Petrobras P-34 FPSO evacuated, at risk of sinking

By an OGJ correspondent

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 14 -- The P-34 floating production storage and offloading vessel is listing and at risk of sinking off Rio de Janeiro state, according to Brazilian state oil Petróleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras). The FPSO has been evacuated.

The $200 million, 17,900 ton FPSO, installed between Barracuda and Caratinga fields in the Campos basin, has been listing at a 32° angle since Sunday afternoon, Carlos Tadeu da Costa Fraga, exploration and production manager of Petrobras, told OGJ.

"I believe the problem occurred because of an electrical failure that interfered in the pumps and ballast equipments responsible for maintaining the equilibrium of the FPSO, but no explosions or fires took place," he said. "The 76-member crew has been removed from the platform, and nobody was injured."

"At this point, the platform is stabilized, but the risk of sinking with an oil spill has not been averted," said Armando Carvalho, director of the oil works union in Rio de Janeiro state (Sindipetro).

On May 31, the union had warned Petrobras that a power failure had occurred in the same vessel, and the crew also had to be evacuated. The union leader disagrees with Petrobras and estimates that the P-34 is listing at 48° and not 32°.

Brazil's Globo television network reported that, according to photos by reporters who overflew the stricken FPSO, the listing appears to have reached 45°.

The P-34, which was converted from the PP Moraes oil tanker in 1997, handles production totaling 34,000 b/d of oil and 195,000 cu m/day of natural gas from the two fields. It has a design capacity to handle 60,000 b/d of oil.

Caratinga and Barracuda fields are responsible for 2.5% of total Campos basin production. The basin produces 1 million b/d of oil.

Petrobras has mobilized an emergency team of nine tugboats and helicopters in a bid to right and repair the listing FPSO platform and avoid losing $1 million/month in revenues in case the P-34 sinks.

The P-34 was built by Brazilian engineering and construction firm Marítima, the same company that built the P-36—the world's largest semisubmersible drilling-production platform—that sank March 2001 in the Campos basin after explosions and fire claimed the lives of 11 workers (OGJ Online, Mar. 15, 2001).

Political football
The incident threatens to reinforce the role that oil issues—and Petrobras in particular—have assumed as a political football in Brazil, coming on the heels of a hotly contested Oct. 6 presidential election that will be resolved with a runoff Oct. 27 (OGJ Online, Oct. 4, 2002).

Carlos Minc, a Rio de Janeiro state assemblyman and chairman of the state legislature's environmental committee, said that "80% of Brazil's platforms, including the P-34, do not have an environmental license, which is illegal."

According to Fraga, at full capacity the FPSO would have 45,000 cu m of crude oil stored "but a recent offloading of the oil took place, and the P-34 now has 12,000 cu m of petroleum stored."

The accident with the P-34 once again places Petrobras at the center of political debate during this presidential election period.

Nevertheless, a former Petrobras executive touted the company's record-setting accomplishments with the P-34.

"The P-34 achieved two world production records in the past: mooring over 864 m water depth and having the largest turret system, with 34 flow lines linking the wells" noted Wagner Victer, a former Rio de Janeiro state energy secretary and former Petrobras manager.

Victer has been speculated as a candidate for Petrobras president in case Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers Party (PT) wins the runoff presidential election. Lula continues to remain well in front in all public opinion polls vs. Oct. 6 runner up and current government candidate Sen. Jose Serra.

Development project
Barracuda and Caratinga fields lie 160 km east of Macae on Block BC-50B, in water depths of 785 m in Barracuda and 1,035 m in Caratinga, although some wells lie in even deeper water down to 1,148 m. The two fields cover a combined area of 230 sq km.

Together, they are expected to add 30% to the current 1 million b/d output from the Campos basin.

Reserves for Barracuda are estimated at 867 million bbl of oil and 10.7 billion cu m of gas, while Caratinga, to the south, contains an estimated 362 million bbl and 4 billion cu m of gas.

The Petrobras-owned Barracuda & Caratinga Development Corp. has a $2.6 billion agreement with Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root and Halliburton Energy Services business units to develop the field. This covers a full engineering, procurement, installation, and construction contract; it also includes drilling all wells, the fabrication and installation of flowlines and risers, and the construction and installation of two FPSOs.

Related Articles

EPA proposes voluntary methane reduction program for gas industry

07/24/2015 The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed a voluntary methane reduction program for the natural gas industry that would allow companies to ma...

Petrobras workers stage 24-hr strike

07/24/2015 Workers at beleaguered Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) staged a 24-hr strike across Brazil to protest plans by the state-owned company to liquid...

ONGC Videsh unit drills horizontally in Russia’s Snezhnoye field

07/24/2015 Imperial Energy Corp. PLC, a subsidiary of ONGC Videsh Ltd., has drilled two horizontal wells in the Naunak formation of Snezhnoye field in the Tom...

MARKET WATCH: Oil futures hover below $49/bbl

07/24/2015 Light, sweet crude oil futures prices settled under $49/bbl July 23 on the New York market, which means US prices have slid more than 20% since the...

EQT reports high IP from Utica dry gas well

07/24/2015 EQT Corp., Pittsburgh, said a deep, dry gas Utica well averaged 72.9 MMcfd with an average flowing casing pressure of 8,641 psi during a 24-hr deli...

Separate Murkowski bill addresses crude exports, OCS revenue sharing

07/24/2015 US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) introduced legislation that would end the ban on US crude oil expor...

Statoil drilling first production well at Gina Krog field

07/23/2015 Statoil ASA has started drilling the first production well at Gina Krog field, 30 km northwest of Sleipner in the North Sea (OGJ Online, Oct. 28, 2...

OGUK updates guidelines for well abandonments


Oil & Gas UK has released updated guidelines for abandonment of wells, including cost estimates.

Gazprom Neft brings fifth well on production in Iraq’s Badra field


JSC Gazprom Neft said a fifth well has been brought into production in Badra field in eastern Iraq (OGJ Online, June 26, 2015).

White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected