Semisub Sinks Offshore Venezuela

The Aban Pearl semisubmersible rig sank off the Venezuelan coast near Trinidad and Tobago at approximately 2:20 a.m. local time Thursday, Dow Jones Newswires reported citing a "tweet" from President Hugo Chavez' Twitter account.

According to Rigzone sources, two people may have died in the incident. Venezuelan officials, however, reported that all 95 workers aboard the rig were safely evacuated. In addition, they contend the incident poses no threat to the environment.

Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) was operating the rig in the Gulf of Paria in the Campo Dragon gas field. Dow Jones quotes PDVSA President and Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez as saying that the rig was disconnected from the well, eliminating the risk of a gas leak. According to the news report, workers on the rig began reporting problems at approximately 11 p.m. Wednesday and that the rig began taking on water an hour later.

The Aban Pearl is owned by India-based Aban Offshore. According to RigLogix, the Aker H-3 semisub was rated to work in water depths up to 1,250 ft and could drill to 25,000 feet. Built by Far East Levingstone in Singapore at a cost of $50 million, the rig entered service in 1977. Aban Offshore purchased the rig from Fred Olsen in 2007 for approximately $211 million.

PDVSA had the Aban Pearl under contract since August 2009 at the daily rate of $370,000. Prior to the PDVSA contract, the Aban Pearl was under contract in June 2007 in Nigeria working for Equator Exploration.

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