Petrobras P-36 Had Series Of Problems

A series of operational, maintenance and design problems caused the three blasts that ultimately sank the P-36. The accident killed 11 of the 175 crew and leaked thousands of gallons of diesel oil into the Atlantic Ocean.

According to the 34-page report, over 20 problems including faulty valves and tanks, and a lack of adequate training, supervision and coordination, helped cause the explosions at the P-36 rig.

"We identified actions were not taken which could have been taken as well as some deficiencies in the (design) of risk areas," said Oswaldo Pedrosa, superintendent of the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) regulatory body, which is heading the commission.

Petrobras spent over $100 million trying to save the $450 million rig. But the commission said the 40-storey structure was beyond saving just eight hours after the blasts. It eventually toppled into the sea off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state on March 20, five days after the blasts. It accounted for six percent of Petrobras' daily crude output.

Petrobras stated that the latest report did not differ greatly from its own study unveiled last month, which was monitored by independent Norwegian shipping classification group Den Norske Veritas.

"In some aspects there is a disagreement over the level of importance attributed to each of the factors that led to the accident, and that, alone, would not have had important consequences," the statement said.

Both reports focused their blame for the explosions on the valve of an emergency drain tank that apparently triggered a chain of accidents. Petrobras also said that certain "irregularities" found by the ANP commission were not in violation of the platform's operations manual.

The ANP report will be forwarded to the marine court, which can only apply fines, the public prosecutor's office, and federal court to determine any legal responsibility for the accident.