Engineering council blames Petrobras for loss of P-36 platform

Oct. 30, 2001
Rio de Janeiro's engineering council charged that administrative errors by Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) led to the explosions that sank the P-36, the world's largest platform, last March. The council Tuesday released a massive analysis of the causes of the accident.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 30 -- Rio de Janeiro's engineering council (CREA) charged Tuesday that Petroleo Brasileiro SA administrative errors contributed to the explosions that sank the P-36 platform last March.

The council released a massive analysis of the causes of the loss of the world's largest production platform.

Eleven workers died during the explosions and fire that sank the $500 million platform in the Campos basin off Rio de Janeiro state.

Jose Chacon de Assis, president of that council, said Petrobras contributed to the accident when it:

-- Transformed a drilling unit into a production platform.

-- Negotiated with Canadian unions to speed the revamping of the platform after the Davie Industries shipyard, where work was being performed, went bankrupt.

-- Moved the platform to Roncador field and began producing without completing the platform first.

-- Continued assembly after the platform began operation, presenting "a great danger" to workers and to the platform.

-- Ignored its own internal bulletins, dated Mar. 12, 13, and 14, pointing to operational irregularities and recommending the halting of activities and the changing of certain equipment.

-- Placed an emergency drainage system inside a platform column, a move the council called "irresponsible" and one of the main reasons for the explosion of leaking gas. There were no gas sensors or fire fighting equipment in the area.

Assis also said that the main difference between the CREA and Petrobras accident reports was that "our report points to those responsible for the accident while Petrobras shunned this question, and we are calling for continued investigations."

CREA is sending its report to all members of the Brazilian Congress, requesting that a special commission be created to investigate the accident. It also urged Rio de Janeiro's state assembly to expand its ongoing investigation.