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. Corn dog

    Learn to spell Sarah Palin?? Does it make any difference? lol

    May 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason P

    We know the technology can work when it's in place, is there something we can learn from this? Yes! It's not all about profit; spend the money on backup systems BP!

    May 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Opiate of the masses

    I peed in your mom's butt

    May 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jessica

    here is a picture, looks pretty bad:

    May 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. impeachtheboob

    We don't need no stinking saftey vaulves.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Klaark

    Makes those "natural gas" commercials ring a little hollow. I wonder if they'll put out ads apologizing for killing the world?

    May 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim

    It's hard to compare this to the BP rig (BP = British Petroleum for those of you lamenting the state of American corporations) because this happened AFTER the biggest news for the last two weeks is an offshore platform sinking and causing a disaster. No kidding there was no problem with the valves on the Venezuelan platform – Ever since the BP rig sank every offshore platform in the world has been checking and double-checking all their safety systems.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. not the ref

    i'm of the opinion that thismightnot be over – they didnt tell us the deepwater rig was spilling for three days

    May 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. escudvi

    News media in USA, during past few weeks, have reported that only two countries in the world, Norway and Venezuela, require, by law, a special valve on oil rigs/platforms which, it is said, would have prevented the Gulf disaster. No other country in the world requires this 'special valve". The
    BP platform/rig was not required to have this special valve because, why?
    USA did not require it. have heard this only 2 times during the past few weeks. listen to a hugh variety of radio/tv and internet news... and not much is being said about this.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill Simons

    I agree with "mcc" the spelling who cares! I guess we need their manuals on how to operate a rig and how to be safe on a rig and how not to PARTY on a rig and of course make sure we have plugs that work at plugging leaks.By the way who do you think is going to pay for this???

    May 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Biff Jones

    It's all George Bush's fault.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George

    To all those who think that the safety valves of the Venezuelan Oil Rig work... This is a communist speaker talking to a state run news agency, there's probably a lot going on that we don't know about, maybe even a gas leak. Point is: these type of governments are not transparent AT ALL, if they had to admit that the rig sank it means that something a lot worse happened.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. el rey de spain

    Chavez es PUTO!!!

    May 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. johnnyhouse

    I don't think I can top any of these learned comments.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jimmy Boy

    What is Chavez sank it on purpose. It is hard to believe a news report due to government interference down there. He could have easily shut off the flow and then sank it to one-up America. Wouldn't shock me! Kind of like if the Taliban announced they rescued a bus full a children that went missing when, in actuality, they had secretly kidnapped them in the first place.

    May 13, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
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