Petrobras P-36 Appears To Have Stopped Sinking

The steeply listing 40-storey platform has sunk 13 feet and it was feared the $350 million structure would plunge to the bottom of the ocean.

Petrobras stepped up efforts over the weekend to save the rig, flying in US and Dutch experts and 50 tons of European equipment to keep the deep-sea platform afloat and prevent an oil spill. On Saturday afternoon, salvage specialists began pumping nitrogen into sunken compartments to stabilize the rig. Petrobras officials said that since then the rig, which was tilting by about 30 degrees, had stopped sinking and righted itself by about two degrees.

Petrobras said it had given up hope that nine missing workers from the rig's fire brigade had survived. Only one body has been recovered. The others are presumed to be in a chamber that was completely submerged.

If the rig were to sink, up to 395,000 gallons of crude and diesel in underwater pipelines and onboard tanks could leak into the ocean.

Environmentalists worry the slick could head toward the mangroves along the Rio coast, but Petrobras says it has sent boats to suck up any spill and has placed floating absorption barriers around the rig to prevent a slick from spreading.

The accident is a blow to Petrobras which has been trying to establish a reputation as one of the world's leading oil companies. The firm is already considered a global expert on deepwater production. The P-36 rig was supposed to be the prime example of Petrobras' deepwater expertise. It is located in the Roncador oil field 78 miles off the Rio coast in the Campos Basin, which produces 80 per cent of Brazil's oil.


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