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Brazil’s Petrobras admits second oil spill in less than a week

Wednesday, February 1st 2012 - 06:55 UTC
Full article 11 comments
Corporation admits it is not possible to estimate how much oil leaked Corporation admits it is not possible to estimate how much oil leaked

Brazil's state-run energy giant Petrobras on Tuesday reported that 160 barrels of crude oil may have spilled from a deep-water well off Sao Paulo state but said the situation was under control.

A company statement said a production string rupture of the FPWSO Dynamic Producer (vessel platform) was detected early Tuesday, roughly 300 kilometres off the coast of Sao Paulo state, where water depth reaches 2,140 meters.

It said the well was automatically shut down after the rupture by the safety system and has been secured. “A preliminary estimate indicates that 160 barrels of oil may have spilled. There is no possibility of the oil reaching the Brazilian coast,” Petrobras said.

It added that an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the leak.

Petrobras said it notified the Brazilian Navy, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and the Brazilian National Petroleum Agency (ANP). It was the second oil spill in Brazil in less than a week.

Last Thursday, Transpetro, a Petrobras subsidiary, said it had detected a spill off the coast of Rio Grande do Sul state but did not know how much had spilled.

Petrobras transportation unit said it was not possible to estimate how much oil had leaked but said personnel and equipment were deployed to contain and remove the spill off the coast of the southern state.

In November, another oil spill was detected in a well operated by US energy company Chevron near the Frade field, 370 kilometres northeast of the Rio de Janeiro coast. The spill was eventually contained and Chevron was subject to several environmental fines.

The case was a wake-up call for Brazil as it prepares to tap huge underwater oil fields which ANP says hold reserves that could surpass 100 billion barrels of high-quality recoverable crude. These fields are off Brazil's southeast Atlantic coast beneath kilometres of ocean, bedrock, and hot salt-beds.

In 2010, Petrobras was the world's third biggest oil producer in terms of market value at 228 billion dollars. By late last month it had fallen to 5th place, with its value down to 156 billion, according to the daily newspaper O Globo.

Top Comments

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  • GeoffWard2

    Where's the $100 billion public law suit from the government?

    Wot, not happening? Or does it only happen when the oil company is 'American' or 'foreign'?

    Feb 01st, 2012 - 11:46 am 0
  • ChrisR


    I have been through this on the previous leak blog with a Brasilian who claims not, and then stated that Petrobras was fined 100M reals some time ago.

    As I said to him, a spill is a spill. They happen to all companies / oprators, as do fires and other catastrophes. To him, Chevron was synonomous with the devil. Those of us who have worked in the industry know they are all the same and it is just a roll of the dice as to who is next. Even the best operators are not immune.

    Feb 01st, 2012 - 12:37 pm 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Hi Chris,
    this must have been my young friend Forgetit.
    He is one of the good guys even though we frequently approach issues from opposite ends.
    I guess the problem is with fining a nationalised company, that the money just goes from one government department to another, with the usual 10% for 'goodwill'. Then the R$100m have to be replaced out of Contingency, with Contingency being topped up from taxes in the next budget round. No pressure to learn = no learn.

    Feb 01st, 2012 - 05:08 pm 0
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