I’ve decided to keep a running record of a few of the serious incidents Petrobras has been associated with in the last year or two – these are just the ones we hear about…
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- 30 barrels spilt from a Petrobras rig off Rio on 13/2/12.
- 160 barrels of oil leaked from Petrobras platform offshore from Sao Paulo
- Brazilian navy fuel barge sinks in Antarctica with 63 barrels of Petrobras produced fuel onboard, incident hidden by four government ministries responsible for the Antarctic mission
- death of another Petrobras employee and injury of two others in a Boxing Day accident on the PUB-03 oil rig in offshore waters in Rio Grande do Norte state, northeast Brazil
- fire on the same day at its Duque de Caxias oil refinery in Rio de Janeiro are just the latest in a series of deadly incidents and accidents earlier in the year. The refinery is already the subject of a criminal investigation launched by the Federal Police Department of Environment and Heritage after tests carried out by technicians from the State Environmental Institute (INEA) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ) on a nearby river found high levels of pollutants during December 2010 and in August of this year. A spokesperson for the Police said the material dumped in the river violated the limits set by environmental law.
- a spill from a project co-owned by Petrobras and Chevron spewed 3,000 barrels of oil into the sea and took a week to get under control. Local government authorities have taken a civil lawsuit against the polluters claiming US$11billion in damages.
- a Petrobras worker was killed and his colleague badly disfigured from a refinery explosion in Argentina that was similar to another fatal accident two years earlier.
- A major incident in the Gulf of Mexico involved a deep sea riser coming loose with a 130 tonne buoy narrowly missing another rig as the company prepared to start the first new extraction since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Had the break happened a few days later when oil had started pumping, analysts claim it could have resulted in a disaster similar to the BP oil leak in 2010.
- An article in the Washington Post quoted engineers worried about the risks of a technology still being tested. Ricardo Cabral de Azevedo, a petroleum reservoir engineer at the University of Sao Paulo who has done research for oil companies in the US, said the industry is worried about the ultimate fail-safe: the blowout preventer, a complex device that slices through pipe to instantly cap a well in a disaster. At BP’s Macondo field, the BOP, as it is known in the industry, suffered compound failures. Azevedo said companies may be pushing the bounds of technology by going deeper than 2,500m or more of water (as is the case in parts of the Raukumara Basin). “It is a problem because all the equipment has to go to higher pressure, and higher pressure may cause failure,” Azevedo said of the BOP. “We really don’t know if it will function.”