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. SenseCommon

    CommonSense: How many have you quit an elected position?

    May 13, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Fallout

    It could be spewing a million barrels a day and Chavez wouldn't admit it. I'm surprised he hasn't blamed it on the USA. I hate Chavez, I won't buy Citgo gas because that is his company. Chavez is like the Iranian and North Korean leaders: little yapping Chihuahuas that blame everything on the US "devils". Shaddup, you little ankle-biters.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. go figure

    the reson why these valves worked is they had time to unhook " the usa rig blew up and then sank fast and this is what you get i wouldent bet that rig over there was sank on pourpose just to show the rest of the world rigs are safe and can be controlled in the event of a sinking rig. because after this mess here in the gulf big politcs would stop off shore drilling all togather.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |

    For those of you trying to compare the difference between the two countries, how about a little history lesson. Who do you think built those rigs and equipment? Who do you think trained and operated those folks and the rigs? BP, Exxon, Shell, Halliburton, Cameron, etc. etc. PDVSA 'natiionalised' (read stole) the equipment, kicked the companies out of their country, threatened workers with either taking 90%pay cuts and working for PDVSA or being unemployed with no way to leave the country. Oh yeah, let's give PDVSA a hand. The equipment they had nothing to do with performed exactly the way it was supposed to. Of course here in the US, we had an accident of enormous proportion....but that must make us inferior. No one else in the world ever has an accident.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. justblaze


    May 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jacques

    @escudvi Minor correction, Venezuela and Norway are not the only countries that required said safety valve. Canada requires it on all offshore rigs of which there are many.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. d.m.

    BP is NOT an American company, so quit calling it one. How many oil spills have been in the news in the last 5 years, 10 years, 15 years? How many of those spills have been American companies? Get over it people what happened in the Gulf is terrible but it wasn't because it was a "bad" American company.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    NO LEAK....rightttttttttt...folks,.he claims there is no leak: that doesn't mean there isn't one! The rig just sank this morning, they are far from out of the woods. Weeks after the Gulf Coast explosion, another larger leak erupted. This is on the ocean floor, where it is pitch black, freezing, and so much pressure per cubic inch we can't go down takes more than few a hours to check the safety valves

    May 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AccidentalAmerican

    The anti-Chavez rhetoric is hilarious. The point surely is that state run oil facilities always cause less pollution which really irks the US and free markets crowd. It's the same in Norway where the state run oil company Statoil has a pristine environmental record. Stricter regulation of the industry if we in US want to preserve our country.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. buluga


    May 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NN

    Even Croocked/Socialist Venezuela is less crooked than Bush and Grand Oil Cartel that is destroying our beautiful America. All because they cut safety corners in the name of profits..

    May 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AccidentalAmerican

    Hey D.M,

    I think you'll find that the companies working on the rig were all American. Halliburton, TransOcean and BP North America. It's the lack of oversight is the main problem. The Valdez wasn't British either.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jessica

    Venezuela and Norway are the only countries in the world that requires the safety valves (two valves) one in case of explosion and a second one in case of a broken pipe...!!

    May 13, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnny Noone

    I guess BP should have installed all the proper safety valves huh?

    May 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert

    I wonder when Chavez will come out and blame the U.S. CIA?

    May 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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