Another Drilling Rig Accident: Venezuela

On 5/13/10, a natural gas drilling rig platform, off the coast of Venezuela, sank. 95 workers were on board, but everyone evacuated safely. The incident occurred on the Aban Pearl platform that is part of the Mariscal Sucre offshore natural gas project. The rig is operated by Venezuela and owned by Aban Offshore Ltd.

Just last week, the Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister was broadcast on live television from the top of the rig, celebrating the inauguration of this venture. This rig was the “center piece” of Venezuela’s major natural gas development project. Venezuela has a lot of gas to drill up. They have had trouble getting investors.

It was reported that there was no threat of a leak, and that the safety mechanisms on the rig worked properly. Lets hope so. Considering the source (Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan President), this could be in question.

OK…I find all of this strange. The rig in question is the symbolic center piece of the project. A project that has had trouble getting investors, despite there being massive reserves to drill up . And it all happens a week after the  inauguration of the project, and less than a month after the Gulf oil spill disaster? I don’t know whether we should be concerned about the human carelessness in the drilling industry, or if we should be concerned that these rigs are being attacked or sabotaged?

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