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. Robert Ives QASAS

    All you crybabys quit sniveling about oil. Period. Try walking to work. What happened in the gulf is tragic, but life goes on. I am fourth generation OIL-FIELD and proud of it. All the training in the world will not stop accidents. Again, life goes on.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Luke

    If this is a gas rig sinking/sunk.... wouldn't the natural gas keep it a float?

    May 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sam

    Geee that would have been a huge gas far* had the cutoff valves failed (it accidentally did work!!). Planes would have been grounded like the iceland volcano thing.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LKS

    I have decided the Blog-o-sphere is simply useless for the transmission of information. The amount of ridiculous dross posted in just a few hours on a serious and important event is amazing. Granted, amongst all the drivel are some important bits of actual information and discussion.

    What is both amusing and terrifying is how easy it is to see how people bring all their own personal baggage to the table... from the left or right... and try to play pundit spin doctor.

    What we should be able to confirm:
    1. Did the rig sink
    2. Is it currently leaking

    What is worth asking:

    1. Was the drill string attached at the time the rig sank
    2. Is the well head on the ocean floor capped?

    What comparisons' should or should not be made with BP/LA rig

    1. What stage of operation was the rig in when the accident occurred
    2. Did the safety/BPO system operate as expected
    3. What caused the rig to begin taking on water?

    Accidents do happen, often alas due to poor planning, poorly maintained safety records/equipment, and sometime just because mechanical systems are never failure proof. (failure resistant/redundant is the best we can strive for)

    Facts are actually useful things.. maybe we should wait until we have some...

    May 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tsk tsk

    Many of you are missing the point. The rig was in danger of sinking, so the STATE RUN (as in no private) company shut off the rig and evacuated. Valves were closed, and everyone was moved to safety. No harm no foul. I'm sure some short-term profit was lost, but taking the whole situation into account, the cost is far less than it will be for some PRIVATE (as in profit driven and NOT run by the state) companies. There are some things that actually do better if NOT run for profit because of their role in society.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Thomas

    I am surprised Chavez has not blamed it on the U.S. yet. That is usually his response to anything negative.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wcb2009

    So the shut off valve worked. Go figure!!!

    May 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    No environmental damage occurred? They sent a pile of metal and chemicals to the bottom of the ocean floor, but no damage occurred to the environment....ya right.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dtroconis

    Hugo Chavez? Dick Cheney? What's the difference?

    May 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. herb

    Safe valve technology is out there. Chavez just chose to spend the money to insure that his country was protected from any possible eco damage. US "regulatory" (lmao) agencies, that are supposed to be protecting us from ecological disasters issued an exemption to standard safety equipment required by all other drilling operations in US waters. In my view, these "regulatory agencies" are in lock step with British Petroleum which has no vested interest in protecting the United States, only in protecting BP profits. Corners were cut, bribes were made, and disaster happened. And in the end, BP will walk away from the destruction with little or no compensation to those who were devastated by BP's greed based disaster.


    May 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    You all are missing the big points here:

    1. This was a BRAND NEW rig. Yeah, they really know how to build them.
    2. This was at 525 ft, which is a whole lot easier to deal with than 5000+ft.
    3. Valves for natural gas are easier than valves for liquids (or really viscous liquids in the case of Gulf crude)

    While it is great that no one was injured and all of the safety equipment operated as expected, comparisons of this to the BP rig is like comparing the complexities of a putting a satellite into low-earth orbit vs. puttting one into geosynchronous orbit.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mkc

    Perhaps trhe Earth's crust is shfting. Hello, 2012?

    May 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Xception

    tsk tsk, you seem to be making the assumption the BP rig would NOT have been shut down and valves closed if they had an hours warning like in this incident. You earn a FAIL for logic.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. redisgreat

    I only worry that Hugo Chavez has a Twitter account.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gregory

    r u serious!!! geez another frikin rig sunk.......what is this the gas apocalypse!?!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
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