez out for this....

    May 13, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. truthywood

    Private companies look for the profits only, while government run companies look for the safety of people, thats why their safety valve was operational.

    May 13, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Helen

    Jessica. I believe you are pulling our legs. We spent two months in Valencia this winter.
    at that time, electricity was cut off for Valencia and Naguanagua for 3 hours every other day, beginning at 3 pm and coming back on at 6 pm, and no mall, house, apartment building, or business establishment, or public building was spared. If you could afford a gas generator, then you had access to electric power. Doctors and medicine are not free in Venezuela, I was sick there and had to pay for Dr., x-rays and medicine. Some clinics are free for the poorest people, but free medicine may or may not be available, it's either scarce or doesn't exist. Even hospitals lack medicines. Believe me you don't want to have to be treated by Cuban Dr. (who get their medical eduction in three years) and in the dirtiest of clinics. The poorest suffer many hardships. Education has not progressed - there are Cuban teachers along side the Venezuelan teacher in the classroom and many Venezuelan's resent their intrustion. There arre shortages everywhere. You have to stand in line to buy milk, sugar and the last day we were there, you had to stand in line to buy bread since there was a scarcity of flour. You never know when you go to the supermarket if there is a supply of whatever you've gone there to get. I saw garbage piled up as high as the lamp posts on the streets. Disease is rampant, of course. We were told that the electrical plant that supplies electricity to the neighborhood where we stayed had 4 generators; only one was working. When that one goes...... Ellectrical plants are staffed by Cubans who are there to assist in the operation of the plant. Some areas have little, or, no water, sanitation is non-existent, also leading to more diseases. The population is increasing so fast, I wonder if Venezuela can sustain all the people it has. I have often joked that Venezuelans have a national phobia about bathrooms. With very few exceptions, all public restrooms have broken toilets, broken seats or none at all, broken sinks, some just hanging from the walls and filfty to an alarming degree. Even restaurants I witnessed these restrooms; one had feces and broken tiles in the floor. You have to pay to use the restroom and even then it is filthy. Usually someone is standing outside with a roll of toilet paper and will unroll you a few sheets as you go in for a few bolivars.. Unbelievable! Believe me, you soon learn to carry tissue with you in your purse. Although the municipality has garbabe pick up, the people still burn their garbage in their back yards, and that's what caused the Naguanagua mountain to burn for more than 7 days. While it was affecting only the poor people, it was allowed to burn. When it got to the rich peoples homes, the government sent a helicopter with a bucket and put it out in a few hours. Poor people suffered from axphiation (including me and my husband) for seven days and the people had no recourse. I saw firefighters, but they didn't attempt to put the fire out, even when it burned down the mountain where they could have reached it. The fire department is a joke. Building maintenance is a joke. Elevators don't work, no matter where you go Parts simply can't be found. and no one knows how to fix them. You should see the elderly and the sick trying to walk up several flights of stairs. The only people who are prospering, that I could see, are the Cubans, the military and the wealthy, while the struggling middle class is squeezed and are called sarcastically by the leader and goverment "boughaese (I don't even know how to spell the word but I think you know what I'm saying.
    Venezuela is dying from lack of maintenance, lack of money and a lack of caring by the powers that be. Pray for the Venezuelan people because they don't deserve this hardship that has been forced on them in the name of "socialism" and "revolution".

    May 13, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kyle


    May 13, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jessica

    Helen, you probably went to Colombia, they have 20 million handicapped people begging for money in every corner, plus they now have 8 million people living in refugees camps. The last time I went to Bogota my two suitcases were stolen. Bogota is a very dangerous city, there are drugs everywhere, and you could get kidnapped at any time. I took a flight of Avianca from Bogota, and the aircraft was grounded for 8 hours, we finally took our flight and the people aboard the airplane were selling fake jewelry to me, I decided not to go to Colombia never again.

    May 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Zaphod

    Somewhere there's a woman looking at her computer monitor saying, "Oh! So that's how my name's spelled!"... "Uh... No, wait! That's it! The one with an 'H'!"... "Uh, okay... Now I'm really confused!"

    Voice in background interrupts:

    "Mom, there's some people at the door from a TV channel here with a big check and talkin' about some reality show and stuff"... "They want to know if they spelled your name right."

    Woman suddenly realizes something, smiles and looks down at her left palm...

    You know the rest.

    May 13, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Helen

    No, Jessica: I have never been to Columbia, no will I ever go there.

    I also will never go to Venezuela again, either.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Helen

    I missed the joke. I didn't see the movie.
    Mostly I watch Clint Eastwood, or stories like "The Notebook", etc.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KF

    it is Gorge Bushy's fault 'n' Sasha Paido, too.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
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