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
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  1. AccidentalAmerican

    Folks go to the AP website. Big American Oil has too much to answer for.

    Emerging oil rig evidence shows lack of regulation

    By JEFF DONN, H. JOSEF HEBERT and MITCH WEISS (AP) – 1 hour ago

    WASHINGTON — The first firm evidence of what likely caused the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil blowout — a devastating sequence of equipment failures — drives home a central unsettling point about America's oil industry: key safety features at thousands of U.S. offshore wells are barely regulated.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Texasmike

    This from RIGZONE.COM:

    Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) was operating the rig in the Gulf of Paria in the Campo Dragon gas field. Dow Jones quotes PDVSA President and Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez as saying that the rig was disconnected from the well, eliminating the risk of a gas leak. According to the news report, workers on the rig began reporting problems at approximately 11 p.m. Wednesday and that the rig began taking on water an hour later.

    The Aban Pearl is owned by India-based Aban Offshore. According to RigLogix, the Aker H-3 semisub was rated to work in water depths up to 1,250 ft and could drill to 25,000 feet. Built by Far East Levingstone in Singapore at a cost of $50 million, the rig entered service in 1977. Aban Offshore purchased the rig from Fred Olsen in 2007 for approximately $211 million.

    PDVSA had the Aban Pearl under contract since August 2009 at the daily rate of $370,000. Prior to the PDVSA contract, the Aban Pearl was under contract in June 2007 in Nigeria working for Equator Exploration.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Texasmike

    Quite a load of ignorance flowing from both irrational sides of the political fence about this. Maybe a little less rhetoric and a bit more facts, kiddies.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Toljaso

    Speaking of BP here, So who should pay for the cleanup? The American taxpayers that's who. We're the ones who benefit from cheaper oil, so we should all pay. Hey you crunchy granolas – do you part and start riding a bike to work everyday. And while your at it, stop using clearners, fertilizers, plastics and all other petro-based materials and products.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Billy

    Wow. Immediately sealed. you hearing this BP?

    May 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cyrus

    aban is iranian name ahmadinejad made the rig

    May 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TexasDan

    If any of you have been to Venezuela or know what's going on there you'd know that Halliburton and PDVSA aren't the best of pals seeing as how PDVSA finds it hard to pay their contractors on time even if all. I highly doubt Halliburton had anything to do with this since most of their rigs they are working on in Venezuela are not PDVSA at the moment.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jessica

    Venezuela and Norway are the only two countries requiring two safety valves (one is an explosion valve and the second is a leak valve)...something we need to learn here in the USA...!!!

    May 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bill

    I KNOW they are going to try to find a way to blame Bush for this...

    May 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    I wonder if anyone else noticed that the Venezuelan well was in 500 feet of water and the BP disaster was in 5000 feet of water. I wonder if that difference in depth complicates things?

    And the BP rig was still actively drilling while the other rig was already in a production state.

    But, obviously, Venezuela knows much more about oil wells and natural gas wells than we do.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shepherder in CT

    Its a shame Sean Penn was'nt onboard
    Posted by: cdOG3


    Tell us what good you've done in your life for someone else other than yourself. You're a digusting being. I hope for your sake there is a hell for you to burn in.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JfromTexas

    For anyone saying these were Venuzuelan valves and products which seemed to work better than US products. Before making ignorant comments, take a look at the equipment aboard the Pearl. Over half of the equipment on this rig was manufactured by American based companies. Cameron BOP, Read the facts before you make stupid assumptions. Accidents do happen, as catastrophic as they are.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jimmy


    countries are not responsible for shutting off valves on rigs you idiot. typical liberal.

    bet you still think a president declares war and not congress.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michelle

    Makes me wonder if all of this isn't deliberate in order to raise the prices of gas. I wouldn't put it past the money makers.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jose Ramon

    Howerver, the rest of the country is also coming down appart. Electricity is under emergency, lack of food, lack of medicines, etc., etc.. Venezuela a rich poor country which imports approx. 70 per cent of the food needs. There are more murders in Venezuela that the killings in the Irak war. Venezuela is a country without law.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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