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Cracked hull causes oil leak from Brazilian FPSO

29 August 2019

A cracked hull in a Brazilian FPSO, the Cidade do Rio de Janeiro, has caused an oil spill around 130km (81 miles) off the coast of Brazil in the Espadarte oil field in the Campos Basin. Japanese offshore platform operator MODEC, which owns the vessel, informed Brazilian state-led oil company Petrobras of the incident on August 23. The vessel has been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

FPSO Cidade do Rio de Janeiro - Image: MODEC
FPSO Cidade do Rio de Janeiro - Image: MODEC

In a statement, MODEC said the spills were limited, the first being only 1.2 cubic metres of residual oil and a further leak discovered on August 26 was estimated as being 6.6 cubic metres. The FPSO has been out of operation since July 2018 and is currently undergoing the process of decommissioning. 

A crew of 54 personnel was evacuated from the vessel after the cracks and subsequent leaks were discovered.

The platform has around 450,000 litres of diesel oil and 169,000 litres of oily sludge still onboard. However, both are stored in tanks unaffected by the cracked hull. A company has been hired to offload the remaining crude and stabilise the platform which is listing 12 degrees, the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) said in a statement. Production riser systems were being disconnected from wells on the seabed when "structural failures, or cracks," were found in the hull of the vessel, the agency added. 

The latest flight over the area discovered an estimated 6,000 litre oil slick close to the FPSO. However, this has now decreased to around 400 litres following the clean-up efforts of 10 support vessels, Petrobras said in its own statement. 

The Cidade do Rio de Janeiro FPSO is one of many offshore production facilities that is currently being decommissioned by Petrobras as the company continues its exit from mature onshore and offshore oil fields. Over 100 oil fields have so far been listed for sale as part of its 2019-2023 divestment program. The oil company intends to remove the Cidade do Rio de Janeiro and one other ageing FPSO from the Campos Basin by 2021.

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