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Brazil offshore explosion kills five

12 February 2015

An explosion on an offshore oil and gas production and storage vessel (FPSO) operated by Brazil's Petrobras has killed at least five workers and injured ten. The state-run group said 74 workers were on board the FPSO at the time and four of them remain missing. Brazil's oil industry regulator ANP said that a fire caused by the blast has been contained and the situation has been stabilised.

Stock image
Stock image

ANP also said that no oil leaked from the FPSO, which is located off the coast of Espirito Santo state.

According to the BBC, an official from the union representing workers on the vessel said that a gas leak caused the February 11 explosion.

The incident occurred on the FPSO Cidade de Sao Mateus - owned by Norwegian firm BW Offshore and leased by Petrobras - about 120 kilometres off the coast of the state of Espirito Santo. BW Offshore declined to comment on the incident.

The FPSO had a daily average production of 2.25 million cubic metres of natural gas and 2,200 barrels of oil in December, according to ANP, and has been operating at that site since 2009.

Flights were suspended at the airport in Vitoria, the state capital, to allow helicopters carrying the wounded to operate unhindered. Ten ambulances were deployed to transfer the injured from the airport to various hospitals in the area, the state government said. State health officials said two people had suffered serious burns and eight had concussion.
ANP said two teams would investigate the explosion.

Petrobras is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving kickbacks to politicians that led to the resignation of its board of directors last week.

Aldemir Bendine took over as chief executive from Graca Foster, who stepped down in the face of mounting market and political pressure.

Investigators have said Petrobras executives colluded with construction firms to steal $5 billion from the company's financial reserves over the course of a decade, with some of the cash being paid out in bribes to politicians, including members of president Dilma Rousseff's coalition.

Petrobras has also been hit hard by sliding oil prices, which fell 60% between June and January. It has also been hit by a string of recent accidents at refineries and rigs.

Last month, an explosion at a refinery in the north-eastern state of Bahia with three people injured. In December 2013, a fire forced Petrobras to shut down production at an oil rig after two workers were injured. A week later, a refinery fire in Rio de Janeiro forced the company to temporarily close a production unit.

Update: On February 13, Reuters said ANP had ordered Petrobras to study ways to boost output on the Cidade de Sao Mateus shortly before the explosion. This was a condition for approval of Petrobras' development plan for the Camarupim and Camarupim Norte natural gas fields.

 


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