World’s biggest oil rig sinks after explosion kills 10

The world’s biggest oil rig, owned by the Brazilian state oil company, has sunk, after an explosion onboard killed 10 workers, but the resulting spill of crude oil and diesel is said to have been contained.

There were 175 people on board Petrobras’ P-36 rig, situated some 150 kilometres (94 miles) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, when an explosion tore through it on 15 March, the cause of which was still under investigation when edie was published. The oil rig slowly sunk and, according to Petrobras, spilled some 350,000 litres of crude oil into the Atlantic Ocean.

Petrobras said that by 23 March, after an extensive clean up operation the volume of oil remaining on the surface was estimated to be around 11,000 litres. The wells on the ocean floor have been capped and are considered secure. According to Petrobras’ Environmental Director, Irani Varella, the environmental damage caused was relatively small and the coastline was not affected. The resulting oil slick reportedly covered an area of about 5 square miles. However Greenpeace Brazil has complained about the lack of information concerning the potential harm to marine life.

Petrobras has recently been involved in a spate of large-scale pollution incidents. There have been several leaks into Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay over the last couple of years, including a one million litre leak caused by a broken pipeline last year (see related story), and a four million litre spill in the southern state of Parana, six months later (see related story).

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