One of Texaco's Petronius Deck Modules Falls During Installation

One of the two deck modules for Texaco's Petronius project fell into the Gulf of Mexico during installation as it was being lifted into place by J. Ray McDermott's DB50 barge late Thursday night.

All 180 personnel on site are safe. This incident occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. Thursday at the Petronius site, located in Viosca Knoll 786, approximately 130 miles southeast of New Orleans.

The water depth at the location is 1,754 feet. Petronius is a deepwater compliant tower platform owned 50 percent by Texaco (operator) and 50 percent by Marathon Oil Company.

Earlier Thursday, the north module was hoisted by the DB50 into place on the compliant tower structure and was in the process of being secured. The north module weighs 3,876 tons and contains wellbay, power and compression equipment.

The south module which fell into the Gulf weighs 3,605 tons. The module contains the production equipment, waterflood facilities and crew quarters.

The south module was in the process of being lifted when it suddenly broke from its support. The module struck the transport barge as well as the DB50 before falling to the sea floor. Both barges sustained some damage.

The condition of the south module is unknown.

Production from Petronius was scheduled to begin in mid-1999. This incident will delay the production startup, although it is unknown at this time the extent of the delay. Texaco's share of production was expected to average 13,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 1999.