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Apocalypse
05-13-2010, 03:36 PM
Venezuela Offshore Rig Sinks

By SIMON ROMERO
Published: May 13, 2010

LIMA, Peru — An offshore natural gas exploration rig leased to Venezuela’s national oil company sank off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and forced the evacuation of all its 95 workers, President Hugo Chávez announced early Thursday.

In an attempt to calm nerves after the explosion of an offshore drilling rig last month in the Gulf of Mexico, Venezuelan energy officials said the sunken natural gas rig posed no environment threat and that no workers had died. The cause of the sinking was unclear.

Mr. Chávez, who made the initial announcement about the sunken rig via his account on Twitter, the social networking site, also said that two Venezuelan Navy patrols were sent to the waters by the rig, which is owned by Aban Singapore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aban Offshore, India’s largest oil rig company.

“You know this platform is semi-submergible,” Mr. Chávez told his followers on Twitter. “At midnight it listed, took on water, ceased operations and they evacuated,” he said.

The sinking of the rig, called Aban Pearl, is a setback to Venezuela’s efforts to upgrade its energy industry with the help of foreign oil companies. Just hours before the sinking, Mr. Chávez had celebrated on Wednesday the signing of major new oil contracts with companies including the Chevron Corporation of the United States, calling them “vital for our socialist project.”

Senior officials in Venezuela had recently been celebrating the Aban Pearl rig in particular. Planning Minister Jorge Giordani last week called the rig “a motive for pride of national engineering.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100513/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_venezuela_gas_platform

So much for “national engineering.”